Justin Warsylewicz & Clara Hughes find rhythm at speed skating selection meet

Justin Warsylewicz, photo: Arno Hoogveld
CALGARY – Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que., and Justin Warsylewicz of Regina will have a spring in their step for the upcoming World Cups after solid performances on Sunday to conclude the national team selection long track speed skating competition.

Results from the four-day meet will help determine the Canadian team for the fall World Cups. Members of last season’s world championship team were pre-selected. Based on last season’s strong international performances Canada has earned the maximum five quota spots in all distances for the World Cups.

The women’s 5,000 was an interesting early-season battle featuring world champion Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic and Hughes, the Olympic champion in Turin two seasons ago. Sablikova won the race in 6:56.88 with Hughes second in 6:57.37 and Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg third in 7:07.68.

‘’I felt I had a good rhythm and did some things technically well,’’ said Hughes, who climbed the equivalent of two Mount Everest in her cycling training in California this past summer. ‘’I had been struggling of late just too find a good technique. Today for the first time I felt like I put my fitness into my skating. I feel I’m ready for the rest of the season now.’’

The men’s 10,000 had four World Cup team positions up for grabs the most of any

Arne Dankers, Photo: Arno Hoogveld
distance. Arne Dankers of Calgary, who was pre-selected, won as expected in 13:32.56. Justin Warsylewicz of Regina was second in 13:39.43, Aaron Sadlier of Norwood, Ont., third in 13:41.03 and Lucas Makowsky of Regina fourth in 13:43.27.

Warsylewicz put together a strong finish to his 2006-07 season finishing eighth at the worlds in the 5,000 and has carried the confidence from that result into this early season.

‘’My laps were pretty even from start to finish and I kept it together the whole way,’’ said Warsylewicz, a member of Canada’s Olympic silver medal winning pursuit team. ‘’To skate a really solid race this early at such a long distance was really important for me. Things are going a lot better for me right now than they did at this time last season. I think it will be possible to post some good results early on in the year.’’