Nesbitt cements overall speedskating title
Canadian Christine Nesbitt cemented the overall title Friday with a third-place finish in a women's World Cup 1,500-metre speedskating event in the Netherlands.
Nesbitt, of London, Ont., finished behind Dutch skaters Ireen Wust and Marrit Leenstra in the final World Cup event of the season to clinch the 1,500-metre crown. Nesbitt, who won the 1,000-metre event at last year's Vancouver Olympics, has been a model of consistency in the 1,500 this season, having never finished off the podium with four victories and two third-place efforts.
Wust finished first in one minute 56.35 seconds to earn her first gold medal over that distance at a World Cup event this season. Leenstra was second in 1:57.00 while Nesbitt took third in 1:57.86.
"I would've liked to finish a little bit stronger," Nesbitt said during a conference call. "I had a really bad last lap today . . . I wasn't able to hold on to anything.
"That's kind of disappointing but at the same time when I look, Wust won and she went 1:56.3 and I went 1:56.0 in the fall so I know I'm still a stronger skater. It's just a matter of putting that race together again."
Winnipeg's Brittany Schussler was 15th in 2:00.62 while Cindy Klassen, also of Winnipeg, was 18th in 2:02.09.
Nesbitt finished with 575 points overall, firmly ahead of second-place finisher Leenstra (466 points). Wust was third with 460 points.
Schussler was fourth overall with 265 points while Klassen took sixth with 213 points.
Nesbitt said of more importance to her is skating well at the upcoming world championships.
"I'm actually pretty happy with today in a lot of small ways," she said. "It doesn't show in the results because of the big margin, but I feel like this was my best 1500-metre race in a long time, better even than in Moscow where I won in January.
"I've felt tired since World Sprints and I'm finally starting to feel like I'm getting stronger and stronger, it's showing in my technique. If I feel the same way as today next week, I'll be very confident on the start line."
Korea's Kang-Seok Lee won the men's 500-metre event in 35.03 seconds, with South Korean Kyou-Hyuk Lee second in 35.08. Jacques de Koning of the Netherlands was third in 35.18.
Edmonton's Jamie Gregg was the top Canadian, finishing 13th in 35.52. Vincent Labrie of Levis, Que., was 20th in 35.72, just ahead of Winnipeg's Tyler Derraugh (21st in 35.69 seconds) and Muncef Ouardi of Quebec (23rd in 36.00).
The final World Cup standings will be determined after the 500-metre race Sunday here.
Bob de Jong of the Netherlands won the men's 5,000-metre race in 6:18.62 to secure the overall World Cup title. Ivan Skobrev of Russia was second in 6:22.50 while Bob de Vries of the Netherlands took third in 6:24.44.
Regina's Lucas Makowsky was the top Canadian, finishing 16th in 6:35.09 and 19th in the overall standings.