Morrison a promising speed skater

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:18 PM ET

The "little punk" from back in the day has grown into quite the promising speed skater.

When Denny Morrison's coach, Marcel Lacroix, first saw him skate eight years ago at a short-track camp in B.C., he was amazed at the kid's talent.

Now Morrison, 20, has become one of Canada's best long-track skaters and will compete in the ISU World Allround Championships starting today at the Olympic Oval.

Lacroix recalls seeing a young kid holding his own against a strong group of Quebec short-trackers.

"A long time ago I did a camp up in northern B.C. and he was just a little punk at the short-track club up there and that was the first time I really noticed him," said Lacroix.

"In those days I was still coaching short track and he was one of the kids who could compete against the Quebecers in short track, which was very impressive.

"I saw his potential as a speed skater right away and he had something very special to be able to battle those crazy Quebecers at that time.

"It was like, 'Wow, look at this kid from northern B.C. being able to do that.' "

Morrison, after competing in both disciplines, switched to long track full time in 2002 and hasn't looked back. He finished second overall in the 1,500m on the World Cup circuit this season, his first on the senior circuit. He admits he's somewhat amazed at how quickly he has made strides in his career.

"I guess it's not so much my age that I think about but the way I've developed in the past year," said the Fort St. John, B.C., product. "The jump I made was kind of unexpected last year. I remember at Canadian World Cup trials, I was so nervous before my 1,500 because I was afraid Steven Elm or somebody would beat me and I wouldn't make the team.

"But I ended up beating everyone by a couple of seconds."

Then he took the gauntlet and ran with it, especially in the 1,500, where he's helped his teammates get better.

"One of my teammates told me I pulled everybody along. Every 1,500-metre skater on the national team had a personal best by over a second," said Morrison, whose older brother Jay is also on the long-track national team.

"It's pretty cool to have them say that and maybe I've raised the bar a little bit."

This weekend he'll be in tough to grab the overall title, especially against Americans Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis.

Still, Morrison won't leave anything on the ice because he's about as competitive as they come.

"Some people get mad at me sometimes for being too competitive when maybe it's not necessary but I find it's fun when there's a bit of competition," said Morrison, a speed freak who's into cars.

The next level for Morrison is just around the corner and there's not much doubt he'll be a strong medal contender at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Said Lacroix: "His future looks really, really good. There's a lot of different signs. He's got something special and he's really well-balanced now as a 20-year-old.

"We do a lot of testing and he's definitely got something going, for sure. The future looks really bright."


Videos

Photos