Winnipeg’s Cindy Klassen opens world championships with silver medal

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg won the silver medal in the women’s 500-metres Saturday and stands second overall after two races at the all around world championships in long track speed skating.

Anni Friesinger of Germany, a two-time all around world champion, won both the 500 and 3,000 metre races Saturday to stand first overall after two of four distances at 79.890 points.

Klassen, the 2003 all around world champion, is second at 80.465 after placing second in the 500 and fifth in the 3,000. Claudia Pechstein of Germany is third at 81.380. Defending champion Renate Groenewold of the Netherlands is 18th overall.

"I had a very solid day of skating but I have some ground to make up to catch Anni," said Klassen, who missed most of last season including the world championships due to injury. "I still have the 1,500 which is one my stronger distances (on Sunday) and I’ll need to have a very good 5,000 as well."

Kristina Groves of Ottawa was 15th in the 500 and seventh in the 3,000 to stand seventh overall and Clara Hughes of Winnipeg took 22nd in the 500 and 10th in the 3,000 and is 20th overall.

In the 500, Friesinger clocked 39.04 to edge Klassen second in 39.10.

"I had one of my best starts ever," said Klassen about her 500. "It was a technically strong race for me."

In men’s competition, the Americans are 1-2 overall after two of four distances with Shani Davis (second in the 500 and fifth in the 5,000) first at 74.969 points and Chad Hedrick (third in the 500 and second in the 5,000) second at 75.011. Sven Kramer of the Netherlands is third at 75.917. Hedrick and Davis were respectively 1-2 overall at last year’s worlds.

Arne Dankers of Calgary is 18th overall after placing 21st in the 500 and 10th in the 5,000. Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., is 21 placing 12th in the 500 and 22nd in the 5,000 and Philippe Marois of Ste-Foy, Que., is 22nd after finishing 19th and 21st.

"I had a very good rhythm to my race," said Dankers, describing his 5,000 performance. "Hopefully it’ll be enough to qualify me for the 10,000 final on Sunday. I was hoping to be a little bit higher up in the overall standings."

Takahiro Ushiyama of Japan won the 500 and Oystein Grodum of Norway clocked first in the 5,000.

Competition ends Sunday.