Two world records for Winnipeg’s Cindy Klassen at world championship qualifier

Cindy Klassen’s amazing comeback season reached a new level on Sunday as she broke two world records at the long track speed skating North American world championship qualifier.

The Winnipeg native, who missed most of last season after suffering a serious arm injury in training, won the women’s 1,500-metres in 1:53.87 to eclipse the previous world mark of 1:54.02 set by Germany’s Anni Friesinger at the 2002 Olympics at the same venue.

"I never expected the record, I was just hoping to go faster than I did in Calgary a couple of weeks ago at the nationals," said Klassen, 25, who won Olympic bronze here in 2002 in the 3,000. "I knew something was up after my first full lap when I saw how exited the coaches were with my start. I’ve never seen them like that before, it was actually kind of funny. But the first lap was the key to the race because I kind of died at the end."

Klassen also beat her own world total points mark with 159.605 points over the four races this weekend. She also won the 500 and 3,000 metre races on Saturday and was also second in the 5,000 Sunday. Her previous best was 159.723 set here in 2003 at the same competition.

Clara Hughes of Winnipeg won the 5,000 finale on Sunday in 7:03.03 to finish second overall at 163.955 and Kristina Groves of Ottawa, second in the 1,500, completed the Canadian medal sweep finishing third overall at 165.225.

Klassen, Hughes and Groves qualify for the all around worlds next month in Moscow. In addition Klassen is preparing for the world sprints here in two weeks. In 2003, Klassen won the all around world title and was second at the world sprints.

"I don’t think I can be considered the favourite for the all around worlds based on today’s showing," said Klassen. "You don’t know how the European and Asian skaters would have fared if they were here. All I know is my training is going well and I’m hoping I can maintain this kind of pace for the rest of the season. It’s going to probably be a different ice situation in Moscow so I was happy to get these kind of times here."

On the men’s side American Shani Davis duplicated Klassen’s feat with world marks in the 1,500 and for the overall points total. In the 1,500 he clocked 1:43.33 to eclipse the 1:43.95 established by compatriot Derek Parra here at the 2002 Games. His point total of 149.359 broke American Chad Hedrick’s mark of 150.478 set at the worlds last year in Norway.

KC Boutiette of the U.S., was second overall at 152.674 and Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., third at 152.674 highlighted by third spot in the 1,500.

World junior champion Justin Warsylewicz of Regina was fourth overall, Arne Dankers of Calgary sixth, Philippe Marois of Ste-Foy, Que., eighth. Elm, Dankers and Marois are Canada’s entries for the worlds. Warsylewicz will look to defend his world junior title.

Dankers posted a personal best in the 10,000 clocking 13:56.99 for third spot.