Three medals for Canada at speed skating World Cup

Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., helped Canada to silver in the women’s pursuit just after earning a bronze in the women’s 1,000-metre on Sunday to conclude the second stop on the long track speed skating World Cup circuit.

The men’s pursuit team capped Canada’s best day this season with a bronze.

In the women’s 2,400-metre pursuit, the Netherlands won the gold medal in three minutes and 02.90 seconds followed by Canada in second at 3:04.07 and Germany third at 3:04.76. The Canadian skaters were Nesbitt, Kristina Groves of Ottawa and Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg, all three part of Canada’s Olympic silver medal performance in the pursuit in Turin.

"The girls had a little slip and lost some speed in the second half of the race and that cost some time," said Canadian national team coach Marcel Lacroix of Calgary. "Up to that point we were leading. But it was the first pursuit at this level since the Olympics. We haven’t put as much emphasis on the pursuit this season in training so this was a good start."

In the men’s 3,200-metre pursuit, the Dutch notched another gold clocking 3:40.79 with Norway second in 3:45.97 and the Canadians third in 3:46.31 with Arne Dankers of Calgary, Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C. All three Canadians were also part of an Olympic silver medal performance last winter.

"The guys had some trouble reading each other during the race," said Lacroix. "In the middle portion of the race they probably should have gone faster. But still they finished strong."

In the women’s 1,000, Anni Friesinger of Germany took the gold in 1:15.53 to remain unbeaten in five races this season. Ireen Wust of the Netherlands was second in 1:16.13 and Nesbitt third in 1:16.30. Groves was fourth in 1:16.51 and Rempel fifth in 1:16.74.

Nesbitt, 21, has five individual medals so far this season (three silver and two bronze), tops on the Canadian team.

"I’m not surprised with her showing this season," said Lacroix who coaches Nesbitt. "She’s shown a lot of maturity. She relaxes well during her races and never loses control. She’s starting to believe now that she can win these races."

In the B Group race, Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg was third and Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., 12th.

In the men’s 1,000, Morrison was fifth, François-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicholas, Que., seventh and Brock Miron of Calgary 15th. In the B Group race, Mike Ireland of Winnipeg was seventh.

For Roberge it was a career-best performance.

"François-Olivier made a lot changes to how he trained during the off season so we were hoping for improved performances," said Roberge’s coach Gregor Jelonek. "But we didn’t expect it to go this well. It’s a nice surprise to see him in the main group of racers in the 1,500 as well."

The next stop on the World Cup is this weekend in Moscow.