Brittany Bowe competes in the women's 500-meter at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 18, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.
GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Brittany Bowe will turn 30 years old the day before the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
She hopes to celebrate her 34th birthday soon after competing in the Beijing 2022 Games.
“I definitely plan on going another four years,” Bowe said. “I can’t be done here, that’s for sure.”
On Sunday night, Bowe turned in her third straight top-five finish of these Olympics in long track speedskating, finishing fifth in the women’s 500-meter with a time of 37.53 seconds.
She also was fourth in the 1,000, the event in which she held the world record until November, and fifth in the 1,500.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed coming out medal-less so far,” said Bowe. “We still have the team pursuit. I really want a medal for everybody that’s helped me along the way, my whole life and especially this past year and a half getting me back to that start line. It would mean the world to me.”
Nao Kodaira of Japan, who broke Bowe’s record, won the gold medal with an Olympic-record time of 36.94 seconds. World-record holder Sang-Hwa Lee of Korea was second in 37.33, followed by Karolina Erbanova of Czech Republic in 37.34 and Vanessa Herzog of Austria in 37.51.
“Other than being two-tenths off the podium, I’m really, really happy with that race,” Bowe said. “I can’t think of anything I could have executed better, to be honest with you.”
In fact, she almost felt the way she did before suffering a concussion in training in 2016.
“Pretty darn close,” Bowe said. “That’s the fastest 500 I’ve ever skated at sea level. I think the time doesn’t lie on that.”
Teammate Heather Bergsma continued to struggle at these Games. She placed 11th with a time of 38.13, while Team USA’s newest find, Erin Jackson, who is also an inline skater as well as a roller derby team member, was 24th in 39.20 seconds. Jackson made history as the first black female long track speedskater to make a U.S. Olympic Team.
While Bowe was recovering from the concussion other related issues, she wasn’t sure she’d make it to her second Olympic Games, much less be discussing plans to go for a third. “It’s been a huge uphill battle to get here,” she said. “It’s been a crazy journey.
“What I thought was going to be a couple of weeks turned into a couple of months turned into a year, so I was just trying to regain that confidence. There were times less than a year ago I didn’t even think I’d be able to lace the skates back up, so to be top five in the world in everything I’ve skated is a blessing.”
Bowe, who skated in the 11th of 16 pairs, briefly took the lead after officials had to use a photo finish, going down to thousandths of a second, to separate her from Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands, who had the same time. But Bowe’s exact time was 37.530 compared to 37.539 for ter Mors.
“I was really happy to get the upper hand on Jorien today,” Bowe said. “That was an incredible race and an incredible time that she put down. I thought that would be the medal contention for sure.”
She has one more shot in the team pursuit, with qualification beginning Monday. Bowe will team with Bergsma and Mia Manganello.
“We haven’t set a ceiling on ourselves,” Bowe said. “We got put in the team pursuit because we were the first reserve when Russia lost their spot. We got our solid training in this week, we get another skate in tomorrow. We’re going to leave it all out there on the ice and I think we have just as good an opportunity as any other team out there.”
On the road to Beijing, Bowe should see more and more of Jackson, a fellow Florida skater.
Jackson is so new to speedskating that she still needs to learn how to glide. Her only event at the Gangneung Oval was the 500.
“Hopefully, I think once I can figure out how to carry my speed a little better and glide more on the ice, then hopefully I can get the conditioning in for the longer distances,” she said.
She also said she needs to bend her knees more so she can extend her push out to the side and work on her corner entries so that she’s “not freaking out and slowing down going in.”
Jackson said she felt 100 percent for her race even though she tested positive for the flu four days before the Opening Ceremony and missed the event while under quarantine.
“I’ll have to go to opening ceremonies next time around,” she said.
She also missed competing in the roller derby world cup.
“My teammates were of course very understanding because I was going to the Olympics,” she said, “and USA actually won the world cup, so Go USA!”
Jackson plans to go back to roller derby in Jacksonville, Florida, and also continue to compete inline.
“All three of my sports are really different,” she said, “so I like them all in different ways. Ice is the newest, so it’s still ramping up. So it might be my least favorite at the moment – but only by a little bit and I’m sure it’ll catch up soon.”