Wotherspoon, Klassen clinch World Cup titles

World champions Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg and Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., clinched World Cup titles in different fashion Friday to open the final competition of the year on the long track speed skating circuit.

In the women’s 1,500 metres, Klassen took the gold medal outright clocking 1:57.70 with Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., second in 1:58.78 and Anni Friesinger of Germany third in 1:58.97.

Kristina Groves of Ottawa, fourth at the world all around championships last month, was seventh and Clara Hughes of Winnipeg 14th.

In the World Cup 1,500 standings, Klassen, who won the world all around crown in February, placed first with 530 points earning four wins in six races this season. Groves was ninth and Hughes 14th.

In the men’s 500, Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands took the gold in 35.25. Mike Ireland of Winnipeg continued to improve after battling groin problems this season clocking second in 35.31 while world record holder Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan was third in 35.42.

Wotherspoon ran into trouble in his race and placed 20th. He had won the first eight 500 races this season. Mark Nielsen of Calgary was 16th and Brock Miron of Calgary 18th.

However Wotherspoon has an insurmountable lead in the standings with 852 points. Joji Kato of Japan is second at 574 and Wennemars third at 542. The final 500 of the season is on Saturday.

In the women’s 500, Monique Garbrecht-Enfeldt of Germany registered her seventh victory clocking 38.30 to gain a stranglehold in the distance’s standings. Olympic champion Catriona Le May Doan of Saskatoon, entrenched herself in second spot overall, finishing fourth in 38.56.

Kim Weger of Regina was 17th and Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., 19th.

In the men’s 1,500, Yevgeny Lalenkov of Russia took the World Cup crown with his third win this season. Steven Elm of Red Deer was 13th while Kevin Marshall of Coquitlam, B.C., and Dustin Molicki of Calgary tied for 16th.

Competition continues Saturday.