Morrison, Makowsky, & Giroux Go for the Gold
Women’s Team Stopped at the Quarterfinals

Richmond (Sportcom) – The men’s pursuit team composed of Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.), Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) and Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) assured themselves an Olympic medal, Friday, qualifying for Saturday’s final against Team U.S.A.  

In women’s racing, Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON), Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) and Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) missed their semi-final berth by only five one-hundredths of a second – beaten by the women of Team U.S.A.

Two Olympic Records for Canada’s Men

In the quarterfinals, Morrison, Makowsky, and Giroux were faster than the Italians – Olympic Champions in title – establishing a new Olympic record of 3:42.38.  Once into the semi-final round skating against Norway, the Canadian trio again set a new Olympic record, lowering their time to 3:42.22.

Between the two races, Morrison and Giroux had to pass through anti-doping testing, due to their record-setting ways.  Nonetheless, the pause did not unsettle them. 

“We had two really good races today (Friday) – with our two Olympic records.  We’re three strong skaters who work well together and that gives us a great deal of confidence for the upcoming races,” explained Makowsky.

Morrison used a car analogy to describe the teamwork essential to a successful team pursuit race.  “It’s like in an automotive engine: all the pistons need to be working, and if that’s not the case it just doesn’t work.”

According to Giroux, the trio’s strength can be explained by the Team’s ability to use specialized athletes.  “Our strength is the fact that we’re able to skate fast, as if we were skating a 5000m event; the other teams are made up of mixes of sprinters and long-distance skaters.  We basically just stay with the strategy we used since the beginning, and it worked well again,” he continued.  “A medal is guaranteed, and we want the gold; that is important to us, since we know that Canada can finish on top with the highest number of golds at the Games.”

Only 5 One-Hundredths of a Second from the Semi-finals

In the women’s event, Kristina Groves, Christine Nesbitt and Brittany Schussler were hoping for a different result.  Though their time of 3:02.24 was the third best in the quarterfinal round, it was not enough to defeat Team U.S.A., who completed the six laps in 3:02.19.

“Losing by 5 one-hundredths of a second is really a slim margin.  We knew that it would be tight, and it’s our fault.  It’s rough, our relay changes were good, it’s in the strategy where we made the mistakes,” admitted Kristina Groves.  Today’s racing was full of surprises however, with three teams that were considered favorites being eliminated – including the men’s pursuit team from the Netherlands. 

After their race, the women’s team stayed in the centre of the oval to cheer on their Canadian compatriots.  Saturday, the women will skate the Final C against Team Netherlands.

Written by Sportcom for Speed Skating Canada