Nesbitt & Morrison Remain Strong, Makowsky Wins 5000m Title at Long Track National Championships

Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) and Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, BC) each added a National Champion title to their collection, today, as they respectively won the women’s 1500m and men’s 1000m at the Canadian Single Distance Championships held at the Calgary Olympic Oval. Meanwhile, Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) successfully defended the title he has been holding for three years now in the 5000m.

Morrison was the first to claim a national title today, his second of the weekend after winning yesterday’s 1500m. He crossed the finish line of the 1000m race in 1:08.29. “I was hoping to be a bit faster,” admitted the athlete. “But after taking the summer off, I feel there is still a lot of room for improvement for me, and I’m glad to see that. I’m excited to race again and keep improving.”

Philippe Riopel (Lachenaie, QC) finished second with a time of 1:08.51, closely followed by Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) in 1:08.63. Tyler Derraugh (Winnipeg, MB), who switched from short track speed skating last season, skated a personal best of 1:09.02 for fourth place and Richard MacLennan (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) was fifth in 1:09.43. With five spots open for Canadian athletes to race the 1000m on the World Cup Circuit, these men have good chances to race on the circuit this Winter, which would be a first for Derraugh.

On the women side, Christine Nesbitt was once again unstoppable, finishing the 1500m in 1:53.48, over two seconds faster than her closest opponent, Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB) who won second place with a time of 1:55.77. Brittany Schussler and Shannon Rempel, also of Winnipeg, had strong races for third (1:56.93) and fourth place (1:58.16) respectively, and Kirsti Lay (Medicine Hat, AB) will likely join them at World Cups this winter, thanks to her fifth place finish (1:58.69). It would also be a first World Cup appearance for the Medicine Hat athlete who has been a member of SSC’s Long Track Development Team for four years now.

The last event of the day was the men’s grueling 5000m race, and Lucas Makowsky was hoping to successfully defend his national title. He did so beautifully, crossing the finish line in 6:25.81. “I wanted a good race for myself,” explained Makowsky afterwards. “I know my potential, and I’m trying to have a strong start and build from there. I started faster than I usually do today. My goal is to get the confidence in my rhythm and remain strong and steady for the entire race. It worked well today, but there’s still room for improvement. I made a lot of technical gains last year, and one of my main objectives this year is to build on those gains and keep improving.”

Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) finished second in 6:27.10 and Regina’s Justin Warsylewicz took third place in 6:27.81. Canada has three spots in the distance on the World Cup Circuit this winter. Giroux is still uncertain whether he will race World Cups or not. If he chooses not to race, Jordan Belchos (Toronto, ON) will likely take his spot as he finished fourth today (6:35.85).

Tomorrow, the women will race the 1000m and 5000m, while the men will compete for the 10 000m title.