First medal still in the bag

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Fresh off winning the first World Cup medal of her career, Shannon Rempel didn't have much time to soak it in. After grabbing silver in the 1,000m at a World Cup in Harbin, China, last weekend, the Calgary-based speed skater jetted back home Tuesday, then wrote a psychology final Thursday.

"I studied on the plane all the way back. That's the good thing about long flights, there's not much to do," said the 20-year-old U of C student with a laugh.

Rempel, who hails from Winnipeg, hasn't really even had time to unpack.

"The medal's probably in my luggage still. I washed some of my clothes but the rest of it needs to be unpacked," she said.

She's won medals on the junior circuit before, capturing the overall junior world championship in 2003, along with plenty of hardware from the younger ranks.

What's really unusual is the easy-going skater had no idea, not even an inkling, she'd get on the podium in China.

"I felt really tired after my 500 and I'd done a lot of races the weekend before plus we hadn't done four races in a row all year yet and the 1,000 didn't go well the week before, so I didn't think it was going to be a good race," said Rempel, who skated in just her fourth World Cup in the past two years.

"I was like 'My legs are done' and I had to pump myself up for the race and just see what happens."

With four pairings -- the fastest from the previous week -- still to skate, Rempel thought her time of one minute 18.48 seconds would fall like a lead balloon.

"Then one of my coaches said I might get a medal and I was like 'That's a little premature' " Rempel said. "So it was a total shock."

With that first World Cup medal under her belt, Rempel knows the expectations are going to be high for future races.

"I hope it wasn't a fluke," she said. "I didn't really know what to expect at the beginning of the year coming into the first competition but I think it'll be a pretty strong season.

"I thought it would be a year where I didn't have much pressure coming off a junior year but I kind of like being up in a spot where I put pressure on myself to perform well."

She'll have to get used to it because the next sprint World Cup is in Calgary and a lot of eyes are going to be on her.

"That's going to be fun. I'd like nothing more than to win a gold medal here. That would be the best. My family is coming down, too," said Rempel.

She'll also compete in the Canada Post all-round championships starting Monday at the Oval.


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