Joey Mantia competes in the Men's 1500 meter event during the 2022 U.S. Speedskating Long Track Olympic Trials at Pettit National Ice Center on Jan. 8, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Brittany Bowe continued her perfect record and Joey Mantia set a new mark of excellence Saturday in the 1,500-meter at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Long Track Speedskating in Milwaukee.
Bowe, second in the world in the 1,500-meter, reinforced why she’s an Olympic favorite, winning the race in 1.55.81. Mantia, a three-time world champion in the mass start, won the men’s 1,500 with a time of 1.44.01, breaking a track record.
The former inline skaters and Ocala, Florida, natives will make their third Olympic appearances next month at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
Without the usual roaring crowds of an Olympic trials audience, the fourth day at the Pettit National Ice Center may have been subdued, but when the gun went off in the women and men’s 1,500, the athletes were pumped and ready to sprint.
Having won two other races earlier this week, Bowe was a favorite to take down the 1,500 as well.
“I can’t say I’m overly pleased with that race. I would have liked to get a little more free speed in the beginning,” said Bowe, a 2018 Olympic bronze medalist in team pursuit. “I am always striving to be better. I would have liked to see that race a couple of seconds faster.”
Having won the 1,000-meter and 500-meter early in the week, Bowe heads to Beijing with a full slate of competitive events.
The prospect of a packed calendar didn’t seem to faze her.
“It’s my third time around. I hope my first two experiences have set me up for success in Beijing. Going into this Olympic Games with a heart filled with gratitude, tons of excitement, and just honored to have the opportunity to represent the United States of America,” Bowe said.
Mia Manganello Kilburg, who won a bronze medal with Bowe in team pursuit in 2018, had already clinched the women’s first reserve spot with a win in the 3000-meter race, but finished just behind Bowe in 1.57.29 in the 1,500. The Crestview, Florida, native won’t have to wait to see if she can compete in an event in Beijing as she notched a spot in the 1,500.
“I love this event. I know I have potential in this event. All year, I don’t feel like I’ve come close to reaching that point within myself,” Manganello Kilburg said. “I knew going into this race today, if I was able to skate to my ability and trust myself, trust my coach and the game plan, that I’d be able to walk away with it.”
The 32-year-old former competitive cyclist is also a favorite in Sunday’s mass start.
Mantia, 35, who currently holds the world cup record in the 1,500, felt he had more to give in his race.
“I would say that wasn’t a great race for me. Just fuel-wise — how they’ve been going,” said the world cup 1,500-meter leader. “I usually have more gas at the end. I just focused on my race profile. You still need to go to the line and get it done.”
While Mantia wasn’t thrilled with his race, he was humbled to break the track record of Olympic bronze medalist Chad Hedrick, a skater he’s looked up to since his inline skating days.
“A track record is nice to have in your back pocket. It says nobody’s ever skated that fast before at that track,” Mantia said. “I felt like I’ve been good enough to get them before, but with the level being where it is in the last six to seven years in long track speedskating. It’s just been tougher and tougher to try to snag those records, but I’m ecstatic to be able to take away a track tonight.”
Also in the men’s 1,500, Emery Lehman bolted to the finish line with a 1.45.10, just behind Mantia. That booked a ticket for Lehman to his third Olympic Winter Games. At the 2014 Sochi Games, he was 17 and the youngest male member of Team USA.
Now 25, he feels his age and experience will benefit him in Beijing.
“It feels good. Sochi was good — I was like up and coming. I was 17 at the time. I probably didn’t even know what I was doing and I made the team,” said Lehman. “Then 2018, I was coming back from having mono, so I was just lucky to be there. Now I feel like I’m going back as a competitor, not only in the team pursuit but also the 1,500 meter.”