U.S. long track speedskaters continued to mount the podium Saturday at the world cup in Heerenveen, Netherlands, a day highlighted by a pair of golds from the men.
Joey Mantia earned his second world cup gold of the season with a win in the men’s mass start. It was his first-ever world cup win in the event, which will make its Olympic debut at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. He clocked in at 8:05.60, 0.34 ahead of Korea’s Seung-Hoon Lee, for his fourth career world cup victory and his 11th career world cup podium.
He finished fifth in the men’s 1,500-meter earlier Saturday, earning 50 world cup points and boosting his total to 270 at that distance, enough to retain the season lead. Russia’s Denis Yuskov was second in Heerenveen, moving him to within 10 points of Mantia.
"I was pretty disappointed with my 1,500-meter, so I used that as motivation in the mass start to race aggressively and be willing to initiate the sprint," Mantia said, according to US Speedskating. "With just under two laps to go, I made the move up the inside and gave it everything I had, holding off the pack until the finish. Winning in Thialf is always a special feeling. The fans here are some of the best in the world."
The American combination of Kimani Griffin, 2014 Olympian Jonathan Garcia and two-time Olympian Mitch Whitmore won Team USA’s first-ever gold in men’s team sprint – which made its world cup debut last season – with a time of 1:19.97, besting world cup leader Canada by 0.32 seconds.
The gold is Griffin’s first world cup medal and only the second for Garcia, who earned silver in team sprint last season in Calgary, Alberta. Whitmore claimed his second medal of the meet after Friday’s bronze in the 500-meter, while Hansen added his fourth world cup gold to a collection that includes four silvers and seven bronzes.
Heather Bergsma continued to stake her claim as a medal favorite at the PyeongChang Games, taking silver in the women’s 1,500-meter with a time of 1:55.99. Suffering her first loss at the distance this season, the two-time Olympian was 0.65 seconds off the winning pace of Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands, who skated to a 1:55.34 before her home crowd. Dutch skater Marrit Leenstra placed fourth, picking up 60 world cup points to retain the series lead over Bergsma by 10.
After winning both the 1,500 and 1,000 at the first two world cup stops, Bergsma sat out of last week’s meet in Astana, Kazakhstan, a decision that made the 1,500-meter series race more competitive. Only 20 points separate Leenstra, at 290 points, from third-place Miho Takagi of Japan at 270 points. With two golds and a silver in her three races this season, Bergsma has compiled 280 points.
Bergsma was also part of an impressive U.S. showing in the women’s mass start, where she finished fifth and teammate Mia Manganello was fourth in her first world cup season since 2007-08.
The meet concludes Sunday with the men’s and women’s 1,000-meter, women’s 5,000-meter and men’s 10,000-meter.