Speed skating: Bergsma, Mantia clean up at World Cup qualifier
The U.S. Speed Skating Long Track World Cup Qualifiers wrapped up on Sunday after four days of competition at the Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City, Utah. The results of the races will be used to determine the team for the fall World Cup series, which will be announced on Tuesday, October 17. The skaters selected will compete in November and December at four ISU World Cup events, which are crucial competitions in the run-up to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. The performances of the athletes at the World Cup stops will determine how many quota spots each country earns for the upcoming Winter Games. Every country can earn a maximum of 10 quota spots.
This weekend’s competition also had Olympic ramifications for skaters hoping to compete in the mass start event in PyeongChang. U.S. Speed Skating will combine the results of the two mass start races held at the Fall World Cup Qualifier with the results of the mass start race held at the U.S. Olympic Trials (which will take place from January 2-7, 2018). Heather Bergsma and Joey Mantia swept the two mass start races on the women’s and men’s sides, respectively, meaning they’re well on their way to representing Team USA at the Olympic in at least one event. Joey Mantia is the reigning world champion in the mass start, while Bergsma earned a bronze in the event at the 2017 World Championships.
The mass start is a new event on the Olympic speed skating program. The format differs from other individual speed skating races, which have skaters race in pairs, in that the entire field of up to 24 skaters race simultaneously from the same starting line.
Bergsma dominated the women’s competition in multiple events, winning the 500m #1 and #2, 1000m and 1500m along with the mass start races. Bergsma, who trains in the Netherlands with her husband and fellow Olympic speed skater Jorrit Bergsma, is the reigning world champion in the 1000m and 1500m.
Brittany Bowe, the other top U.S. female skater, proved she’s on the road to recovery after a concussion and lingering symptoms kept her out of competition for most of last season. Bowe finished second or third in all four races she entered, with the closest result coming in the 1000m. Bowe, who holds the world record in this distance, posted a time of 1:13:94 while Bergsma edged her out with a time of 1:13:91.
Other winners on the women’s side were Mia Manganello, who finished first in the 3000m, and Carlijn Schoutens, who won the 5000m. Sugar Todd also turned in an impressive performance with a second place finish in the 500m #1 and third place finishes in the 500m #2 and 1000m.
In addition to sweeping the mass start races, Mantia notched two more victories, in the 1000m and 1500m, in the men’s competition. Sprinter Mitchell Whitmore dominated the shortest distance by winning both 500m races and posting a season-best time of 34.75 in the 500m #2. Whitmore’s time was not far from his own American record of 34.19.
Emery Lehman was the youngest male athlete on the U.S. Olympics team in Sochi, but the 21-year-old looks ready to claim a spot as one of U.S. speed skating’s leaders. Lehman notched wins in the two longest distances this weekend, the 5000m and 10,000m.
The most decorated Olympian in the field, Shani Davis, finished fourth in both the 1000m and 1500m. Davis is a two-time Olympic champion in the 1000m and two-time silver medalist in the 1500m, but left empty-handed from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Figure skating: Gracie Gold withdraws from upcoming Grand Prix events
Gracie Gold announced she will sit out her upcoming Grand Prix competitions. Both the Cup of China and the Internationaux de France are scheduled for November.
In a statement to media, she said she was undergoing “treatment for depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder.”