Winnipeg`s Shannon Rempel wins all around world junior speed skating title

Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg became the first Canadian in 27 years to win an all around title at the long track speed skating world junior championships on Sunday as she placed first atop the women’s standings.

Only two weeks ago, Cindy Klassen, also of Winnipeg, won the all around title at the senior worlds, also ending a 27-year drought.

``It`s really hard to believe that I won,`` said the 18-year-old Rempel, who was second at the national senior sprint championships last month. ``It was really tough this year to train for the longer distance events. There were times I really hated doing the longer laps in training but right now I couldn`t be happier.``

Rempel, was first overall heading into Sunday`s 3,000-metre final and placed seventh in that race to hang on to top spot with 173.346 points. Eriko Ishino of Japan who won the 3,000 Sunday as well as the 1,500 on Saturday, settled for second at 173.663 while Maria Lamb of the U.S., was third at 176.059.

``We felt she was certainly strong enough to do it,`` said Canadian team coach Gregg Planert of Calgary. ``With about two laps ago she really dug in deep because she was starting to drop off a bit. She wanted it.``

Rempel also won gold in the 1,000 and silver in the 500 this weekend.

Brittany Schussler, 17, of Winnipeg, took fourth overall at 176.389. She was also fourth last year. Marilou Asselin of Quebec City was 14th overall.

``I’m happy with the performance,`` said Schussler, third in the 1,500 Saturday. ``My ultimate goal was to get on the podium but I tried my best. I knew the situation heading into the 3,000. I was able to maintain my spot overall so I can`t be too upset.``

Elizabeth Appleby of Winnipeg is the only other Canadian to win a world junior speed skating crown which she accomplished in 1976.

In men’s competition, Remco Olde Heuvel of the Netherlands was dominant and too the all around crown with 161.766 points after placing second in Sunday`s 5,000. Robert Lehmann of Germany, the 5,000 winner, was second at 163.682 and Seung-Hwan Lee of South Korea third at 163.855.

Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., was eighth overall, his younger brother Denny Morrison 10th and Dustin Johnson of Moose Jaw, Sask., an impressive eighth in the 5,000, 13th.

``This is the first time ever all six Canadian skaters cracked the top-16 overall,`` said Planert. ``Next year five of them will be back (including Rempel and Schussler) at the world juniors. Our young skaters also did very well so we’ll likely have a very strong team.``

In the pursuit race, the Canadian women with Schussler, Asselin and Shannon Sibold of Calgary were third. The men with the Morrison brothers and Justin Warsylewicz of Regina were fourth.