Fort St. John speed skater Denny Morrison is starting off his 2012/13 season great after he took gold in the 1,000-metre race in Saturday’s Essent ISU World Cup at the Thialf Ice Stadium in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
Morrison, who saw improved times from last season at the Fall World Cup Long Track Trials in Calgary Nov. 1-4, placed first in the 1,000 m with a time of 9.43 seconds, edging out Finland’s Pekka Koskela by 0.08 seconds and Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands by 0.10 seconds.
“It’s always nice to win,” Morrison said to Speed Skating Canada in a press release on Saturday. “Today just happened to go well and maybe the ice was a little slower and it worked in my favour.”
“The ice just seemed to be a little slow all week, but all you have to do is skate your best race,” he said. “It makes me really proud because there are a lot of guys out there who are really fast. It feels great to stand on top of the podium.”
Morrison, Jordan Belchoas and Lucas Makowsky skated to fourth place in 3:44.60 in the men's team pursuit.
They were in a medal position until the final pair when the Netherlands took gold in 3:39.76, Russia silver in 3:42.90 and Korea finished third in 3:43.57.
The World Cup event in Heerenveen was the first of eight international races leading up to the Essent ISU World Cup Speed Skating Final, which will take place where they began in Heerenveen.
Morrison is looking forward to competing in the sixth World Cup event on Jan. 19-20. It will be held in Calgary at the Olympic Oval, which is where Morrison trains.
Looking for the home-ice advantage, Morrison has some big goals for the Calgary stop.
“This year we have some competitions on the fastest ice in the world in Calgary, so I want to take
advantage and skate really well in Calgary and get some personal bests, maybe even some world records,” he said in early November.
Morrison hadn’t won the 1,000 m since January 2009 at the World Cup #6 event in Kolomna, Russia.
Christine Nesbitt also won a gold medal in Heerenveen in the 1,500 m on Saturday in 56.35 seconds, beating Marrit Leenstra of the Netherlands by seven one thousandths of a second.
Morrison will compete in the second Essent ISU World Cup event this weekend, Nov. 24 and 25, in Kolomna, Russia.