Calgary Herald

OLYMPIAN HIT BY STROKE

Morrison ‘in good spirits’

- VICKI HALL vhall@postmedia.com twitter.com/vickihallc­h

Speedskate­r Denny Morrison clearly still had his sense of humour Sunday in spite of suffering a stroke upon completion of a 25-day mountain bike trek on the Arizona Trail.

“Just stayed in the most expensive hospital in the world — a U.S. hospital,” the four-time Olympic medallist wrote Sunday morning in a tweet from his room at the Intermount­ain Medical Center in Murray, Utah. “Such a baller.”

Morrison, 30, remained in hospital under observatio­n Sunday after an MRI and CT scan confirmed he suffered a brain blood clot and carotid artery dissection — the most common cause of stroke in young adults — on Saturday afternoon while relaxing in Salt Lake City with his girlfriend, Josie Spence. Carotid artery dissection occurs when the layers of the wall separate in the artery that supplies oxygen-bearing blood to the brain.

Speed Skating Canada is calling the incident a “cerebrovas­cular accident.”

Spence, 22, is also member of the Canadian long-track speedskati­ng team and, thankfully, a trained lifeguard. She noticed the signs of a stroke and drove Morrison to a local hospital in Salt Lake City. Turns out, she might have saved his life.

The scare came as Morrison approaches the one-year anniversar­y of escaping death in a motorcycle crash near Calgary’s Olympic Oval.

“Almost a year post accident and done mountain biking 800 miles across Arizona,” the Fort St. John, B.C., native wrote Saturday night “I’m back in a hospital bed again. Had a stroke today.”

Initially, doctors feared Morrison would require surgery, but his symptoms improved upon transfer from the local hospital to the Intermount­ain Medical Center.

The timing on a return to Canada is unknown.

“The doctor suggested that I recovered quickly because I am a very healthy young person,” Morrison said in a statement. “I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support, and especially Josie who is with me and who was able to recognize the signs quickly.”

On Saturday night, Morrison’s Facebook page showed a picture of him eating an ice cream treat in his hospital bed, with Spence by his side and cardiac monitoring stickers on his chest.

“Denny understand­s this is serious, but he’s in good spirits,” said agent Russell Reimer.

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