Speed Skating

The Associated Press - Sunday Dec. 8, 2013 10:53 ET

Canada qualifies women's pursuit team for Sochi Games

Calgary's Kaylin Irvine 7th in women's 1,000

Canada's Ivanie Blondin, right, leads teammates Brittany Schussler, centre, and Kali Christ during training last month. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Canadian Kaylin Irvine finished seventh in the women's 1,000 metre race on the final day of the World Cup speed skating stop in Berlin, with the women's pursuit team finishing fifth.

Winnipeg's Brittany Schussler, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, and Kali Christ of Regina finished fifth in team pursuit while paired with race winners from the Netherlands, who clocked two minutes, 58.19 seconds. Canada crossed in a time of 3:02.81.

Poland won silver, while Korea and Russia were less than a second ahead of the Canadian women.

The respectable showing without top women's skater Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., gave Canada 50 World Cup points. Netherlands is perfect through three races (300 points), with Poland (195) just ahead of Canada (190) in the women's pursuit standings.

It also enabled Canada to qualify the team for the Sochi Olympics.

"We will be seeded third for the Olympics,” Speed Skating Canada’s long-track program director Sean Ireland said.

Heather Richardson led a 1-2 for the United States for her third win from four races in the women's 1,000.  

Richardson finished in 1:14.51 to beat compatriot Brittany Bowe by 0.91 seconds, with Russia's Olga Fatkulina 0.98 off the pace in third.

Irvine's time was 1:16.07.

Olympic champion Mo Tae-bum of South Korea edged Japan's Joji Kato by 2-1,000ths of a second over 500 metres. Dutchman Michel Mulder was third, in 34.95, in the final World Cup before the Olympic Games in Sochi.  

Mo, who won the 1,000 on Saturday, clocked 34.876 seconds to deny Kato what would have been his second win of the season.

William Dutton of Humboldt, Sask., was 20th.

In the men's 5000, Dutch skaters were 1-2. Jorrit Bergsma won by just over 8-10ths of a seconds over Jan  Blokhuijsen, while Seung-Hoon Lee of South Korea was third.

Bergsma's winning time was 6:14.82. Sven Kramer, his countryman, still leads the World Cup standings at the distance despite not competing Sunday. 

Jordan Belchos of Toronto finished 10th in the B final for the 5,000, while Regina's Marsha Hudey was 16th in the B for the women's 1,000.

In addition to Nesbitt, Jamie Gregg of Edmonton and Gilmore Junio of Calgary opted to stay in Canada to continue their training for the season. Gregg and Junio have both reached the World Cup podium earlier this season.

The Canadian Olympic trials begin in Calgary beginning on Dec. 28.

-- With files from CBCSports.ca 


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