The U.S. women entered Thursday’s 1,000-meter long track speedskating competition with the top two skaters in the world. When the night ended, Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe were off the podium, finishing seventh and eighth.
But that’s racing.
“The top three girls laid down some pretty fast times and absolutely deserved the one-two-three with the performance they put down (Thursday),” said Bowe, referring to Hong Zhang of China, who won her nation’s first speedskating gold medal in 1:14.02, as well as the Netherlands’ duo of Ireen Wust and Margot Boer, who rounded out the podium with times of 1:14.69 and 1:14.90. The Netherlands also captured
Richardson was the top U.S. finisher. The two-time Olympian crossed the line in 1:15.23 and was satisfied with her seventh-place performance in front of nearly 8,000 spectators inside Adler Arena.
“It was almost a second faster than last season here in Sochi, so there’s not too much I can complain about,” said Richardson. “I was top going into the race and I gave it my best, and that’s all I can do.”
Leading up to the Sochi Games, the 24-year-old had won three of four 1,000-meter world cup races and also claimed gold in the 1,000 at the 2014 World Sprint Championships.
Bowe finished right behind her roommate with a time of 1:15.47. The world-record holder in the 1,000 pushed hard in the beginning but lost steam coming down the stretch.
“I had a really good opener and solid first lap,” said Bowe. “I was trying to hang in there in the last lap, but I think I lost quite a bit of time. When I looked up at the board, I thought it was going to be a faster time.”
Although pleased with their skates, Bowe and Richardson were not satisfied with the result.
“Are we where we wanted to be? No. But that’s just part of it. We will just move on from here,” said Bowe on the U.S. results. “I’ll go through my race tape with my coach like I do every race and I’m sure we’ll pick things and improve on them.”
Also competing for Team USA were first-time Olympians Sugar Todd and Kelly Gunther. Todd finished 32nd with a time of 1:19.13, while Gunther placed 33rd with a skate of 1:19.43.
Bowe, Richardson and two-time Olympian Jilleanne Rookard, who finished 10th in the 3,000-meter earlier this week, will return to the oval for the 1,500-meter on Sunday.