Looking up

CAMERON MAXWELL, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

There's no need to jettison a flotation device for Jeremy Wotherspoon. After it appeared the reigning 500-metre world champion might be sinking just a bit, the Red Deer speed skater picked it up yesterday. Not with a podium finish but a respectable fourth place in the 500 on Day 2 of the Essent ISU World Cup at the Olympic Oval.

After finishing 10th Friday night, Wotherspoon showed more of his usual form in front of about 2,000 fans, but said he still didn't have the jump he normally brings to the ice.

"I felt bad at the beginning of the week but towards the end I've felt better and better," said the 28-year-old, who had a time of 34.97 seconds.

"I wasn't making big mistakes or anything ... but it's kind of frustrating today was better than yesterday. I don't know, it just feels like I'm missing a step and I'm not getting down the 100 metres very fast."

And that's where Wotherspoon, who came in leading the 500 World Cup standings, is really struggling.

Yesterday his 100 opener was 9.89 seconds, a far cry from his usual standards.

"Usually here I'm (around) 9.6 and I've done 9.5s here too, so that 9.89 is way off where I want to be here," said Wotherspoon, who would have won gold had he shaved those 10ths of a second off.

Instead, it was American Joey Cheek grabbing top spot with a time of 34.81, followed by Japan's Yuya Oikawa in 34.83 and countryman Joji Kato with a 34.89.

In the 1,000, Dutchman Erben Wennemars won his second straight gold medal in 1:08.26, with Japan's Masaaki Kobayashi taking second in 1:08.63 and Gerard van Velde of the Netherlands getting bronze in 1:08.63.

Over the last couple of years in Calgary, Wotherspoon, who was seventh in yesterday's 1,000, has dominated in big races.

In last season's World Cup at the Oval, he won both 500 events, setting a new Canadian record of 34.37 in the first race.

And the season before that, Wotherspoon won the World Sprint Championship on his home ice.

Now he's setting his sights on this year's sprint championship, which goes next weekend in Salt Lake City.

Winnipeg's Shannon Rempel is also heading to the site of the 2002 Olympics fresh off a silver-medal performance -- her second podium of the season and World Cup career -- in the 1,000 Friday and what for her was a great weekend as she set three personal bests in four races.

"It was a pretty solid weekend," said the 20-year-old phenom and former world junior champion.

"Consistency, I guess, is the most important thing for me."

Yesterday Rempel was 10th in the 500 at 38.57. Japan's Tomomi Okazaki won in 37.73 seconds, followed by teammate Yukari Watanabe in 37.87, while Belarus' Anzhelika Kotyuga earned bronze in 37.95.

In the 1,000, Rempel clocked 1:15.94 and finished fifth. Italy's Chiara Simionato won gold in 1:14.89, followed by Kotyuga with 1:15.12 and the Netherlands' Marianne Timmer in 1:15.16.

Wotherspoon's sister, Danielle, finished 17th and Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., was 18th.

In the 500, Kim Weger of Regina finished 19th, while Myers was 20th.


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