Nesbitt Crowned 1500m World Cup Champion

Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) was crowned 1500m World Cup Champion, today, at the Final World Cup of the season taking place in Heerenveen, in the Netherlands. The Canadian skater was pretty safe with a big lead going in to today’s race, as she had four victories and one third place in the 1500m so far this season. She added a bronze medal to her tally today, enough to clinch the title with 575 points. Marrit Leenstra and Ireen Wust of the Netherlands respectively finish second and third in World Cup Classifications, with 466 and 460 points.

Today, Wust was the fastest in the Thialf Stadium in Heerenveen. She completed the race in 1:56.35 to capture her first gold medal in the distance at a World Cup event this season. Leenstra was able to secure the silver medal, thanks to her time of 1:57.00, while Nesbitt took the bronze in 1:57.86.

“I would have liked to finish a bit stronger,” admitted Nesbitt. “But what’s really important is next weekend, the World Championships. I’m actually pretty happy with today in a lot of small ways. It doesn’t show in the results because of the big margin, but I feel like this was my best 1500m race in a long time, better even than in Moscow where I won in January. I’ve felt tired since World Sprints, and I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting stronger and stronger, it’s showing in my technique. If I feel the same way as today next week, I’ll be very confident on the start line.”

Winnipeg’s Brittany Schussler finished 15th today with a time of 2:00.62, and Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB) was 18th (2:02.09). In the overall World Cup Rankings, Canada is the strongest of all countries with three skaters in the top-6, as Nesbitt is first, Schussler fourth and Klassen sixth.

The first 500m race of the weekend was disputed today on the men side, and Kang-Seok Lee of Korea was victorious in 35.03. He was closely followed by Kyou-Hyuk Lee in 35.08, and the bronze medal went to Deutch skater Jacques de Koning who crossed the finish line in 35.18.

Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) was the top Canadian, clinching the 13th place (35.52). Vincent Labrie (Lévis, QC) completed the race in 35.72, good for 20th place, while teammates Tyler Derraugh (Winnipeg, MB) and Muncef Ouardi (Québec, QC) respectively finished 21st and 23rd, with times of 35.89 and 36.00. One more 500m race is on the schedule for Sunday in Heerenveen, and final World Cup rankings will then be determined.

Last but not least, Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) was on the ice along with fellow long distance skaters for the 5000m competition. Makowsky skated a very respectable time of 6:35.09, placing him 16th. The race was won by Bob de Jong of the Netherlands in 6:18.62. Ivan Skobrev of Russia captured the silver medal in 6:22.50 while bronze went to Bob de Vries of the Netherlands (6:24.44). de Jong, Skobrev and de Vries all finish in that order in overall 5000m World Cup Rankings, while Makowsky is 19th.

Tomorrow, the women will race their first 500m as well as the 3000m, while the men will be in action in the 1500m. The final World Cup event of the 2010-11 season will end on Sunday with the presentation of the last 500m and 1000m races for both men and women.