Morrison 0.11 Seconds from the Podium

Just as he said he would, Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.) improved on yesterdays’ seventh place finish in the 1000m event, with a fifth place finish in the same distance today, Sunday at the Erfurt (Germany) Long track Speed Skating World Cup. The result also allows him to lay claim to the best Canadian result of the day at the competition.

With a time of 1:09.75, Morrison only missed a spot on the podium by 11 one-hundredths of a second; American Shani Davis (1:09.25) once again took the win – for his sixth win, one in each of the World Cups this season. The Netherland’s Stefan Groothuis (1:09.50) and Mark Tuitert (1:09.64), took second and third, respectively.

“Denny was happy with his race today; he felt that he had a better last corner and that he managed his energy better. Though he didn’t get onto the podium this time, it’s still very encouraging considering that the World Cup Finals are next week,” commented coach Robert Tremblay.

Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) also skated the event, and took 14th in a time of 1:11.26.

Still in the 1000m event, but in women’s racing, Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) finished in ninth place. The Olympic Champion in the distance had been previously unbeaten in the distance throughout the entire World Cup season. Nesbitt had been suffering from a wry neck since Friday which stopped her from racing on Saturday; Russian skater Yekaterina Shikhova was able to take advantage of Nesbitt’s weakness and won the event, stopping the clock at 1:16.93.

“Christine isn’t quite back to her normal self yet, but she was feeling better today than in previous days,” explained Tremblay. “Since she hadn’t been on the ice since then, and she didn’t really have a great warm up, she really wasn’t able to skate her best. But, at the same time, she did get out there and race; three days without being able to skate plus a painful neck – those aren’t ideal conditions to win a gold medal,” Tremblay concluded.

Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) skated to a season-best result in the 1000m with an 18th place in a time of 1:18.62. Anastasia Bucsis (Calgary, AB) and Tamara Oudenaarden (St.Albert, AB), who made their Group A debut in the distance, finished 19th and 21th. Bucsis recorded a time of 1:19.59, while Oudenaarden skated across the line in 1:19.67.

“It’s nearly the end of the season, and the Olympics are over now, so it can be a bit difficult to stay motivated for the last few races of the season. Nonetheless, it’s inspiring to watch (Christine) Nesbitt skate and fight the pain she’s in and still get a decent result. Plus, the fact that Shannon, Tamara, and Anastasia are now skating in Group A really demonstrates that good things can come at the end of the season – things that can help you think towards goals for next season,” philosophized their teammate, Denny Morrison.

In the men’s 500m event, Gregg, Kyle Parrott (Minnedosa, MB) and Vincent Labrie (Saint-Romuald – QC) took 12th, 17th and 19th places, respectively. Gregg skated the distance in a time of 35.71, while Parrott and Labrie clocked times of 35.99 and 36.48 each.

Morrison, who skated in Group B, finished in tenth place with a time of 36.64.

In women’s 500m racing, Rempel (39.47), Bucsis (39.63) and Oudenaarden (39.97) came 18th, 19th and 21th, respectively.

Canadian skaters head to Heerenveen, in the Netherlands, the city which will host the World Cup Finals next weekend; racing begins Friday.