Veteran national team speed skater Keri Morrison, who has represented Canada in both short track and long track, is officially retiring from competitive skating.
“My decision to retire was not an easy one, but I felt it was time to challenge myself in a new area,” penned Morrison in a heartfelt retirement letter, which can be read below. “The main reason I felt it was hard to leave the sport was because of the friendships and comradery I have built over the years.”
Morrison, 27, has been involved in the sport since she was 3 years-old, following in the footsteps of her older brother and cousins who all started skating around the same time.
She competed at the national and international levels in short track from 2007 to 2015 but converted to long track ahead of the 2015-16 season in the hopes of reigniting her passion for the sport.
It was a move that paid dividends for the Burlington, Ont. native, who would qualify for the Canadian Olympic team less than three years after making the switch.
In her Olympic debut at PyeongChang 2018, Morrison was part of a fourth-place finish in the team pursuit and was the top-ranked Canadian in the mass start, placing 12th overall.
She also competed in six long track World Cups over two years, helping Canada capture a pair of medals in the ladies’ team pursuit this past season, silver in Tomakomai, Japan and bronze in Tomaszow Mazoviecki, Poland.
“Keri was a great athlete to work with and was instrumental in helping Canada earn third-place in the ladies’ team pursuit World Cup rankings this season,” said Canadian national team coach Remmelt Eldering. “During the short time I worked with her she displayed an analytical thought process, so I am certain that the decision to retire and pursue a new career has been well thought trough. I wish her all the best in her new endeavours.”
Morrison also had her fair share of successes as a short track skater.
She represented Ontario at the Canada Winter Games in 2007 and 2011, winning a bronze medal as a member of the women’s relay team at the 2011 event in Halifax.
In 2010, she made her international debut for Canada at the World Junior Short Track Championships in Taipei, bringing home bronze in women’s 3,000m relay. She also competed at the Winter Universiade in 2013 and 2015, winning bronze in the relay and just missing the podium with a fourth-place finish in the 1500m at the 2015 event in Granada, Spain.
“I have been very fortunate in my career to achieve many of the goals I set out for myself. In the last couple years, I checked off several of those goals – competing in World Cups, winning a medal at a World Cup and going to the Olympics – and I felt ready to tackle new life goals,” added Morrison, who will look to transition from high performance athlete to a career in nursing.
You can read Morrison’s full retirement letter below.
My Retirement by Keri Morrison
My decision to retire was not an easy one, but I felt it was time to challenge myself in a new area. I have been very fortunate in my career to achieve many of the goals I set out for myself. In the last couple years, I checked off several of those goals (competing in World Cups, winning a medal at a World Cup, going to the Olympics) and I felt ready to tackle new life goals. I have recently completed a few courses I needed to apply for Nursing and I am excited for what the next chapter of life brings me.
The main reason I felt it was hard to leave the sport was because of the friendships and comradery I have built over the years. Speed skating is an individual team sport. While I usually raced as an individual, my teammates were a huge part of my success and I took pride in the success my teammates experienced. I love the symbiotic relationships in skating; the feeling of pushing each other, competing with one another, and lifting each other up. In making those around me better, I became better. I have been lucky to train with incredible people who will continue to push me and challenge me in other avenues of my life, so thank you to all my training partners over the years. I am especially thankful for these friendships.
To all the support staff that kept my body working in one piece and made training and traveling with the team so fun, thank you. To all the coaches who have brought out the best in me over the years, thank you. Notably, Ernie Overland (who still calls to chat and keep up on my life), Al McIlveen (who brought me into the Calgary short track program and was always great emotional support), Jon Cavar (who helped me through countless injuries to make the National short track team), Maggie (Mengyao) Qi (who took me to another level technically to make me a better skater), Xiuli Wang (who was the best coach I could have asked for when transitioning from short track to long track), Marcel Lacroix (who always believed our team could BE something great and brought us to the Olympics), and Remmelt Eldering (who made my last year so fun).
I would also like to thank my family who have always supported me. I do not have a home club in Burlington, ON so I always had to travel to surrounding clubs for training. I am very thankful to have parents that were willing to drive to the best clubs available for skating practice three times a week, not to mention the skating meets all over Ontario and Canada. Without my parent’s dedication and unwavering support, I would not have had the career I did. Thank you also to my older siblings who always encouraged me keep going and made me feel like I could achieve something great.
Lastly, I would like to thank my partner, Stefan Waples, who has been an unbelievable support over these last few years. He always believed in my transition to long track, even when I was struggling, and flew around the world to support me as a fan at the Olympics, even when he had just decided to step back from sport as an athlete.
- Keri Morrison