Ottawa’s Kristina Groves wins bronze medal at speed skating World Cup

Double Olympic medallist Kristina Groves of Ottawa won the bronze medal in the women’s 1,500 metres on Saturday at a long track speed skating World Cup competition.

Groves was paired with World Cup leader Anni Friesinger of Germany in the last pair of the day. Friesinger won the gold in one minute and 56.10 seconds, world champion Ireen Wust of the Netherlands was second in 1:56.59 and Groves collected her first medal at the distance this season in 1:57.13.

‘’This is definitely a big improvement,’’ said Groves, the Olympic silver medallist in the event last year. ‘’The last couple of weeks I’ve been having trouble finding that sweet spot. My laps were strong but my opener was still a bit slow.’’

Groves admits the there’s a bit more of an adrenaline rush when she lines up against Friesinger.

‘’I do get a little anxious,’’ said Groves. ‘’She has a fast start and when you’re in the inner lane you have to be on the ball in terms of not messing up that first crossover against her. But it’s always good to be paired against the top racers. That’s what competition is all about.’’

Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg posted her best result this season at the distance finishing eighth. In the B Group race, Michèle d’Amours of Ste-Foy, Que., was second and Shannon Sibold of Calgary fifth.

In the World Cup 1,500 standings after five of six races, Friesinger leads with four wins and one second place for 480 points, Wust is second at 330, Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., not racing here this weekend, third at 280 and Groves fourth at 250.

World champion Sven Kramer led the Netherlands to a medal sweep in the men’s 10,000. In the B group race Lucas Makowsky of Regina was ninth, Justin Warsylewicz of Regina 11th, Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., 13th, Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., 18th and Mark Jesney of Saskatoon 23rd.

Competition ends Sunday.