Cindy Klassen earns second gold, Kristina Groves & Jeremy Wotherspoon win bronze at speed skating worlds

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg headlined another big day for Canada at the long track speed skating world single distance championships Friday charging to victory in the women’s 3,000 metres for her second gold of the competition.

Kristina Groves of Ottawa placed third in the race for the bronze medal while Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., also won bronze in the men’s 500 metres despite a sore back.

In the women’s 3,000, Klassen, who was paired with Groves, clocked 4:10.37 then watched three pairs unsuccessfully, beat the time to win the gold medal. Defending champion and Olympic gold medallist Claudia Pechstein of Germany, skating in the final pair, took the silver in 4:10.89 and Groves snared the bronze in 4:11.97 for her first career world championship medal.

"This is very exciting I never expected to do this well especially in the 3,000," said Klassen, the 1,500 winner on Thursday. "I had a little trouble at the end but so did almost everybody else. I didn’t know if my time would hold but I was happy with it. Claudia Pechstein had much faster laps than me at the end so I won the race thanks to a strong beginning."

Klassen’s game plan all winter was to peak for these championships.

"At the beginning of the year I wanted to make sure I did my best here," she said. "So I guess I was ready. I hope I can duplicate the plan at the Olympics."

Groves is enjoying the best season of her career which includes her first world Cup win and sixth place at the all around world championships last month.

"It was a very satisfying race for me," said Groves. "Cindy and I waged a good battle and that made it fun. I didn’t panic when I was paired with her and skated my own race. It’s been good for me this season to be consistently up there. To make the podium in the year’s big race proves to myself that I can be there."

Clara Hughes of Winnipeg was fifth in 4:14.69. Hughes was paired with all around world champion Anni Friesinger of Germany who stumbled during the second lap of the 3,000, hit the wall and did not finish.

"Her fall didn’t affect me at all," said Hughes who has battled the flu and bronchitis over the past month.

"I’m really excited about my performance today which augurs well for the 5,000 (Sunday). I wasn’t feeling great but I expected that and I’m on track."

Hughes is the defending champion in the 5,000.

In the men’s 500, Joji Kato led Japan to a 1-2 finish clocking the fastest times in both races for a combined time of 1:11.020. Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan was second at 1:11.460 and Wotherspoon was third in 1:11.700. Wotherspoon, the defending champion, clocked the third best time in the first race at 35.87 and the fourth fastest in the second at 35.83.

Wotherspoon woke up Friday morning with a stiff back.

"It was a tough day but despite everything I had two solid races," said Wotherspoon, the 500 World Cup champion this season. "I wasn’t even sure I would race until the on-ice warm-up. So that gave me doubts during the races, I was a bit worried my back might seize up again."

Brock Miron of Calgary was 18th.

Competition continues through to Sunday.