One of the worst things Cindy Klassen could ever suffer through might, ironically, prove to be a blessing.
It's been a year since the Winnipeg speed skater badly cut her right arm in a training accident at the Olympic Oval. And while she returned to the World Cup circuit at the end of last season, Klassen said the time she was forced to take off did a world of good.
"The rest kind of helps sometimes and, coming back, I didn't know what to expect. But there was no pressure at all, so I was just able to enjoy it and that really helped a lot," said the 25-year-old who yesterday qualified for the Canadian women's 3,000 and 5,000m fall World Cup teams.
Despite coming back from the injury, when it looked like her season might be over, Klassen still won four medals at the end of the season. She continued her good form yesterday, winning the women's 3,000 in the fall World Cup qualifer at the Oval.
Klassen's time of four minutes 05.72 seconds was 10 seconds faster than Michelle D'Amours of Quebec. Tara Risling of Medicine Hat finished third in 4:18.47. Both D'Amours and Risling join Klassen, Glen Sutton, Que.'s Clara Hughes and Ottawa's Kristina Groves, who were pre-qualified.
As for Klassen, she is still getting over some flashbacks from the accident.
"Mentally, sometimes it's hard when we're doing the shorter distances which are a lot quicker. Sometimes in the corner I'll think about it but it's getting a lot better," said Klassen, who won bronze in the 3,000m at the 2002 Olympics. "It was pretty hard at the end of last season but it's pretty good now."
In the men's 5,000m, Calgary's Arne Dankers won in 6:33.00. He pre-qualified and will be joined by 19-year-old Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C.
Morrison, a junior skater, finished second in 6:40.29.
Finishing third and rounding out the World Cup squad was Calgary-based Jamie Ivey, who had a time of 6:40.49.