Groves & Wotherspoon Own the 1000m

Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) and Jeremy Wotherspoon (Red Deer, AB) literally flew over the ice Tuesday on the third day of the Canadian Long Track Team Selections in Calgary.

Jeremy Wotherspoon won the 1000m at the Long Track Team Selections, photo: Arno Hoogveld
Sunday, Jeremy Wotherspoon earned his Olympic berth for the 500m event, and now adds to it the 1000m race, thanks to a time of 1:07.57; this will be his fourth Olympic Winter Games.

“After a year of forced rest (due to an arm injury), I’m getting back into racing shape slowly but surely,” commented the skater from Alberta. “Right now, I’m focused on returning to my best racing shape – that is the most important thing for me at the moment,” he concluded. After some reflection, Wotherspoon added, “This will be the last time I skate for Canada at an Olympic Winter Games, and I’m convinced that it will be an experience unlike my other Olympic experiences.”

Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.) took second place with a time of 1:07.94. For Morrison, today’s race was simply a training exercise, as the young skater had already secured his spot for the distance at the starting line in the Richmond Oval come February.

Kyle Parrott (Minnedosa, MB) and François-Olivier Roberge (Saint-Nicolas, QC,) took third and fourth place with times of 1:08.10 and 1:08.66 respectively. Even though today’s results don’t gurantee the two athletes their place on Team Canada, chances are that they too, will be at the starting line in Febraury, as Canada is allowed four skaters in the men’s 1000m event.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to skate like I did today,” explained Roberge. “I made a mental plan, and I stuck with it. I accomplished what I wanted to,” he concluded confidently.

This Friday, Roberge will dispute the 1500m – and he intends to grab one of Canada’s remaining places for that distance, “I don’t mind finishing fourth today and having to secure my spot on Friday; it’s better than finishing sixth today and having everything on the line during the 1500m,” he reasoned.

Groves Will Skate the 1000m

Prequalifed for the 3000m, Kristina Groves will also be skating the 1000m event at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games – her time of 1:15.74 was the fastest today. Groves’s victory puts her on the ice with teammate Christine Nesbitt (London, ON), already prequalified.

“Canada has four or five skaters who can podium in World Cups,” she began. “It was a really high calibre race, I was a little stressed, but I was able to focus my energy well.”

The 33 year-old athlete was also a member of Team Canada at the Turin 2006 Olympic Winter Games, where she won two silver medals – one in the 1500m event, and another as a member of the Women’s Pursuit Team.

“I was nervous today, but I think it was a positive nervousness, it allowed me push myself. I’m really happy to be qualified for the 1000m event.”

Groves out-skated both Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) who came in second at 1:16.24, and Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) who skated to third in 1:16.25. Official Team Canada selections will be announced over the following weeks. Canada will be represented by 10 skaters; four of which will skate the 1000m, so Rempel and Schussler’s chances of skating the distance in February look promising.

Canada’s best speed skaters will take two days off to rest and celebrate the New Year; Friday’s scheduled racing features the 1500m event, while Saturday the women will skate the 5000m event and the men will race the 10 000m.