Morrison misses medal: I 'exploded'

By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency


Mark Tuitert of The Netherlands gets a big kiss from his wife after winning gold in the Olympic men's speed skating 1500 m Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Richmond Olympic Oval in Vancouver, B.C. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/QMI AGENCY)

RICHMOND, B.C.— Denny Morrison looked strong for three laps. Too bad the 1,500-metre speed skating event calls for almost four.

Canada’s top men’s medal threat faded badly down the stretch in his last individual race of these Games, finishing ninth in a race won by Mark Tuitert of the Netherlands.

Pre-race favourite Shani Davis of the U.S. took silver, Havard Bokko of Norway the bronze.

After the race, a despondent Morrison appeared to question his coaching.

“That’s been happening to me all season long,” Morrison said. “I don’t know if it’s the program, or what. I just lost all my speed, and basically exploded. It wasn’t like I gave up.”

Morrison, of Fort. St. John, B.C., was hoping for redemption from his 13th-place finish in the 1,000, Wednesday.

“The first two laps of the race was exactly how I wanted it,” he said. “It was coming easy. The speed was there.”

But the late collapse was all too familiar to the 24-year-old.

A double-medalist at last spring’s World Championship here, Morrison has been unable to consistently hit the podium, since.

“It’s frustrating to be getting closer and closer to the Olympics, and knowing that I’m skating poorer and poorer,” he said. “Especially when I get tired. I don’t really know what it is that I’m not doing right or what it is I’m doing wrong.”

Informed of Morrison’s comments, coach Marcel Lacroix put the onus back on his athlete.

“The program was giving him what he needed for the last three years,” Lacroix said. “He got a world record with his technique in the program. He was the silver medalist in the World Championship last year in the 1,000. Bronze medalist in the 1,500 metres. So, what — before it was working? Now it’s not working? Now it’s the program?

“Right now he’s lost. He’s trying to find some answers.”

It turns out a Friday training race didn’t bode well for Morrison.

Entering the last of three laps, he pulled up, ripped off his glasses and tossed them aside.

“For the first time in my life I stood up and quit before I finished,” Morrison said. “It was probably a bit of a show. It was stupid, though. I regret doing it.”

Lacroix says he wasn’t too concerned.

“He’s human,” the coach said. “When it doesn’t go your way 24 hours before a race, you have a reaction.”

Morrison’s last shot at an Olympic medal here will come in the team pursuit, Saturday.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca

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