Photo: Dave Holland
Speed skater Denny Morrison’s life nearly came to an abrupt end seven months ago. The four-time Olympic medallist had just wrapped up one of his best seasons, winning two silver medals at the 2015 World Single Distance Championships and being crowned World Cup champion in the 1,500 metres.
But on May 7, 2015, while on his way to meet his sister at a Calgary comedy club, Morrison’s motorbike collided with an oncoming car that had turned into his path. The resulting injuries were extensive, including a fractured right femur, damaged liver, ruptured kidneys, punctured lung, torn ACL, fractured spine, and a concussion.
The native of Fort St. John, B.C, has little recollection of the accident. Witnesses say that as he travelled with the speed of traffic, a light turned yellow and an oncoming car turned left in front of him to clear the intersection. Morrison collided with the rear panel of the passenger side, knocking the car on its side and sending him sprawling. His life was in jeopardy, his 10-year career in doubt and he was slapped with a $155 ticket for failing to yield on a yellow light.
But Morrison’s determination has not wavered during a recovery most would admit has been amazing. Two months after the collision, Morrison, 30, was back skating. He says his method for remaining positive is “about simple goal-setting. Sometimes this means extremely short-term goals for a set of exercises. Really, these are goals I set all of the time, even when I was healthy. The goals are just different.”
Despite his on-ice workouts being basic, he finds them motivating.
“By going for a skate once in a while, it gives me something tangible that I can compare previous sessions to, which makes it possible to see that I am still improving.”
Morrison admits he might not race this season. “My goal was originally to skate at the fall World Cups, as the first one is in Calgary (Nov. 13-15). It is a lofty goal, but even if I don’t manage to achieve it, at least I’ve been tirelessly working towards it.”
Where such adversity would have convinced most athletes to retire, the challenge of completing this remarkable comeback keeps Morrison going.
“My long term goal is still to compete at the 2018 Olympic Games. If I didn’t have these goals to compete again, then what would be my motivation to get better?”