Winnipeg’s Clara Hughes wins World Cup gold & Klassen takes bronze

Winnipeg skaters Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen won gold and bronze respectively Saturday in the women’s 3,000-metres to highlight another great day for Canada in World Cup long track speed skating.

Hughes clocked a personal best and track record four minutes and 04.53 seconds for her first career World Cup win. Double Olympic champion Claudia Pechstein of Germany won silver in 4:05.78 and Klassen, captured her third medal this season on the World Cup, clocking 4:06.87.

Both Canadians were paired together and Hughes dominated the race from start to finish.

"It was my best race ever," said Hughes, the Olympic bronze medallist in the 5,000 last winter, who now lives in Glen Sutton, Que. "Skating alongside Cindy really helped. I was confident in my ability to finish the race strong but with the quality of her start I had to get off the line fast."

Canadian national team coach Chris Shelley of Calgary wasn’t surprised with Hughes’ performance.

"Clara’s race was a full out attack," he said. "She set a nice rhythm early and she’s much more comfortable this season handling the corners at high speeds. It was just an unbelievable feeling to see both do so well."

Kristina Groves of Ottawa was 13th and Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., 17th.

In the men’s 1,500, Derek Parra of the U.S., was the winner in 1:47.48 with Yevgeny Lalenkov of Russia second in 1:47.75 and Alexandr Kibalko of Russia third in 1:48.18. Kevin Marshall of Coquitlam, B.C., was fifth in 1:49.31.

Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was 12th and Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., 17th.

In the women’s all around event, Klassen is enjoying a super weekend. She has a big lead atop the standings with one race remaining after placing first in the 1,000, which was a non-medal race counting only towards the all around score. Klassen also won the 500 on Friday, which also only counted towards the all around score.

Parra leads the men’s all around standings with one race left with Marshall standing fourth only .003 points out of third.

Competition ends Sunday.