The US Speedskating Long Track Fall World Cup Team hits the ice with plenty of speed, Olympic experience and promising newcomers.
Leading the way are Heather Bergsma, a multiple-time world champion and two-time Olympian, and two-time Olympic champion Shani Davis. In total, 10 of the skaters on the team are Olympians, including four-time Olympian KC Boutiette.
Meanwhile, Mia Manganello, a pro cyclist for five years, is on the world cup team, as is first-timer Jerica Tandiman, whose home in Kearns, Utah, is within a few skating sprints of the famed Utah Olympic Oval.
Here’s a look at the U.S. long track speedskating fall world cup team:
A national champion in the women’s all-around in 2010 when she was still in high school, Acker is back on the US Speedskating team after making her debut with the national team in 2012. She made her debut in the world junior championships in the 2008-09 season and had a fourth-place finish in team pursuit in the 2011 world juniors. She is the granddaughter of two-time Connecticut men’s speedskating champion Howard Ganong.
A two-time Olympian, Bergsma is one of the world’s fastest women in the 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter races. She began the 2015-16 season by breaking the world record in both races (she still holds the 1,500 world record), and she finished by winning silver medals in the 1,000 and 1,500 at the world single distances championships as well as the sprint world championships silver medal. A 10-time world medalist, she and 2014 Olympic teammate and training partner Brittany Bowe, who is not on the fall world cup team because of a concussion, have become podium contenders at every event.
Boutiette, a four-time Olympian, is the veteran of the world cup team. Boutiette led the parade of inline speedskaters to the ice in the 1990s, and last year he came out of retirement to compete again with the hope of competing in the mass start event’s Olympic debut in PyeongChang. Now 46, Boutiette made his Olympic debut in 1994 in Lillehammer, and also competed in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Olympic Winter Games. His best Olympic results were fifth-place finishes in the 1,500-meter in 1998 and 5,000 in 2002. Should Boutiette make the 2018 Olympic team, he stands to become the oldest Olympic speedskater since Albert Tebbit of Great Britain competed in the first Winter Games in 1924 at age 52.
Davis, a four-time Olympian, is one of the best in the world at 1,000 meters. He has two Olympic gold medals in the event and is a three-time gold medalist at that distance in the world single distances championships. His bronze medal in the 2015 world sprints was his 15th career medal in the world sprint championships. Davis also has two Olympic silver medals in the 1,500, a total of 23 world championship medals and a whopping 133 world cup medals dating back to 2002
A 2014 Olympian who made his debut with a 28th-place finish in the men’s 1,000-meter, Garcia had a 10th-place overall finish a year later in the world sprint championships. He helped the U.S. men win a team sprint silver medal in last year’s Calgary World Cup. Garcia got his start in speedskating at age 7 after being inspired by Dan Jansen’s gold medal at the Lillehammer 1994 Olympic Winter Games.
Griffin is on the U.S. world cup team for the third consecutive season as he works toward the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. He is coming off a 2015-16 season in which he won silver and bronze medals in the Canada Cup, and gold and silver medals in American Cup 3.
Gunther, who made her Olympic debut in 2014 in Sochi four years after a horrific ankle injury, is aiming for a podium finish in PyeongChang. She is on a solid path toward a second Olympic Games, having made the world cup team for the fourth time. She finished runner-up to two-time Olympian Heather Bergsma in the women’s 1,000-meter race in the world cup team trials.
Hansen won a silver medal in team pursuit when he made his Olympic debut in 2010 in Vancouver. He was also on the U.S. Olympic Team in 2014, where his best finish was seventh in the 1,500-meter. After taking two seasons off to attend the University of Colorado, the 14-time world cup medalist is back on the team. He initially turned to speedskating after playing ice hockey.
Lehman made his Olympic debut at the age of 17, placing 10th in the men’s 10,000-meter in Sochi. He was the youngest U.S. male Olympian at those Games. Since then, he has won junior national championships in three distances, plus the allround. At the time of his Olympic year, he was also playing lacrosse and ice hockey for his high school team.
Manganello, who fell short in her attempt to make the U.S. Olympic Team in 2010, returned to the ice in early 2016 after competing as a pro cyclist for five years. She was impressive in the world cup team trials, finishing third in the women’s 1,000-meter behind two-time Olympian Heather Bergsma and 2014 Olympian Kelly Gunther, and returns to the world cup team for the first time in nine seasons. She was a three-time gold medalist in the junior national championships nine years ago.
Mantia, who made his Olympic debut in three events at the Sochi Games, is back on the world cup team after winning one gold medal, two silver medals and two bronze medals in the 2015-16 world cup season. Among his wins in the world cup team trials were the men’s 1,000-meter and mass start. Mantia placed 12th last year in the men’s 1,000-meter at the world single distances championships. A 28-time world champion in inline speed skating, Mantia switched to the ice in 2011.
Quinn is on the fall world cup team for the second consecutive year. He won a gold medal in the men’s 5,000-meter race last year in American Cup 3, and won a bronze medal in the men’s 10,000-meter in the Canada Cup. He began as a short tracker, making the junior world short track championship team in 2013.
Schwartzburg is on the world cup team for the second straight season. Her 2015-16 season included being on the world single distances championship team. She won a gold medal in the women’s 1,500-meter and a bronze medal in the women’s 500 at the U.S. Long Track Championships in 2016. Now 26, she transitioned from inline skating to the ice at age 20.
Growing up in Kearns, Utah, home of the Utah Olympic Oval, Tandiman was inspired by the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games to become a speedskater. She is on the world cup team for the first time following a 2015-16 season in which she medaled nine times at American Cup competitions. She medaled four times in the junior national championships two years ago.
Todd, who began speedskating at the age of 8, made her Olympic debut in the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and is a rising star for US Speedskating, especially in the 500-meter. She has won silver medals at the last two national championships and has competed in the last four world sprint championships. Her idol is five-time Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair.
A two-time Olympian, Whitmore’s strongest event is the men’s 500-meter. He competed in that event in both the 2010 and ‘14 Olympic Games and broke the American record in the 500-meter race when he won a silver medal in the event in a world cup held in 2015 on home ice in Salt Lake City. His success in the 500 goes back to the 2009 junior world championships, when he won gold.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1990. He is Olympics editor and Assistant Sports Editor at the Cape Cod Times in Massachusetts. Bowker has written for TeamUSA.org since 2010 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.