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Heather Bergsma Starts Long Track Speedskating World Cup Season With 2 Gold Medals

By Brandon Penny | Nov. 13, 2016, 10:52 a.m. (ET)

(L-R) Marrit Leenstra of the Netherlands, Heather Bergsma and Nao Kodaira celebrate atop the women's 1,000-meter podium at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating on Nov. 12, 2016 in Harbin, China.

Heather Bergsma wasted no time reminding the world why she is the defending grand world cup champion, having won more world cup points than any other female skater last season.

The two-time Olympian made quick work of returning to the podium in the season-opening long track speedskating world cup by claiming two gold medals this weekend in Harbin, China.

Bergsma started the event with a fifth-place finish in the first 500-meter on Friday as she worked her way back toward podium form.

She won her next event, Saturday’s 1,000-meter, by more than half a second in a sport timed to the hundredth of a second. Bergsma claimed gold in a time of 1:15.94, while Marrit Leenstra of the Netherlands clocked in at 1:16.55 for silver and Japan’s Nao Kodaira took bronze in 1:16.99.

Bergsma, last season’s 500-meter overall champion, stepped to the line again in Sunday afternoon’s 500-meter, once more finishing fifth.

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Returning to the ice an hour later, Bergsma picked up her second win of the weekend in another event, the 1,500. Her time of 1:57.00 was again more than a half second ahead of Leenstra (1:57.64), while four-time Olympic champion Ireen Wust of the Netherlands took bronze in 1:58.18.

Team USA earned seven other top-10 finishes over the course of three days.

On Saturday, two-time Olympian Mitch Whitmore was fifth in Saturday’s 500-meter, while Jonathan Garcia was ninth in the 1,000 and Joey Mantia 10th in the mass start, an event that will make its Olympic debut at the PyeongChang 2018 Games.

The U.S. placed three men in the top 10 again on Sunday, with Whitmore finishing seventh in the second 500-meter, Mantia taking fifth in the 1,500-meter and four-time Olympic medalist Shani Davis reaching eighth in that race.

Meanwhile, Mia Manganello continued an impressive return to the sport and proved she could be a medal threat come PyeongChang. The former national champion skater hung up her skates after failing to make the 2010 Olympic team in favor of becoming a professional cyclist. After returning to speedskating earlier this year, Manganello made her first world cup last month.

In her first world cup event in nine seasons, Manganello started her weekend with a fifth place in the 3,000-meter B division on Friday. Two days later, she competed in the mass start and finished fourth, just two seconds off the podium.

The world cup circuit resumes Nov. 18-20 in Nagano, Japan, site of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.

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Heather Bergsma

Long Track Speedskating