Canadian speed skating couple shares fairy tale moment at opening ceremony

Denny and Josie Morrison walk hand-in-hand into the Olympics

Canadian speed skating couple shares fairy tale moment at opening ceremony
Denny and Josie Morrison, shown here after they both made the Canadian Olympic team, shared another special moment at Friday's opening ceremony in South Korea. © Todd Korol/Canadian Press

By Devin Heroux, CBC Sports

When the Olympic cauldron was set ablaze by figure skating legend Yuna Kim on Friday in South Korea to officially open the 2018 Winter Games, the dreams of nearly 3,000 athletes were finally ignited.

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Competitors from 91 countries paraded into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium in front of 35,000 bundled-up spectators to witness a two-and-a-half-hour show titled "Peace In Motion" that weaved together cultural performances by a cast of more than 2,000 performers. Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir led the Canadian team into the stadium, with the 225 red-and-white clad athletes wearing toques and mitts and maple leafs waving proudly to the world.

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Dignitaries made speeches. Flags were raised. Fireworks lit up the sky and songs captivated the audience. In some ways, it was a winter fairy tale.

In the middle of it all, Canadian speed skaters Denny and Josie Morrison were living out their own fairy tale — husband and wife walking hand-in-hand into the opening ceremony.

"This is something that Denny and I have dreamed about together and it's cool to see it all unfold," Josie said. "It's so special to me."

It's the first Olympics for Josie and the fourth for Denny. He's been through the pomp and circumstance before — but on Friday night, it was different.

"Every opening ceremony I've been at in the past, I've felt lucky and privileged to be at. But this one stands out on a whole new level of gratitude," he said. "There's no guarantees in sports or life."

He would know. Over the past three years Denny has dodged death not once but twice. He escaped a horrific motorcycle accident in 2015 only to recover and suffer a stroke a year later. Josie was with him when he had the stroke.

"She saved my life," he said. "She's strong and reminds me to do the things I need to do to achieve my goals. Josie is a really special lady and she's my guardian angel."

The lighting of the torch not only signifies athletic dreams coming true for athletes — it also marks the moment when all the work, sacrifice and grinding finally pays off.

For Denny and Josie it's all of that — and then some.

"It's the culmination of this whole story," Denny said. "It's amazing and somewhat overwhelming."

"Denny is an excellent example of resilience," Josie said. "He dares to dare greatly and has gone through such lows and has taken the best out of it to move forward. It's so inspiring to me."

Denny said he's usually stoic and had never cried before at an opening ceremony — but that changed this time around.

"She's gushing with emotion and it brought it out in me as well," he said. 

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