Canada wins silver medal in men’s pursuit at world junior speed skating championships

Canada won the silver medal in the men’s 3,200-metre pursuit race Sunday at the world junior long track speed skating championships while Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., placed fourth overall.

The Netherlands won the gold medal in the men’s pursuit in 4:03.65 to withstand a strong challenge from the Canadians who clocked 4:04.82. The Canadian skaters were Morrison, Justin Warsylewicz of Regina and Francois-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que. The U.S., was third in 4:07.91. The pursuit makes its Olympic debut next year.

“It was a good race for us, we communicated well,” said Morrison. “We were a second faster than the Dutch on the last lap so we should have started out stronger. We felt we had a good chance to win and we nearly did it.”

Sven Kramer of the Netherlands, a bronze medallist at the senior worlds two weeks ago, captured gold in the 5,000 final to win the overall title with 156.587 races. He won three of the four races this weekend. Morrison placed seventh in Sunday’s 5,000 for fourth overall at 158.734, his same placing as last year.

Warsylewicz, the overall champion last year, was fourth in the 5,000 for sixth overall and Roberge was 15th in the 5,000 for 10th.

“This was a much stronger field than last year, some say it was the strongest ever at a world juniors so overall I’m pleased,” said Morrison, the gold medallist in the 500 on Friday and second in the 1,500 on Saturday. “The 5,000 is not my best event and I started the race too quickly today. The last lap hit me hard.”

Warsylewicz missed the first half of the season when he was diagnosed with a heart irregularity which required surgeries on November 17 and December 8 in which a catheter was wired into his heart.

“I came here to win and I find my overall finish a hard pill to swallow,” said Warsylewicz, 19. “It’s true I’ve had a tough year but I expected big things and when it doesn’t happen I’m disappointed. It wasn’t in the cards for me this year. The bright point for me is I had four solid races this weekend. I couldn’t blame my overall placing one really bad performance.”

In women’s competition, Irene Wust of the Netherlands won the overall title. Justine L’Heureux of St-Tite, Que., was 17th in the 3,000 and placed 16th overall. Kirsti Lay of Medicine Hat, Alta., was 29th overall and Kelsey Duffield of Red Deer, Alta., 30th.

Canada was seventh in the women’s pursuit, also won by the Netherlands.