Long Track Speedskating Preview
The U.S. and long track speedskating are synonymous. Boasting 67 Olympic medals, including 29 golds, Team USA is traditionally poised to reach the medal stand largely in part due to the team’s historic success at the Olympic Games. The 67 Olympic medals won by U.S. long track speedskaters rank third all-time among country totals, while Team USA’s 29 gold medals are the second most.

A strong sprinting core – which has proven to be a podium staple throughout the world cup circuit – has continued to carry Team USA since the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. The U.S. is also taking huge strides in the distance events with the return of several elite athletes.

Heather Bergsma and Brittany Bowe have dominated the 1,000- and 1,500-meter distances at the international level, along with trading spots as the Grand World Cup Champion in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17. The two veterans earned 38 podium spots during the 2015-16 ISU World Cup season and added 13 more medals during the 2016-17 World Cup circuit.

On the men’s side, Olympians Joey Mantia, Mitch Whitmore and two-time Olympic champion Shani Davis give Team USA multiple opportunities to reach the podium in the men’s 500, 1,000 and 1,500. Mantia has become a threat in the mass start, which is set to make its Olympic debut in 2018. He earned his first career mass start world cup gold medal in December 2016, becoming the first American to do so since 2012. In addition, Mantia won gold in the Mass Start at 2017 World Single Distance Championships claiming the Team USA’s first-ever World title in the event. Davis has quietly become the ISU World Cup all-time points leader, achieving the feat in fewer years than the previous points leader, Jeremy Wotherspoon of Canada.

Speedskating at the PyeongChang Olympic Games consists of 12 individual events, including the 500-, 1,000-, 1,500-, 5,000-meters and mass start for both men and women, in addition to the women’s 3,000 and men’s 10,000. Making its Olympic debut, the mass start event pits up to 28 skaters who race over 16 laps. Overall, 14 sets of medals will be awarded with the men’s and women’s team pursuits making up the final two events. In each event, skaters race in pairs using inner and outer lanes on a standard 400-meter oval track. Athletes change lanes at every lap to skate the equal distance.

The Olympic long track competition will be held at the Gangneung Oval, which is situated next to the short track speedskating venue in the coastal city of Gangneung. The venue seats up to 8,000 people and will host the 2017 ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in February.

Storylines

  • Coming off an offseason injury in the summer of 2016, Brittany Bowe delayed the start of her skating season until December. The 2014 Olympian didn’t miss a stride as she qualified for the 2017 World Single Distance Championships in the 500- and the 1,000-meter events, while winning a 1,000-meter bronze medal in her first race since returning to the ice. Bowe stepped away from racing after her 1,000-meter bronze medal to focus on her health and get a head start in training for the 2018 Olympic season.

  • Following the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, two-time Olympian Brian Hansen took a break from skating and spent two years attending the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. Hansen returned to international racing during the 2016-17 year, qualifying for the World Single Distance Championships.

  • Prior to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Mia Manganello was the up-and-comer for the United States and provided hope for the women in the distance events. After missing out on making the U.S. Olympic Team in 2010, Manganello decided to take a break from speed skating and focused on professional cycling. Following a six-year absence from the her first love, she decided to return to the ice and compete for another shot at achieving her Olympic dream.

  • Shani Davis looks to make his fifth Olympic team and fourth in long track. If he were to accomplish the feat, he would join Dan Jansen and KC Boutiette as the only U.S. men’s long track speedskaters to compete at four different Olympics. Davis, who recently became the ISU World Cup all-time points leader, continues to perfect his craft in the 1,000 and 1,500.

  • Another four-time Olympian, KC Boutiette, is seeking his fifth Olympic berth, having previously competed in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006, If he accomplishes the feat, he would be the first American to skate at five different Olympics, while also becoming the oldest U.S. competitor at age 47.

Athletes To Watch

Heather Bergsma 
The 2016-17 Grand World Cup champion, Bergsma (High Point, North Carolina) has positioned herself as a contender in four different events: 500-meter, 1,000, 1,500 and mass start. Coming off a successful 2016-17 season in which she won 12 world cup medals, the two-time Olympian accounted for four of the five World Championship medals that Team USA won this season. Bergsma won World Titles in the 1000-meter and the 1500-meter, and captured a bronze in the Mass Start at World Single Distance Championships, and finished second overall at World Sprint Championships.

Brittany Bowe
The current world-record holder in the women’s 1,000-meter, Bowe (Ocala, Florida) has her sights on the podium in PyeongChang. The 2015-16 Grand World Cup champion and back-to-back world sprints champion in 2015 and 2016 was the only skater to win three individual medals at the 2016 World Single Distance Championships. An offseason concussion delayed the start of her pre-Olympic season, but she didn’t miss a step, winning a bronze medal in the 1,000 in her first weekend of international racing. Bowe stepped away from racing after her 1,000-meter bronze at World Cup Gangneung to focus on her training and health going into the 2018 Olympic season.

Shani Davis 
Four-time Olympic medalist Davis (Chicago, Illinois) continues to be a headliner in every race he competes in. In December 2016, he picked up a silver medal in the 1,000-meter and became the all-time ISU World Cup points leader. A spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team would mark his fifth Olympic berth, putting him in elite company and adding another highlight to his already illustrious career.

Joey Mantia
A world-famous inline skater, Mantia (Ocala, Florida) switched to ice before the Sochi Games and made the U.S. Olympic Team in 2014. Since his experience in Sochi, Mantia continues to prove his work ethic and improve at every world cup race. In the 2016-17 season, Mantia won World Cup gold and bronze in the 1500-meters and a gold in Mass Start at World Cup Heerenveen. The 2014 Olympian won Team USA’s first World Title in the mass start at 2017 World Single Distance Championships. Entering the 2017-18 season, Mantia is a regular face on the 1,000- and 1,500-meter podium stand and has also emerged as a contender in the mass start, which will be making its Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

Mitch Whitmore 
The current national record holder in the 500-meter, Whitmore (Waukesha, Wisconsin) made his first-ever individual world cup podium, taking a 500 silver in November 2015. In December 2016, the two-time Olympian collected a bronze in the 500 and was part of the gold-medal-winning sprint team. He will look to add to Team USA’s 16 Olympic medals in his signature 500 event.

Qualification

The U.S. can carry a maximum team size of 20 long track speedskaters, including 10 men and 10 women, for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. No more than three U.S. athletes may compete in each of the men’s and women’s 500-, 1,000- and 1,500-meter events, women’s 3,000 and men’s 5,000, while up to two Americans may compete in both the women’s 5,000 and men’s 10,000. A maximum of two U.S. athletes, per gender, are allowed to compete in the new mass start event and a maximum of one U.S. team of each gender may be entered in the team pursuit.

Quota spots are earned based on the Olympic Qualification Classifications at ISU World Cup competitions to be held during the fall of 2017. To be eligible to use a quota spot, athletes must have achieved ISU Qualifying Times from July 1, 2017 to Jan. 14, 2018.

Click here to view the complete 2018 Olympic qualification procedures for long track speedskating.

Selection

U.S. Speedskating will select up to 20 athletes to compete at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games following the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Speedskating, which are scheduled for Jan. 2-7 in Milwaukee.

Click here to view the complete 2018 Olympic selection procedures from U.S. Speedskating.

Editor’s Note: This selection process overview is designed to provide general information only and should not be relied upon by athletes attempting to make the U.S. Olympic Team. The selection process is formally governed by selection procedures published by each National Governing Body. Athletes and other individuals interested in the selection process should contact the appropriate NGB to obtain the full selection procedures, or to seek clarification of the process.

Key Dates

Jan. 2-7, 2018

U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Long Track

Milwaukee, Wisconsin