|Posted on October 5, 2013 at 5:25 PM|
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.