United States Olympic Committee

01/03/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/03/2018 19:21

Speedskating World Champions Heather Bergsma And Brittany Bowe Go 1-2 In 1,000, Qualify For Olympics


By Peggy Shinn | Jan. 03, 2018, 7:34 p.m. (ET)

MILWAUKEE - Since the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Heather Bergsma and Brittany Bowe have combined to win 19 world championship speedskating medals. And one or both women have been on ever world championship medal stand in the 1,000-meter race since Sochi, with Bergsma the reigning 1,000-meter world champion.

Now Bergsma and Bowe will have a chance to win their first Olympic medals in the 1,000 in PyeongChang.

At the Pettit National Ice Center, 28-year-old Bergsma won the 1,000 title at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Long Track Speedskating in 1:14.83.

Still trying to return to peak form from a concussion in July 2016, Bowe, 29, finished second in 1:15.53. The world champion in 2015 and the only woman to win three individual medals at the 2016 world single distances championships, Bowe missed most of the 2016-17 season while trying to recover from vestibular dysfunction and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), both symptoms of her concussion.

PyeongChang will be Bergsma's third Olympic Games, Bowe's second. Both women have yet to win an Olympic medal.

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Mia Manganello - who missed making the 2010 Olympic team, then quit speedskating for cycling - came in third and has the potential to be named to the team. Eight men and eight women can qualify for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, and the American women earned three quota spots in the 1,000 in PyeongChang. The third 1,000-meter spot is Team USA's 13th women's quota for the Games so Manganello will wait to see if skaters qualify in multiple distances. To complicate things even further, Manganello has not yet met the time standard needed to compete in the Olympics in the 1,000, but has the chance to achieve it in an ISU race this month.

Both Bergsma and Bowe aim to win medals that eluded the U.S. team in Sochi. Competing with her maiden name (Richardson) at the 2014 Games, Bergsma finished seventh in the 1,000, with Bowe a quarter-second behind her in eighth place.

Both women - along with the entire U.S. team - were disappointed. They had gone to Sochi with four world championship medals among them and were favorites to land on the Olympic podium. The last time a U.S. woman had won the 1,000 at the Olympic Games was 2002, when Christine Witty took the gold medal. Jennifer Rodriguez claimed bronze in the same race.

The only saving grace in Sochi: Bergsma's future husband, Jorrit Bergsma from the Netherlands, won the men's 10,000-meter.

Bergsma married Jorrit after the Sochi Games and moved to the Netherlands where she now trains. She leads the U.S. with three world cup medals so far this season (and 12 last season), including gold in the 1,000 at the Calgary World Cup in December. She aims to compete in four events at the PyeongChang Games. In addition to the 1,000, she will try for a spot in the 500, 1,500 and mass start (new to the Olympic program in 2018).

Bowe aims to compete in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 in PyeongChang.

Speedskating in PyeongChang will take place at the Gangneung Oval in the town of Gangneung on the Korean coast. Since Olympic competition will be held at sea level, US Speedskating is hosting its Olympic trials at the same elevation in Milwaukee. The current world records in speedskating were set at ovals in Salt Lake City and Calgary, both at elevation where thinner air creates less resistance, allowing for faster times.

A freelance writer based in Vermont, Peggy Shinn has covered four Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since its inception in 2008.