By Gary R. Blockus | Dec. 15, 2017, 1:01 p.m. (ET)

Heather Bergsma competes in the women's 1,500-meter at the ISU Speed Skating World Cup on Dec. 10, 2016 in Heerenveen, Netherlands.


U.S. long track speedskaters now have a crystal-clear picture of what they’re shooting for when they compete at the 2018 U.S Olympic Team Trials for Long Track Speedskating, held Jan. 2-7 in Milwaukee. 

Team USA is able to send up to eight men and eight women to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 in February based on world cup performances this season, according to information released by the International Skating Union on Thursday.

The athletes who earn a spot on the team will have a total of 13 starting positions in the women’s events and 12 in the men’s events, which includes one for a men’s team pursuit squad.

Perhaps the biggest news is that the U.S. men qualified no spots in the men’s 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races. The men did qualify the country maximum spots of three skaters in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500, and the maximum number of two skaters in the mass start race, along with the eighth and final spot for a nation in the team pursuit, which the U.S. earned based on its time at the Salt Lake City World Cup last weekend. 

The women qualified the maximum number of three spots in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500, and the maximum of two spots in the mass start race. Additionally, U.S. women earned one of three possible spots in the 3,000 and one of two spots available in the 5,000. Team USA is also the top alternate in the team pursuit and could earn a berth if the International Olympic Committee does not permit a Russian entry.

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Two-time Olympians Heather Bergsma and Brittany Bowe helped Team USA reach the women’s marks. Bergsma, the reigning world champion in the 1,000 and 1,500, earned enough world cup points to guarantee the U.S. starts in the 500, 1,000, 1,500 and mass start. Bowe’s results earned her country spots in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500. 

Former pro cyclist Mia Manganello, former Dutch skater Carlijn Schoutens and 2014 Olympian Sugar Todd also helped earn the country spots in two events each with their results this season.

Joey Mantia, a 2014 Olympian and reigning world champion in mass start, and two-time Olympian and 2010 team pursuit silver medalist Brian Hansen helped the U.S. earn the maximum two spots in mass start, which makes its Olympic debut in South Korea. 

The two of them, along with four-time Olympian and two-time gold medalist Shani Davis, helped Team USA earn the maximum three spots in the 1,500.

Mantia, Davis and 2014 Olympian Jonathan Garcia earned three spots for the U.S. in the 1,000, and two-time Olympian Mitch Whitmore, Garcia and Kimani Griffin secured three spots for the U.S. men in the 500.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.