Keri Morrison of Burlington, Ont., and Pascal Dion of Montreal were the top Canadians on the first day of the short track speed skating events at the 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain, as they both finished fourth in the 1,500m races.
On the women’s side, Morrison, a 23-year-old athlete who had finished 11th in the 1500m event at last year’s Universiade in Italy, missed the podium by 21 thousandths of a second as she skated to a time of two minutes 34.360 seconds.
In the men’s final, Dion, a 20-year-old skater who is taking part in his first Universiade, finished 41 hundredths of a second away from a podium with a time of 2:33.55.
South Korea won the gold and silver medals while China picked up bronze in both races.
Morrison finished behind Kim Alang, the gold medalist (2:33.829), who also won the silver medal in the 1,500m at the 2014 World Championships in Montreal and gold in the women’s relay at the 2014 Olympic Games. Lee Eunbyul came up with silver (2:34.168), after also finishing 2nd in the 1,500m at the Olympics as well as at last year’s World Championships. China’s Han Yu Tong also ended up on Wednesday’s podium after finishing the race in 2:34.339.
“I knew that with three Koreans in the final, they would probably try to control the race,” said Morrison, who finished eighth at the Canadian Fall World Cup Selections and 10th at the Canadian Open Championships. “I was able to get in between them at the start and a little towards the end, but at that point I was really feeling it in the legs and I wasn’t able to stay ahead of the Chinese skater.”
“Finishing third would have been better, but I was close, so I’m happy with fourth place nonetheless.”
On the men’s side, South Koreans Park Seyeong (2:32.511) and Han Seungsoo (2:32.798) finished 1-2, followed by China’s Chen Guang (2:33.509). Seyeong won the bronze in the 1000m and 1500m races, as well as silver in the relay, at last year’s World Championships.
“This was my first time I was skating in an international competition, so I didn’t have any specific goals in terms of results. I was simply curious to see at what level I was compared to other skaters”, said Dion, who was 10th at the Canadian Open Championships and 11th at the Fall World Cup Selections. “Once I earned my spot in the A final, the adrenaline started flowing. I was third with one lap to go, but they went by me because of little technical mistakes I made, and a slight loss of balance.”
“Like coach Marc Gagnon told me, I need to learn to know myself better as a skater, so that I can make moves at the right time and make my life easier during a race.”
Namasthée Harris-Gauthier (Montreal, QC, borough Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie, QC) who, like Morrison, is taking part in this event for the second time after having represented Canada in Trentino, Italy in 2013, finished 4th in the B final to take 10th place overall.
Canada’s 5,000m men’s relay team qualified for the semi-finals.