Canada's Groves takes silver in women's 1,500

By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency


Kristina Groves of Ottawa has won her second medal of the Olympic Games ... a silver in the women's long track speed skating 1,500 m. (QMI Agency file photo)

RICHMOND, B.C. — Kristina Groves is getting used to being one step away from the top of the podium.

“I like silver,” Groves said Sunday night. “Silver looks good on me. Better than gold, I think.” a

She was kidding, of course.

But the 33-year-old Ottawa native had to settle for second-best in the 1,500-metre speed-skating event, the third silver medal of her Olympic career.

This one, though, came in an event she was ranked No. 1.

And when the second-ranked skater, Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., missed the podium altogether, it took some of the shine off Groves’ second medal of these Games (she won bronze in last week’s 3,000).

“I’m feeling good. I’m not feeling incredible,” Groves said. “Overall, I’m satisfied, but deep in my heart I really wanted to win that race. I was hoping we could both be up there.”

Groves said she died over the last 100 metres, finishing .25 seconds behind gold-medal winner Ireen Wust of The Netherlands.

She’s not the first person to say the relatively slow ice at the Richmond Oval is unforgiving, punishing even the smallest mistake.

Nesbitt can attest to that, as she finished sixth, a surprising result coming on the heels of her gold medal in the 1,000 last Thursday.

The 24-year-old says the stress of that day, in which she fought through nerves and a sub-par performance, technically, to win, caught up with her.

“I didn’t acknowledge how much pressure and stress I had on myself to perform in that 1,000,” Nesbitt said. “I thought if I didn’t acknowledge it, it wasn’t there. It took a lot of energy out of me. Even (Saturday) I was really tired through my pre-race skate.”

Nesbitt says she was far less stressed in this one, and actually skated looser than she did winning the gold.

“Normally when I do that for the 1,500, I end up skating really well and I’m on the podium,” she said. “I still won a gold medal, so I can’t be that upset. It’s just my second Olympics. Hopefully we can get gold in the team pursuit.”

The result, coming on the heels of Denny Morrison’s sub-par results on the men’s side, leaves Canada well off the pace projected by speed-skating officials.

With three medals so far, the best Canada can realistically expect to collect here at the Richmond Oval is seven, the women’s 3,000, with Groves and Clara Hughes, and the two pursuit events are the medal possibilities remaining.

That would be one less medal than the speed skaters won in Turin. With increased funding, Canada was expected to improve from four years ago.

Sunday’s women’s race was seen as the best chance for a double medal haul.

“Yeah, it was fair,” Nesbitt said of the expectations. “I wanted to be up there with her. But the Olympics are a different beast.”

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg, the defending gold medalist in the 1,500 who is coming back from double knee surgery, finished well back, in 21st.

Brittany Schussler, also of Winnipeg, was 35th after some equipment problems: she lost an edge just before her race, and missed her warmup.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca

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