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|Posted on February 22, 2014 at 7:20 AM||comments (0)|
Canada finishes behind Poland in team pursuit, narrowly missing out on bronze
Speedskaters from Canada, left to right, Denny Morrison, Mathieu Giroux and Lucas Makowsky skate to take a fourth place in the men's team pursuit race against Poland at the Adler Arena Skating Center at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP / Matt Dunham)
SOCHI, Russia -- Denny Morrison and his Canadian teammates didn't have the legs when they needed them, missing out on a bronze medal in long-track speedskating's team pursuit.
The Canadians -- Morrison, Mathieu Giroux of Pointe-Aux-Trembles, Que., and Lucas Makowsky of Regina -- were the defending Olympic champions, but faded over the final two laps Saturday to finish fourth behind Poland at the Sochi Olympics.
The Canadians usually used Morrison's top-end speed to put some distance between themselves and their opponents, then hold on until the end.
"Today I had a little bit of trouble hanging on so we lost some speed," Morrison said, as Giroux fought back tears.
Canada led for all but the last two laps of the eight-lap race, fading to finish in three minutes 44.27 seconds. Poland crossed in 3:41.94 for bronze.
The mighty Netherlands won gold for its 22nd speedskating medal in Sochi, beating South Korea.
Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin, Regina's Kali Christ and Winnipeg's Brittany Schussler finished fifth in the women's team pursuit after beating the United States in the C Final.
Canadian coach Bart Schouten believed Saturday's loss might have been partly a product of Morrison's success earlier in the Games. The 28-year-old from Fort St. John, B.C., had already captured two medals, a silver in the 1,000 metres and bronze in the 1,500.
"We didn't have the legs, and Denny, he's had a very good Olympics, and managing those highs and all the ceremonies that come with it cost a lot of energy," Schouten said. "I think he's done really well with that, but at some point energy might run a little bit lower."
The Canadians also were gunning for gold and so gave it their all a night earlier in their semifinal loss to South Korea. Poland, the Canadians contended, were happy to skate for bronze and so took it easy in their semifinal knowing they couldn't beat the powerful Dutch.
"We showed our Canadian pride, our Canadian spirit," Morrison said. "Going into that semifinal that we had against (South) Korea, they're the No. 2 ranked team in the world, we knew they were going to have a good time, and we put down our very best race.
"We couldn't beat them but we can hold our heads high knowing that we tried to go for the gold."
Schouten said, while Poland's strategy to coast in the semifinal might have helped that team Saturday, he would never take that approach with a Canadian squad.
"You're here, you show up, you give it all you can," the coach said. "The Canadian guys skated their hearts out, even though they knew it would be very tough against the Koreans.
"But you don't go to the Games to give up. You don't go to the Games to give away a race. You just don't do that, That's not the Canadian mentality."
Morrison is tied with the great Gaetan Boucher for most Olympic speedskating medals won by a male with four, so a bronze Saturday would've made him the undisputed leader.
"I can be really proud of that," Morrison said. "The team pursuit never existed when he was around, so it's a little bit of a weird comparision, but maybe there will be other events in the future where other people will be medalling in those and they can catch up to me and Gaetan."
Morrison's two medals were Canada's only podium performances in long-track speedskating. The country won five long-track medals four years ago in Vancouver -- two gold, a silver, and two bronze.
|Posted on February 22, 2014 at 7:20 AM||comments (0)|
Denny Morrison falls short in bid for third Olympic speedskating medal in Sochi
PHOTO: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images(From L) Canada's Mathieu Giroux, Canada's Lucas Makowsky and Canada's Denny Morrison compete in the Men's Speed Skating Team Pursuit Final B at the Adler Arena during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 22, 2014.DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images
SOCHI, Russia — It sounded as if Denny Morrison had picked up something more than just the two Olympic medals in Sochi. He was coughing in the mixed zone after the final race of a career-defining 10-day stretch, and while he denied feeling unwell — “it’s mostly a hack from the race” — he suggested there have been days when he’d felt better.
On Saturday, after what he has described as the best week of his life, he felt disappointed, having missed out on a bronze medal in his last event at the Sochi Olympics. Canada lost its team pursuit final against Poland after the team of Morrison, Mathieu Giroux and Lucas Makowsky had their early lead crumble down the stretch.
It was perhaps the only setback of the Games for Morrison, the 28-year-old from Fort St. John, B.C., who won the first two individual medals of his career. Morrison won silver in the 1,000 metres after a younger teammate, Gilmore Junio, offered his spot, and won the 1,500-metre event three days later.
Combined with the two medals he won in earlier Games, both in team pursuit, Morrison leaves Sochi tied with Gaetan Boucher as Canada’s most decorated male speedskater.
“That’s very, very impressive,” Canadian coach Bart Schouten said. “Denny is an awesome skater, and to be at the same level as Gaetan Boucher, that’s pretty amazing. Gaetan is an example for a lot of people.”
Boucher, who worked in Sochi as an analyst for Radio Canada, had his signature Games 30 years ago in Sarajevo, winning gold in the 1,000 and 1,500 metres, along with bronze in the 500 metres. Along with a silver medal from 1980, Boucher has four medals in all.
Morrison would have passed that total with a win on Saturday.
“I hope to look back and recognize my individual races personally, but right now, I’m just focused on the team pursuit,” he said. “I’m emotionally invested in it, and I think our team is pretty disappointed.”
That disappointment likely will be muted when taken in a broader context. Morrison was on a run of bad luck and bad timing before he touched down in Russia. He broke a leg on a cross-country skiing excursion in 2012, leading to a host of maladies.
He worked his way back only to find heartbreak at the Canadian Olympic trials. Morrison fell near the end of the 1,000-metre event in December, which meant he was not penciled in to race that distance in Sochi. It was the call from Junio that changed his luck.
Together, they became one of the biggest Canadian stories of the Games. Morrison won in front of friends and family in Sochi, and was celebrated at Canada Olympic House.
And he almost passed a legend.
“It would have been nice,” Schouten said. “I still think they did everything they could in the team pursuit. They were well-prepared. They raced their hearts out, they raced to plan … but it just wasn’t enough.”
|Posted on February 21, 2014 at 7:15 AM||comments (0)|
Canadian speed skaters sputter to bronze-medal race
Canada's Denny Morrison leads his teammates in the men's speed skating team pursuit semifinals during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 21, 2014. (PHIL NOBLE/Reuters)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - Canada hummed like a Ferrari to start the men’s speed skating team pursuit semifinals Friday, but then sputtered like an Edsel.
The result? A trip to the bronze medal race.
The Canadian men — Denny Morrison of Calgary, Mathieu Giroux of Pointe-Aux-Trembles, Que. and Lucas Makowsky of Regina — jumped out to a substantial lead over the South Korean team, moving ahead by 1.10 seconds after four laps. But by lap eight, they had dropped behind by 0.02 and lost the semi by almost three seconds (3:42.32 to 3:45.28). Morrison, Giroux and Makowsky were all on the team that struck gold in the event four years ago in Vancouver.
The loss to Korea means that Morrison will not get a gold medal to go along with a silver and bronze he has already won at the Sochi Games.
“We’ll have to talk about that in the change room and see what we need to change for (Saturday),” said Morrison. “Ultimately, we just need to go faster. But we are three different guys with different strengths. For me, in the 1500m it works for me to go out fast and hang on.”
The Calgary native has won a silver (1,000m) and a bronze (men’s 1,500m) at the Sochi Games and was hoping for a gold in the men’s team pursuit event. Canada will now go against Poland for the bronze medal Saturday. The Poles lost to the Dutch in the second semi by a staggering 11.29 seconds, apparently saving their energy for the bronze medal race. That didn’t sit too well with Morrison.
“Those guys basically didn’t even race their semifinal, they just gave it to the Dutch, so if that’s their attitude in the Olympics, it will be interesting to see what they bring to the bronze (medal race) because we have heart,” said Morrison. “If we had skated against the Dutch, we’d have skated our hearts out and tried to beat them.”
Morrison’s silver in the 1,000m came as a result of teammate Gilmore Junio giving up his spot to Morrison, who then went on to finish second.
|Posted on February 18, 2014 at 12:00 PM||comments (0)|
Canadian Denny Morrison wins bronze in speed skating 1,500 metres
Feb 15, 2014 - 10:13 AM EST
Last Updated: Feb 15, 2014 - 3:04 PM EST
PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldCanada's Denny Morrison celebrates as he crosses the finish line during the 1,500m speed skating event at the Sochi Winter Olympics Saturday February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
SOCHI, Russia — In the early winter of 2012, when one of Denny Morrison’s cross-country skis went under the felled tree — and the rest of him went over it — he never thought the broken leg would end his career. The recovery was longer than he expected, fraught with sprained ankles and sore hips and an aching back, but he got there eventually.
It was a lot like the Olympics. He made his debut in 2006, in Italy, believing he was right in contention, only to discover he was not. The stars seemed to align again in Vancouver four years later, but disappeared behind the clouds. It seemed he would never get there.
Until this week
“It’s the best week of my life, man,” he said.
On Saturday, Morrison bolted off the start in the men’s 1,500-metre event and crossed the line in first place with five pairs left to skate. Only two of the last 10 skaters were quicker than the 28-year-old from Fort St. John, B.C., leaving him with the bronze medal.
It was the second individual medal of his career — and second in three days — and it lifted him into the realm of Canadian speed skating legend. Morrison had won medals as part of team events in Italy and Vancouver and his four medals move him into a tie with Gaetan Boucher for the most by a Canadian male at the Olympics.
“Every time you are an athlete, it’s a journey,” said retired Canadian downhill skier Steve Podborski, who is serving as Canada’s chef de mission in Sochi. “Certainly, this is a true example of how you have to continually get past your disappointments. Typically, when you’re an athlete, you lose way more than you win. So you learn a lot about losing and a bit about winning.”
The lessons have been extensive. His broken left leg followed the disappointment in Italy (where he finished 11th in the 1,500 metres) and in Vancouver (ninth), and remarkably, it would not be his final lesson in losing before he landed in Russia.
Morrison fell at the Canadian Olympic trials in December, clipping a heel 50 metres from an Olympic berth in the 1,000 metres. He did not qualify and struggled to make the team in the 1,500 metres. He made it, but not without question.
It all seemed to start paying off this week. On Monday, he received a text message from a younger teammate, Gilmore Junio, who was offering his spot in the 1,000 metres. In what has become one of the stories of the Games, Morrison filled the spot and on Wednesday, he won the silver medal, the first individual Olympic medal of his career.
“After what he did, it made it even more special,” Morrison said after his win. “Giving up your spot is unprecedented. I feel like getting my medal and cutting it in half because he deserves it.”
On Saturday, Morrison skated in the space he had earned. He wanted to start quickly and keep grinding on the slow Adler Arena ice, as the temperature reached spring-like levels outside.
“It’s a scary race,” he said. “You go to the start line, you’re like, ‘this is going to hurt.’”
He kept grinding. He crossed the line in 1:45.22, taking the lead with 10 skaters to go.
Canada’s Denny Morrison stands on the podium after winning the bronze medal in the 1,500 metres speed skating event Saturday at the Sochi Winter Olympics (Adrian Wyld/CP).
Poland’s Zbigniew Brodka skated two pairs after Morrison and ultimately won gold with a time of 1:45.006. Morrison held silver until Dutch skater Koen Verweij came within a blink of an eye of gold (1:45.009) in the final pairing.
“I feel like I can hear them just as loud as when the whole Russian crowd is cheering for Russia,” Morrison said. “I feel like my Canadian friends and all the Canadian family that’s here is cheering just as loud for me. I want to put on the performance.”
“He’s just on Cloud 9,” teammate Mathieu Giroux said. “And today, it just showed.”
Bart Schouten, his coach, said Morrison would have been added to the team even he had failed to qualify in either the 1,000 or the 1,500 at the Canadian trials, but only for team pursuit, where he has won a gold (Vancouver) and a silver (Italy). Falling at the trials, he suggested, might have been the final lesson.
“Having to work through that is really good,” Schouten said. “And that’s why I think the system of trials we have to work through, it’s kind of like the Olympics. So we did talk quite a bit after his fall.”
Morrison qualified after that fall.
“I got right in his face, I said, ‘this is awesome, this is how you deal with pressure,’” Schouten said. “This is what you can do at the Olympics … this is what it’s about.”
|Posted on February 18, 2014 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
Canada's Denny Morrison wins bronze in 1,500m
Morrison won 1,000m silver earlier in the Games
Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C. wins the bronze during the men' s 1500 m at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi Russia, on 15 february 2014. Ben Pelosse/Le Journal de Montréal/Agence QMI
SOCHI, RUSSIA - Eight years of Olympic disappointment have given way to three days of almost surreal glory for Canadian speed skater Denny Morrison.
The 28-year-old from Fort St. John, B.C., won his second medal in the past three days Saturday, this time taking a bronze in the long track 1,500-metres.
Just Wednesday, he won his first individual Olympic medal -- a silver -- in the 1,000 after Gilmore Junio gave up his spot in the race to let his teammate skate instead.
That was a great story in itself. Now it's almost too good to be true.
"It's the best week of my life, man," Morrison said after skating a time of 1:45.22 and finishing two-tenths of a second off the lead.
"I liken it to a bit of a fairy tale, something I've been dreaming about since Turin."
Morrison competed in his first Olympics in Turin in 2006 and finished off the podium in the individual events. The same happened in Vancouver.
But a silver medal in 2006 and gold in 2010 in the team pursuit were not enough to quench his thirst for individual success.
He came into these Olympics with a different mindset, feeling less pressure, not dealing with the weight of expectations, and the results came quickly.
"I'm not sure if he's a better skater than in 2006 or 2010," his coach, Bart Schouten, said. "What he did here was keep it together. He was mentally tough and strong. He grew up.
"He had a better approach, he's matured a lot. He's really made big steps. He was in a really good state of mind."
Morrison has an excellent chance of winning a third medal next Saturday in the team pursuit.
That would be an incredible feat, when you consider where he was just a year ago. He broke the fibula in his left leg while cross country skiing just before Christmas of 2012 and had a long rehab just to get back on skates.
He said he never felt like it was time to quit or that the injury would prevent him from one day realizing the dream.
"The broken leg almost acted as re-motivation to come back as the underdog," he said.
Given the circumstances, an Olympic medal seemed a bit far-fetched but Morrison showed guts in preparing for Sochi and they were on full display in his races this week.
"He showed so much heart," Canadian chef de mission Steve Podborski said. "It's such a hard, difficult thing to skate that hard for that long and the track is apparently quite slow so you can't ever really take a break. He just showed true grit.
"He certainly has made a name for himself. He's come back from the broken leg and all the other tribulations and he's really shown the true colours. It's fantastic, a great story. This is a true example of how you have to continually get past your disappointments. For him, these are great victories."
Morrison was in gold-medal medal position for a while and held onto silver until the very last pair of skaters went around the track. Zbigniew Brodka of Poland won the gold medal, while Koen Verweij of The Netherlands came in second, just three one-thousandths of a second behind.
" I think that the performance in the 1,000-metre kind of gave me the confidence," Morrison said. "I remember crossing the line and feeling like I had more in the tank, like I can do another lap. That gave me the confidence today to do the plan I was talking about, to go out hard, get a big gap, get ahead of these guys. I know they're going to finish strong, so I knew I wanted to make that gap as big as possible and not be afraid of hurting the last lap. Just go for it."
Morrison said there a bit more to savour about winning this bronze than the first medal on Wednesday. So much of the credit for that medal was shared with Junio, who unselfishly gave up his spot in the race.
When that one was over, Morrison could scarcely comprehend what had happened.
"The 1,000 I just couldn't even believe it," he said. "I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to even skate the 1,000 and then there was this explosion of emotion.
"This time it felt more like a World Cup, I felt like I could get it. I just wanted to celebrate a little bit calmer this time."
Perhaps that's a kind of calm that comes from achieving success. From knowing how all the years of training and preparation had finally paid off. From being a winner.
SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE?
Denny Morrison has a theory as to how he can turn his bronze and silver medals into gold.
"I think that if there was a 1,250-metre race, I would be dominant," Morrison said. "The 1,000, for me, is a little bit too short but my last lap is really good because I'm more of a 1,500-metre skater compared to some of the 500-metre guys.
"The 1,500 metre, I go out fast and then die off compared to the 5K guys who skate it."
Morrison did all right with the Olympic regulation distances, winning a silver medal in the 1,000M and bronze in the 1,500M after he came perilously close to not qualifying for the individual events at the Olympics at all.
"Earning this spot in the 1,500 was a bit of a challenge itself," he said. "I never made it in the 500, I never tried in the 5K, and then I fell in the 1,000. So the 1,500 was my last shot at even making the Olympics."
Fortunately, he did make it and, with a little help from teammate Gilmore Junio, who gave him a spot in the 1,000, Morrison has parlayed what might have been a disappointing season into a pair of Olympic medals.
"Definitely all seems worth it," he said.
|Posted on February 18, 2014 at 8:25 AM||comments (0)|
WATCH: Denny Morrison and Gilmore Junio on the selfless swap that nabbed a silver medal
At first, Denny Morrison thought it was a joke.
He’d just gotten back to his room after dinner and checked his phone, which he’d left charging.
Among several missed calls he saw the text from Gilmore Junio – “and I wasn’t really sure if it was serious at first. I thought it was a joke from a different teammate,” Morrison said Thursday. Later, he ran into Junio in person. And Junio repeated the offer: Morrison could skate the men’s 1000-metre speed skating event in his place.
“I heard it right from the guy’s mouth and couldn’t really – couldn’t really thank him enough. I didn’t really know what to say. I was emotional and – but trying to hold it together. I had a race in two days so it was a pretty huge move and yeah. It’s unbelievable to have a friend like Gilmore.”
For Junio, the decision had been the culmination of a tense 20-minute discussion.
“But at the end of the day it was a no brainer. Denny’s one of our best skaters and we need him on the ice and not – so it was easy for me to kind of, you know, step aside and allow the guy to skate,” Junio said. “And obviously it worked out well.”
That’s an understatement: Morrison picked up a silver medal – an accolade he’d missed in Vancouver four years ago.
The feeling, Morrison said, is “”utter joy today compared to utter dissatisfaction four years ago. So I feel like I’ve come a long way and I’m so glad I had this opportunity and it’s all – all in thanks to Gilmore. … I don’t feel right taking a standing ovation without giving one to Gilmore.”
Junio’s hesitant to take credit.
“Not at all, I mean … he was the one on the ice and he’s the one that executed the race and I couldn’t be more proud of the guy. The guy works his butt off and he deserves every bit of this.”
That includes a day or so to let the victory sink in.
“It’s been pretty relaxed actually. I feel like I’ve spent all my day on Twitter trying to get back to everyone. … Gilmore’s been the guy taking all the media and stuff,” Morrison said. “I’m supposed to be relaxing before my next race so they’ve kept me under wraps but it’s been awesome, so much congratulations going around the athletes’ village and I just laid out in the sun today and kind of took it all in.”
Morrison said he doesn’t feel like he should share his medal with Junio - ”he’s gonna win enough of his own medals. He won’t need half of one of mine” – but he does think there are better ways to recognize Junio’s selfless gesture.
“It’s unprecedented, that’s for sure. And that’s why I think it would be awesome if Canada made the unprecedented move of making one of the athletes who didn’t win a medal as a closing ceremony’s flag bearer because he really exemplified what it means to be Canadian.”
Would Junio take the flag?
“Oh no, I gotta ask Denny. He might want it. So if he doesn’t want it then I’ll take it,” he demurred. “But it would definitely be a huge honour. But I think there’s a lot of great Canadian stories still to be told and a lot of great Canadian stories that came out of the Games so far, but definitely would be a huge honour. But there’s a handful of Canadians that deserve it.”
|Posted on February 17, 2014 at 8:15 AM||comments (0)|
Denny Morrison inspired to race towards another Winter Olympics
WATCH: Teammates Denny Morrison and Gilmore Junio show off the Gil-Morrison, and discuss their friendship, Junio’s sacrifice and how it has inspired Morrison to compete in the next Olympics.
SOCHI, Russia – Double Olympic medallist Denny Morrison feels inspired to continue racing towards the 2018 Winter Games because of the generosity of his Canadian teammate Gilmore Junio.
Related Stories WATCH: Denny Morrison and Gilmore Junio on the selfless swap that nabbed a silver medal Denny Morrison wins bronze in 1,500-metre speed skating Canada’s Denny Morrison wins speed skating silver at Sochi Olympics Canadian speed skater Gilmore Junio gives up 1000-metre berth to Denny Morrison Junio stepped aside to let Morrison race the 1,000 metres at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Morrison delivered a silver for Canada’s first speedskating medal in Sochi and followed that up with a bronze in the 1,500.
“I’ve just found motivation and wanted to do another Olympics because of what’s happened between Gilmore and I,” Morrison said Sunday at a news conference. “I’ve read a few things where he said he’s appreciated me being his teammate and has learned some things along the way.
“That’s almost inspired me to want to continue to train so I can continue to pass on whatever knowledge I have to the other athletes as well as Gilmore.”
Morrison slipped and fell in the 1,000 at Canadian trials last month. Junio, a 500-metre specialist, claimed the Olympic berth in the 1,000.
MORE: Canadian speed skater Gilmore Junio gives up 1000-metre berth to Denny Morrison.
Giving away his spot has made the 23-year-old Calgarian as much of a Canadian celebrity as Morrison.
“People talk about it as being a huge sacrifice, but I don’t see it that way,” Junio said. “It was such an easy decision. It was such a simple decision for me. It was about giving Canada a chance to win a medal.”
Junio finished 10th in the 500 metres in Sochi. He believes training alongside Morrison can help him get faster in both that distance and the 1,000 before the next Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“Hopefully we’ve got a couple more years training together so we’ll be stronger than ever,” Junio said.
Morrison earned a $15,000 bonus from the Canadian Olympic Committee for his silver and picked up another $10,000 for his bronze. The 28-year-old from Fort St. John, B.C., wants to reward Junio for his sportsmanship, although it might not be cash.
“As far as sharing with Gilmore, it’s something I’d like to do in a roundabout way or in a special way, but definitely not writing him a cheque and handing it over because that seems kind of bribey and not really the right message,” Morrison explained.
Perhaps he could buy Junio a plane ticket or two as the speedskaters and friends had planned a post-Olympic trip together even before Sochi intertwined their names. The racing season ends with the world all-around championships in the Netherlands in March.
Morrison says they’ve considered travelling around Europe, “but then Gilmore’s family is also from the Philippines. Six months ago he talked about going to the Philippines so I said I would tag along.
“Gilmore and I have always been great friends since we started training together about three or four years ago,” Morrison continued. “I think this solidifies our friendship even more and it’s something I don’t think either one of us will ever forget.”
Junio and Morrison demonstrated their standard greeting for each other, which is a high-five with a fist pump they call “The GilMorrison.”
Morrison said he almost quit speedskating after the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. He was a strong medal contender in his individual races, but was 13th in the 1,000 and ninth in the 1,500.
Morrison salvaged his Olympics by winning gold in the team pursuit with Regina’s Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux of Pointe-Aux-Trembles, Que.
“Before Vancouver, I knew for sure, 100 per cent I would do another Olympics after Vancouver, but the struggles along the way in Vancouver, even though I won another gold medal at the end almost made it not seem worth it,” Morrison explained. “I almost quit.”
So he had a message for Toronto figure skater Patrick Chan, who was crushed not to win Canada’s first gold medal in men’s singles, but took silver instead.
“I read something that Patrick Chan said recently and I know exactly how that guy feels,” Morrison said.
“It seems like your world closes in on you sometimes at the Olympics. I just hope that he realizes how proud everyone is of his silver medal. I know it’s not what he wanted. It makes it difficult to think about committing to another four years to have that kind of feeling again. That’s something that almost made me quit in Vancouver.”
Morrison said he’ll give track cycling a try as an alternate training method for speedskating. If he continues to 2018, he’ll be a four-time Olympian.
“Something is definitely different now than in Vancouver. I can’t place my finger on it,” Morrison said. “The poise to go out to my Olympic race, it sounds so simple. Just to do what I’ve been doing for the last four years.
“Before Torino and before Vancouver, I remember going into my 1,000-metre races and thinking ‘this is the Olympics. I’m going to do extra and go harder than I’ve ever gone before. I’m going to push harder. I’m going to win this race.’ I was focused on the result rather than the actual process.”
“This time, I put all the pieces together and had a great race.”
|Posted on February 16, 2014 at 8:40 AM||comments (0)|
Morrison, Junio riding high on Canadian Olympic spirit
Sunday, February 16, 2014 8:33:11 EST AM
Canadian long-track speed skaters Denny Morrison (left) Gilmore Junio during a press conference at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 16, 2014. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - As Gilmore Junio walked on to the stage inside Chekhov Hall at the main media centre Sunday, Denny Morrison walked over and pulled out a chair for his teammate.
“I had to do that,” Morrison said with a laugh.
Four days after the gesture that touched the hearts of Canadians and sports fans around the world, Junio and Morrison are still making the rounds, speaking about Junio’s decision on Feb. 12 to give up his spot in the long-track speed skating 1,000-metres competition so his teammate could race. Morrison won the silver medal in the event, and then a bronze three days later in the 1,500.
The reaction back in Canada to The Gesture was overwhelmingly positive, though there have been some naysayers — those who have suggested Junio was wrong to give up the spot he had earned at the Canadian trials, never mind that Junio had raced in the 500 earlier in Sochi (his best event) and, at 23, likely has at least one more Olympics in him.
“Well, I have read a few polls and stuff from people who think Gilmore should be flagbearer or not and it’s, like, 99% (in support),” said Morrison, 28. “I think people know what the story here really is. And the people who are writing stories that are alternate to that, I think they’re just trying to get their own little bit of attention out of it. So I just block them on Twitter and don’t read it.”
Junio and Morrison will forever be linked in Olympic and Canadian sporting folklore. And as to a nod to their special bond, the Calgary skaters invented a special high-five greeting called ‘The Gilmorrison,’ which they unveiled for the media Sunday.
Their story is still reverberating throughout the Sochi Olympics (there were some American journalists catching up to it Sunday), and there’s been a growing movement of officials, athletes and media types who believe Junio should carry the flag for Canada in the closing ceremonies next Sunday — something Morrison endorses, though Junio sees it the other way.
“It would be a huge honour, but I started last night (a Twitter campaign for Morrison as flag bearer) because the guy’s ripping it up on the track,” Junio said. “I think he deserves it more than I do.
“Honestly, I think Gilmore for flag bearer,” added Morrison. “I think it would be really special. This guy instils all the values that represent all the values that it is to be Canadian, especially Olympic pride. I don’t think there’s a better candidate than Gilmore. I think it’s extra cool. He didn’t win a medal, but what he did shows such sportsmanship.”
Morrison won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in the team pursuit and a silver in the same event four years earlier in Turin, but suffered a broken leg and other major injuries last year and only qualified as an alternative for the 1,000. here after clipping his heel at the Canadian trials in December.
Junio, who started off as a hockey player before switching over to short track where he fractured two vertebrae in an accident in 2009 before finally giving long track a try, thought about giving his Sochi spot back to Morrison back then.
The laid-back skater is still shocked that anyone would consider that decision a big deal.
“It was a no-brainer,” said Junio, the son of Filipino immigrants who came to Canada in the 1970s for a better life.
“You want your best faceoff man in the circle. That’s the way I view it. And that’s the simplest way I can put it. I have that hockey mentality in me.”
|Posted on February 13, 2014 at 8:00 AM||comments (0)|
Speedskater Denny Morrison wins surprise silver
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer February 13, 2014
Silver medallist Canada's Denny Morrison celebrates after competing in the men's 1,000-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. PAVEL GOLOVKIN — AP Photo
SOCHI, Russia — A text message popped up on Denny Morrison's cell phone: "Are you ready for a 1,000 meters? Yea or nay?"
At first, the 28-year-old Canadian speedskater wasn't sure who it was from. Once he realized it was Gilmore Junio, Morrison figured his teammate was joking around.
Morrison didn't qualify for the 1,000 in the Sochi Olympics after he fell at the Canadian trials. Junio was offering up his spot in the race, a gesture Morrison at first found hard to believe.
He paid back the favor on Wednesday, earning a silver medal. It was Morrison's third career Olympic medal and first in an individual race. It also was Canada's first medal in five days of speedskating.
"It's a fairytale story for me," Morrison said. "I can't really believe it."
Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands won the gold in 1 minute, 8.39 seconds. Morrison was clocked in 1:08.43. Groothuis' teammate, Michel Mulder, took the bronze in 1:08.74.
"It's unprecedented that someone qualifies for the Olympics and gives up their spot to allow a teammate to take it," Morrison said. "I knew when Gilmore gave up that spot I had a job to do, and I felt ready. I had the best 1,000 meter I've had in two years."
Junio finished 10th in the 500 on Monday. Afterward, the Canadian coaches approached him about ceding his berth in the 1,000 to Morrison, who is his country's strongest skater at the longer distance.
"It was a no brainer for Denny to be in there instead of me," Junio said. "I knew he had a good chance to get a medal after I saw him skate these past two weeks. He did it, it's pretty incredible, and all props go to him."
Morrison and Junio hugged each other after the flower ceremony at Adler Arena.
"I actually feel like I want to cut the medal in half and give him half," Morrison said. "He deserves it."
Junio downplayed his decision, although tweets congratulating him on his sportsmanship flowed in.
"It's his medal and he deserves this as much as anybody," Junio said. "He's worked his butt off since breaking his leg."
Morrison broke his leg cross-country skiing in December 2012 and was off the ice for four months. The 23-year-old Junio started out as a short track skater before injuring his back in a crash five years ago and switching to long track.
"He's been training with me for the last four years, making me stronger in my openers," Morrison said. "I had one of my fastest openers in six years today and that's what got me the silver medal."
Once Junio decided to skip the 1,000, he texted a surprised Morrison, who then checked with the coaching staff to see if Junio was serious. The coaches claimed they knew nothing about it, so Morrison hurried over to Canada House in the Olympic Park to talk with Junio in person.
"I knew a happy Denny is a fast Denny," Junio said.
Both skaters' families were there when Junio said he was indeed offering Morrison his berth.
"That was a moment I'll probably never forget as well," Morrison said. "My mom was crying with his mom and that's before we won a medal. I say we won a medal because really it's a team thing."
Morrison will skate in the 1,500 on Saturday, while Junio's first Olympics are over.
Still, the good times are just getting going for the two skaters who will be forever linked.
"We'll be celebrating for sure," Junio said.
|Posted on February 12, 2014 at 12:15 PM||comments (0)|
Denny Morrison’s Sochi silver medal a gift for his hometown of Fort St. John
Feb 12, 2014 - 12:12 PM EST
Last Updated: Feb 13, 2014 - 12:43 AM EST
PHOTO: Submitted photo Left to right: Councillor Bruce Christensen, Councillor Dan Davies, Mayor Lori Ackerman, Councillor Larry Evans with the winning sculpture from the Peace Region’s recent Mayor’s Challenge.
VANCOUVER — Those special forces at work in long-track speed skater Denny Morrison earning a silver medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Wednesday extended beyond the selfless act by teammate Gilmore Junio.
It seems there might have been a harbinger of things to come from his proud hometown of Fort St. John.
The booming northern B.C. community held its annual High on Ice festival last weekend, an event that includes specially built ice slides and a professional ice-carving competition that attracted sculptors from France and the Netherlands.
There is also a Mayors Challenge ice-carving competition between elected officials in the Peace Region. On Saturday, Fort St. John council won, for the first time in 12 years, for a work that included three ice chairs around an oval-shaped table on which the councillors carved out an Olympic torch and the words Go Denny.
“Then he goes and wins a medal in a race he wasn’t even scheduled to be in, holy moly,” said councillor Larry Evans.
“Everybody is extremely proud of Denny. I’m sure there’s going to be all sorts of rigamarole when he gets back here. And this may just spur him on a little bit for his other races (in Sochi).”
Canada’s silver medal-winning Denny Morrison on the podium after the men’s 1,000-metre speed skating race at the Adler Arena during the Sochi Winter Olympics on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (Jung Yeon-Jejung, AFP/Getty Images)
Morrison, a two-time world champion at 1,500 metres, has Olympic gold and silver medals from the team pursuit in 2010 and 2006, respectively, but faltered badly in his individual races at the Richmond Olympic Oval in 2010. He was 13th in the 1,000 and ninth in the 1,500.
Then, last December at the Canadian Olympic trials he fell 50 metres from the finish line in the 1,000, failing to qualify in that distance for Sochi, although he did qualify at 1,500.
On Tuesday, Junio, who had already skated the 500 at Sochi, gave up his spot in the 1,000, noting Morrison had been “skating unreal these past few weeks” and had the better shot at a medal.
With little time to think, which might well have lessened the pressure for a guy known to be hard on himself, Morrison responded Wednesday with a terrific skate. His time of one minute, 8.43 seconds was just 4/100ths behind winner Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands.
Lori Ackerman, the mayor of Fort St. John, called Gilmore’s act “just one of those gifts. It is remarkable.
“I can’t even explain how proud the community is of Denny,” she added. “He’s pretty much moved to Calgary now to be on the national team, but his mom and dad, his family still live in Fort St. John and are still very connected to the community. His coaches remember him fondly and it’s such a treat when he does come back.”
And about that winning ice sculpture?
“You know we’ve done some very elaborate carvings in the past. A few years ago, we actually carved the grandfather clock out of the Beauty and the Beast, complete with arms and everything, and we didn’t win.
“Our original thought this time we’d do a table and chairs and just sit down and watch somebody else win,” cracked Ackerman. “Enough is enough, we’ll just take a simple approach.
“Then as we started going, we got a little more creative. When we were done, we just sat down and pretended like we were the Greek Olympic Gods.”
Evans and Ackerman said Fort St. John frequently lost the competition in the past to Chetwynd, whose mayor was a very accomplished ice sculptor.
“The beauty of all this is that Denny was actually born in Chetwynd,” said Ackerman. “Talk about the serendipity.”
Jay Morrison, Denny’s brother, had this picture taken of himself with one of the sculpture chairs. (Submitted photo)
Morrison’s brother Jay, a former national team speed skater himself, had a picture taken sitting one of the ice sculpture chairs and took it with him to Sochi to show to Denny.
Morrison’s past Olympic success was at least partially responsible for the fact Fort St. John, a town of just 20,000, has one of only two international-size indoor long-track speed-skating facilities in Canada.
The Pomeroy Sport Centre, a 2010 Legacies project that opened in late 2009 for an all-in cost of $50 million, has two NHL-sized ice rinks on the first floor, the speed skating oval on the second and a running/walking track on the third. It also houses classrooms, meeting space and PacificSport North.
“It’s a big footprint … but it’s a very well-used building,” says Ackerman. “That last statistic I saw was that on a monthly basis, 60,000 people visit, which is three times our population going through there every month.”
Ackerman said the success of the Morrisons, who have several of their mementos hanging in the building, and Linda Johnson, who skated in the 1994 and 1998 Olympics, “turns up the heat” in getting such a facility built.
“But the real push for this type of facility came from the community.”
The Elks Speed Skating Club, which was formed in 1964 and operated an outdoor oval for years, was a key proponent. And Ackerman noted that the town also desperately needed more ice for minor hockey and figure skating.
The speed skating oval has already hosted two national championships.
“That provides the opportunity bring an amazing level of experience and knowledge to our youth,” said Ackerman. “We have some incredible kids coming up.”
With role models like Morrison — and Junio — to learn from, those kids could well be on the way to Olympic hero status themselves.
|Posted on February 6, 2014 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
Sochi 2014: Denny Morrison, Canadian speedskater, grateful for sponsors including a Calgary gay bar
Competing in a country that has come under fire for its law restricting gay-rights activity, Canadian long-track speedskater Denny Morrison gives thanks for sponsors that include a Calgary gay bar.
Patrick Semansky / AP
Denny Morrison, a member of the Canadian speed skating team, appears after a 2014 Winter Olympics team news conference, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.
By: Neil Davidson The Canadian Press, Published on Tue Feb 04 2014
SOCHI, RUSSIA—Competing in a country that has come under fire for its law restricting gay-rights activity, Canadian long-track speedskater Denny Morrison gives thanks for sponsors that include a Calgary gay bar.
But he wasn’t about to make it a talking point Tuesday in Russia.
With just days before the start of the Sochi Olympics, talk of his support from the bar Twisted Element was clearly coming too close to Olympic rules on sponsorship, not to mention the ongoing debate over the controversial Russian law.
“It’s not something that’s come recently. They’ve sponsored me for the last couple of seasons,” Morrison, who was reluctant to go into detail about the matter, said when asked about the support.
“Ultimately I have many sponsors. They’re one of them. I’m really grateful for all of my sponsors but right now I’m focused on my performance.”
The bar’s website features a photo of Morrison in action with the headline: “Twisted Element: A Proud Sponsor” and a link to a local newspaper story on the sponsorship. The bar has pulled Russian vodka from its stock to protest the country’s law.
The IOC has reminded athletes to comply with Rule 50 in the Olympic Charter, that says: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
IOC president Thomas Bach has said that while athletes cannot demonstrate on the podium, they are free to express their opinions at news conferences.
Sochi organizing committee leader Dmitry Chernyshenko initially disagreed, saying athletes could not speak out at press conferences, but later changed his stance.
Morrison, a 10-year veteran competing a his third Olympics, will be cheered on by a large group of friends and family here including his girlfriend.
A 28-year-old native of Fort St. John, B.C., who lives in Calgary, Morrison is a two-time world champion in the 1,500 metres. He won a silver medal from the team pursuit from the 2006 Olympics in Turing and gold from the team pursuit in Vancouver in 2010.
|Posted on February 4, 2014 at 2:20 AM||comments (0)|
Morrison takes a stand with gay nightclub as sponsor
PHOTO: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Morrison describes himself as a "motorcycle driving, bicycle riding, speedskating speed freak.
Denny Morrison’s main objective at the 2014 Winter Games centres on embracing the underdog role and winning his second Olympic gold medal in long-track speedskating. Politics just aren’t his thing.
But the Fort St. John, B.C. native hopes to make a personal statement all the same through his quiet affiliation with a gay nightclub called Twisted Element, billed the largest of its kind west of Montreal.
In the process, he aims to make amends to some folks he likely hurt along the way before adjusting his attitude on the matter of homosexuality.
“One of my sponsors this season is one of the gay bars in Calgary,” says Morrison, a member of the Canadian team pursuit team that graced the top of the podium in Vancouver. “They’ve supported me, and I think they’re great people.
“There’s a quote by Rob Delaney. He’s a comedian on Twitter, and he said, ‘I love gay people or, as I like to call them, people, because why distinguish them, right?’ They’re just people with different sexual preferences and it has no real impact on me.”
The issue of gay rights has dominated headlines – along with terrorism threats and security concerns – in the politically-charged lead-up to the Sochi Olympics.
Russia introduced legislation earlier this year banning the “promotion” of homosexuality to anyone under the age of 18. Seemingly in response, American President Barack Obama announced he will not attend the Games, but instead send a delegation that includes three openly gay former athletes in tennis player Billie Jean King, hockey player Caitlin Cahow and figure skater Brian Boitano.
Just last week, Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov told the BBC there are no gay people in his city, in spite of the existence of several gay night clubs in this Black Sea resort town.
For Morrison, a two-time world champion in the 1,500 metres, the genesis of the controversy cuts close.
“I’ve lost friends over them becoming gay in my past,” he says. “I feel bad about that now. I realize how ridiculous that was. So that’s why I think it’s neat this gay club took me on.”
Morrison credits R.J. Fafard, the owner of Twisted Element, for sparking a complete paradigm shift on the matter – for making him realize gay people are, after all, people.
“Denny is the next generation,” Fafard says. “Hopefully, for anyone who is around his age and growing up now, hopefully being gay won’t be an issue.
“If everyone has the same attitude he has, it’s going to be an amazing future, right?”
As for sponsoring Morrison, Fafard considers the investment money well spent.
“Athletes have to commit themselves 100 per cent to their craft,” he says. “They can’t be going around looking for part-time jobs or anything, because then they wouldn’t be good at what they do.
“When Denny has a free moment, he actually comes in to the club. He’s not embarrassed to hang out with gay people. I think it’s the perfect fit.”
The feeling is mutual.
“The people who know me and some of the friends I’ve lost, they might see this and think, ‘how is that even possible?’” says Morrison, a three-time Olympian at age 28. “And it would be interesting to have a conversation with them and half-apologize and half tell them, ‘I really feel differently about you now, because I’ve educated myself on the subject.’
“All I can really do is basically just treat people better going forward. I realize my mistake.”
He realizes his mistake, and he’s taking action.
“I think there are two types of people – the ones who sit behind a desk and tell people what to do and the ones who lead by example,” Fafard says. “The ones who lead by example are true heroes.
“Denny is my true hero.”
|Posted on November 17, 2013 at 3:10 PM||comments (0)|
Fourth place in ‘solid’ race means speed skater regaining form after broken ankle
Denny Morrison, of Fort St. John, skates during the men’s 1500-metre competition at the World Cup speedskating event on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, in Kearns, Utah. Davis came in first place.Photograph by: Rick Bowmer , AP
THE CANADIAN PRESS
KEARNS, Utah — Canadian Denny Morrison had another near podium skate in the 1,000 metres at a World Cup Speed Skating event in Utah, finishing in fourth place on Saturday.
The Fort St. John, B.C., native, who is making his way back after breaking his ankle while cross-country skiing in December 2012, missed a bronze medal by 0.41 seconds, with a time of 1:07.44.
Morrison was also fifth on Friday in his top event, the 1,500 metres. He once held the world record and won two world titles at that distance.
“Denny had a solid 1,000 metre race,” said Speed Skating Canada’s long-track program director Sean Ireland. “It was an improvement over his races last weekend in Calgary, and it is his best placing since his injury. It was good to see him return to a very high level of performance this weekend that again puts him close to medal contention in both the 1,000 and 1,500.”
|Posted on November 9, 2013 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Ed Willes Published: November 8, 2013, 7:52 pm
CALGARY — After breaking his ankle almost a year ago, Denny Morrison is trying to climb back to the top of the speedskating world in the deepest, most competitive distance in his game.
There might be easier jobs. Rob Ford’s image consultant pops to mind. But if Morrison had lingering questions about the difficulty of the task he faces, he got some pointed answers in Calgary on Friday at the first World Cup event of the racing season.
“People have different plans at different points in the season,” Morrison said after his 11th place finish in the men’s 1500 meters. “Some people are going faster now. I plan on going faster later.”
If only it were that simple.
Morrison, the two-time Olympic medallist in team pursuit and two-time individual gold medallist at the World Championships, started his march towards Sochi with, depending on your point of view, a discouraging result on his home track or a result that will motivate him in the run-up to the Winter Olympics.
Skating in the first pair, he posted a time of 1:44.22, then watched as 10 other skaters passed him including Dutchmen Koen Verweij who won gold at 1:42.78 and longtime American star Shani Davis, who finished second. Morrison’s time was over two seconds slower than his personal best of 1:42.01 which also stood as the world record for over a year.
“It’s motivating,” he said. “I’ve got a few things to work on and I’m pretty sure I can identify what they are.”
“It’s just different technical cues,” said the 28-year-old from Fort St. John. “I skated that like a (3000 meters) and not enough like a 1000. I need to get snappier and more aggressive in the race. I need a little more speed early, a little more speed in the middle and a little bit more at the end.”
To that end, Morrison has embarked on a training program which, theoretically, will lead to steady improvement on the road to Sochi. In addition to the broken ankle, suffered during a cross-country skiing mishap last December, he’s also been dealing with a rib injury and Friday’s race was just his second 1500 of the year.
“The way I see it I’m just trying to get the ball rolling right now,” said Morrison.
His coach, meanwhile, didn’t sound overly concerned about Friday’s result. Bart Schouten has been with Morrison since shortly after the Vancouver Olympics and says his charge is working toward his comeback in the prescribed manner.
“I think in the past he would have panicked but he’s definitely matured,” said Schouten. “Denny isn’t the same Denny he was in 2006 and 2010. He’s handling situations better. He’s focusing on the process and the things he has to do to get back to the top of the world again.
“We’re OK with this race.”
Which is how Morrison assessed things.
Denny Morrison, centre, a two-time Olympic medallist in long track speed skating, rides his motorcycle in a gay pride parade in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013.
“If you would have talked to me after a race like this in 2009 I probably would have barely talked to you guys (in the media),” he said. “I would have been freaking out, throwing things around the changing room. I’ve learned that doesn’t help anything. All I can do is be motivated by what happened and use that.”
Morrison is scheduled to skate in the 1000 meters and the men’s team pursuit on Saturday. Elsewhere with the Canadians on Friday, Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg won bronze in the men’s A 500 meters; London’s Christine Nesbitt, a medal favourite in the 1000 and 1500 meters in Sochi, finished 13th in the women’s 500 meters; Winnipeg’s Brittany Schussler placed 13th in the women’s 3000 meters and Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin was 16th; Regina’s Lucas Makowsky was 17th in the 1500 and Humboldt, Sask.’s William Dutton was 15th in the 500.
|Posted on November 7, 2013 at 4:40 PM||comments (0)|
Speed skater Denny Morrison gathered with the 2014 Winter Olympians at the Jack Poole plaza for the lighting of the cauldron in Vancouver on May 10
By Gary Kingston, Vancouver Sun November 6, 2013
Some of Denny Morrison’s friends have taken to calling him a “hipster” given that he’s been getting around Calgary for the past several months on his “pretty cool,” pannier pack-equipped Electra bicycle.
He rides the kilometre to the grocery store when necessary. He commutes five kilometres each way to the Olympic oval where he trains as a long track speed skater. And he rides his bike to CFL games at McMahon Stadium.
The Fort St. John product and two-time Olympic medallist even recently sold his 2004 Audi S4, though he concedes part of the reason for halving his automobile collection was to make a payment on a long-outstanding loan from the “Bank ‘o Dad” and to ensure he has enough living expenses.
He still has the cherished, though rarely driven, sleek 1991 Dodge Stealth that he bought shortly before becoming a carded athlete in 2003. And he still owns a road motorcycle for those let-loose rides into the mountains.
“But I’m not a hipster, I’m just someone who utilizes a bicycle,” says the 28-year-old whose laconic speech and demeanor seem at odds with his extreme competitiveness and need for speed.
That need is highlighted on his twitter page, where he describes himself as a “motorcycle driving, bicycle riding, speed skating speed freak.” As he says in an interview, it’s all part of his “high-risk, high-reward personality.”
And the irony there, of course, especially given his other potentially dangerous passions like mountain biking and snowboarding, is that his 2012-2013 World Cup season was cut short by a broken fibula sustained while, of all things, cross country skiing. It was crazy, really. Lost an edge on a slight dip in the trail, went off track and his ski went under a downed log. The fibula snapped and he sprained some ankle ligaments.
Morrison had got off to a terrific start last season, winning one World Cup 1,000-metre race and finishing second in another before the pre-Christmas accident while enjoying some down time with friends. He didn’t require surgery on the fibula and did return to skate the season-ending world single distance championships, finishing 13th in 1,000 and seventh in the team pursuit.
“The broken leg affected last season for sure,” he said in an interview this week. “But by the time April passed, it was the last thing on my mind as far as dealing with any negatives in training. I just used it as a reminder to keep me focused on what I’m doing.”
And that is preparing for a World Cup season that starts this weekend in Calgary and the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He would desperately like to add an individual medal to the gold (2010) and bronze (2006) he has earned in the team pursuit.
He went into both those Games as a medal threat at 1,000 and 1,500 and was bewildered when he didn’t skate well. Now supposedly at his peak age-wise, he believes he’s matured and figured out the mental game that is so crucial to being at his best at Olympic time.
“In some ways, yes,” he says when asked if he’s a better skater now than he was at Turin. “When I look back at some of my videos when I was 22, there was so much young energy and scrappiness.
“Now, I have a much better grasp on the reality of sport and life. Before, I was so conscious of trying to control every single aspect of competition. But you can’t control everything.
“It was all part of me wanting to prepare the best way possible and in every way possible. There were so many things I used to think about – superstitions, what shoelaces to tie first. All kinds of things that had no effect on the outcome of the race.
“Now, I’m focusing on worrying about what I can control and that’s proper execution of my race plan. I know it’s all cliché kind of things, but it’s what I have to do.”
Morrison spent the early part of this week training in Salt Lake City, which like Calgary has the fastest ice in the world. But why there? Why not continue training at home?
“Top secret,” he said in typical deadpan.
No, really, why skate in Utah?
“Lots of different reasons. But everyone (from other countries) comes to Calgary to prepare (the week before the opening World Cup). And so, it gets really busy. It was nice to go to Salt Lake. It was more like summer training and I didn’t get too distracted by other competitors.
“Everyone has a plan and a reason for doing certain things and it comes down to what feels right.”
With his first race set for Friday, the plan appears to have worked.
“Yesterday and today,” he said of training sessions Monday-Tuesday at the 2002 Olympic venue, “were my two best training sessions. I had some of the best lap times (of pre-season) and best times of my entire career.”
And that career may not end in Sochi. Provided he can stay healthy, Morrison says he sees no reason why he won’t skate at a fourth Olympics in South Korea in 2018.
But he’s pondering taking some extended time away from the oval after February and perhaps even trying his hand at a summer sport with a view to competing at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto or the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“I’ve dabbled in rowing and track cycling and really enjoyed both. No matter what happens in Sochi, I may try one of those two for a couple of seasons.”
He attended a couple of one-week track cycling training camps after the 2010 Olympics and graded extremely well on subsequent lab fitness tests.
Right now, however, the focus is on left turns on the ice oval, the pre-Sochi plan he and his coach put together in February, 2012 and being in top form for the Canadian Olympic team trials in late December-early January since he couldn’t pre-qualify during World Cups last winter because of the broken leg.
“I like the pressure,” he says, adding that a win or two in four World Cups this fall would be nice.
“I race every race to win. That’s part of the plan, to prepare to win every race . . . to learn from it and get stronger and stronger and then have my best races at the Olympics.”
© Copyright (c) Vancouver Sun
|Posted on October 5, 2013 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
October 4, 2013
Katie Maximick Alaska Highway News
He's got nearly three months until the Olympic speed skating qualifier in Calgary, but Fort St. John speed skater Denny Morrison feels like he's on track in terms of training, even after breaking his leg last Christmas.
Fort St. John's Denny Morrison is ready for another long-track speed skating season but, more importantly, has been gearing up to qualify for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games next spring.
Morrison, a two-time Olympic medallist, was having one of his fastest long-track seasons last fall in the 1,000 m until he broke his leg while skiing in Fernie over Christmas.
"It should be interesting," Morrison said from Calgary, where he lives and train. "With the broken leg and everything last season, it's still something that was on my mind this summer and something I wanted to make sure I was training everyday to recover from. I feel the training's been great, but wonder how much has [the broken leg] held me back and how far back has it put me, how well have I come back from it?"
Right now, Morrison is hitting the Calgary Oval six to seven times a week training, sometimes twice a day.
This weekend will be his first practice race on the Oval, where skaters get to work on timing with a proper start gun in a realistic setting. This will give him the opportunity to see his times compared to last year and gauge where he's sitting.
"It's a good chance to put down a good race rather than just being on ice during practice and hand timing something with your coach," he said about this weekend.
"Overall I'm feeling really good. A lot of the times I'm putting out in practice are really good. Technically I'm skating well and feeling confident."
When it comes to the Sochi Olympics, those who follow Morrison can't help but wonder if he's fully recovered from his leg injury, and whether or not that will affect his chances at the Intact 2014 Speed Skating Team Selections (Olympic qualifiers) that run Dec. 28 to Jan. 3.
Of course it's on his mind too, but Morrison seems confident that he's ready to put up some fast times this winter and represent Canada, and the Peace Region, at the Winter Games again.
"You don't want to be over confident about making the Olympics," he said. "There's only one race per distance and one shot, so you want to make sure you're fully prepared. I'm going to race that race as hard as I race any World Cup race and make sure I qualify."
"Realistically it all comes down to who has it on that day, and I'm fairly confident I should make top five or top three, whatever's required to make the Olympics."
Morrison was recently back in his hometown at the end of summer, where he was followed around by a national media outlet that was filming a special on the speed skater.
"They were basically doing a feature called 'It Takes a Village,'" he said. "The idea is that it takes a village to get an athlete to the Olympic podium, so it's all about my village and the people behind me – the city of Fort St. John and the circle of people who've helped me along the way, volunteer coaches, speed skating club coaches, my family and teachers along the way who inspired me."
"Now I'm coming back to the city and hopefully passing some support onto the next generation and helping them achieve something great in their future as well."
While he was in Fort St. John, Morrison also held a day camp called The Hardest Training Day Of Your Life where he showed local kids and the next generation of speed skaters what it takes off ice to be at his level.
"It was a pretty good day for most of those kids, I think," Morrison said. "I don't think when I was a kid I'd be able to do all that and feel good for the rest of the day. They seemed really good so that's cool to see for me."
Now Morrison is gearing up for the next four World Cups before the Olympics. The first World Cup will be the second weekend of November, and Morrison's looking forward to racing against those who he'll possibly see in Sochi.
"Most of the [World Cup] competition this year is in November and December," he said.
"You want to get that feel for racing against the top guys, and it's sort of nice to see where you stand. If you're at the top you have confidence but you want to keep training, but if you're behind you have all this motivation to train hard and try to fix a few things to get back on top."
For the World Cup season, Morrison is still looking for a sponsor for the primary spot on the chest of his skin suit if any regional companies are interested.
The ESSENT ISU Long Track World Cup #1 will be held in Calgary, Nov. 8-10.
|Posted on September 19, 2013 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Superhero Canadian Olympians play the part for inaugural WinSport Legacy Gala
Fund-raising initiative designed to help ease burdens of getting ready for Sochi By Ian Busby,
For the Calgary Herald September 19, 2013
Canadian Olympians dress as Super Heroes, for the inaugral WinSport Legacy Gala at Canada Olympic Park, on Thursday night.
Photograph by: Christina Ryan, Calgary Herald
When chasing down bad guys, Batman never worries if he has enough money to gas up the Batmobile.
Iron Man rarely frets over the state of Stark Industries when he’s flying around at top speed. You never see Superman even cashing those cheques from that newspaper job he pretends to have during the day.
Yet when our strongest athletes head to the start line to take on the world at the Olympics, they have come down a road where money is an object. The expectations remain the same, especially when Canadian eyes tune in to the Winter Games next February.
On Thursday night at Canada Olympic Park, WinSport Canada tried making the path to Sochi a little smoother. And for the inaugural Legacy Gala, Canadian athletes came dressed as their favourite super heroes, all with the hopes of raising some cash to aid in travel, facilities and training.
It was a fitting theme, seeing as how it will take super human effort for Canada to top the medal count from 2010 when we led the world in gold medals won. When the team arrives in Russia, they want to perform like comic book heroes, who never have to deal with cash-flow problems.
“Spider-Man does live with his parents actually,” said speedskater Denny Morrison, in disguise as the webslinger.
“That’s typical of a lot of Olympians I would say. Not many of us have a ton of money. None of us are Tony Stark. We still go out and do good in the community.”
There was no shortage of athletes willing to squeeze themselves into latex for this event, even ones who are now retired.
Gymnast Kyle Shewfelt came dressed as Batman. Speed skater Catriona Le May Doan was the master of ceremonies as Wonder Woman. Bobsledder Helen Upperton swooped in as Batwoman.
Together, they were the Canadian Avengers, fighting against obstacles so that when the time comes, the athletes will be ready to perform their best.
“Going into Russia, my worst fear is standing on the start line and going, ‘I wish I did this differently,’ or ‘I wish I could have done this a bit better,’ ” bobsleigh pilot Kaillie Humphries said through a Catwoman mask. “Nobody wants that. You do everything you can to make sure that’s not the case.
“It’s all about the little things. Making sure I have the proper therapist for me to be successful and that those therapists can travel year-round with us on tour.
“We have to make sure our equipment is there, that it is world leading. I’m always pushing to find what’s better and what the rest of the world has and then having the funds available when it’s time to get them.”
Humphries didn’t exactly pick a cheap sport. An Olympic bobsled can run around $180,000, while a quality set of blades go for around $10,000. Fortunately for the Canadian team, those costs are picked up by a sponsor.
Shipping those sleds around the world to compete is another story.
“For example, Jenny Ciochetti is the Canada 2 pilot. She’s funding her own way to Sochi for two weeks (this fall for a training camp) because the federation didn’t have enough money to send her,” bobsledder Jesse Lumsden said.
“Justin Kripps is the No. 3 pilot for us and he’s trying to do that right now. We can’t afford to send everyone to Russia. In a sliding sport, run volume is so key to success. It’s so difficult.”
Lumsden knew what he was getting into when he took up bobsled after injuries derailed his CFL career. He’s one of those athletes that maybe doesn’t need that much help, but he came dressed at Thor last night to support his team.
Some of the money will go toward paying for facilities. In an Olympic year, the sliding teams need the Ice House open as early as possible to improve starts. A few extra runs down the bobsled track wouldn’t hurt either.
If all goes as planned, the next six months will be completely focused on training and peaking at the right time, instead of peaking at the bank account and wondering if the money will hold out.
“Fundraisers like this help remove those financial barriers so that we can train every day,” Morrison said. “Hopefully we can reach our potential coming into Olympic seasons like this.
“You aren’t really focused on winning Olympic goal so you can get sponsorship money. It’s more about making Canada proud.”
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|Posted on September 15, 2013 at 5:45 PM||comments (0)|
August 15, 2013
If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to train like an Olympic athlete, Fort St. John’s own Olympic speed skater Denny Morrison is going to be offering a free training session this Friday called ‘The Hardest Training Day of Your Life!’
Denny Morrison is offering a free training session to the public this Friday that will allow people aged 13 and up to experience a training day in the life of an Olympic speed skater.
When his multi-sport camp for this week was cancelled, Morrison (who is currently training for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games) wanted to make sure those who’d registered weren’t left out in the dark, so he thought up this one-day training session to make up for it.
“Part of the reason I put it on is the training camp that I’d planned fell through, and I felt bad for the people who had signed up and made plans to come to my camp, so I emailed them all personally and invited them out for a free day of training,” he said by phone on Tuesday.
“I felt bad and I wanted to give them the opportunity to come out.”
Morrison then eventually extended the invite to the Elks speed skating club, soccer players and then the general public.
The training session will be held outdoors, and aside from telling participants to bring water and come dressed appropriately for the weather, Morrison is keeping details of the training day behind closed doors.
“I’m leaving it a bit of a mystery for everyone,” he said. “I just need them to come prepared.”
“It’s basically a typical day of training in the life of Denny Morrison.”
Morrison is hoping to keep the general age group of the camp above 13, mostly because those attending should be willing to “listen, learn and challenge yourself as you go,” and if the group gets large, he is also asking that some parents attend to help him out.
Generally “it should be fun” but likely won’t be easy, especially if the group is training like a professional athlete.
“Expect to have to challenge yourself to challenge yourself,” Morrison said, adding that he’s looking forward to be back home for the first time in a while.
Those interested in taking part in The Hardest Training Day of Your Life! will be meeting in the parking lot in front of the Pomeroy Sport Centre for 8 a.m. and are reminded to bring water and weather-appropriate clothing.
|Posted on July 25, 2013 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
Fort St. John's Denny Morrison will be home in August to lead a sporting camp for youth. The Denny Morrison Multi Sport Camp is being held August 13 through 18 at the Pomeroy Sport Centre for youths aged 10-16.
This is the first year the camp is being put on by the Pomeroy Inn and Suites, and PacificSport Northern B.C. Morrison, who is an Olympic speedskater, says the camp will be focused on a number of sports for those who want to take their skills to an elite level.
“I’m looking to make it an all sports camp… it’s not necessarily a speed skating camp,” he explains. “The camp is geared towards kids who might be wanting to participate in the upcoming Canada Winter Games.”
Morrison notes that the training needed to participate competitively in sports will be one of the main focuses.
“[I'll] take them through some of the programs that I do for my training for the Olympics off the ice like jump programs, power and agility and things like that and some core stuff, as well as some seminars for mental training and nutrition.”
Those interested in taking part can contact Jennifer Gibson of PacificSport at 250-794-3308 to register.
|Posted on March 20, 2013 at 1:55 PM||comments (0)|
SOCHI, Russia — The Canadian Press Published Tuesday, Mar. 19 2013, 4:14 PM EDT
Denny Morrison of Canada skates on his way to placing second in the men's 1000 meters division A event at the Essent ISU speed skating World Cup in Nagano, central Japan December 9, 2012.
Defending 1,500-metre world champion, Denny Morrison, has been cleared to return to compete this weekend at the 2013 world single-distance speed skating championships.
Morrison broke the fibula of his left leg on Dec. 22 in a cross-country skiing accident. The native of Fort St. John, B.C., will race the 1,000 metres Friday and will be available as one of the three skaters for Sunday’s team pursuit.
Before the injury, the 27-year-old competed in the first five World Cups this season capturing a gold medal in the 1,000 metres on Nov. 17 in the Netherlands and silver on Dec. 9 in Japan. He finished sixth overall in the World Cup standings after competing in five of nine 1,000-metre events.
“I’ve been feeling pretty good on the ice and getting good feedback from the coaches,” Morrison said. “Things have progressed pretty quickly and I’m feeling good overall. The 1,000 meters is where it’s at for me. I’ve been successful in the 1,000 this season. I’m really excited to have recovered this quickly.”