This article was originally published on the Speed Skating Canada website.
Denny Morrison joined speed skating greats Jeremy Wotherspoon and Kristina Groves as the most decorated Canadian athletes at the ISU Long Track Speed Skating World Single Distance Championships, Friday, when he earned a silver medal in the men's 1500m held in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
Morrison also helped Canada, later Friday, to collect a silver medal in the men's team pursuit.
Morrison's second-place finish in the 1500m gave him the ninth individual medal of his career at the World Single Distance Championships, tying him with Wotherspoon and Groves, now retired. Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.) won his fifth medal in the 1500m event at the Worlds, to go along with the two gold and two bronze medals he had previously won.
Morrison, who won bronze in the 1500m at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, finished Friday's race in one minute 45.08 seconds. He beat his previous best time this season by close to one second.
“The race went as planned,” said Morrison. “I started attacking in the second lap, and then I just trusted the plan and what my coaches told me, in that I was in good enough shape to hang on until the end. And I did, I hung on quite well in the last lap.”
Russia's Denis Yuskov won his second world title in a row in the 1500m, picking up gold in 1:43.36 after also winning the event at the 2013 World Single Distance Championships in Sochi. Dutch skater Koen Verweij, who won silver at the Sochi Olympics, was third in 1:45.15.
Alec Janssens (Chilliwack, B.C.) was 19th in Friday's 1500m. His time of 1:48.18 was his best at the international level this season.
In the team pursuit, Morrison teamed up with Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, AB) and Jordan Belchos (Markham, ON) (substitute: Tyler Derraugh, Winnipeg, MN) to finish second in 3:44.09. It was their fastest time in the event this season. The Dutch team won gold, for a third straight year, in 3:41.40 and South Korea, bronze in 3:44.96.
“This is the result of work done over months, it didn't happen overnight,” pointed out Morrison. “With (Bloemen) coming over this summer, it was a new team, and we struggled early on this season. So we had to communicate, find out what our flaws were, correct our flaws, and we had better results... And then we had to communicate again, make some more corrections... And today, it all came together. This is just the beginning for us, on the road to the 2018 Olympics.”
This was the third men's team pursuit medal in Canada's history at the World Single Distance Championships, after a silver in 2011 earned by Morrison, Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux, and another silver in 2007, by Morrison, Arne Dankers and Justin Warsylewicz.
Bloemen won his first medal with the Canadian team since he moved to his father's country of birth, last summer. He skated for the Netherlands in the past, but these are his first World Single Distance Championships.
“We went out of the gate really fast with Denny, and I was able to maintain my speed pretty well after that,” said Bloemen. “And with two laps to go, I gave it my all. It was an awesome feeling.”
Belchos, for his part, won the second medal of his career in an international ISU competition. He collected bronze in a men's World Cup mass start in 2013.
“It was super cool, one of those moments you dream of,” said Belchos. “It was an honour to skate with these two (Morrison and Bloemen) and to see our flag go up during the medal ceremony.”
Canada has now won a total of 70 medals, including 21 gold, 21 silver and 28 bronze, since the first edition of the World Single Distance Championships in 1996.
Kali Christ earns season’s best in 1000m
Kali Christ (Regina, SK) finished sixth in the women's 1000m. She finished the race in 1:15.75, coming close to her personal best of 1:15.27, which she skated on a faster surface, the Olympic Oval in Calgary, at the Canadian Olympic trials in January of 2014.
Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB), who is taking part in her first World Single Distance Championships after crossing over from short track to long track this summer, ended up 22nd with a time of 1:18.94 in the 1000m.
Blondin sixth in the 5000m
Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) finished sixth in the women's 5000m with a time of 7:08.98, after winning bronze in the only 5000m raced at a World Cup this season. Five of her six World Cup medals this season have come in the mass start, however, and she will race that event on Sunday.
Thursday, she was paired with Czech skater Martina Sablikova, who won the race in 6:52.73. The Olympic champion in that distance therefore successfully defended her world title in that event.
Saturday, the men's 1000m (with Morrison, Vincent de Haître and Richard Maclennan) and 5000m (Bloemen) races will be held, as well as two women's 500m events (with Marsha Hudey and Heather McLean) and the women's team pursuit (Blondin, Christ and Josie Spence).
“I want to go for a third one,” said Morrison, alluding to his two-medal tally so far this week. “I have two races under my legs, so this should be a good one as well.”
TODAY'S CANADIAN RESULTS:
6. Kali Christ (1:15.74)
22. Jessica Gregg (1:18.94)
SILVER: Denny Morrison (1:45.08)
19. Alec Janssens (1:48.18)
6. Ivanie Blondin (7:08.97)
Team Pursuit M
SILVER: Canada (3:44.09)
(Denny Morrison, Ted-Jan Bloemen, Jordan Belchos)
More information, including detailed schedule, can be found on Speed Skating Canada’s website:www.speedskating.ca.