Heather Richardson-Bergsma set the first Olympic-distance world record of her career Saturday afternoon at the season-opening long track speedskating world cup in Calgary, Alberta.
The two-time Olympian skated 1:12.51, besting the world record set minutes earlier by teammate Brittany Bowe, who skated 1:12.54.
Bowe, a 2014 Olympian, held the world record prior to this weekend, skating 1:12.58 at a world cup held Nov. 17, 2013 at the Utah Olympic Oval.
Richardson-Bergsma’s world record is the only one held by a U.S. woman at an Olympic distance. Shani Davis holds the men’s 1,000- and 1,500-meter records, both set in 2009.
The one-two performance showed the U.S. women are still on top of their game as they return to international competition after stellar performances last season.
Bowe won three world titles last year – 1,000-meter, 1,500-meter and world sprint championships – as well as silver in the 500, and finished atop the 1,000 world cup standings and third in the 1,500 standings. Richardson-Bergsma won the 500-meter world title, silver in the 1,000 and at the world sprint championships, and bronze in the 1,500, plus she finished second and third in the 1,500 and 500 world cup standings.
This is the third time Richardson-Bergsma, who married Dutch Olympic champion Jorrit Bergsma in May, won the season-opening 1,000-meter world cup. She also achieved that feat in 2013 and 2012 in Heerenveen, Netherlands, and Calgary.
Bowe started the world cup season for Team USA on Friday by winning a bronze medal in the 500-meter, her weakest distance. Richardson-Bergsma finished fourth.
On Saturday, two U.S. men landed just below the podium as 2014 Olympian Joey Mantia and four-time Olympic medalist Davis finished fourth and fifth, behind the Netherlands’ Gerben Jorritsma, Russia’s Pavel Kulizhnikov and Dutchman Kjeld Nuis.
The U.S. men won silver in the team sprint, which was only contested on the world cup circuit for the fourth time. The medal, won by Mitchell Whitmore, Jonathan Garcia and Joey Mantia, was the first for the U.S. in the event. The Netherlands won gold and Russia took bronze.
World cup action concludes Sunday with another set of 500-meter races, plus the 1,500-meter and mass start.