Nesbitt & Groves Bring Home the Medals Again

Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) may well have the midas touch on the ice, with another gold medal performance in the 1500m event in a time of 1:52.76, Saturday, in World Cup #5 in Salt Lake City. Not far behind her was teammate Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON), who took the silver medal in 1:53.32, after having yesterday claimed a bronze in the 3000m event. American Jennifer Rodriguez rounded out the podium with a bronze in 1:54.19.

Nesbitt and Groves were paired together as a result of their stellar performances so far this season; both women have been regular fixtures on the podium, though each has a slightly different perspective on racing together. “It’s actually not that fun to battle it out! I have a stronger start, but she (Groves) has a stronger finish, so its not always nice to know that she’s there,” revealed Nesbitt. “The 1500m is the hardest race, you hurt so bad afterwards, it’s really hard mentally to face the race week after week, knowing how badly its going to feel. Today though, I’m really happy with the way I prepared mentally.” Nesbitt is also excited about taking a much-deserved Christmas break, safe in the knowledge that she’s prequalifed for the 1000m and 1500m events at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. “I have nothing to loose at the Winter Olympics; I’m going in as an underdog and I like that!”

Kristina Groves had a slightly different take on today’s race pairing, “It’s always good to be paired with someone you’re close in time with. It’s a good challenge, it’s good for preparation; you never know who you’re going to have to compete with!” said the Ottawa native. When asked about racing with Nesbitt, she laughed “We’ve had our fair share of duels over the past year! Christine seems kind of invincible in the 1000m; even in the 500m she’s flying when you look at her previous results.” Groves herself has had a packed schedule, with no less than 17 World Cup races this Fall. “This is the most racing I’ve ever done in the Fall, so its been mentally exhausting, but I’m encouraged overall. I’ve been picking and choosing different races to try out different things; what I’m really happy about these days is my focus; my mental focus is the most valuable tool I have right now,” summarized Groves.

In the same event, Britanny Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) skated to seventh place in 1:54.86, while Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB) came in at 1:56.10 for 13th place.

In the women’s 500m, Division A, Christine Nesbitt was 14th with a time of 38.17.

Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) skated up to Division A today, with a third place in Division B of the 500m event in 38.39; equally positive was Rempel’s second place in 1:56.30 in the 1500m Division B race. With these two results, Rempel now moves to Division A racing in both events for future World Cups this season.

Canadian Men – Under the Radar

No less than four Canadians took to the ice for the Division A men’s 500m; Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) came closest to the podium with fourth place in 34.36. “Overall, it was a good race, I had a good opener, but I had trouble in the second corner. I’ve been able to do PBs (personal bests) every race so far though, so that’s encouraging for me,” commented Gregg. When asked if the men’s team was feeling outshined by the women, Gregg mused “The women’s team has been stronger now for the past few years, but the guys are doing well, we’re getting better and all skating faster so it will be a good lead-up to February. ”

Also skating in the 500m event was Mike Ireland (Winnipeg, MB) who came 12th in a time of 34.73; he was followed closely by teammate Kyle Parrott (Minnedosa, MB) in 13th place in 34.75. Jeremy Wotherspoon (Red Deer, AB) finished 20th in a time of 45.95, an unusual result for the former Olympian, that was the fault of a defective bearing on his skate blade, which meant that he had to race cautiously and essentially on only one blade.

In the Division A 5000m event, Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) came 18th in 6:24.61; Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) came 20th in 6:29.18.

There was good news for Vincent Labrie (Saint-Romuald, QC), who today finished 2nd in 35.04 in Division B of the 500m event, and will move up to Division A for the next World Cup stops.

World Cup #5 in Salt Lake City, Utah comes to a close on Sunday, with the men’s and women’s 1000m events, as well as the highly anticipated men’s and women’s team pursuit events.

Other Canadian Results:

Women’s 500m, Division B
Tamara Oudenaarden (St-Albert, AB) 14th - 38.84
Anastasia Bucsis (Calgary, AB) 18th - 39.10
Justine L’Heureux (Saint-Tite, QC) 24th - 40.23

Men’s 5000m, Division B
Steven Elm (Red Deer, AB) 7th - 6:27.25
Jordan Belchos (Toronto, ON) 11th – 6:29.99
Jay Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.) 14th – 6:33.91