Rare podium no-show for Canada at speed skating World Cup

It was an unusual day on Saturday in World Cup long track speed skating. Canada didn’t win a medal.

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., provided Canada’s best result finishing fourth in the men’s 500-metres on Saturday to conclude the third stop for the sprinters on the World Cup circuit.

It’s the first day this season in six (three sprints and three all around) long track World Cup competition that Canada didn’t step on the podium.

Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands concluded the meet with three wins in four races including Saturday’s men’s 1,000. Joey Cheek of the U.S., took the men’s 500 ahead of two Japanese skaters.

Wotherspoon, with 54 career World Cup wins-most all time for men- was fourth in the 500 in 34.97 and seventh in the 1,000 in 1:08.85. He’s confident he can reclaim the world sprint title next weekend in Salt Lake City.

"This weekend I was feeling a lot of fatigue from all the training we’re doing in preparation for the world sprints and I didn’t have my usual snap," said Wotherspoon, still comfortably first in the World Cup 500 standings and third in the 1,000. "I think the world sprints will have one of the most competitive fields since I’ve been around. A lot of guys are in contention."

In the men’s B group races, Steven Elm of Red Deer and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., tied for fourth in the 1,000 while Jean-René Bélanger of Sherbrooke, Que., was eighth and Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., 15th. In the 500 B race, James Monson of Winnipeg was eighth, Brock Miron of Calgary 10th, Mark Nielsen of Calgary 11th and Bélanger 14th.

On the women’s side, Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg posted a personal best for the second straight day clocking 1:15.94 for fifth spot in the 1,000. Her previous best time was 1:15.95 on Friday night and it earned her a silver medal.

On Saturday Chiara Simionato of Italy won her fifth gold this season clocking 1:14.89, Anzhelika Kotyuga of Belarus was second in 1:15.12 and Marianne Timmer of the Netherlands third in 1:15.16.

"I wasn’t surprised at all that everyone went faster today," said Rempel, 20. "I knew I would need another personal best to at least make it into the medals. My first lap again was perfect today. What I need to work on is my start and my last lap."

Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., was 17th and Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., 18th.

In the women’s 500, China’s Manli Wang was defeated for the first time this season finishing fourth. Tomomi Okazaki led Japan to a 1-2 finish winning the gold in 37.73. Rempel was 10th in 38.57 while Kim Weger of Regina was 19th and Myers 20th.

In the women’s B races, Sarah Smith of Medicine Hat, Alta., and Wotherspoon were 13th and 16th in the 500 while in the 1,000, Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg and Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., were ninth and 11th.