Canadian men's speed skaters qualify for Olympic team sprint
Dutch win 4 medals at Berlin World Cup stop
Canada's men's long-track speed skating pursuit team qualified for the Winter Olympics on Saturday, placing eighth in a World Cup event in Berlin.
Mathieu Giroux of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que, Toronto's Jordan Belchos and Regina's Lucas Makowsky finished in three minutes 46.80 seconds in the six-lap event. Makowsky and Giroux were on the winning team in Vancouver in 2010.
"Today was a success for our Team Pursuit team as Jordan Belchos, Mathieu Giroux and Lucas Makowski stepped up under pressure and secured an Olympic spot for Canada in Sochi — proving that no matter which three of the four of us skate a Team Pursuit race, we all have what it takes to get the job done," said Denny Morrison, from Fort St. John, B.C., a substitute on the team.
The Netherlands (3:41.46) took gold, followed by South Korea (3:41.92) and Poland (3:43.81). Canada earned a quota spot for Sochi with the result.
Canada's women's team has already qualified for the Sochi Olympics, but will still race on Sunday.
Winnipeg's Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg, Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin and Regina's Kali Christ are expected to race for Canada. Schussler trails fellow Canadian Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., in all-time World Cup team pursuit medals — 17 to 14. Nesbitt has opted to continue training in Calgary.
"Sunday's race will determine how they are seeded," said Sean Ireland, Speed Skating Canada's long-track program director. "The individuals who will comprise the pursuit teams at the Games will be determined after the Olympic trials."
In singles competition, South Korea's Mo Tae-bum beat Dutchman Michel Mulder by 0.02 to win the men's 1,000 metres in 1:9.50.
American Shani Davis, who previously won all three of the season's races, was third — 0.09 seconds behind — though he maintains a commanding lead in the standings.
William Dutton of Humboldt, Sask., was 15th and Morrison placed 20th.
In women's competition, Olga Fatkulina of Russia took advantage of Olympic champion Lee Sang-hwa's absence to win her first World Cup speed skating sprint of the season.
Lee, who had won the season's previous seven races over 500 metres, withdrew with a knee problem and Fatkulina claimed the victory in 37.92 seconds, ahead of China's Wang Beixing by 0.04 seconds.
Heather Richardson of the United States was third, 0.08 behind, in the final World Cup meet before the Olympic Games in Sochi.
Olympic silver medallist Jenny Wolf of Germany struggled with a painful ankle after crashing on Friday and had to be content with fourth.
Ireen Wust of the Netherlands won the women's 1,500 for her second win of the season. Wust clocked 1:55.33 to beat Poland's Katarzyna Bachleda-Curus by 0.60 seconds and compatriot Lotte van Beek by 0.95.
Schussler was 11th in A 1500m while Calgary's Kaylin Irvine finished 18th in A 500m.
Marsha Hudey, also of Regina, was eighth in the B 500m.