Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg won his first career World Cup gold medal today claiming the 500 metres in time of 35.06 seconds at the ISU World Cup Final in Berlin, Germany. Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., finished with victories in the 1,000 metres and the women’s team pursuit, and also claimed the season titles for the 1,000 metres and new Grand World Cup award.
Canada also had another five top 10 finishes – two in the men’s 1,000 metres and men’s mass start, and one in the women’s mass start. Nesbit, 26, went undefeated in each of her five 1,000-metre World Cup races this season.
Coached by Xiuli Wang and Mark Wild, the London, Ont., native won today’s race with a time of one minute and 15.04 seconds. Nesbitt broke the six-year-old track record at Berlin’s Sportforum, established by German skater Anni Friesinger (1:15.17) on Oct. 30, 2005.
“It was nice to beat Anni’s track record (in the 1,000 metres), because she’s been so dominant for so many years,” said Nesbitt. “Even though she’s been retired for two seasons she still has left a legacy behind. It’s nice that I know that I’ve gone faster than she’s ever gone here, which is pretty special for me.”
The win gave Nesbitt another 15 points towards the Grand World Cup award, which she claimed with 116.25 points. Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic was second with 86.50 points. The ISU introduced this award this season, which comes with a $20,000 U.S. prize from Essent. For each competition in the individual distances, the top five ranked skaters earned ‘Grand World Cup points’.
In the women’s team pursuit, Nesbitt joined Winnipeggers Cindy Klassen and Brittany Schussler to win their third gold medal of the season in a time of 3:01.03. Korea won the silver medal and Russia the bronze. Canada earned the season title with 390 points. Russia was second with 355 points.
In the men’s 1,000 metres, only 0.37 seconds separated the winner from sixth place. American Shani Davis took the gold medal in a time of 1:09.24. Denny Morrison, of Fort St. John, B.C., was fifth (1:09.60) and Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg took sixth place (1:09.61). Both Morrison and Gregg are coached by Mike Crowe and Bart Schouten.
In the men’s 20-lap mass start, Toronto’s Jordan Belchos finished in eighth position with a time of 10 minutes and 48.33 seconds and Philippe Riopel, of Lachenaie, Que., was ninth with a time of 11:05.74. Jorrit Bergsma of the Netherlands won the gold medal in a time of 10:39.27. Belchos and Riopel are coached by Wang and Wild.
Edmonton’s Nicole Garrido skated in the women’s mass start, which is raced over 15 laps. The 23-year-old was ninth, crossing the finish line in 8:54.41. Germany’s Claudia Pechstein was first in a time of 8:52.06. The long track season ends in Heerenveen, Netherlands, with the World Single Distance Championships, from March 22-25.