Golden pursuit for Canadian women at World Cup final

HEERENVEEN, The Netherlands – Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., and Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg earned two medals apiece on Sunday to highlight another productive day for the Canadians at the World Cup final in long track speed skating.

Shannon Rempel on the podium, Photo: Arno Hoogveld
Rempel continued a late season surge helping Canada to gold for the season crown in the women’s team pursuit and adding a bronze in the 1,000 while Morrison took second in the 1,000 and helped Canada to the runner-up position in the men’s pursuit.

In the women’s 2,400-metre pursuit, Canada won the gold medal in three minutes and 02.69 seconds with Rempel, Kristina Groves of Ottawa and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg. Germany was second in 3:02.80 and Japan, Canada’s pair, was third in 3:03.15.

‘’We just wanted to skate really well together heading into world championships (next month in Nagano),’’ said Rempel. ‘’Today we communicated well and we really knew what we were doing. We pulled each lap really hard.’’

Canada earns the season World Cup title with 350 points edging Germany in second at 330.

In the men’s 1,000, Shani Davis of the U.S., took the gold medal in 1:08.63 edging Morrison in second in 1:08.75. Simon Kuipers of the Netherlands was third in 1:09.22. Davis and Morrison went head-to-head in the final pairing of the day.

‘’It was a lot of fun to race against him,’’ said Morrison. ‘’I executed my race plan really well. Where he gets the win is always on the last lap. My last lap is getting better and better. Last week I was behind by two tenths so I’m getting closer. Who knows for Nagano (at the world championships next month), maybe I’ll be just ahead of him.’’

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., was eighth and François-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que., 22nd.

Wotherspoon, who won both 500 races this weekend to take the season title. He is looking to improve is 1,000 results.

‘’I’m happy with parts of my 1,000 race,’’ said Wotherspoon. ‘’The first 600 has been going pretty well for me this year but my last laps haven’t been as consistent. My top speed and acceleration are there I just need to better my strength throughout the whole race.’’

Davis sealed the World Cup title at the distance with Morrison second. Wotherspoon was fifth.

In the men’s 3,200 metre pursuit, the Netherlands won gold in 3:40.30 followed by the Canadians with Morrison, Arne Dankers of Calgary and Justin Warsylewicz of Regina, second in 3:44.97. Russia was third in 3:46.75.

The Dutch edged Canada for the season title with 375 points to 360 for second place Canada.

In the women’s 1,000, Anni Friesinger of Germany soared to an eighth straight victory at the distance in 1:15.57 followed by Paulien van Deutekom of the Netherlands in second in 1:16.77 and Rempel third in 1:16.82.

‘’I thought I was doomed after a disappointing 1,500 (on Saturday),’’ said Rempel, who battled through back pains this weekend. ‘’But I had a pretty good race. I just wanted to fight through and finish as hard as I could. I saw my pair entering her last turn at a high frequency so I tried to match what she was doing.’’

Groves was fifth, Schussler was ninth and Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., 14th.

Friesinger took the season title with Ireen Wust of the Netherlands second while Rempel moved from fourth to third with her medal performance.

In the 100-metre dashes, Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., was sixth for the men while for the women Simpson was sixth and Tamara Oudenaarden of Edmonton seventh.