Gold rush continues for Wotherspoon at speed skating World Cup

HAMAR, Norway – Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., bettered his track record on Saturday in a golden performance in the men’s 500-metres at a long track speed skating World Cup competition. Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., and Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que., each added bronze medals.

Wotherspoon clocked 34.31 seconds for his sixth victory in six World Cup races this season at the distance. Joon Mun of South Korea was second in 34.75 and Mika Poutala of Finland took the bronze in 34.88.

It was a career-leading 63rd World Cup win for Wotherspoon.

‘’Jeremy is technically very solid right now,’’ said Canadian coach Marcel Lacroix. ‘’From race to race he is able to adapt quickly to the different ice conditions. He’s just very focused on his racing and he’s been flawless.’’

Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., was 13th and Morrison 16th. In the B group race, Mark Nielsen of Calgary and Jamie Gregg of Edmonton tied for third.

In the World Cup 500 standings after 10 of 14 races, Kang-Seok Lee of South Korea leads at 712 points, Wotherspoon has moved into second at 600. Wotherspoon skipped last month’s European World Cups.

In the men’s 1,500, Simon Kuipers led the Netherlands to a 1-2 finish clocking 1:44.74 with Sven Kramer second in 1:44.75. Morrison took the bronze in 1:44.82, his third medal at the distance this season. He was on the winning time with one lap to go but kicked himself doing a cross over on the last corner.

‘’It was the best 1,500 race I’ve skated all year but I lost my focus when the bell rang (for the final lap),’’ said Morrison, who had a 0.7 second lead at the bell. ‘’I caught the toe of my one blade on the heel of the other and it was enough to knock me off balance. Still the race gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. If I can skate a race like that on Calgary ice, without the kick, then I think a world record is possible.’’

Lucas Makowsky of Regina was 11th and Steven Elm of Red Deer, 13th.

In the women’s 5,000, world champion Martina Sablikova was the victor in 6:51.83 with Claudia Pechstein of Germany second in 6:56.57 and Hughes, the Olympic champion, third in 7:01.44. Kristina Groves of Ottawa was fifth and Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg sixth.

Hughes and Groves were paired together.

‘’We race really well together,’’ said Hughes. If I had not been paired with Kristina I think it could have been a lot slower for me. She had a really good race and that motivated me to keep trying and pushing through the pain. Technically it didn’t come easy for me today so I’m pleased with the medal.’’

In the women’s 500, Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was seventh, Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., 15th and Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer 19th. In the B Group Tamara Oudenaarden of Edmonton was third.