|Posted on February 22, 2014 at 7:20 AM|
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.”