Silver Sunday for Canadian speed skaters on World Cup

HEERENVEEN, The Netherlands – Denny Morrison of Fort St. John., B.C., and Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., helped Canada to a quadruple silver medal performance on Sunday to conclude the fourth stop on the long track speed skating World Cup circuit.

Morrison and Nesbitt won two silver each placing second in their respective 1,000-metre races and helping Canada to silvers in the pursuits.

Christine Nesbitt racing in Heerenveen, Photo: Arno Hoogveld
In the women’s 1,000, world sprint champion Anni Friesinger of Germany was the victor in 1:15.34 with Nesbitt second in 1:15.66 and Chiara Simionato of Italy third in 1:16.14. Kristina Groves of Ottawa was fifth, Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg seventh, Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg eighth and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg 20th.

Nesbitt was paired with Friesinger for the first time in her career. Past the halfway point of the race, Nesbitt slipped touching the ice with her hands but recovered with a strong last lap.

‘’It was very exciting to be paired with Anni,’’ said Nesbitt, with three podium finishes this season at the distance for third in the World Cup standings. ‘’Ever since I’ve started getting on the podium she’s always been one spot ahead of me. So I knew it was an opportunity to have a positive experience. And I had a really good race despite the slip. I don’t think it cost me the gold but it’s hard to tell. I’ve never beaten her in the 1,000.’’

In the women’s 2,400 metre pursuit, the Dutch prevailed in 3:00.54 with Canada second in 3:02.87 with Klassen, Nesbitt and Schussler and Russia third.

In the men’s 1,000, Olympic and world champion Shani Davis of the U.S., took the gold medal in 1:08.39 with Morrison second in 1:08.71 and Kyou-Hyuk Lee of South Korea third in 1:08.80. François-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicholas, Que., was 15th.

‘’It was pretty good but my speed wasn’t totally there this week,’’ said Morrison with his second medal performance at the distance for fourth in the World Cup standings. ‘’I opened a little slow but did a good last lap.’’

In the men’s 3,200-metre pursuit, the Netherlands took the gold in 3:40.57 followed

Canada's Pursuit Team on the podium in Heerenveen, Photo: Arno Hoogveld
by the Canadians with Morrison, Arne Dankers of Calgary and Justin Warsylewicz of Regina in second at 3:42.82. Russia was third.

‘’It went really well,’’ said Morrison. ‘’We had a great strategy and used our strengths really well and that’s why we are consistent with podium finishes.’’

Canada is first in the World Cup pursuit standings for both the men and women.

Rempel was also 14th in the women’s 500.

In the B Group races, Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., was eighth in the 1,000 with Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., 22nd and Jeff Kitura of Langley, B.C., 29th;; in the women’s 500, Kim Weger of Regina was 11th, Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer 13th and Nicole Garrido of Edmonton 18th.