Nesbitt wins gold in the 1,500 metres & in team pursuit

Christine Nesbitt wins gold in the 1,500 metres and in team pursuit at the World Cup in Kazakhstan
The Club de patinage de vitesse de Charlesbourg receives $1,000 from Intact Insurance World Cup Podium Tracker

ASTANA, Kazakhstan – Canada’s Christine Nesbitt won her third individual medal of the season with a gold medal result in the 1,500 metres at the Essent ISU World Cup at the Alau Ice Palace in Astana, Kazakhstan. The London, Ont., native then teamed-up with Ivanie Blondin and Brittany Schussler to win the women’s team pursuit.

Nesbitt, who already won gold and bronze in the 1,500 metres this season, won today’s race in a time of one minute and 57.18 seconds. Dutch teammates Marrit Leenstra and Linda de Vries took silver (1:57.29) and bronze (1:57.30), respectively. Winnipeggers Brittany Schussler and Cindy Klassen didn’t break the top 10. Schussler was 11th in a time of 1:58.70 and Klassen was 16th in 2:00.21.

“It was an OK race. I had a good opener and first lap, so the first 700 metres was decent. I was trying to feel smooth because I didn’t have a really good one last week (finishing third in Kolomna, Russia)," said Nesbitt. "In the last two laps I was struggling to keep smooth. My last lap was painful but it was just enough to hold off a win. It’s a nice way to finish the 1,500 World Cups this fall. I’m definitely looking forward to coming back this winter and finishing stronger.”

In the women’s division B 1,500 metres, Kaylin Irvine of Calgary won the bronze medal in 2:01.18, while Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin was fifth (2:01.61).

“It was a good race. I followed my race plan, which was to open quickly and carry that speed into the first lap and hopefully the second, which luckily I was able to do," said Irvine. "It was the third fastest 1,500 I’ve raced.”

In the 10,000 metres division B, Toronto’s Jordan Belchos won the bronze medal in a personal best time of 13 minutes and 18.41 seconds – 4.20 seconds faster than his previous mark (13:22.61). Belchos has also set personal bests this season in the 1,500 and 5,000 distances. Stefan Waples of Winnipeg was 25th in a time of 14:05.50.

In the women’s team pursuit, the threesome improved on their bronze medal finish from the first race at World Cup #1 in Heerenveen, Netherlands. Blondin, Nesbitt and Schussler took the gold medal today in a time of 2:58.40, which was 2.15 seconds faster than the Koreans who took the silver medal in 3:00.55. The Netherlands came in third place in 3:00.71.

“I think our goal was to learn from our first team pursuit two weeks ago (in Heerenveen, Netherlands)," said Schussler. "We started a bit slow there and tried to play it conservative, but that wasn’t really to our strengths. But today we just blasted for it right out of the gate. It’s a pretty solid win.”

“It was definitely a tough mental race to get through but knowing that I had Brittany and Christine there by my side made it all that much easier," added Blondin on winning her first World Cup gold medal. "This is our third year all training together, which is why we are able to work so well as a team. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses. It makes it all that much easier to work together, be strong and be able to skate like we did today. It wasn't a perfect race and we were still able to win with over a two-second lead.”

The World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance stands at $23,000 (6 gold, 11 silver; 6 bronze). Intact Insurance will award $1,000 in cash and prizes to a local speed skating club with each individual medal win. This season’s 22nd medal came today from Charles Hamelin, who won silver in the 500 metres in Japan, and the 23rd from Christine Nesbitt, who took the 1,500-metre gold in Kazakhstan. The Brampton Ontario Speed Skating Club and the Club de patinage de vitesse de Charlesbourg each will receive $1,000 from the program.

The Essent ISU World Cup #6, featuring the 500- and 1,000-metre sprint distances, will be held at the Olympic Oval in Calgary on Jan. 19 and 20. Ticket information and event details will be available shortly.