Cindy Klassen concludes her season with a bronze medal at world championships

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg earned her second medal in two days at the world single distance championships in long track speed skating on Friday with a bronze medal in the women’s 3,000-metres finishing less than a second from the winning time.

The competition also featured two world records for Lee-Kang Seok of South Korea in the men’s 500 metres.

In a very close women’s 3,000, World Cup champion Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic took the gold in 3:58.09 with Renate Groenewold of the Netherlands second in 3:58.41 and Klassen third in 3:58.50. It was Klassen’s last race this season.

‘’I was really happy about the race, I skated it the way I wanted to,’’ said Klassen, who won five medals at last year’s Olympic Games. ‘’I set out on a pace I thought I could hold but unfortunately I blew up on the last lap. The best part of my race was in the middle. That’s where you need to hold on a bit and I was dropping my lap times at that point. I paid for it in the end but I wouldn’t have changed that strategy. Seeing I was so close to the winning time made it even more satisfying.’’

Kristina Groves of Ottawa, a bronze medallist in Thursday’s 1,500 was sixth and Clara Hughes of Winnipeg 13th.

After a busy off-season, Klassen skipped the fall World Cups to focus on training. She returned to action in late December at the Canadian championships and won the overall bronze last month at the all around world championships.

‘’I’m going to take a lot of confidence into next season,’’ said Klassen. ‘’Things went so well. I’m actually a bit sad to see the season end because it was so short. I’m already looking forward to next winter.’’

In the men’s 500, Lee won the gold medal in a two-race combined time of 68.69 seconds which eclipsed the previous combined world record time of 68.96 set here by Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan in 2001.

Lee’s time of 34.25 in the second 500 broke the previous world mark of 34.30 also set here by Japan’s Joji Kato in 2005. Yuya Oikawa of Japan won the silver medal in 69.02 and Tucker Fredericks of the U.S., was third in 69.03.

Mike Ireland of Winnipeg was the top Canadian in ninth. He was 12th after the first 500 then posted the second fasest time in the second 500 behind Lee clocking a personal best 34.48. Brock Miron of Calgary was 18th and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., 20th.

Competition continues through to Sunday.