Christine Nesbitt’s Extraordinary Season Winds Down

Olympic champion speed skater Christine Nesbitt followed her golden performance at the Richmond Oval with a season to remember.

Late last week, she won the World Cup title in 1,500 metres in Heerenveen, NED. That capped an outstanding World Cup season where she has produced huge results at nearly every event. The London, Ont. native also earned a second-place overall finish in the 1,000 metre standings, thanks in large part to six gold medals over the course of the season. This comes despite missing two races.

Back in February 2010, Nesbitt won Canada’s third gold medal of the Olympic Winter Games in the 1,000 metres. The 25-year-old has not slowed since, registering the best speed skating season of her career, cementing her status as one of Canada’s best female athletes currently in competition. Such is not a surprise considering Nesbitt’s well-known determination.

This season saw Nesbitt win seven consecutive races on the World Cup circuit. In January, Nesbitt – known for her strong middle distance races – competed at her first World Sprint Championships. She wasted no time in becoming the world sprint champion in part thanks to a career-best mark in the 500 metres. In February on home ice in Calgary, Nesbitt won a silver medal at the World Allround Championships.

The World Allround Championships determines the best overall result from the 500-, 1,500-, 3,000-, and 5,000-metre races. The longer distances are not Nesbitt’s specialties and she was coming off an already strenuous season. Not having competed in a 5,000-metre race in two years, Nesbitt persevered and landed herself directly in a position to receive a silver medal. “I didn’t know how things would turn out, but I learned this year a lot about myself-that I’m a fighter,” said Nesbitt after the race.

This 2010-2011 has continued to mark the trajectory of Canada’s strongest speed skater. She has made leaps and bounds since winning her first gold medal, in 1,500 metres in the 2007-08 World Cup season. That year she collected 10 individual medals and three team medals in just seven World Cup events. She had definitely marked her arrival among the world’s best. She followed that up with 10 individual medals and one team medal in eight 2008-09 World Cups. From there, gold became the predominant focus. In the 2009-10 season, she won six individual gold medals among 11 overall medals – in just six World Cups.

Then we arrived at this season, which is unequivocally her best. She won nine individual gold medals, along with two bronze medals, as well as gold in team pursuit. These came in seven World Cups.

Her outstanding accomplishments over the past two seasons earned her the 25th spot on the Globe and Mail’s Power 50 list featuring the most influential people in sports. Nesbitt’s exceptional season will come to a close starting Thursday at the World Single Distance Championships in Inzell, Germany.