Great end of season for Denny Morrison

Article by Jolanda Abbes - After continuously showing progress throughout this season, it all came together for Denny Morrison at the two final competitions of the season, when he earned his first World Cup gold in Calgary, and was able to add two more silver medals and a bronze medal at the World Single Distances Championships in Salt Lake City, along with several personal bests in the short distances. During a well-deserved break Morrison reflects on these last successful races and talks about his plans for the very near future.

What’s your opinion on your gold 1000m at the World Cup in Calgary? Were you disappointed initially because you missed the world record by 0.2 seconds?

‘Yes, I was disappointed initially right after the race because I just missed the world record. If you watch the replay of the finish of my race, you will see me look up at the scoreboard in anticipation. I thought my last lap in Calgary was going to be faster, and that is what I was disappointed with once I warmed down from the race. I was excited to be able to open 16.6 from the outer lane that weekend, because I had only ever opened that fast once before (the weekend before) from the inner lane, and several people were saying that I couldn’t do it from the outer. I knew after that fast of an opener from the outer lane that I would have a faster lap than the last weekend, because I could really build the second turn a lot. I tightened up a little bit on the second last corner because I was so excited about doing a 24.7, but managed to relax and skate the backstretch and last corner. Unfortunately I only did a 25.9 again, so I missed the world record because Shani’s last lap in his world record race was faster.’

In Salt Lake City you lost the 1000m by 0.02 seconds to Shani Davis. Where in your race do you think you lost that race?

‘I think there are several places where I lost 0.02 seconds. But I also think there were a lot of things that I did to bring my time within 0.1 seconds of Shani. My opener in Salt Lake City was 0.2 slower than in Calgary, yet I skated a 0.1 faster first lap (at 24.65). Had my opener been a 16.6 or faster like I wanted, my first lap would have been faster yet, I am sure. That is a big thing that I was upset about after this race, but for something smaller that may have contributed to only 0.02 seconds, it could be something as simple as skating about 2m off of the blocks in the last turn, because my legs were too tired to hold the lean well enough to stay on the blocks.’

How close to excellent were your 1000m and 1500m in Salt Lake City, were they the best races possible at that time?

"Other than the things I just pointed out about my 1000m, I would say that they were both quite excellent races for me at the time. I think in the future, having still more experience skating head to head against these super fast skaters will help make me a much better skater. In the Salt Lake City 1500m against Shani, I came out of the second last turn and saw him ahead of me, still so strong! I had a mental lapse and told myself I couldn’t catch him. If I prevent that sort of thing from happening I will certainly have a much better shot at getting them in the end, and even if I don’t beat that person that I see, it’s possible it would help me to prevent another person from beating me by 0.08.’

Which distance was more satisfactory for you in Salt Lake City? Your silver 1000m or your bronze personal best 1500m?

‘I was very happy with both the 1000m and the 1500m. I think maybe I was happier after the 1500m was over, because it was such a nice feeling to have the pressure off of my shoulders of racing those huge, important, individual events. Also the fact that I skated a personal best in the 1500m finally this season was something I was extremely pleased with.’

Which results mean the most to you: your silver and bronze medals at the World Single Distances Championships in Salt Lake City or your gold World Cup medal in Calgary?

‘In terms of skating the competitions, they both seemed equally as important – even though the World Single Distances Championships is obviously the bigger competition. There wasn’t as much hype about the World Single Distances Championships as there is for something like the Olympics. Meanwhile, for a World Cup, Calgary seemed to have a lot of hype around it for me, because it was in Canada, and I was the poster boy! I am thrilled with my first World Cup gold, but two silvers and a bronze at World Championships is just that much more special.’

So what’s next for you? When will you start concentrating on speed skating again?

‘I plan on doing a lot of snowboarding this spring. I’ve been out five times already, and have a trip planned to BC for this weekend, and hopefully a few more times after that. Once it is nice enough outside, I will enjoy some mountain biking, and driving my car around while it is nice. I also plan to buy a motorcycle once the roads are clean enough. As you maybe can tell, it is going to be a little while before I start concentrating on speed skating again! Usually it’s mid-May before I get back into serious training.’

On June 9th 2007 Morrison is planning to take part in the MS Bike Tour, a two day 180 km trip from Airdrie to Olds and back to raise money for MS. Last year he raised just over $1000, this year he’s planning to raise at least $1250. Anyone interested in helping him reach this goal, see:

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