Wotherspoon earns final Olympic shot

Speedskater Jeremy Wotherspoon will get one more shot at winning the Olympic gold medal that has eluded him.

Jeremy Wotherspoon finished first in the 500-metre event at the Canadian Speed Skating Single Distance Championships in Calgary

CALGARY — Speedskater Jeremy Wotherspoon will get one more shot at winning the Olympic gold medal that has eluded him.

Wotherspoon, one of the best Canadian skaters to have never won Olympic gold, qualified for the Vancouver Games after winning the national 500-metre title Sunday at the Canadian single distance championships and Olympic team trials.

The Red Deer native won in a two-race combined time of one minute 09.10 seconds. He’ll be competing in his fourth and final Olympics and is still looking for his first trip to the top of the podium.

“It’s nice to have qualified a spot at the Games,” said Wotherspoon. “After the fall trials, things didn’t go that great for me. So I spent a couple months really focusing on what I needed to do to improve from that performance.

“A lot of the things have been coming through for me in the last few weeks so I’m pretty happy with the races today. It still felt like there’s a lot better I could do, a lot better execution that I can get out of myself, but I’m still happy with the times.”

Mike Ireland of Winnipeg, who missed most of last season due to injury, finished second in 1:09.25, while Kyle Parrott of St. Albert placed third in 1:09.41.

Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg finished fourth in 1:09.67 to bolster his chances of claiming the fourth and final spot on the Canadian men’s 500 team.

Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., claimed the women’s 500-metre title, winning easily in a combined time of 1:17.10.

Having already qualified for the Games in both the 1,000 and the 1,500, Nesbitt will take a pass at the rest of the competition, which runs until January 2nd.

“I just wanted to qualify in the 500,” said Nesbitt. “I’m done racing for the week. I start training hard again tomorrow. I just use the 500 to calm the nerves before my other races and to feel a bit of speed. I don’t feel as much pressure because I know I’m not a pure 500-metre skater.”

Calgary’s Anastasia Buscis, who qualified for the World Cup circuit for the first time in October, finished a surprising second in 1:17.64.

“I am in complete shock but I am ecstatic. I just came from crying with my mom because it’s obviously been a dream,” said Buscis. “If you would have asked me six months ago if this would happen I would have laughed and rolled my eyes.”

Winnipeg’s Shannon Rempel picked up the third and final Olympic spot in the distance with a combined time of 1:17.70.

The Canadian long track speedskating roster, which will be made up of eight men and 10 women, will be announced after the competition.

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