Denny Morrison tells the tale of his two Sochi Olympic medals
Canadian Olympian Denny Morrison was in Vancouver on Friday showing off his silver and bronze medals from the 2014 Sochi Games.
He was at the Terminal City Club on behalf of Pacific Western Brewery to hand out four $2,000 bursaries as part of the company foundation's Hometown Heroes program.
The Fort St. John athlete praised his mentors who helped him along the way, including his older brother Jay.
Morrison described him as "two years older than me, two years stronger than me, two years faster on speed skates, two years better-looking than me, [and] two years smarter than me".
"I was always chasing him," he said.
As a result, this made it easier for Morrison to set goals because his brother was leading the way.
Morrison moved to Calgary at 17 and had a teammate, Shani Davis, who was one of the greatest speed skaters of all time.
"So I consider myself really lucky to have had those teammates and people to show me the way," Morrison said.
He then revealed that the Sochi medals were more meaningful to him than his gold medal in the team pursuit at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the silver in the team pursuit at the 2006 Torino Olympics.
"Leading into the Torino Olympics, I was 19, 20 years old, and I was one of those guys who thought I had put the me into team," Morrison said. "It's only in hindsight that I realize it was because of these hometown heroes, these coaches and these teammates that I had, that I was so successful in Torino to get a silver medal in team pursuit."
He noted that there were a "ton of expectations" on him in Vancouver after he had done so well in the three previous world championships, taking home six individual medals and one team medal.
But after only winning the team-pursuit gold in Vancouver, he felt extremely disappointed because he couldn't comprehend what had gone wrong.
"In hindsight, a lot of that was because I wasn't allowing the teammates to support me," Morrison said. "I wasn't allowing my coaches and support staff who were delegated to do certain jobs to do their jobs. I was pushing them away."
Over time, Morrison eventually learned to overcome this. And he said that the Canadian speed-skating team developed a "diamond philosophy".
"We're all diamonds in the rough, right?" Morrison said. "We need to be honed and polished to become these perfect, flawless, prime, pristine, clear, sharp objects that we want to be on the ice when we skate. If not for this new group and this new attitude, I don't think I ever would have ever become world champ in 2012 and been able to deal with some of the setbacks leading into Sochi."
He faced a serious obstacle after breaking his leg cross-country skiing. Because he was more willing to allow people to help him, he was able to get back to the top level by the Sochi Olympic trials.
But Morrison still came fifth in the 1,000-metre trial, not qualifying in this race after crossing the finish line on his butt.
"I was super-disappointed and had three days to overcome that and again, had to rely on the people around me—the teammates, the coaches, the mentors—to bring me back up to the level I had to be at to win the 1,500 three days later and qualify for my spot at the Sochi Olympics," Morrison added. "Again, going back to the team diamond, I think that if I had the same relationship with my teammates going into Sochi as I did going into Vancouver, there's no way that these guys would have done what they did for me."
At that point, Morrison asked: "Does the name Gilmore Junio ring a bell? How about a round of applause."
Junio was the generous teammate who stepped aside so Morrison could compete at Sochi in the 1,000-metre race.
"He qualified in third place," Morrison said. "He gave up his spot to me and that's one of the reasons I was able to win the silver medal I have here today."
Morrison then went on to announce the winners of Pacific Western Brewery Foundation's four Hometown Heroes bursaries: Quesnel sit skier Landon McGauley, North Vancouver javelin thrower Andy White, Port Alberni coach Tom McEvay, and Kelowna speed skater Nick Goplen.