Jeremy Wotherspoon & Cindy Klassen clinch World Cup titles

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg won the gold medal in the women’s 1,500 metres and Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., added silver in the men’s 500 on Friday to open the World Cup final in long track speed skating.

Both Canadians also win the season World Cup titles at those distances.

In the women’s 1,500, Klassen took the gold in 1:56.02 to earn her second World Cup title at the distance in three years. She missed almost all of last season due to injury. Daniela Anschutz of Germany was second at 1:57.49 and Chiara Simionato of Italy third in 1:57.82. Kristina Groves of Ottawa was seventh and Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., 18th.

Klassen tabulated 450 points this season in the 1,500 standings with three victories, one second place and one third in five races. World champion Anni Friesinger of Germany was second at 262 and Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., third at 250.

“It’s very satisfying to get the title and to do it by winning the last race of the year,” said Klassen. “I was excited about my race today, and it gives me a lot of confidence for the world championships (scheduled for next month).”

Wotherspoon clinched his fourth consecutive World Cup title and seventh in eight years in the men’s 500 with a silver medal performance in Friday’s race. Dmitry Lobkov of Russia won the race in 35.11 with Wotherspoon second in 35.13 and Joji Kato of Japan third in 35.27. Mark Nielsen of Calgary was 16th.

“My race was much better today than either of last week’s 500’s,” said Wotherspoon, who has three World Cup wins in the 500 this season. “There’s room for improvement but I made less mistakes. It was probably one of my fastest times on this track. I really attacked my second turn and carried a lot of speed to the finish.”

After nine of 10 races, Wotherspoon leads the 500 standings with 688 points while Kato is second at 528 and Lobkov third at 473. The final 500 race is on Sunday and with each win worth 100 points Wotherspoon can’t be caught.

“It’s always a nice accomplishment to get a World Cup title,” said Wotherspoon. “To have won for so many years now shows that I fended off a lot of challenges from different racers coming up through the ranks and I still stayed on top of the field. So that’s pretty good”

In the women’s 500, Manli Wang of China notched a seventh win this season to also clinch the World Cup title. Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was 14th in Friday’s race and is eighth in the standings.

In the men’s 5,000, Bob de Jong of the Netherlands won the gold in 6:19.28. Arne Dankers of Calgary was eighth in 6:31.40.

In the women’s B group races, Shannon Rempel off Winnipeg won the 1,500 in 2:01.13 with Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg eighth. Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., and Kim Weger of Regina tied for seventh in the 500 with Sarah Smith of Medicine Hat, Alta., ninth and Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer, 14th

In men’s B group races, Brock Miron of Calgary was sixth, James Monson of Winnipeg 14th and Jean-René Bélanger of Sherbrooke, Que., 20th in the 500. In the 5,000, Adam McCabe of Cambridge, Ont., was 11th.

Competition continues through to Sunday.