Winnipeg speed skaters sweep 500 races at sprint nationals

James Monson and Cindy Klassen, both of Winnipeg, won the men’s and women’s 500-metre races respectively on Monday to open the Canada Post Sprint Nationals long track speed skating competition at the Olympic Oval.

In the women’s 500, Klassen posted a combined two-race time of 77.710 seconds clocking 39.01 in the first race and 38.70 in the second. Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., was second at 78.330 and Kim Weger of Regina third at 79.190.

"I still have a lot of work to do on my opening 100 metres," said Klassen, better known for her stellar international performances in the longer distances.

"And I still get a little hesitant in the second corner. I need to set that up a little better."

In the men’s 500, Monson also won both races.

"I’ve been breaking in some new skates this year and it’s required a lot of adjustments," said Monson, whose skates were made by short track speed skater Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que. "I just wanted to get in two solid races today. In the last 30 metres I generated a lot of speed."

The competition also serves as a qualifying event for upcoming World Cups and the world sprint championships. World champion Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., has pre-qualified and is not racing this week.

Competition continues through to Wednesday.