Denny Morrison will have home advantage and with that comes an unprecedented expectation by both Canadians and himself.
The long track speed skater is entered in four events, the 1,000m, 1,500m, 5,000m, and team pursuit at Vancouver and knows what he’s facing.
“Sure there is quite a bit more media and quite a bit more pressure,” said Morrison, in an interview on Toronto radio station the Fan 590.
“You can look at it as pressure or you can look at it as support and I think there is going to be a lot of support for all the Canadian athletes in 2010 and a lot of attention on them, so I think that’s a good thing.”
Morrison’s accomplishments include a 2006 Olympic Games silver medal in the team pursuit.
He’s the 2008 world champion at 1,500-metres where he claimed a new world record. On top of that, he won a gold medal in both 500m and 5,000m at the Continental Cup in Calgary.
The speed skater also placed second in the 1,000m and third in the 1,500m at the 2009 world championships at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
Morrison, however, struggled in the last Olympic Games individually, placing a disappointing 11th and 19th in his respected disciplines.
“I know that if I skate well in training, I’ll be able to trust in my abilities and I won’t have to worry about results when I step up to the starting line,” Morrison said to CBC Sports.
Another Canadian skater, Jeremy Wotherspoon, will be best remembered for falling and hitting the ice right at the start of the 500m race at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games.
He was the favourite going into the 500m and 1,000m races at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, but the pressure seemed to be too much as he finished ninth and 11th.
Battling injuries for most of the 2008-2009 season he has made a comeback in the hopes of capturing the medal he missed out on in 2006.
“I feel pretty close to my best,” Wotherspoon told the Toronto Star. “I’ve done some times in training and in races now that are as fast as I’ve ever been in some parts.
“Not every part, but some parts. So I know there’s more I can get out of myself.”
Other notable Canadians:
- Lucas Makowsky is the youngest speed skater on the team. He races 1,500m, 5,000m, and team pursuit.
- Mathieu Giroux will compete in the 1,500m and rounds off the team pursuit
- Kyle Parrott will be racing in 500m, 1,000m, and 1,500m.
- Francois- Olivier Roberge will compete in the 1,000m.
- Mike Ireland is the veteran with 16 years on the National Team and races the 500m along with Jamie Gregg.
Canada will have its hands full as Team USA, led by Shani Davis, are strong medal contenders. Chad Hedrick will try to repeat his three 2006 Olympic medals.
Other Americans to watch out for are Tucker Fredricks and Trevor Marsicano who will appear in his first Olympic Games.
The Dutch team is well known for their strong skating abilities. Sven Kramer is a dominant force in speed skating and is expected to medal. His teammate Mark Tuitert is a contender in the 1,500m race.
“I’ve got this headline from USA Today saying ‘Shani’s untouchable’ on my fridge. It’s a good motivator,” Morrison told the Vancouver Sun.