Christine Nesbitt & Denny Morrison step on podium again in Nagano

With a time of 1:16.38, Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) was the gold medalist in the 1000m, today, in Nagano. This is her second medal of the weekend in this distance. Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, BC) also climbed on the podium for the second time with a bronze in the men’s 1000 m.

“I was really excited about participating in this race,” explained Nesbitt. “My concentration was strong and my competitive side brought out the best in me. I really wanted to win. I was able to strengthen my start and to increase my overall speed. I think I can still improve my performance for the Olympics. The objective established with my coach (Ingrid Paul) is to be peaking next February, in order to replicate the Olympic Year.”

The other Canadians to skate the women’s 1000 m, Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) and Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) came in 5th and 6th, finishing only 0.30 seconds behind the second and third place skaters, Chinese Yu Jing and Jin Peiyu. In Division B, Kerry Dankers (Melville, SK) finished 7th, while Justine L’Heureux (St. Tite, QC) came in 8th.

On the men side, still in the 1000m, Morrison finished 3rd in 1 :09.23, behind American Shani Davis (1 :08.92) and Korean Lee Kyou-Hyuk (1 :09.16). Kyle Parrott (St. Albert, AB) finished 13 th, his best career result in a World Cup. Muncef Ouardi (Montreal, QC) and Philippe Riopel (Lachenaie, QC) finished 15 th and 16 th, while François-Olivier Roberge (St-Nicolas, QC) took 18 th place.

“I’m happy with my performance this weekend,” said a relieved Morrison. “I was hoping to step onto the podium. I was able to achieve all of my objectives, both technically, in the execution and in my overall comfort level. I was also able to finish within 0.31 seconds of my main rival, the American Shani Davis. I’m looking forward to the Canadian championship at the end of the month. It will be exciting skating in front of my friends and family. It will also be a good place to prepare mentally for Vancouver 2010.”

In the women’s 500 m, Christine Nesbitt finished 14th, only 0.66 seconds behind the leader, Jing Yu from China. Shannon Rempel came in 17th. In Group B, Tamara Oudenaarden (St. Albert, AB), Danielle Wotherspoon (Red Deer, AB) and Kerry Dankers were 8th, 9th and 10th.

On the men side, Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) finished in 12th improving his time from yesterday by shredding 0.04 seconds and getting closer and closer to the top 10. Team-mate Muncef Ouardi came in 16th. In Group B, Denny Morrison, Kyle Parrott and Francois-Olivier Roberge finished in 7th, 8th and 9th respectively.

The 100 m distance is not an Olympic event but it is still raced in the Sprint World Cups. In the women’s, Christine Nesbitt was the top Canadian in 16th. Shannon Rempel finished 25th, followed by Danielle Wotherspoon and Tamara Oudenaarden in 26th and 27th. Kerry Dankers finished 35th.

In the same distance for the men, Jamie Gregg came in 5th. Muncef Ouardi finished 18th, while Kyle Parrott came in 21st. Denny Morrison finished in 27th and Francois-Olivier Roberge came in 31st.

This weekend in Nagano marked the end of the first half of the season for long track speed skating. The national team will return home for some much deserved rest, but also to prepare for the Canadian Single Distance Championships, which will take place in Richmond, from December 27-31. This will be the first official competition on the ice that will be home of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.