Career-best result for Winnipeg’s Brittany Schussler at speed skating World Cup

World sprint champion Joey Cheek won the 500-metre race and finished second to American teammate Shani Davis in the 1,000 Saturday while Winnipeg’s Brittany Schussler posted her first career top-10 finish at a long track speed skating World Cup.

Canada’s Olympic team members skipped the event and are currently training in Germany for the Games which start in two weeks in Turin.

Anni Friesinger of Germany blew away the field in the women’s 1,000-metres clocking one minute and 16.36 seconds under ideal conditions at the outdoor venue. She beat Aki Tonoike of Japan by 1.75 seconds.

Schussler, who was paired with Tonoike, took ninth spot in 1:19.64 for her best-ever World Cup result. Sarah Smith of Calgary was 20th.

“I know not all the best were here but that doesn’t take away the excitement I feel with such a great result,” said Schussler, 20, an Olympic team alternate “My last lap was very strong, one of the best on the day. So it’s a big confidence boost.”

Davis edged Cheek by 0.06 to win the 1,000 in 1 minute, 09.26 seconds. Francois Olivier-Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que., appeared headed for a top-10 result as well but stepped on the block near the finish, fell and wound up 19th. Vincent Labrie of Ste-Foy, Que., and Jean-René Bélanger of Sherbrooke, Que., were third and fourth in the B Group race.

‘’I was having an exceptional race but I didn’t execute the last turn cleanly and stepped right on a block,’’ said Olivier-Roberge. ‘’So overall I’m really happy with the race. I was racing with new blades and they just wouldn’t turn they way I wanted.’’

Cheek, who will compete in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 at the Turin Olympics, beat Yuya Oikawa of Japan in the 500 by 0.32 seconds. He finished in 35.11. In the B group, Bélanger was third, Labrie sixth and Olivier-Roberge 10th.

Chiara Simionato of Italy won the 500 in 38.51, while World Cup leader Jenny Wolf of Germany placed second. World sprint champion Svetlana Zhurova of Russia finished fourth. Smith was 14th and Schussler 18th.

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., with his Olympic teammates in Germany and who hasn’t raced the last two World Cup stops, holds third in the 500 World Cup standings only 20 points from leader Kang-Seok Lee of South Korea. In the 1,000, Wotherspoon stands fifth.

Another round of 500 and 1,000 men's and women's sprints continues Sunday.