Morrison, Makowsky, & Giroux Earn Olympic Gold

Richmond (Sportcom) – Canada’s team pursuit men Denny Morrison (Fort St.John, B.C.), Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) and Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) beat Team U.S.A’s Brian Hansen, Chad Hedrick and Jonathan Kuck, for the gold medal, Saturday in the final long track speed skating event at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.  In the bronze medal final, Team Netherlands were the winners, besting Team Norway.

Long track skaters have won five medals at this Games, two golds (Christine Nesbitt - 1000m; men’s team pursuit) one silver (Kristina Groves – 1500m) and two bronze (Kristina Groves – 3000m; Clara Hughes - 5000m).

Team Canada’s men’s medalling continued a tradition begun with the first inclusion of the team pursuit at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games.  At the time, the team made up of  Steven Elm, Arne Dankers and Justin Warsylewicz (Jason Parker and Denny Morrison skated in the elimination rounds) also won gold.

“Half-way through the race we were getting tired and were losing time.  We almost lost Mathieu – Lucas and I – in our relays.   But he held on; everyone had a task to accomplish,” explained Morrison. “We lost our Olympic record, sure, but a gold medal is way better!”  he laughed, adding that he was still tired from yesterday’s two heats of racing that saw the trio set two separate Olympic records.

At his first Olympic Winter Games, Makowsky leaves Vancouver with a medal. “Until today (Saturday) the men hadn’t earned a medal.  To in the end, get the gold is incredible.  The three of us are pretty close to a dream team, we skate so well together,” Makowsky commented. 

Makowsky’s view is that synchonized, close skating was a factor in Canada’s win.  The Saskatchewan native confirmed his intention to compete at the next Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.  “We weren’t as ‘perfect’ as we were yesterday, but it was good enough to beat Team U.S.A.,” he concluded. 

A recent arrival from short track speed skating just one year ago, Montreal native Mathieu Giroux played a major role in the trio’s victory. “We knew how much ahead we were from Team U.S.A.  Our strategy was to push Denny in the last two laps and that’s what saved it for us.”  

Giroux explained that his former short track teammates’ win in their men’s relay was additional inspiration.  “It’s funny because yesterday afternoon, people on Facebook were saying that at least one short track guy (ie me) would have a medal.  The short trackers hadn’t won anything at that point yet, but I knew they could do it. Their relay strategy worked like a charm, that relay was incredible to watch.  Now, I too  have a gold medal, so they’re won’t be any in-fighting,” joked Giroux. 

The Women Take Fifth Place

Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON), Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) and Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg) finished their Olympic Winter Games on a positive note, winning their last match-up – putting them in fifth place.  Skating against the Netherland’s trio of Diane Valkenburg, Jorien Voorhuis and Irene Wust, the Canadians skated the distance in a time of 3:01.41, the Dutch skaters completed the distance in 3:02.04.

“After what happened yesterday, we wanted to give the best of ourselves in today’s race.  We should have been in a different heat and there are lessons in that,” philosophized Groves.  “We dipped into our reserves to really show people that we’re good skaters.  In life there are highs, and what matters is how you deal with them, so that’s what we did.”

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Written by Sportcom for Speed Skating Canada

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