Morrison wins 1,000, helps team pursuit to gold at speed skating World Cup

CALGARY – Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., earned his first victory this season on Sunday edging the hottest long track speed skater in the world – his compatriot Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., – to win the men’s 1,000 metres at the second stop on the World Cup circuit.

Morrison then helped Canada to gold in the men’s team pursuit. Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., took silver in the women’s 1,000 and was part of the women’s team pursuit silver medal performance.

In the 1,000, Morrison clocked one minute and 07.25 seconds, just 0.01 off his personal best, with Wotherspoon second in 1:07.31 and Shani Davis of the U.S., third in 1:07.40. Wotherspoon has medalled in his seven World Cup races this season.

‘’I opened pretty fast and carried the speed right through to the last lap,’’ said Morrison, who was in the fourth pair of 10. ‘’A lot of the other skaters lost a lot of speed on that last lap. Going so early I didn’t think my time would hold up. But it didn’t matter because I skated the way I wanted after a tough start to the season in the 1,000. But I'm ahead of last season’s pace. It took three-four World Cups to get untracked last year.’’

Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was 19th. In the B Group race, François-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que., was second.

Morrison, Elm and Arne Dankers of Calgary then roared to victory in the men’s 3,200 –metre team pursuit in 3:41.95. Norway was second in 3:42.88 and Germany third in 3:44.40. Canada was paired with the Netherlands which placed sixth.

‘’We just kept gaining power throughout the whole race,’’ said Morrison, a member of Canada’s Olympic silver medal winning pursuit team. ‘’I was surprised with how comfortable we felt with each other in the race. We hadn’t done all that much training recently in the pursuit but we’ve raced together before and stuck to the same game plan.’’

In the women’s 1,000, Anni Friesinger of Germany was the winner in 1:13.49 with Nesbitt second in 1:14.14 and Chiara Simionato of Italy third in 1:14.15. World record holder Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg was fourth in 1:14.22 and Kristina Groves of Ottawa fifth in 1:14.51.

Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was ninth and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg 14th.

Nesbitt, Rempel and Groves combined forces for silver in the women’s 2,400 metre pursuit. Germany took gold in 2:56.46, Canada was second in 2:59.18 and Russia third in 3:01.04. The Canadians were paired with the Dutch who placed eighth.