Two-time reigning world sprint champion Brittany Bowe today announced via social media that she is withdrawing from the upcoming World Single Distances Championships in Gangneung, Korea, and will no longer compete this season to focus on her recovery from a concussion suffered last July.
“After much reflection, I have decided to step away from the competitive ice season and focus on my recovery from a concussion I sustained earlier this season,” she said in the Instagram post. “I am dedicated to the recovery process and focused on my preparations for 2018!”
Bowe suffered the concussion in July when she collided with a teammate during a training session. She returned to competition in December, when she won a 1,000-meter bronze in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
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The 2014 Olympian had won seven medals at the past three single distance worlds, including both 1,000 and 1,500 golds in 2015. She collected back-to-back silvers at 500 meters in 2015 and 2016, and earned 1,000-meter medals at three consecutive worlds: bronze in 2013 and 2016 to go with her gold in 2015 (the worlds are not held during an Olympic year).
Bowe finished first in the overall world cup standings last season, while also taking the season titles in both the 1,000 and 1,500 and finishing third at 500 meters.
Bowe’s departure deprives Team USA of a potent one-two punch that has led a resurgence in U.S. women’s speedskating. She and teammate Heather Bergsma had combined for double podiums in both the 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter each of the past two years as well and a fifth double in 2015 in the 500-meter.
The single distance worlds, scheduled for Feb. 9-12, will serve as the Olympic test event for the Gangneung Oval.