Morrison needs an exorcism

By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency


Denny Morrison will learn from his earlier mistake when he gets back on the oval at the Olympic Games in men's speed skating. (QMI AGENCY file photo)

RICHMOND, B.C. — Denny Morrison didn’t try to hide from the bogeyman that burst from his closet the other day.

The product of Fort St. John, B.C., admitted he choked under the bright lights of his first Olympic podium shot at these home-province Games.

In case there was any doubt, his coach confirmed it.

“Something happened at the gun,” Marcel Lacroix said of Morrison’s 1,000-metre race Wednesday. “He was not focused like Denny usually focuses. He’s been really, really good under pressure. And for whatever reason, the crowd, wanting to win so bad, he wasn’t able to just be himself.

“Something happened. Some demon came out.”

Get out the crucifixes, the wafers and the holy water — we’re going to have an exorcism Saturday.

It’s the 1,500 metres, in which Morrison twice won bronze on the World Cup circuit this season. He also took third at last spring’s World Championship 1,500, right here at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

The 24-year-old has also known how the podium feels in the 1,000. Hence, hopes were up in the back rooms of Speed Skating Canada that the men’s team could keep early pace with the women.

Then came the Morrison Meltdown.

Lacroix was surprised. He’d seen Morrison turn in a solid debut in the 500, and assumed the jitters would be gone.

Apparently, the thought of a medal was too much.

“He wanted it too much,” Lacroix said. “He worked … but working at this level is not good enough. You have to be technically sound.”

All the soundness in the world isn’t likely to vault Morrison to the top in the 1,500.

Like the 1,000, this is a race owned by American Shani Davis, Morrison’s old training partner.

Davis, who won gold in the 1,000, was sympathetic to his old bud, saying having a big crowd behind you can be a blessing — or a curse.

“They can either work for you or work against you,” Davis said. “It depends on how you receive the energy they give you. I was surprised.”

Another Canadian hopeful, Kyle Parrott of Minnedosa, Man., was questionable for Saturday’s race.

“I’ve been getting dizzy and almost blacked out at the end of my races,” Parrott, 24, said. “So I have to get it checked out. But most likely, I will race.”

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca

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