Speed Skating

Brandon Hicks - Saturday Feb. 22, 2014 10:15 ET

Canada 4th in men’s speed skating team pursuit

Women's team places 5th

Canadian Men's Pursuit Team
Lucas Makowsky, left, Denny Morrison centre, and Mathieu Giroux of Canada react to finishing fourth int he bronze medal pursuit race in Sochi on February 22, 2014. (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
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The Canadian men’s speed skating pursuit team finished fourth on Saturday in Adler Arena at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, just missing out on a bronze medal.

Denny Morrison, Mathieu Giroux and Lucas Makowsky fell to Poland in the race, finishing in a time of three minutes, 41.94 seconds, 2.33 seconds behind.

Morrison, of Fort St. John, B.C., was trying to win a second bronze to go along with the one he took in the 1,500-metre race. He also won silver in the 1,000-metre event.

“I’m really proud of those individual accomplishments, but they seem like a thing of the distant past at this point,” he told CBC. 

The Canadians tried to get out to a fast start and hang on late for the bronze knowing that Poland, led by 1,500-metre gold-medallist Zbigniew Brodka, would try to use a strong finishing kick to win.

Though they held a two-second lead in the first half of the race, Poland reeled the Canadians in over the final four laps and Canada couldn’t hang on.

“It was really difficult. It’s never easy to lose,” Morrison said. “We’ve trained together, I think, more than any other team, and we skate together really well.

“Just never had the legs today at the end of the race.”

Canada tried a similar strategy in the semifinal, and fell to the South Koreans, while Poland lost to the extremely strong Dutch team. The Polish pursuit team looked like they had conserved their energy for the bronze-medal race, given that the Dutch were so heavily favoured in their semifinal.

The Netherlands continued their utter dominance of speed skating in Sochi with a commanding victory over the South Koreans in the gold-medal race. The Dutch set an Olympic record with a time of 3:37.71, over three seconds ahead of South Korea.

Morrison, Makowsky of Regina and Giroux of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., were the defending Olympic champions in the event, taking a surprising gold four years ago in Vancouver. Morrison also won silver in the event at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

“I really wanted to defend our gold medal today,” said Morrison. “The Koreans are a strong team, and we gave everything we could [in the semifinal] to get into that final. We didn’t slack off, we showed our Canadian pride, and it didn’t end up paying off in the end but we did our best.”

“I wanted a better result for sure,” added Giroux, fighting back tears. “We wanted to defend that gold for sure.”

Canadian women finish 5th

The Canadian women’s team finished off a disappointing Sochi campaign with a fifth-place finish in the pursuit event, defeating the U.S. in the “C” Final.

Kali Christ of Regina, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg, won in 3:02:04, 1.73 seconds ahead of the Americans.

Vancouver gold-medallist Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., didn’t race in the “C” Final. She, Schussler and Christ fell to the Russians in the quarter-finals on Friday. None of the Canadian long track women won a medal in Sochi.

It was no contest in the gold medal race, with the powerhouse Dutch team defeating Poland by over six seconds, setting another Olympic record with a time of 2:58.05. It was the Netherlands’ first medal of any colour in the women’s team pursuit. Russia won the bronze-medal race over Japan.

The Dutch speed skating team has put on a historic performance at the Adler Arena in Sochi. Before these Olympics, the previous mark for medals in speed skating by a country was 14, set by East Germany in 1988. The Netherlands have blown that record out of the water, taking 23 of a possible 32 medals in the discipline, sweeping the podium in four events.

The Canadian speed skating team earned two medals in Sochi – one silver and one bronze, both from Morrison. It’s a drop-off from the Vancouver Games four years ago, where Canada won five medals, including two gold – one from Nesbitt in the 1,000 metres and another from the men’s pursuit team.

Canada has 24 medals heading into the final day of competition at the Sochi Olympics. The Canadian Olympic team has nine gold, 10 silver, and five bronze. 

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