Nesbitt wins gold in 1,500 metres

Nesbitt wins gold in 1,500 metres at World Single Distances Championships
Klassen and Morrison record fourth places finishes, Gregg is seventh

AUDIO FILES (MP3): Belchos, Giroux (French), Gregg, Klassen, Morrison, Nesbitt (English), Nesbitt (French), Ouardi (English), Ouardi (French), Wang (coach), Wild (coach)
TV interview with NOS (Dutch TV): Nesbitt

HEERENVEEN, Netherlands – Canadian Christine Nesbitt continued to dominate the field this year in the 1,500 metres winning the race in one minute and 56.07 seconds at the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen, the Netherlands. Canada also placed three other skaters in the top 10 today. Cindy Klassen was fourth in the 1,500 metres. In the men’s 1,000 metres, Denny Morrison was also kept off the podium in fourth spot and Jamie Gregg was seventh.

While Nesbitt won the overall 1,500-metre World Cup title this season, with two silver medals and three gold, this was her first 1,500-metre victory at the World Single Distances Championships in six tries. Dutch skaters Ireen Wust and Linda de Vries were silver and bronze medallists, respectively. Wust, timed at 1:56.40, was 0.33 seconds behind Nesbitt, and de Vries crossed the finish line in 1:57.08.

“It was a good race. I was really nervous for the past two days for this race,” said Nesbitt. “I finally started to feel good on the ice this morning.

“I had a good race plan I made with Mark (Wild) and Xiuli (Wang),” noted Nesbitt “I knew I had that moment where I felt secure in the plan and I relied on that. I followed it really well. The last lap was super hard and I died, but my first 1,100 metres was really strong so I was able to podium.”

Nesbitt was also pleased with earning her first medal in the 1,500 metres at the World Single Distances Championships. “I really happy about it (the medal),” added Nesbitt. “I won a bronze in 2009 but Kristina (Groves) was disqualified, when she actually was the world champion. This is the first time that I earned my medal and it's really great. I'm really happy to break that barrier. That 1,500 is pretty long for me.”

“She wasn't sure if she was going to follow the plan, but we reinforced it,” said Nesbitt’s coach, Wang. “If she follows her plan, she's going to win this race.”

Coach Wild echoed Wang and Nesbitt. “It was an amazing day, a special day for her to come into to Thialf (Heerenveen) with a great plan in mind for the 1,500,” said Wild. “The goal all along was to stick to the plan she laid out with Xiuli and me. And she did it.”

Winnipeggers Cindy Klassen and Brittany Schussler took fourth and 11th place, respectively. Klassen skated the 1,500-metre distance in 1:57.30, missing the podium by 0.22 seconds. Schussler had a time of 1:59.62.

In the men’s 1,000 metres, Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., crossed the finish in fourth place in one minute and 9.04 seconds, just 0.21 seconds behind American Shani Davis (1:08.83) and the bronze medal. Dutch skaters Stefan Groothuis and Kjeld Nuis were first and second, respectively. Groothuis took gold in a time of 1:08.57 and Nuis finished in 1:08.79.

Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg took seventh place in the 1,000 metres in a time of 1:09.73, and Muncef Ouardi of Quebec City, was 17th (1:10.41). Both skaters are competing in third world single distances championship.

Skating in his first World Single Distances Championship, Toronto’s Jordan Belchos registered a time of 6:30.79 in the 5,000 metres to finish in 13th place. Skating in the first pair of the men’s 5,000 metres, Mathieu Giroux of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., finished in 6:42.95 taking 21st spot. Sven Kramer of the Netherlands won gold in 6:13.87, while countryman Bob de Jong was second in 6:15.26. American Jonathan Kuck claimed the bronze medal in 6:16.82.

The women have two races on Saturday, the 1,000- and 5,000-metre distances, and the men have one race, the 10,000 metres, but Canada does not have an entry. Regina’s Kali Christ, Calgary’s Kaylin Irvine and Nesbitt will skate the 1,000 metres. Edmonton’s Nicole Garrido, Klassen and Schussler will be in the 5,000-metre race.

The season wraps-up on Sunday with the two 500-metre races and team pursuit.