Belchos fourth in mass start at World Cup

Jordan Belchos fourth in mass start at World Cup in Russia
Christine Nesbitt skates sixth fastest time in 3,000 metres

– Jordan Belchos was the only Canadian to get close to a podium position today after finishing fourth in the men’s mass start at the Essent ISU World Cup in Kolomna, Russia. Christine Nesbitt posted the sixth fastest time in the 3,000 metres to take first place in group B in a time of four minutes and 4.53 seconds.

Belchos, of Toronto, had seven points in the race, earning five points in the first sprint then two in the last three segments. The mass start, a 20-lap race, ranking is determined by the accumulated race points gained from intermediate sprints and the final sprint. Jorrit Bergsma of the Netherlands won gold (40 points) and French skaters Ewen Fernandez (22) and Alexis Contin (10) took silver and bronze, respectively. Winnipeg’s Tyler Derraugh finished in 12th position.

In the women’s division A 3,000 metres, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa took 13th place in 4:09.96. Claudia Pechstein of Germany won the gold medal in four minutes and 2.31 seconds. Martina Sábliková of the Czech Republic was the silver medallist (4:02.46) and Marije Joling of the Netherlands earned bronze (4:03.90).

In the 3,000 metres division B, Nesbitt’s winning of time of 4:04.53 was 2.83 seconds faster than second place Yekaterina Shikhova of Russia, and only 1.09 seconds off her personal best time set in February 2011. The 27-year-old’s time was the sixth best of the 44 skaters today – 16 in division A and 28 in division B.

Winnipeggers Brittany Schussler and Cindy Klassen were 10th (4:10.96) and 12th (4:11.30), respectively, in the 3,000-metre division B race, while Brianne Tutt, from Airdrie, Alta, took 19th place (4:16.04).

In the 1,500 metres, Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., was more than six seconds off his personal best time to finish in 19th place in a time of 1:48.66. In division B action, Regina’s Lucas Makowsky won the bronze medal in a time of 1:47.75 – the 16th fastest time skated today in the 1,500 metres. Mathieu Giroux, of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., took sixth place (1:48.04) and Winnipeg’s Tyler Derraugh was 14th (1:49.04).

“Denny is tired from training and travel over the last couple of weeks,” said Bart Schouten, Morrison’s coach. “We choose to do hard training this week, but the combination of racing, training and lack of sleep proved too much. He is skating well and has really good training behind him.”

The medallists for the men’s 1,500 metres were Koen Verweij of the Netherlands with gold (1:45.56), Bart Swings from Belarus with silver (1:45.77) and bronze (1:45.91) to American Brian Hansen.

The Canadian team now travels to Astana, Kazakhstan, for the third World Cup on Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2. This World Cup highlights the 1,500 metres and team pursuit for men and women, 5,000 metres for women, and 10,000 metres for men.

The World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance stands at $20,000 (5 gold, 10 silver; 5 bronze). Intact Insurance will award $1,000 in cash and prizes to a local speed skating club with each individual medal win. The last two seasons, Intact Insurance awarded more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.

The Essent ISU World Cup #6, featuring the 500- and 1,000-metre sprint distances, will be held at the Olympic Oval in Calgary on Jan. 19 and 20. Ticket information and event details will be available shortly.