Klassen grabs all around lead with best time in 500 at World Cup

Olympic medallist Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg stands first overall in the all around event after posting the best time in the women’s 500-metres Friday at the second stop on the World Cup long track speed skating circuit.

Klassen, who won her first career World Cup gold medal last weekend in the 1,500, clocked 39.08 seconds to edge Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., at 39.22 and Chiara Simionato of Italy third at 39.620. No medals are awarded for each distance in the all around event.

This is the first time a World Cup competition has an all around event which is the best aggregate time for races over 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 3,000 metres for the women and 500, 1,500 and 3,000 and 5,000 for the men. The races in the 1,500 and 5,000 for men and 1,500 and 3,000 for women this weekend are also individual World Cup races as per usual.

"The athletes are keen on this kind of event at a World Cup," said Canadian national team coach Gregor Jelonek of Ste-Foy, Que. "It means more racing and that’s important this early in the season when the skaters are in heavy training. Plus it’s a similar format to the world all around championships so it’s a good tune-up for that as well."

In addition, this weekend’s event is the first major international speed skating event at the newly-built Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann (indoor) Oval, in honor of the multiple world and Olympic champion who retired last season.

Kristina Groves of Ottawa was 24th in the 500, Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., 26th, Clara Hughes of Winnipeg 34th and Michelle D’Amours of Ste-Foy, Que., 36th.

In the men’s all around competition, Derek Parra of the U.S., has the overall lead after two events- the 500 and 3,000 metres- with 75.193 points. Alxeander Kibalko of Russia, the 500 winner, is second at 75.300 and Carl Verheijen of the Netherlands, the 3,000 winner, third at 75.570.

Kevin Marshall of Coquitlam, B.C., third in the 500, is seventh at 75.498, Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., fifth in the 500, is 14th, Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., 15th, Dustin Molicki of Calgary, ninth in the 3,000, 21st and Arne Dankers of Calgary 28th.

Competition continues Saturday.