Winnipeg’s Klassen wins bronze at speed skating World Cup

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg picked-up where she left off last season with a bronze medal performance in the women’s 3,000 metres Saturday at the season opening World Cup event in long track speed skating.

Double Olympic champion Claudia Pechstein of Germany was the winner clocking four minutes and 05.00 seconds. Barbara de Loor of the Netherlands, who returned to competition after a two-year hiatus due to heart problems, won the silver in 4:08.54.

Klassen, third in the event at the Salt Lake City Olympics, followed in 4:10.12 and Clara Hughes of Winnipeg was fourth in 4:10.56. Klassen was paired with de Loor who built a big lead right from the start.

"It was a very hard race but I wasn’t surprised to see her do that well," said Klassen, 23. "She was one of the best in the world before she had health problems. I tried as best as I could to bridge the gap after she went out so strong but I couldn’t catch her."

Kristina Groves of Ottawa was 10th. In the B Group race, Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., was second and Michele D’Amours of Ste-Foy, Que., 12th.

In the men’s 1,500, Yevgeny Lalenkov of Russia was the surprise winner in 1:47.39 with Erben Wennemars of Netherlands second in 1:48.30 and Derek Parra of the U.S., third in 1:48.84.

Kevin Marshall of Coquitlam, B.C., was 11th. Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., 13th, Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., 18th, Dustin Molicki of Calgary, fourth overall last season, 22nd and Philippe Marois of Ste, Foy, Que., 38th.

Competition ends Sunday with the men’s 5,000 and women’s 1,500.