Canadian speed skater Denny Morrison recently finished first in the 1,000 metre race in Hamar, Norway. The win puts the 22-year-old a few points closer to Shani Davis, his American competitor, for the season-long speed skating title.
Morrison hails from Fort St. John, a small town in north western Canada. He says one of his biggest challenges has been dealing with life on the road and spending large amounts of time in Europe on the World Cup circuit.
“The biggest change from last year is my preparation for the actual races, not just the strategy throughout the season, but the day of racing,” Morrison said in an interview with the Vancouver Sun.
The strategy seems to be paying off. Initially another Canadian, Jeremy Wotherspoon took first, but then Simon Kulpers from the Netherlands shaved one one hundredth of a second off the time. When Morrison hit the ice he took a further hundredths of a second off Kulpers and finished in 1:08.57 for a first place finish.
“It was pretty crazy,” Morrison said. “Having seen what everybody else before me did and when I saw I was half a second behind after the first lap, I was a little sceptical that I could win. But I knew I had a strong last lap, that I was capable of doing a 26-second lap. That gave me confidence and I held it together.”
There are only three World Cup races left and Morrison is setting himself up for the 1,000 metre title. Two races will be held in Inzell, Germany in mid-February but the big race will be on February 23rd, in Heerenveen in the Netherlands.
The winner of the final race is given 30 per cent more points that usual, which would be enough to boost Morisson above his American rival.
“I think [I can do it],” said Morrison. “I’m skating more and more confident races with faster openers. I’m going to work on my speed in the corners a little bit and try to get much faster in the middle of races and carry that speed to the end.”