Nesbitt wins 1000 m, Gregg tied for second at World Sprint

Christine Nesbitt wins 1000 m, Jamie Gregg tied for second in 500 m at World Sprint Championships

– Canadian Christine Nesbitt skated this season’s fastest 1,000-metre race in one minute and 12.91 seconds and set a track record for the Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City, Utah, to win the distance today at the Essent ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships. Teammate Jamie Gregg was tied for second in the 500 metres to pace the Canadian men. The championships feature the 500- and 1,000-metre distances.

Nesbitt, the 2011 champion and 2012 silver medalist, was the only skater under the one minute and 13-second mark to win the first 1,000-metre race of the championships by more than three quarters of a second (0.77) over Americans Brittany Bowe (1:13.68) and Heather Richardson (1:13.74).

In her 500-metre race two hours earlier, the native of London, Ont., crossed the finish line in 38.02 seconds for 12th place. Jing Yu of China, last year's overall women's sprint champion, won today’s 500 metres in 37.21 seconds. Sang-Hwa Lee of Korea was second (37.28) and Richardson took third place (37.31).

With 74.475 points, Nesbitt is tied for third place with Lee, but behind Yu (74.175) in first place and Richardson (74.180) in second.

“I had a couple of hours before my 1,000 (metres race) to settle down and refocus," said Nesbitt, who wasn't satisfied with her 500-metre race. “I must have done a reasonable job of that because it was the best race I’ve had this year. I just felt that every stride I took, especially the first 200 metres of the race, I was getting pressure right away and that allowed me to carry lots speed in the first lap, and then build speed on top of that.”

Calgary’s Anastasia Bucsis, who withdrew last year at the last minute because of a back injury, had a personal best time in the 1,000 metres and season best in the 500-metre race. She skated to a 14th place finish 38.07 seconds in the 500 metres, and took 18th place in the 1,000 metres in 1:15.58. She is tied for 16th place after two races with 75.860 points.

In the men’s 500 metres, Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg was only seven one hundredths of a second off his personal best and finished tied for second place in 34.43 seconds in the first of two 500-metre races this weekend.

“I’m happy with it. It’s a good start to the weekend. I’m not going to get to far ahead of myself. I still have to skate three distances,” said Gregg after his 500-metre race. “It gives me good confidence that the speed is there, so I can relax more going into my 1,000 and not try too hard. I know that if I skate like I did there (500 m) then I’ll get the speed.”

Calgary’s Gilmore Junio stopped the clock at 34.58 seconds for a sixth place finish. Laurent Dubreuil, of Lévis, Que., had a season best 500-metre race in 34.71 seconds, only five one hundredths of a second off his personal best and junior world record, to take 14th place. Winnipeg’s Tyler Derraugh recorded a personal best time of 35.06 seconds to rank 22nd.

Japan’s Joji Kato won today’s 500 metres in 34.21, while teammate Ryohei Haga was tied with Gregg.

In the men’s 1,000 metres, Derraugh finished ninth in a time of 1:08.15. Gregg has a season best race of 1:08.41 for 13th place, followed right behind by Junio with a personal record of 1:08.42. Dubreuil also set a personal best time of 1:08.63 to take 17th spot. Hein Otterspeer of the Netherlands won in a time of 1:07.46, with Haralds Silovs of Latvia was second (1:07.47) and fellow Dutch skater Michel Mulder was third (1:07.49).

After two races, Gregg is tied for fourth overall with 68.635 points, Junio is ninth (68.790), Dubreuil is 13th (69.025) and Derraugh is 16th (69.135).

The 500- and 1,000-metre races will be repeated tomorrow with the world sprint champions determined by points ranking from all four races. The overall points are determined by adding the two 500-metre times and half of both 1,000-metres times.