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Canadian men pull upset in team pursuit

Fourth-Place Medal

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Seven among many reasons Canadians are ecstatic speed skaters Denny Morrison, Mathieu Giroux and Lucas Makowsky won the gold medal in men's team pursuit.

1. Marcel Lacroix can finally relax. Lacroix, who was an innovative short-track coach before he switched to long-track, faces an uncertain future following the Games, like a lot of the best and brightest coaching minds across the country.

The skaters get the glory, but Lacroix and fellow coach Ingrid Paul were on their game with the psyche job and the planning.

"This year we've done a lot of work, and not so much on the physical component. The main focus choreography of the exchanges, of the efficiency, of the hiding. Like I say to my guys, 'Put your nose up their ... The closer the better.' "

Well-put. Morrison alluded to Lacroix leaving in a post-race interview with CTV, but if that proves true, the coach left after giving the Canadian team its signature moment of the Games. That would be a shame. No one embodies more how the sport has come along.

Lacroix was once the quintessential hockey guy, who, as he related in his bio, was reluctant to to take up speed skating: "No way you're going to catch me in those tights!" A coach pacified him by letting him skate in his jeans.

The Canadian coach, who also oversaw a winning relay effort in short-track at Nagano in 1998, has also been in the crosshairs for the past week. He had to do damage control a week ago when Morrison vented after his ninth-place finish in the men's 1,500. Now he gets a gold.

2. Today we spell redemption, D-E-N-N-Y. Some questioned whether Morrison should even be in the relay after his struggle in the 1,500, but he's got a gold medal.

3. Payback. Makowsky related on his blog that he and Giroux sat one row in front of Chad Hedrick and Ryan Bedford of the United States during the Canada-U.S. hockey game last Sunday, and you remember how that turned out. "That alone made for a good game because all we did was heckle each other the whole time," he wrote, "... in good fun of course!"

4. Cross-over success. Giroux was the X-factor for Canada, since the convert from short-track had more experience with team pursuit, which takes some adjustment for long-trackers used to skating against the clock. Morrison noted at the time the team was picked he liked Giroux's "attitude." That proved prophetic.

5. Morrison rocking the hockey sweater. Not that anyone needed a reminder of the other U.S.-Canada gold-medal showdown.

6. Party in Regina! It's been a long winter in Next Year Country after the cruel twist of fate the Saskatchewan Roughriders were dealt in the Grey Cup, losing on the final play after a too-many-men penalty gave Montreal a second chance to kick the winning field goal.

A Saskatchewan Roughriders connection seems to come in handy. Makowsky's cousin, Gene Makowsky, is a guard for the Riders, while Team Canada hockey star Ryan Getzlaf's brother, Chris, is one of the team's receivers.

7. Stephen Harper handing out multiple high-fives. Whether you support him, it's nice to see the Prime Minister of Canada show some emotion. It seemed like a lot of Olympians, their events over with, were on hand, getting warmed to cheer in that other U.S.-Canada final on Sunday.

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