Canada wins gold & silver to open world junior speed skating championships

Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., and Francois-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que., won gold and silver respectively on Friday in the men’s 500-metres to open the world junior long track speed skating championships.

Morrison, eighth in event last year, clocked 37.40 seconds for the victory- a personal best time outdoors. Roberge took second spot in 37.62 and Jong Voo Lee of South Korea was third in 37.90. Justin Warsylewicz of Regina was ninth in 38.49.

"It was an unexpected win for me," said Morrison, 19, fourth overall last year. "I was hoping for a top-five but I put a lot of work into the 500 this year, did a lot of video and that corrected a lot of problems. In past years it’s been a race that starts to breakdown for me at the end of the season."

Roberge, 19, made a successful return to world junior competition for the first time in three years.

"The 500 is not traditionally my best event but I was super prepared," said Roberge, the alternate on last year’s team. "I studied the starter quite bit during the pairs before mine and that helped me have a great opener. It was my best technical race in a long time."

In the men’s 3,000 held under a light snowfall, Sven Kramer led the Netherlands to a 1-2 finish clocking 3:57.31. Warsylewicz, the defending overall champion, clocked fourth at 4:01.04 with Morrison seventh and Roberge 12th.

After two of four distances overall, Kramer, third at the senior world all around championships two weeks ago in Moscow, leads with 77.792 points. Morrison is second at 77.990 and Havard Bokko of Norway third at 78.342. Warsylewicz is fifth at 78.663 and Roberge ninth at 79.480.

"My point total after the first day improved a lot over last year," said Morrison. "I’m definitely happy to be in the top group. I’ll need to deliver another strong performance in the 1,500 (on Saturday) to stay up there."

In the women’s 500, Justine L’Heureux of St-Tite, Que., was 12th, Kirsti Lay of Medicine Hat, Alta., 29th, and Kelsey Duffield of Red Deer, Alta., 32nd. All three are competing at their first world juniors.

Competition continues through to Sunday.