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Golden redemption in speed skating

Posted on February 28, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Pursuit team edges U.S. rivals for Canada's fifth long-track medal

By GEORGE JOHNSON, Canwest Olympic Team February 28, 2010 5:07 AM

Canada's Denny Morrison (from left), Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux skate to a winter Olympic gold medal in team pursuit yesterday in Richmond, B.C. Photograph by: JOHN MAHONEY, THE GAZETTE, Canwest Olympic Team

As Denny Morrison and his teammates on the Canadian men's long-track speed-skating pursuit team reached the print area of the mixed zone, Morrison stopped to tug the post indicating where gold medallists are supposed to stand to conduct interviews.

"This is awesome, man," the Fort St. John, B.C., native said. "So cool. It's been a roller-coaster of emotions since we got here, but I like the conclusion the best. Sort of story with a good ending, turmoil in between.

"This is the spot to be. Better than those dark, shadowy corners over there."

Executing their game-plan to near perfection, Morrison, Lucas Makowsky of Regina and Mathieu Giroux of Montreal won the gold medal with a time of three minutes, 41.37 seconds, besting the U.S. by 21 one-hundredths of a second.

"It was just enough," Giroux said after the trio claimed the fifth medal, and second gold, of the Games for Canada's long-trackers.

The Dutch, led by Sven Kramer, knocked off Norway for the bronze medal in 3:39.95, besting the Olympic record set by Morrison and Co. less than 24 hours earlier. The Canadians couldn't couldn't have cared less. For the victory lap around the Richmond Oval, Morrison donned a Team Canada hockey jersey, which he hopes to sign and auction off on eBay or via silent auction to raise money for his charity of choice, KidSport B.C.

Yesterday's celebration had to be sweetest for Morrison, the guy ticketed to win as many as two individual medals at the Games, but who had come up empty before yesterday.

Canadian coach Marcel Lacroix credited "the push" - a slight tap on the backside of the lead skater by the two trailing skaters to create added forward momentum - as being the difference.

"Today, it saved our ... butts," he said. "That gold medal today was 'the push.' "

"I put this forward three years ago," Lacroix said of the tactic. "We've been working on it, but we've always been hiding it. We've never done it in a World Cup, never done it in a world championship. We've always kept it to ourselves. It's subtle, you can see it but it was so effective today it was stupid. I can guarantee when others look at the video they're going to go, 'Why didn't we do that?' "

Makowsky believes they've started a trend.

"It really helped us the last couple laps when we all were getting tired," he said. "Especially starting as fast as we did. A secret? I don't know. You can see it on TV. I think you'll see everyone in team pursuit using it from now on. The cat's out of the bag."

Morrison, meanwhile, credited Giroux's short-track heritage with being instrumental.

"We were starting to fade there, losing a bit of time on the U.S. with three (laps) to go and he had this incredible corner build. He almost dropped me and Lucas. Seriously, it was one of the reasons we were able to hold on."

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Categories: Results, 2010 Vancouver Olympics

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