SPORTS

Nesbitt wins 3,000-metre event at Canadian speed skating championships

01/05/2012 05:08 EST | Updated 03/06/2012 05:12 EST
CALGARY - It was a slow start to the Canadian speedskating championships for Christine Nesbitt.

The native of London, Ont., won the women's 3,000-metre event Thursday but with a time of four minutes 7.93 seconds at the Olympic Oval. Winnipeg's Cindy Klassen was second in 4:09.52 while Brittany Schussler, also of Winnipeg, was third in 4:10.46.

Klassen holds the world-record time at that distance of 3:53.34.

“The ice was slow,” Nesbitt said. “I skated 4:07 this past weekend at time trials. You want to be skating a bit better than a weekend race. But Brittany, Cindy and I were talking and we all thought the ice was unforgiving.

"It was really sticky. It was hard to carry your speed.”

But it wasn't enough to prevent Nesbitt from continuing her winning ways this season. She has captured five individuals wins on the World Cup circuit so far. Three have come over 1,000 metres and the other two in 1,500-metre events, both of which are still to come at the Canadian championships.

But there are certainly questions about whether skaters will be able to register fast times.

"You never know what the ice is going to be like the next day," Klassen said. "It could be really good.

“I’ll just race it the same way. I’ll just have the same race plan for the 1,000 and 1,500 and see what happens.”

Short-track specialist Mathieu Giroux of Montreal surprised Denny Morrison in the men’s 1,500-metre event, winning in 1:45.29. Morrison, of Fort St. John, B.C., was second in 1:45.64.

Lucas Makowsky of Regina claimed the bronze in 1:45.93.

Morrison holds the Canadian 1,500-metre record of 1:42.01.

Giroux races very seldom on the long track because there isn't one in Montreal, where he also attends university. He was 13th in his only 1,500-metre World Cup race this season in Astana, Kazakhstan in late November, where Morrison finished second.

“I'm really happy. I’ve been sitting in third forever in Canada,” said Giroux. “Lucas and Denny are really good on the World Cup circuit.

"To win in Canada feels really good.”

Giroux, 25, arrived here on Boxing Day to give himself enough preparation time at the Oval because he doesn't train on long track otherwise.

Morrison, the former 1,500-metre world-record holder now living in Calgary, encountered problems on the final lap. It was a repeat of the 1,500-metre race at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver where he finished ninth.

“I clipped my blade behind my other blade a little bit," he said. "Lost a bit of time there.

"Otherwise I thought it was an OK race. I just fell apart on the last lap.”

Morrison was happy to see three Canadians finish around 1:45 but felt his time Thursday should have been between 1:44 or better.

“Personally it's frustrating that I did a slower time than I wanted,” Morrison said.

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