World record for Cindy Klassen at speed skating world championships

Buoyed by a sellout crowd of 3,400 at the Olympic Oval, Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg smashed her world record in the women’s 3,000 metres and produced a sprint specialist’s clocking in the 500 metres for a second gold to build a comfortable overall lead on Saturday at the ISU world all around championships in long track speed skating.

In the women’s 3,000, Klassen clocked three minutes and 53.34 seconds for the victory lowering the world mark of 3:55.75 she set last November, also at the Olympic Oval. Claudia Pechstein of Germany was second in 3:57.35 and Kristina Groves of Ottawa won the bronze medal clocking 3:59.46. Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., was 22nd.

‘’My goal was to nail the first two laps and the last two laps,’’ said Klassen, who won five medals at the Turin Olympics. ‘’That meant going out at a relaxed pace and making sure I get a good feel. And in the last two laps I wanted to stay really relaxed and not tighten up.’’

In the women’s 500, Klassen set a personal best 37.51 for her second gold with Groves and Yekaterina Lobysheva of Russia tying for second in 38.75. Nesbitt was eighth.

‘’The biggest surprise for me today was the 500,’’ said Klassen. ‘’I though I could go low 38 and get a personal best but to go that fast is something else.’’

After two of four events, Klassen leads with 76.400 points. Pechstein is second at 78.458 and Groves third at 78.660. Nesbitt is 16th.

Klassen was thrilled with the reception and encouragement she received before, during and after the races.

‘’They were so loud, it was incredible,’’ she said. ‘’For me it wasn’t additional pressure, it was great support. When you’re racing the 3,000, it just feels like they are giving you that additional push you need.’’

In men’s competition, the U.S., stands 1-2 overall with Shani Davis, the 500 winner, leading with 72.219 points, Chad Hedrick second at 72.578 and Enrico Fabris of Italy third at 73.013.

Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., was fourth in the 500 and 18th in the 5,000 to stand eighth overall, Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was fifth and 19th, for 10th overall and Arne Dankers of Calgary placed 21st and eighth for 15th. Justin Warsylewicz of Regina was 19th in the 500 and did not finish his 5,000.

‘’I was pretty pleased with my 500 but I know I can go even faster,’’ said Morrison. ‘’It’s been tough to get back after the Olympics but watching Cindy racing today and having a brig crowd at home really fires you up.’’

Competition ends Sunday.