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 each Olympic Winter Games due to the team’s historic success. The 67 Olympic medals won by U.S. long track speedskaters rank third all-time in the world, while Team USA’s 29 gold medals are the second most worldwide.

A strong sprinting core – which has proven to be a podium staple throughout the world cup circuit – has continued to carry Team USA since Sochi. The U.S. is also making 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 together added 13 more medals during the 2016-17 World Cup circuit. Leading up to PyeongChang, Bergsma collected three more medals, earning a gold and bronze in the women’s 1,000 and a silver in the 1,500.

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 mass start at 2017 World Single Distance Championships, claiming 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 in PyeongChang consists of 12 individual events, including the 500, 1,000, 1,500, 5,000 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 features 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 also hosted the 2017 ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in February 2017.

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 Sochi 2014, two-time Olympian Brian Hansen took a break from skating and spent two years attending the University of Colorado Boulder. Hansen returned to international racing during the 2016-17 season, qualifying for the World Single Distance Championships. The Olympic silver medalist will be competing in his third Games after qualifying for the men’s 1,500 and mass start.

  • 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’s team in distance events. After missing out on making the U.S. Olympic Team in 2010, Manganello decided to take a break from speedskating and focused on professional cycling. Following a six-year absence from her first love, she decided to return to the ice and has reached her goal of becoming an Olympian. Manganello will be skating in the women’s 1,500 and mass start events at the 2018 Games.

  • Shani Davis has qualified for his fifth Olympic team and fourth in long track, joining 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.

  • Erin Jackson burst onto the speedskating scene at the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. The 11-time inline world championship medalist has only been training full-time on ice for the last four months, and qualified in the women’s 500 at the trials. A graduate of the University of Florida studying materials science and engineering, Jackson hopes to work with prosthetics or dental materials when she is done skating. The Olympic rookie shaved off 0.5 seconds from her personal best in the 500 at the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

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, 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 during the season. Bergsma won world titles in the 1,000 and the 1,500, captured a bronze in mass start at the World Single Distance Championships, and finished second overall at the World Sprint Championships. During the 2017-18 season, the 2018 Olympian earned three world cup medals, winning two (1,500 silver, 1,000 bronze) at the world cup in Stavanger, Nowary, and the gold medal at the world cup in Calgary, Alberta, in the 1,000.

Brittany Bowe
The 2015-16 Grand World Cup Champion and back-to-back world sprints champion in 2015 and 2016, Bowe (Ocala, Florida) 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 the 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 the world cup in Gangneung, South Korea, to focus on her training and health going into the 2018 Olympic season. During the Olympic season, Bowe competed in three of the four world cups, missing the world cup in Calgary, Alberta, due to illness.

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 and became the all-time ISU World Cup points leader. A spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team marks 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 Sochi 2014 and made the U.S. Olympic Team. 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 1,500 and gold in mass start at the world cup in Heerenveen, Netherlands. The 2014 Olympian won Team USA’s first world title in mass start at 2017 World Single Distance Championships. Mantia collected three medals on the world cup circuit during the 2017-18 season, winning silver in the mass start at the world cup in Heerenveen and taking home two medals (1500 silver, team sprint bronze) at the world cup in Stavanger, Norway.

Mitch Whitmore 
The current national record holder in the 500, Whitmore (Waukesha, Wisconsin) made his first-ever individual world cup podium, taking a silver in the 500 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 added another team sprint medal with a bronze at the world cup in Stavanger, Norway, in November 2017. He will look to add to Team USA’s 16 Olympic medals in his signature 500 event.

Qualification

The U.S. was awarded a maximum team size of 20 long track speed skaters, including 10 men and 10 women, for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. No more than three U.S. athletes can compete in each of the men’s and women’s 500, 1,000 and 1,500 events, women’s 3,000, and men’s 5,000 while up to two Americans can compete in both the women’s 5,000 and men’s 10,000 events. 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 were 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 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 speed skating.

Selection

U.S. Speedskating selected 13 athletes to compete at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games following the sport’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials which took place Jan. 2-7, 2018, in Milwaukee.

Key Dates

Jan. 2-7, 2018

U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Long Track

Milwaukee, Wisconsin