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    Monday, January 5, 1998

    Morton makes Olympic cut

     CALGARY (CP) -- Calgary's Michelle Morton salvaged a difficult season by grabbing the fourth and final spot Monday for the 500-metre event on Canada's Olympic long-track speed-skating team.
     Morton, a member of the 1994 Olympic team, won a race-off with Sylvie Cantin of Ste-Foy Que., clocking 39.43 seconds to Cantin's 40.05 seconds.
     "The 500 is my race and I wanted to qualify badly," said the 25-year-old Morton, who is seventh in the World Cup 500 standings and also holds the seventh fastest time in the world this season.
     Morton suffered back and shoulder injuries in an automobile accident a month ago which kept her off the ice for a week. And unlike most of her teammates she has not quickly adapted to the new clap skates which are propelling skaters to faster times.
     "The accident threw me off and it caused a lot of stress for me because it happened so close to the trials. It happened just at the time I was starting to get used to the skates. When I came back it felt like I had to start all over again."
     World-record holder Catriona Le May Doan of Saskatoon, Olympic silver medallist Susan Auch of Winnipeg and Linda Johnson Blair of Fort St. John, B.C., qualified the first three 500 spots at trials last week.
     In the men's 500 metres, Kevin Overland of Kitchener, Ont., earned the final provisional spot in a time of 36.08 seconds.
     He defeated Eric Brisson of Ste-Foy, Que., and Kevin Scott of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
     Overland is not certain of his position on the Olympic team because Canada is limited to 10 men skaters and there is the possibility of byes for injured skaters.
     The first three spots on the team were captured last week by Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., Patrick Bouchard of Cap-Rouge, Que., and Sylvain Bouchard of Loretteville, Que.
     Competition continues today with qualifying for the fourth Olympic spots for the 1,000-metres.
     Morton, Cantin and Isabelle Doucet of Ste-Foy are chasing the women's berth while six skaters are eligible for the men's spot: Overland, Brisson, Scott, Neal Marshall of Coquitlam, B.C., Mike Ireland of Winnipeg and Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask.
     The official Olympic team will be announced on Wednesday following the 1,500-metre qualifiers. Canada is limited to 10 men and 10 women for Nagano.

    Men's 500
    1. Kevin Overland, Kitchener, Ont., 36.08 seconds; 2. Eric Brisson, Ste-Foy,
    Que., 36.33; 3. Kevin Scott, Sault Ste Marie, Ont., 36.54.
    Men's 500 Standings
    1. Overland, 72.100 points; 2. Brisson, 72.640; 3. Scott, 72.940.
    WOMEN 500
    1. Michelle Morton, Calgary, 39.43; 2. Sylvie Cantin, Ste-Foy, 40.05.
    Women's 500 Standings
    1. Morton, 79.050; 2. Cantin, 79.810.