Wotherspoon clinches World Cup 500 crown & impressive start for Klassen at speed skating World Cup

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., earned the silver medal in the men’s 500 metres Sunday to clinch the event’s World Cup title to conclude the second to last stop on the World Cup long track speed skating circuit.

It was also a big day for Olympic medallist and world champion Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg. She returned from a serious injury and placed seventh in the women’s 1,500.

Fengtong Yu of China won the gold medal in the men’s 500 clocking 35.17 seconds at the outdoor venue. Wotherspoon and Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan tied for second at 35.30.

In the 500 standings, Wotherspoon now has 860 points and can’t be caught for first spot with the final two races next weekend. Dmitry Lobkov of Russia is second at 580 and Mike Ireland of Winnipeg third at 550. Each victory is worth 100 points.

“I’m pretty happy with my season in the 500,” said Wotherspoon with five wins in 10 races this season in the 500. “There’s been some subpar races but overall pretty good. Today there were a couple of areas that I could have done better.”

It’s the third straight World Cup crown in the 500 for Wotherspoon and his sixth in seven years.

Ireland, third on Saturday, took sixth in 35.46 with Brock Miron of Cornwall, Ont., 16th and Mark Nielsen of Calgary 18th. In the B final, James Monson of Calgary was third

The women’s 1,500 was won by Anni Friesinger of Germany in 1:58.41. Klassen was seventh in 2:00.93 and Kristina Groves of Ottawa 14th. In the B final, Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., was fifth, Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que., sixth and Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., ninth.

“I’m really happy with it, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Klassen, involved in a freak training accident in October that required extensive surgery on her right arm.

“Today the first lap went pretty easy but near the end I got tired. I don’t feel I’m in great shape but I don’t want to go the whole year without racing.”

In the women’s 500 B final, Krisy Myers of Calgary was second in 40.20, Kim Weger of Regina seventh and Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer, eighth.