Led by such notables as Heather Bergsma, KC Boutiette and Shani Davis, a total of 16 athletes have been named to the long track speedskating team that will represent the United States in four world cup events scheduled for this fall, the first of which will take place Nov. 11-13 in Harbin, China.
The squad includes 10 Olympians, who have 19 Olympic appearances and five Olympic medals among them.
A two-time Olympian, Bergsma (née Richardson) was a force to be reckoned with last season, when she won 18 medals on the world cup circuit and emerged as the overall 500-meter world cup champion, which she added to her 2013 overall 1,000-meter title. Bergsma finished first in the 500-meter, 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter as well as in the mass start event at last weekend’s qualifying event at the Petit National Ice Center in Milwaukee.
Two other members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team earned selection on the women’s side as well. Kelly Gunther was named to her fourth fall world cup team, while Sugar Todd was selected to race on the fall circuit for the fifth time. They are joined by Paige Schwartzburg, a 2015-16 world cup team member; Petra Acker, back on the team after making it in 2013-14; and Mia Manganello, a pro cyclist who returns to the world cup circuit for the first time since 2007-08. Rounding out the women’s team is Jerica Tandiman, who will make her first world cup appearance.
Noticably absent from the women’s squad is Brittany Bowe, the reigning world cup champion at both 1,000 and 1,500 meters. Bowe, a member of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Team, missed last weekend’s qualifier due to an ongoing recovery from a concussion suffered in July, when she collided with a teammate during a training session. She remains eligible for selection to the team, but does not plan to compete until the recovery process is complete.
The men’s team is long on experience, with seven of the nine athletes counting a total of 15 Olympic Games among them. Davis, a two-time Olympic champion and four-time Olympic medalist, and Boutiette, who competed at each Winter Games from 1994 to 2006, contribute eight Olympics to the total, along with two-time Olympians Mitch Whitmore and Brian Hansen, a 2010 Olympic silver medalist. They are joined by 2014 Olympians Jonathan Garcia, Emery Lehman and Joey Mantia. Completing the men’s team are Kimani Griffin, who makes the fall squad for the third consecutive year, and Ian Quinn, who raced the fall circuit last season.
Boutiette is credited with starting the trend of inline skaters crossing over to speedskating, one that eventually included such athletes as Apolo Ohno, Jennifer Rodriguez, Chad Hedrick, Joey Cheek, Bergsma and Bowe. The 46-year-old is attempting to become the oldest Olympic speedskater since Great Britain’s Albert Tebbit raced at the inaugural Chamonix 1924 Olympic Winter Games at the age of 52.
After the opening date in China, the fall world cup series continues Nov. 18-20 in Nagano, Japan, followed by meets Dec. 2-4 in Astana, Kazakhstan, and Dec. 9-11 in Heerenveen, Netherlands.