Kristina Groves – So Close to the Podium!

Canadian Speed Skaters just missed the podium in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, at the Long Track World Cup. Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) and Clara Hughes (Glen Sutton, QC) came close in the 3000m event, with fourth and fifth place finishes.

German skater Stephanie Beckert was the fastest on the ice with a time of 4:05.29, she was joined by fellow teammate Daniela Anschütz Thoms who placed third with a time of 4:05,73. Czech athlete Martina Sablikova came in for second place in 4:05.68. Groves and Hughes skated the distance in times of 4:06.76 and 4:08.88 respectively.

In the same distance, Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) skated to seventh in 4:09.36, and Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB) came 13th in a time of 4:11.36. In Group B, Nicole Garrido (Edmonton, AB) finished 16th in 4:16.49.

Having missed the bronze by little more than a second, Kristina Groves was satisified with her performance today. “I felt that I was a lot better than last weekend in Berlin. I worked on a lot of things during this past week, and I was able to use them on the ice. I was better technically and stronger at the end of the race,” acknowledged Groves, who excels in races of various distances.

Groves, a double silver medallist at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games continued, “So far this season I haven’t had really exceptional races, but everything is coming together for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games,” she confided.

Clara Hughes, who came in fifth in today’s race also commented that she had progressed since Berlin’s races, “Technically speaking, I had a better race; I am happy with the way that I’m skating right now, at this point in the season. Its very motivating!” exclaimed the ever-positive Hughes.

In the women’s 500m event, Christine Nesbitt (London, ON), earned eighth place with 38.87 – the best Canadian result. Skating in Division B, Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) came in seventh with 39.56;
Tamara Oudenaarden (St-Albert, AB) was 22nd with 40.10; Anastasia Bucsis (Calgary, AB) came 24th in 40.17; and Justine L’Heureux (St-Tite, QC) earned 27th with a time of 40.75.

A Quiet Day in Men’s Racing

Today, Canada’s men participated in the 1500m and 500m events. Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) posted the highest result with an eighth place in the 1500m event in 1:46.42, while Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, C.-B.) came 10th in 1:47.68, Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) came in right behind him, with an 11th place finish in a time of 1:47.73, his best career result in a Long Track World Cup event.

“Overall, I’m content with my results today. I got a seventh place finish in a World Cup last season, so I’m pleased with my performance today (Friday). I had a solid start, which helped me to gather a lot of speed during the rest of the race, ” explained Makowsky, adding that he has worked diligently on mental preparation throughout the week. “I’ts the sort of training that is excellent for confidence levels prior to the Olympic selections.”

Still in 1500m men’s racing, Group B’s Steven Elm (Red Deer, AB) and Mykola Makowsky (Regina, SK) finished eighth in 1:49.04, and 21st in 1:50.87, respectively.

Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) raced to 16th place in the 500m event with a time 35.53. In Division B racing, Canadian athletes earned the following results and times: Kyle Parrott (Minnedosa, AB) second with 35.67; Mike Ireland (Winnipeg, MB) took fifth in 35.87; Muncef Ouardi (Charlesbourg, QC) came in 14th in 36.11; Vincent Labrie (Saint-Romuald, QC) skated to 17th in 36.16.

Saturday, the women will skate in the 500m and 1500m events, while the men will take to the ice for the 500m and 5000m events.