Morrison returns to World Cup circuit

Denny Morrison trains at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, ahead of the long track World Cup selection camp. Photo by Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

CALGARY, A.B. – Denny Morrison was a double winner the last time he competed in World Cup long-track speed skating 20 months ago.

The multi-Olympic medallist makes his return to the international circuit next week after he was injured in a motorcycle crash in 2015 and then suffered a stroke earlier this year. Morrison was named to Canada’s long-track team for the first two World Cup events this season, which are November 11th-13th in Harbin, China, and November 18th-20th in Nagano, Japan.

Morrison joins eight women and a dozen men on the team announced by Speed Skating Canada this week. Calgary’s Gilmore Junio, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, Que., Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin and 10,000-metre world-record holder Ted-Jan Bloemen are the country’s top medal threats this season.

Morrison won the 1,000 and 1,500 metres in Erfurt, Germany, to cap the 2014-15 season. He suffered multiple injuries in a motorcycle accident that spring. Morrison’s comeback was interrupted earlier this year when he had a stroke.

The 31-year-old from Fort St. John, B.C., was fourth in the 1,500 and second in the 1,000 at last month’s trials to regain a spot on the national team. Morrison won Olympic silver and bronze in those distances respectively in 2014.

Bloemen, a transplanted Dutchman who races for Canada, knocked almost five seconds off the 10k world record a year ago at a World Cup in Salt Lake City. Blondin won gold in the women’s mass start at the 2016 world single distance championship.

Junio leads a deep contingent of men’s sprinters. He ranked third in the 500 metres to conclude last season, while Boisvert-Lacroix won bronze in it at the world single distance championships. William Dutton of Humboldt, Sask., also ranked in the world’s top 10.

Canada won 30 World Cup medals in 2015-16, which was its most since 2008-09.

There are six stops on the World Cup circuit this season. The Canadian team will have home-ice advantage at the world sprint championship Feb. 25-26 at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.