Klassen earns bronze in 3,000-metres at speed skating World Cup

Cindy Klassen’s medal collection continued to grow Sunday as the 23-year-old world champion from Winnipeg placed third in the women’s 3,000-metres at a long track speed skating World Cup competition.

Anni Friesinger of Germany earned her second gold this weekend clocking four minutes and 11.04 seconds. Her compatriot Claudia Pechstein was second in 4:14.77 while Klassen, who won Canada’s first all around world title in 27 years last weekend, was third clocking 4:16.83.

``I started off much faster than I wanted but I stuck with it,`` said Klassen, paired with Catherine Raney of the U.S., who trains in Calgary and placed sixth. ``It was great to come back here one week after the world championships and win two medals. Now there’s three weeks until the next World Cup and I’m looking to tidy up some aspects of my skating.``

Greta Smit of the Netherlands was fourth in 4:18.04, Clara Hughes of Winnipeg fifth in 4:16.83 and Kristina Groves of Ottawa seventh in 4:20.65. Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., was 16th. Tiffany Hughes of Cambridge, Ont., was fourth in the B group race.

Hughes is in second spot in the World Cup 3,000/5,000 standings with 340 points while Pechstein has a comfortable lead at 400 with one World Cup event remaining. Klassen, who is in position to win the 1,500 World Cup title, is third at 269.

``I`m pleased to maintain my second place overall,`` said Hughes. ``I likely won`t catch Claudia but that`s not my main focus this season. We have another worlds to worry about next month (the world single distance championships) and if you spread yourself too thin you’ll lose everything.``

In the men’s 1,500, Yevgeny Lalenkov of Russia earned his second victory this season to increase his lead atop the World Cup standings clocking 1:51.17. Mark Tuitert of the Netherlands was second in 1:51.85 and his compatriot Erben Wennemars third in 1:52.05.

Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was 12th, Kevin Marshall of Coquitlam, B.C., 13th and Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., 17th. Philippe Marois of Charlesbourg, Que., and Mark Knoll of Regina were 11th and 12th respectively in the B group race.

Canada won the gold medal in the women’s team pursuit exhibition race clocking 3:08.79 over six laps. The race is similar to the pursuit in track cycling with teams starting at different sides of the oval. Racing for Canada were Klassen, Hughes and Groves.

``It reminded me a bit of the track cycling pursuit,`` said Hughes, who was a member of Canada`s national track and road cycling teams. ``The key was we really made sure we took care of each other in the race. We had a lot of fun, although it hurt a lot. We were the team to beat and we wanted to win.``

The Netherlands was second in 3:10.97 and Russia third in 3:12.85.

The Dutch won the men’s pursuit while Canada with Marshall, Elm and Parker were fifth.