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When it comes to long track speedskating, the U.S. has star power. Leading Team USA is four-time Olympic medalist Shani Davis, who recently picked up his 53rd world cup victory. The two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 1,000-meter, Davis has also claimed silver in each of his previous two Olympic appearances in the 1,500.
Pacing the women’s contingent is Heather Richardson, the current world sprint champion, who earned two top-10 finishes at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. To start the 2012-13 season, Richardson collected 10 world cup medals – including four golds, five silvers and one bronze – while also setting national records in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500.
Team USA is powered by a strong sprinting core that is turning heads on the world cup circuit. The U.S. is also taking huge strides in the distance events, where it is expected to perform well in Sochi. As of January, five Americans had qualified for the 2013 World Allround Championships, clinching more than half of the coveted spots from the North American-Oceania region.
Speedskating at the Olympic Games consists of 10 individual events, including the 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 5,000 for both men and women, in addition to the women’s 3,000 and men’s 10,000. Overall, 12 sets of medals are awarded with the men’s and women’s team pursuits making up the final two events. In each event, skaters race in pairs using inner and outer lanes on a standard 400-meter oval track. Athletes change lanes at every lap to skate the equal distance.
The long track speedskating competition for the Sochi Games will be contested at the Adler Arena Skating Center, located at the center of the Olympic Park in the coastal cluster. The 8,000-seat facility was commissioned in September 2012 for test events, and will host the 2013 ISU World Single Distances Speedskating Championships in March.
- With only fractions of a second deciding the winner in any event, the technology behind speedskating – specifically the science of skin suits – is a top priority. US Speedskating’s apparel sponsor, Under Armour, is putting a great deal of time and effort into the research and development of a fast skin suit for the U.S. team.
- Long track speedskater Patrick Meek joined forces with Charity: Water – a non-profit organization that helps provide clean water to people in developing countries around the world. The aspiring Olympian launched a fundraising campaign in Park City, Utah, as part of the Hilton Career Development Program, to help raise awareness and support for the cause.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
After years of playing college basketball and a successful inline skating career, Bowe transitioned to speedskating through the Wheels to Ice Program. Over the past few years, Bowe has steadily climbed the ranks to become one of the top competitors in her field. In 2012-13, she improved her 1,000-meter time to earn her first world cup podium appearance.
Four-time Olympic medalist Davis is building momentum heading into the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. In January, he picked up his 53rd world cup win in Calgary, Alberta, skating the fastest 1,000 of the season. A spot on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team would mark his fourth Olympic berth, and second-consecutive in the long track competition. As the all-time leader in the 1,000 with 36 world cup victories, Davis will look to build upon his already illustrious career in Sochi.
Two-time Olympian Fredericks will be in the hunt for his first Olympic medal should he earn a spot on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team. The two-time overall world cup champion placed third in the 500 at the 2012-13 World Cup in Nagano, Japan.
After aiding Team USA to the silver medal in the team pursuit at the Vancouver Games, Hansen has continued to climb the ranks. He made his first world cup podium appearance during the 2012-13 season, placing third in the 1,500 in Kolomna, Russia. He then went on to capture two medals at the national championships, including gold in the 1,500 and silver in the 1,000.
Kuck is no stranger to the Olympic stage as helped the U.S. capture the silver medal in the team pursuit at the Vancouver Games. During the 2012-13 season, he earned national titles in the 10,000 and allround events.
After placing sixth in the 500, ninth in the 1,000 and 16th in the 1,500 at the Vancouver Games, Richardson has her eyes set on the podium in Sochi. Richardson is off to a stunning start to the 2012-13 season, breaking three national records (500, 1,000, 1,500) and collecting 10 world cup medals (four golds, five silvers and one bronze) through January.
The U.S. can carry a maximum team size of 20 long track speedskaters, including 10 men and 10 women, for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. No more than four U.S. athletes may compete in each of the men’s and women’s 500-, 1,000- and 1,500-meter events, while up to three may compete in the men’s and women’s 5,000, the women’s 3,000 and the men’s 10,000. A maximum of one team of each gender may be entered in the team pursuit.
Quota spots are earned based on the Special Olympic Qualification Classifications at ISU World Cup competitions to be held during the 2013-14 season. To be eligible to use a quota spot, athletes must have achieved ISU Qualifying Times from July 1, 2013 to Jan. 13, 2014.
U.S. Speedskating will select up to 20 athletes to compete at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games based on performances at the U.S. Olympic Trials, which run from Dec. 27-Jan. 1.
||World Allround Speedskating Championships
|Dec. 27-Jan. 1
||U.S. Olympic Trials