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.
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.
|Feb. 16-17||World Allround Speedskating Championships||Hamar, Norway|
|Dec. 27-Jan. 1||U.S. Olympic Trials||Kearns, Utah|