SPORTS

Jamie Gregg wins first 1,000-metre title at Canadian speedskating championships

01/06/2012 05:22 EST | Updated 03/07/2012 05:12 EST
CALGARY - Jamie Gregg had a big day Friday, winning his first 1,000-metre title at the Canadian sprint speedskating championships.

Another big day comes Sunday, when the 500-metre event closes out the competition at Calgary's Olympic Oval. A strong performance will secure the Edmontonian a spot at the upcoming world sprint championships, scheduled for Calgary later this month.

Gregg won gold with a time of one minute 8.43 seconds. Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., took the silver in 1:08.53. Kyle Parrott of Winnipeg won the bronze in 1:09.18.

Christine Nesbitt of Winnipeg captured the women's 1,500. Jordan Belchos of Toronto won the men's 5,000.

Gregg won the Canadian 500 title in 2011 and needs a showing in that race Sunday to earn a spot at the world championships Jan. 28-29. Spots await the top three Canadian men.

"It's cumulative of the 500 and 1,000, so this puts me in a pretty good position," said Gregg. "Then, I can focus all my energy on those races at the end of the month."

Gregg is one of the speedskating offspring of former National Hockey League player Randy Gregg and two-time Olympic speedskater Kathy (nee Vogt). One sister, Jessica is on the Canadian short-track team while another, Sarah, is on the long-track development squad.

The ice was reportedly unforgiving on Thursday, the event's opening day. No one was complaining on Friday though.

"It wasn't a real well-executed race, but it was one of my faster times. The ice definitely wasn't an issue. It was pretty good," Gregg said.

Nesbitt finished in 1:55.03. The silver went to Brittany Schussler, also of Winnipeg, in 1:59.34. Regina's Kali Christ, who set the Canadian junior record at that distance in 2011, captured the bronze in 1:58.01.

Nesbitt was happy with her race. Like Gregg, she is gearing up for a World Cup weekend in Salt Lake City Jan. 21-22 as well as the world sprint championships.

"I went 1:55 in Europe one month ago. So, I'm happy with where I'm at right now," Nesbitt said. "This isn't a competition I'm peaking for; I'm just training and working on some tactics. I had my fastest start ever today in the 1,500. I was just trying to skate technically well. I didn't attack the first lap."

Nesbitt will race Friday in the 1,000, which she won at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It starts at 12:20 p.m. Mountain time. The men's 10,000 and women's 5,000 immediately follow.

Belchos clocked in at 6:30.88. Stefan Waples of Winnipeg was second in 6:35.80 and Scott Bickerton of Nelson, B.C., was third in 6:36.52.

The 22-year-old Belchos jumped from fourth in the 5,000 at the 2011 Canadian championships. He will race the 10,000 here.

"I haven't felt my best the past week. I've been a bit sick," Belchos said. "I knew I wasn't going to be at my best physically, so I tried to execute the other things I knew I could do well. That's what I did. I'm pretty happy with it."

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