Groves earns 1,500 bronze

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:07 AM ET

Kristina Groves is serving notice she's a force on the World Cup speed skating circuit.

The Ottawa all-rounder picked up a bronze medal in yesterday's 1,500 metres at the season-opening World Cup at the Olympic Oval.

After a breakout year last season, when she won her first World Cup race and a bronze medal in the 3,000m at the world single distance championships, the 29-year-old should now be considered a medal hope for the Winter Games in February.

Groves knows it's the future that counts.

"It means that I got a medal today and with it being the first race of the year, a lot of people are coming off hard training blocks, so anything can happen next time," said Groves, whose time of one minute 55.15 seconds was a personal best.

Germany's Anni Friesinger, the 2002 Olympic gold medallist over 1,500 metres, won the race in 1:53.48, just off the 1:53.22 world record she established at the Oval last week. Friesinger's teammate Claudia Pechstein finished second in 1:54.92.

Winnipeg's Cindy Klassen, 25, who set a world record in the 3,000 Saturday, finished fourth in 1:55.24.

"Today, I just felt pretty slack, I don't know why," said Klassen, who was battling a cold last week. "I just didn't have the top-end speed like I usually do. Hopefully, I can get it back next weekend."

Friesinger also had it tough last week.

She said she had trouble adjusting to the dry Calgary air and was still coughing after yesterday's race but acknowledged the air conditions make for fast times.

"It's good for the ice. It's good for our times," said the three-time world all-round champion. "Today I really had problems with the air and had a bloody nose, so it wasn't easy. But I'm happy I won my race and, except for the last lap, it was a great race."

With the Canadian and German women dominating the middle and longer distances over the last two seasons -- and saying there's no rivalry between them -- Friesinger noted it's good to have skaters from countries other than Germany reaching the podium.

"Cindy Klassen's the girl for the future because she's still young. It's good for the competition. It's nice when the German girls win but it's boring," said Friesinger, 28.

In the men's 5,000, American Chad Hedrick set a world record with his time of 6:09.68. Carl Verheijen of the Netherlands took second (6:11.79), while Norway's Eskil Ervik was third (6:12.19). Calgary's Arne Dankers finished 10th in a Canadian record time of 6:19.97.


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