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all about Canadian speed skater Denny Morrison

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Strong family support for Denny Morrison

Despite an ever growing fan base all over the world, it seems fair to say that among Denny Morrison’s biggest supporters are probably his brother Jay, his sister Julie and his parents Carol and Dennis. Moreover, they have known him all his life, so whom better to talk to about Denny’s rise to the speed skating top than his closest relatives?

 

By Jolanda Abbes

 

Denny Morrison (22) can look back on a good season so far. After a rocky start he succeeded in picking himself up again, and eventually he managed to skate to numerous personal bests, several World Cup gold medals in the 1000m, and a 500m gold medal and a sixth place overall at the World All-round Championships in Berlin. The season before that was impressive as well, with a couple of World Cup medals, including his first gold medal in the 1000m, and medals in the 1000m and the 1500m at the World Sprint Championships, the World All-round Championships and the World Single Distances Championships. These good results over the last few seasons have gained him a lot of support all over the world, but his performances are probably most closely watched by his parents, his brother and his sister.

 

Like Denny, his older brother Jay (24) is a speed skater on the Canadian national team and like his brother, Jay is training with Marcel Lacroix. Because of this and the fact that they grew up together, Jay has not only been a close witness to his brother’s rise to the top, but also has an inside view on how Denny developed as a speed skater: “It was always quite evident that as a child Denny had a knack for skating, especially short track when he had such a great body position from a young age. As he became older, skating became a more important part of his life. He moved to Calgary and started training regularly in an amazing way. Never had I seen someone do hard programs the way he did them. He is constantly training to perfect all of the little things and relentlessly pursues the search for more speed.”

 

Denny’s older sister Julie (26) is currently not in any way involved in speed skating, although she did give it a try at a younger age: “I was a member of the Fort St. John Elks Speedskating Club for about three years in my early teens, but I wasn't fast at all, so I eventually quit.” Right now she works as a map-maker for a seismic surveying company in the oil & gas sector. According to Julie it was not just talent that helped Denny to become the skater that he is today: “Denny grew up striving to be as good of a skater as his older brother Jay, so he always had someone to chase and to look up to. I think it was just a matter of time and experience before they began rivaling each other. Denny always wanted to one day make it to the Olympics, so with hard work and perseverance his dream came true once and hopefully will again!” Denny himself also admits to the fact that as a child he looked up to his brother: “Looking back now, my brother was always the one I idolized growing up. I hope we will stand on an international podium together one day!”

 

According to his parents, Denny excelled in more sports than just speed skating when he was young. Nevertheless, his international successes as a speed skater came as a surprise to them. Mother Carol reflects: “Denny has always had talent in every sport he's participated in. I don't think we ever thought about whether or not he'd be a top athlete until he broke through on the World Cup circuit though – and even then it took some time to sink in.”

 

Along with Denny’s successes came the fame and the fans, something which didn’t come as a total surprise to Jay: “It is not unexpected to me that people are noticing Denny; he has a very distinct skating technique and his results have been fantastic in the past couple of years.” So, is it strange for Jay to see that his younger brother is getting more and more popular in for example The Netherlands? “It is not strange to see, because I hardly see it. Additionally, Denny is still just Denny. He has his friends, I have mine, he has his fans... Uhhh... I have mine too???? ;) Maybe not so much. But I am happy he is noticed because what he does is pretty fantastic and it should be noticed by people.” Julie appreciates the recognition of her brother as well: “It's really nice to see how his successes are recognized internationally, especially in The Netherlands, where speed skating is huge. It isn't too strange for me to see though, because he has always been a great skater, so it almost seems normal to me in a way; almost like it was expected to happen because that was the next step.”

 

Fame and success sometimes have a tendency to change people, whether the person involved is a famous actor or a successful athlete. So does Denny’s family think that his successes have changed him in any way? His parents feel that if there were any changes, they were positive ones, as Carol explains: “We are impressed and very proud with how he has been handling himself. Any change so far has been positive in that he has grown personally and has become very comfortable talking to the media.” Neither do his siblings see any big changes. Julie: “I don't think Denny's success has changed him all that much. I guess he is just more conscious of his health and takes his training more seriously, because he knows that slacking off at all could be detrimental to his next competition.” Jay: “Like I said before, Denny is still just Denny.” 

 

Of course there’s more to Denny Morrison than the mere fact that he’s a speed skater. According to Jay there are several things that people who do not know Denny other than as a speed skater, should realize about him: “There are a lot of things! But I guess most important is that he is great in many ways outside of speed skating. He coaches little kids at summer camps, skates and talks with old and new faces when he goes back home – to Fort St. John – and is always there to help. For example, he mentions things to his teammates at practice that he recognizes could be improved and how to go about improving them. Denny is a great roommate, teammate and brother!” Julie on the other hand thinks there is an entirely different thing that every fan should know about her brother and even suggests a way for fans to get more close up and personal with him: “Fans of Denny should know that he can cook a mean pizza, so instead of an autograph, maybe next time they should ask him for dinner!
First photo: Denny at the age of 8. Second photo: Denny at the age of 10, both are taken by Dennis Morrison.

 

 

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