Klassen breaks own record

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:00 PM ET

In a year when Canada's top speed skaters plan on peaking for the 2006 Winter Games, Cindy Klassen is already there.

The Winnipeg all-rounder is in Olympic form, breaking her 1,500-metre world record yesterday at the World Cup team trials at the Olympic Oval.

Klassen finished in a one minute 53.77 seconds, beating her old mark by one-tenth of a second, a record she set in January at a World Cup in Salt Lake City.

After finishing the race, Klassen thought the clock was wrong.

"When I crossed the line, I looked at the scoreboard clock in the corner and it said 1:53.77. Sometimes the times don't show up properly, so I thought that must be wrong," said the 25-year-old who lives and trains in Calgary.

"Then I came around the corner and saw the big scoreboard and realized what I'd done, so I was really happy."

Over the summer, Klassen didn't do anything radically different in terms of training but with the fast Olympic Oval ice, world records are always a possibility.

"We have a plan for this year to peak at the Olympics but the training is fairly similar to last year. Some things are different but nothing outrageously different," said Klassen, who won a bronze in the 3,000 at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

She's coming off her best season in 2004-05, winning won two gold medals at the world single distance championships in Inzell, Germany, with victories in the 1,500 metres and 3,000 metres. Klassen also won the World Cup title in the 1,500 with three victories in five races and finished second overall at the all around world championships.

Ottawa's Kristina Groves was second behind Klassen in 1:55.91, followed by Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont. (1:57.36), Clara Hughes of Winnipeg (1:57.51) and Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., (1:58.67).

Klassen, Groves and Nesbitt were pre-qualified for the fall World Cups in the 1,500 while Hughes and Simpson earned spots in the distance with their performances.

Calgary will host the first long distance World Cup Nov. 12-13.

In the men's 1,500, Fort St. John, B.C.'s Denny Morrison, a world junior champion last year, clocked 1:45.15 to smash the previous Canadian mark of 1:46.00. Steven Elm of Red Deer was second in 1:46.62 and Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., came third in 1:46.91. Elm and Calgary's Arne Dankers were pre-qualified for the World Cups in the 1,500 while Morrison and Parker added their names with their performances yesterday. Racing continues today.


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