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Speedskater Brittany Bowe Finishes 10th In 1,500 In Bid For First Individual Olympic Medal

By Todd Kortemeier | Feb. 07, 2022, 6:28 a.m. (ET)

Brittany Bowe skates during the Women's 1500m at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 7, 2022 in Yanqing, China. 


BEIJING — That elusive first individual Olympic medal will have to wait for speedskater Brittany Bowe, but she can’t wait for her next chance.

Bowe started fast in the women’s 1,500-meter but couldn’t keep the pace, coming in 10th with a time of 1:55.81. That was 2.53 seconds off the Olympic-record time of now six-time Olympic gold medalist Ireen Wust of the Netherlands. Miho Takagi of Japan ran second ahead of another Dutchwoman, Antoinette De Jong. Team USA’s Mia Manganello-Kilburg was 20th. 

Bowe was actually ahead of Wust’s pace at the 300-meter split before trailing off, something she attributed to simply not having the strength in reserve she needed.

“Coming from the sprint side of things, I have to get it going and I have to try and use my speed to my advantage,” Bowe said afterward. “Just didn’t have the legs there at the end. It’s tough, it’s worker ice, and the ladies that come from that 3K, 15 specialty definitely had the upper hand today. Disappointed, but it is what it is, I gave it everything I had, and excited for the next opportunity.”

That next opportunity is the women’s 500 on Sunday, which Bowe qualified in at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in January before surrendering her spot to teammate Erin Jackson. Team USA was able to snag another quota spot at that distance, meaning Bowe will get to compete after all. It’s not as strong an event for her as the 1,000 and 1,500 — though she’s won two world silver medals — but Bowe is looking forward to the race.

“It’s really special,” she said. “Obviously my focus has been on the 1,000 and the 1,500. So to get to go to the start line one more time in that 500 between the 1,500 and the 1,000 is a great opportunity. It’s always an honor to get to the start line at an Olympic Games to represent the United States and I’m going to do that to the best of my ability.”

It’s always an honor to get to the start line at an Olympic Games to represent the United States, and I’m going to do that to the best of my ability.

Brittany Bowe, Speedskating

Bowe is competitive at all three distances, but it’s at 1,000 that she’s had the most success. In addition to the three world championships, she’s won five world cup titles and at the 2018 Olympics she just missed landing on the podium. Bowe believes that the way the race schedule sets up could only benefit her in her best event, taking place Feb. 17.

“Really excited for the 1,000,” Bowe said. “It’s nice to get that really tough (1,500) race out of the way, get some tension in the legs. Great surprise, I’ll be racing the 500 in a week so that’ll be nice to work on the speed and the focus is definitely on that 1,000, going for gold there at the end of the competition.”

Bowe also paid tribute to Wust, who became the third speedskater ever to win the same event at the Olympics three times.

“Words can’t describe her class,” Bowe said. “She is the greatest of all time, as her performance shows. Another Olympic gold medal in Olympic record fashion. I’m honored to have competed against her for so many years and even more so to call her a friend.”

Bowe said she’ll have a recovery day installed before returning to the ice and doing speed work to prep for the 500 and 1,000. One challenge Bowe and others have cited is the ice at the brand-new arena nicknamed the Ice Ribbon is a little softer — “worker ice” in speedskating parlance — and takes some getting used to.

“We’re at sea level, it’s tough ice, it’s worker ice, but it’s the same for everybody,” Bowe said. “We know that coming in it’s not Calgary, it’s not Salt Lake, we’re not at altitude. So we’re ready for that, we’re prepared for that, I just didn’t have the legs today. But I’m really excited for another opportunity in the coming week.”

Manganello-Kilburg improved her finish from 2018 when she finished 22nd in the 1,500 to place 20th in a time of 1:59.11. Manganello-Kilburg was pleased with the time but admitted she was still getting her legs under her and was excited for her final race of the Games, the mass start on Feb. 19. She, Bowe and Heather Bergsma won a bronze medal together in the team pursuit at the Games four years ago, but Team USA didn’t qualify a spot for that event in Beijing.

Todd Kortemeier

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor, and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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