Fabris takes gold ahead of Davis & Hedrick; Morrison finishes 11th

Enrico Fabris stole the show in the men's 1,500-metre long-track speedskating event Tuesday, delighting the crowd at the Oval Lingotto in his native Italy by winning his second gold medal of the Winter Olympics.

Much of the pre-race buildup focused on rival Americans Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick, who settled for silver and bronze in a thrilling climax to an event that often had the near-sellout crowd on its feet, buzzing with excitement.

But it was Fabris who came out on top, winning in one minute 45.97 seconds.

Skating in the 17th of 21 pairs, Fabris anxiously had to wait to see if his time would hold over the final eight skaters. Hedrick came close in 1:46.22 while Davis, skating in the final pair, finished just behind Fabris in 1:46.13. That set off a celebration in the 7,800-seat facility as the Italian fans let out a roar and proudly waved their red, white and green flags.

It was a tough day for Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., the top Canadian in 11th place. He won his first World Cup silver medal here last December and thought he had a chance to at least crack the top five. But his race fell apart when he hesitated during a crossover on the last lap.

His coach, Marcel Lacroix, could barely contain his frustration at the unfortunate circumstance.

"When that happened, I just felt like somebody came over and just ripped my heart out," said Lacroix. "I'm having a hard time digesting this one right now."

Skating with Erben Wennemars, Morrison slowed down ever so slightly at the crossing straight - where the skaters change their lanes - just ahead of the final turn. The Dutch skater had the right of way as he went from the outside to the inside lane. Wennemars did nothing wrong, but they were so close together that Morrison had to make a split-second decision: either accelerate and take a chance, or slightly pause and let Wennemars move over. He did the latter and it threw off his timing.

"I was planning to attack that last corner with a lot of speed and come out ahead of him," Morrison said. "I thought it was possible in the race but when you have to stand up like that, you lose a lot of speed there and I lost all my momentum."

Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., finished tied for 12th, Arne Dankers of Calgary was 17th, and Justin Warsylewicz of Regina, was 27th in 1:49.77.

Lacroix was still steaming a good half-hour after the race. He wasn't upset with Wennemars, but instead felt bad for the 20-year-old Morrison, who's skating in his first Olympics. Lacroix was convinced Morrison was on pace for a top-five finish.

"He finished the race and he looked at me and he wasn't even tired," Lacroix said. "But that's speedskating, it's not the Dutch's fault.

"It's bad luck."

Morrison was calm and collected afterwards. While meeting with reporters, the lean six-footer ran his hand through his brown hair and shrugged off how things turned out. His disappointment was evident but he chalked it up as one of those things that happen in sport.

"Two years of preparation, it just vanishes and there's nobody to blame," Lacroix said. "It's not like he can point a finger, it's nobody's fault. It's just very, very unfortunate."

Morrison is happy to get some Olympic experience under his belt and is already looking forward to competing in his home province at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. He often trains with Davis at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, something he hopes will continue over the next four years. Lacroix thinks Morrison could be a real star.

"The potential is huge," Lacroix said.

"This guy I can tell you, he's got it."

Morrison will leave the Games with a silver medal from the team pursuit.

Source: Canadian Press