Canada Women Sweep 1500m Podium at Speed Skating World Cup

It is with the sweep of all three medals at the Ladies’ 1500m that long track speed skating team started the 2008-2009 World Cup season. Canadian skaters, Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON), Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) and Shannon Rempel ( Winnipeg, MB) respectively took Gold, Silver and Bronze in the 1500m. By taking over all steps on the podium, the Canadian athletes not only demonstrated how exciting the 2008-2009 season promises to be for Candians, they also gave Canada its first triple medal win for the distance on the international scene.

Excitement was in the air today as the first stop of the World Cup long track series

Canadian women on the podium in Berlin, Photo: Philippe Riopel
started in Berlin. Without being intimated by her competitors, Kristina Groves stepped on the top of the podium thanks to a time of 1:57.65. “It is a good start and the season should be very good. It’s exciting!” said the proud and ecstatic Groves after receiving her first medal in the World Cup for 2008-2009.

By finishing nine tenths of a second behind her teammate, Brittany Schussler won the silver medal, her very first individual medal at a World Cup. “I am thrilled and could not be happier. You train so much, imaging this moment. It’s great when you actually achieve it!” jubilated Schussler following the race.

For her part, Shannon Rempel finished with the third best time of the race with 1:58.04. She also took 10th place in the 500m. If Rempel was considered a sprinter at the beginning of her career, she is now an accomplished middle distance speed-skater. “A first medal in the 1500m feels good for the season. I am looking forward to the pursuit later this weekend” explained Rempel with a big smile.

Also in the 1500m, Canadian speed skater Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) obtained the 6th best time and Clara Hughes ( Winnipeg, MB) took 17th place. Nesbitt also finished 2nd in Division B of the 500m, while teammates Tamara Oudenaarden (St-Albert, AB) and Kerry Dankers (Melville, SK) were 7th and 17th.

On the men’s side, races were close and the competition fierce. In the 500m, Jeremy Wotherspoon ( Red Deer, AB) finished 7th and was less then half a second behind the leader, the Japanese Keiichiro Nagashima. Other Canadians racing, Vincent Labrie (St-Romuald, QC) and Jamie Gregg ( Edmonton, AB), ended 10th and 15th respectively.

“I wanted to concentrate on my technique for this race. I skated well. Still, with hard work I will keep improving. For now, it is good work done,” explained Labrie. Content with his performance, Labrie knows that as the season will progress, so will his speed and results.

Unfortunately, Canadian Mike Ireland dislocated his shoulder when he fell in his 500m race. He will return to Canada in the next few days where his injury will be evaluated more thoroughly.

In Division B of the men 500m, Muncef Ouardi ( Montréal, QC) finished 5th. As for the men 5000m, Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) took 14th place and teammates Denny Morrison ( Fort St. John , BC) and Justin Warsylewicz ( Regina, SK) ended in 19th and 21st place.

For the 5000m, Division B, speed skaters Jay Morrison (Fort St. John, BC), and Jordan Belchos (Toronto, ON) made it to the 7th and 11th position.