Klassen wins bronze in the 3,000m

Favoured to win Sunday's 3,000 metres, Canadian speed skater Cindy Klassen tired down the stretch and earned for the bronze medal in her first of five events at the Torino Olympic Winter Games.

The 26-year-old from Winnipeg finished third with a time of four minutes, 4.37 seconds, well back of her world record of 3:55.75 she set on the quick ice in Calgary in November.

"The ice was tough," Klassen told CBC Sports at the Oval Lingotto.

"I started off at a pace that I thought I could hold. But I died at the end."

Klassen skated smoothly to that point, looking loose and relaxed, but tightened up and nearly stumbled as she moved inside on the final turn.

"I think I started out a little fast," Klassen reiterated. "Third is good enough."

Dutch teenager Ireen Wust won the gold medal in a stunning upset, covering 7 1/2 laps in 4:02.43 seconds to edge out teammate Renate Groenewold, who repeated as Olympic silver medallist.

"It's great to win a bronze medal," Klassen said. "But I just want to focus on the next races coming up."

Klassen still has a chance to capture gold in any of the four other races in which she is competing - the 1,000, 1,500, 5,000 and team pursuit, a new event to the Games.

Hughes, 33, is the only Canadian to have won medals in both Summer and Winter Olympics. She won two bronze in cycling at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics before turning to skating, where she won a bronze in Salt Lake City in 2002. Hughes is also entered in the 5,000 and team pursuit.

Groves, 30, is competing in her second Olympics, her best previous finish being an eighth-place showing in the 3,000 metres in 2002.

Groves, Hughes and Klassen return to competition on Wednesday as they compete in the team pursuit qualification round.

with files from CP, CBC and Sun Media