Klassen wins third 1,500-metre gold medal at speed skating World Cup

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg remained unbeaten this season in the women’s 1,500-metres as she concluded the third stop on the long track speed skating World Cup circuit Sunday with another gold medal.

Klassen, 23, clocked one minute and 57.72 seconds for her third gold at that distance. Double Olympic champion Claudia Pechstein of Germany was second in 1:58.82 for the silver medal and Annamarie Thomas of the Netherlands, Klassen’s pair, was third in 1:58.89.

"I was surprised to win by over a second," said Klassen, a naturally gifted athlete who has also competed at a high level in hockey, in-line skating and lacrosse. "I was still feeling the effects of yesterday’s race (Klassen placed 11th in the gruelling 5,000 metres). I wasn’t sure how I would fare, but my coach just told me to concentrate on what I do best. It went very well."

Klassen had the second best time of the day at the 300-metre mark but gained a big edge on the field with her speed between 300 and 1,100-metres. Pechstein, who skated after Klassen, had the day’s strongest final lap but it wasn’t enough to catch the Canadian.

Kristina Groves of Ottawa made another appearance in the top-10 finishing ninth in 2:00.64. Clara Hughes of Winnipeg, a silver medallist Saturday in the 5,000, was 17th. Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., was fifth in the B Group race.

In the World Cup 1,500 standings, Klassen leads with a perfect 350 points followed by Pechstein at 280 and Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., fourth in Sunday’s race, third at 220. Groves is 10th.

In the men’s 10,000 metres, Carl Verheijen of the Netherlands won the gold medal followed by Lasse Saetre of Norway and Bob de Jong of the Netherlands.

In the B group race, Mark Knoll of Regina was 13th, Dustin Molicki of Calgary 16th, Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., 19th and Jamie Ivey of Ottawa 20th.

The next major competition for Klassen and the rest of the Canadian all-around speed skaters is the national championships in early January.

Next weekend the short track speed skaters are back in action for the third World Cup stop in St. Petersburg, Russia.