Canada fourth in men’s pursuit at speed skating World Cup

BASELGA DI PINE, Italy- Canada finished fourth on Sunday in the men’s 3,200-metre pursuit to conclude the seventh stop on the long track speed skating World Cup circuit. The first outdoor World Cup event of the season was again marred by deteriorating ice conditions.

In the men’s pursuit, Norway won the gold medal clocking three minutes and 53.10 seconds, the Netherlands was second in 3:53.38 and Russia third in 3:53.47. The Canadians were in the thick of the medal hunt clocking 3:53.66 with Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., and Justin Warsylewicz and Lucas Makowsky, both of Regina.

‘’We could have won the race,’’ said Canadian national team coach Marcel Lacroix. ‘’We made a mistake with three laps to go and lost a lot of time. Our pursuits are usually pretty smooth so this was a good learning experience for us.’’

The overall World Cup title for the men’s pursuit will come down to the final race in three weeks. Canada and Norway are tied for first with 240 points each after three of four races.

In the women’s 2,400-metre pursuit, Russia won the gold in 3:11.62, Japan was second in 3:11.91 and Poland third in 3:15.97. Canada with Kristina Groves of Ottawa, Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg was seventh. On Saturday Groves and Nesbitt were first and third in the women’s 1,500.

Sunday was originally an off day for the Canadian women. With the rescheduling of the pursuit they did not go all out in the race with the all around worlds next weekend in Berlin. ‘’We didn’t want to change our game plan too much in our preparation for the worlds,’’ said Lacroix. ‘’We raced to get our qualifying points for the individual worlds (in March).’’

In the men’s 1,500 metres, Elm and Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., were eighth and ninth respectively and François-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que., was 16th. In the women’s 3,000 Nicole Garrido of Edmonton was 16th.

An attempt was made to race the men’s 5,000 which was postponed Saturday but it was called after four pairs.