Wotherspoon takes overall lead at world sprint championships

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., put himself in excellent position to regain the world title on Saturday winning a bronze medal to take overall lead at the long track speed skating world sprint championships.

Wotherspoon, a four-time world sprint champion, was third in the 500 and fifth in the 1,000-metre on Saturday to stand first overall with 68.850 points. Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands, who edged out Wotherspoon last year for the sprint crown, was fourth in both races and is a close second at 68.900. The Dutchman is tied with Japan’s Masaaki Kobayashi who was fifth in the 500 and third in the 1,000.

"I kept myself in a position to win overall but I wasn’t too happy with my skating," said Wotherspoon, a 54-time World Cup winner. "In the 500 I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t have a very good start and I just tried too hard and wobbled a couple of times. The 1,000 was a lot better but I’ll have to step it up a notch tomorrow (Sunday). I expect the other guys will skate a lot faster."

Fengton Yu of China won the 500 gold and Jan Bos of the Netherlands took the 1,000 race.

Brock Miron of Calgary (27th in the 500 and 23rd in the 1,000) is 26th overall and Jean-René Bélanger of Sherbrooke, Que., (32nd and 30th) 30th. James Monson of Winnipeg was 26th in the 500 and fell in the 1,000. He was not injured but he gets no overall placement.

On the women’s side, Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., is first overall at 74.985 followed by Anzhelika Kotyuga of Belarus in second at 75.075 and Sayuri Yoshii of Japan, the 500 winner, in third at 75.085. Chiara Simionoto won the 1,000 and is fourth overall.

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg is seventh overall after a fourth in the 1,000 and 11th in the 500 with a personal best in 38.30. Klassen in tuning up for the world all around championships next month in Moscow where she looks to regain her title after missing almost all of last season with an injury.

"My 1,000 was O.K. but I probably rushed it too much and I didn’t gain the top end speed I wanted," said Klassen. "I wanted to do a little bit better today especially since I was second overall at this competition two years ago. But this will just make me hungrier for the all around worlds."

Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was 12th in the 500 and 15th in the 1,000 to stand 13th overall. Rempel was vying for stronger results after earning her first two career World Cup medals this season. The 20-year-old was battling a stomach ailment all day.

"I just wasn’t able to put two good races together," said Rempel. "It’s very frustrating. My stomach hurt after breakfast and it just didn’t get any better. Based on my World Cup results I really thought a top-eight was possible here for me, but now that’ll be tough to achieve."

Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., was 26th in the 500 and 28th in the 1,000 for 27th overall.

Competition ends Sunday.