Canada’s Christine Nesbitt in title hunt at speed skating worlds

BERLIN - Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., won the opening 500-metre race on Saturday and stands second in the women’s standing at the long track speed skating world all around championships. Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., was the fastest in the men’s 500 and sits fourth overall at the halfway mark of the competition.

Paulien van Deutekom of the Netherlands took the 3,000 later Saturday to lead the women’s all around standings after two of four races with 80.205 points. Nesbitt, also fifth in the 3,000, is a close second at 80.253 and defending champion Ireen Wust of the Netherlands is third at 80.383.

Kristina Groves of Ottawa was third in the 3,000 and fourth in the 500 too stand fourth overall at 80.700. Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg (14th in the 500 and 16th in the 3,000) is 15th overall and Clara Hughes of Winnipeg (seventh in the 3,000 and 22nd in the 500) is 19th.

‘’The 3,000 was an interesting race for me,’’ said Groves, seventh overall at last year’s worlds and third overall two years ago. ‘’I didn’t start as fast as I normally do which I think cost me in the end a little bit. But technically, I skated really well so I was really happy about that. I’m looking forward to tomorrow (Sunday) but I’m not worried about my placement. I don’t really think about medals anymore when I race. I just go out there to do the best race I can.’’

In men’s competition, defending champion Sven Kramer of the Netherlands is first overall at 73.555 after Saturday’s 500 and 5,000-metre races. Shani Davis of the U.S., is second at 74.242. and Havard Bokko of Norway third at 74.304. Kramer won the 5,000.

Morrison clocked 35.81 seconds in his 500 victory and took ninth spot in the 5,000 to stand fifth overall as he looks to improve on last year’s 10th place. Lucas Makowsky of Saskatoon, in his worlds debut, is 10th overall after finishing 11th in the 500 and 14th in the 5,000.

‘’I can’t complain at all with that start,’’ said Makowsky, 20. ‘’I had two solid races and getting off to such a good start in the 500 really helped. I wasn’t nervous for the 500 but I was very excited and that gave me some good energy.’’

Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., is 19th overall with a ninth in the 500 and 21st in the 5,000. Justin Warsylewicz of Regina was 22nd in both races.

Competition ends Sunday.