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Brittany Bowe With Third Top-5 Olympic Performance In PyeongChang

By Chris Cole | Feb. 18, 2018, 9:53 a.m. (ET)

Team USA speed skating made a strong case for its first medal at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 but fell short as Brittany Bowe (Ocala, Fla.) earned her third straight top-five finish of these Games, this time in the women’s 500m.

Bowe finished fifth in the 500m with a season-best time of 37.530 at the Gangneung Oval on Sunday.

“I think that’s the fastest 500m I’ve ever skated at sea level,” Bowe said. “Other than being two-tenths off the podium, I was really, really happy with that race. I can’t think of anything I could have executed better to be honest with you.”

It was indeed Bowe’s fastest 500m skated at sea level, breaking her previous best time of 37.59 skated at World Cup Astana (Kazakhstan) on February 28, 2015.  It marked Bowe’s fastest 500m since turning in her personal-best time of 37.03 on November 20, 2015 at World Cup Salt Lake.

Skating in the 11th pair, Bowe’s time narrowly edged the leader at the time, the Netherlands’ Jorien Ter Mors, by 0.009 seconds to take the top spot. Three pairs later, Japan’s Nao Kodaira posted an Olympic record with a time of 36.94 to take the lead and the gold medal.

Bowe was knocked off the podium by 0.19 seconds as four skaters beat her time in the final three pairings. Bowe, skating in her second Olympics, has finished in the top five of all three of her events so far in PyeongChang, including fourth in the 1000m and fifth in the 1500m.

“There were times less than a year ago I didn’t even think I’d be able to lace the skates back up, so to be top five in the world in everything I’ve skated is a blessing,” Bowe said.

She placed 13th in the 2x500m at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

Skating in the eighth pair, Heather Bergsma (High Point, N.C.) finished Sunday’s 500m in 11th place with a time of 38.13.

Bergsma finished the 2x500m in sixth place at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games and eighth at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

Rookie Erin Jackson (Ocala, Fla.) made her debut in the women’s 500m, finishing in 24th place with a season-best time of 39.20.

“I feel great. It was nice to be out there,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t have predicted being here just a few months ago so the whole experience has been great. I’m really happy with my performance. I’m already looking forward to working on things for next season.”

Jackson, 25, was the first African-American woman to make Team USA long track speed skating.

On the men’s side, Team USA – comprised of Brian Hansen (Glenview, Ill.), Joey Mantia (Ocala, Fla.) and Emery Lehman (Oak Park, Ill.) – finished eighth in the men’s Team Pursuit quarterfinals with a time of 3:42.98.

“It’s hard to say but it actually was a good race in so many respects,” Hansen said. “The way we raced, it was a good race. Our pushing was good. I think the way we utilized each other’s strengths was good. It’s just hard when the middle laps didn’t go as hoped and it’s hard to make it up after that. But it was the best we could do as a team.”

Team USA will skate against Canada in the D Final on Wednesday, February 21.

“We knew the exact lap times we needed to hit and we just fumbled a little bit in the middle of the race and it’s hard to get back after that,” Mantia said. “If you fall off even by half a second, that’s exponential. It ends up being three seconds over the end of the race. We gave it our best and we just didn’t have it today.”

The United States last won a medal in Team Pursuit at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games with a silver. Hansen skated for that team in the semifinal and final races.

“We’ll just treat (the D Final) as another Olympic race even though it’s not a medal race anymore but we’ll see what happens,” Hansen said.

For results, post-race interviews and other media information, visit the US Speedskating Media Page.

Long track continues on Monday, February 19 with women’s team pursuit and the men’s 500m. Live coverage of the races will be streamed on nbcolympics.com beginning at 8 p.m. KT (6 a.m. ET).

Quotes from Brittany Bowe

  • “I think that’s the fastest 500m I’ve ever skated at sea level. Other than being two-tenths off the podium, I was really, really happy with that race. I can’t think of anything I could have executed better to be honest with you.”
  • “It’s a mix of emotions. It’s been a huge uphill battle to get here. It’s been a crazy journey. I’m grateful to have the opportunity, grateful to be able to lace my skates up and get to the start line. Obviously disappointed coming out medal-less so far. I really want a medal for myself. I really want a medal for everybody that’s helped me along the way my whole life, especially this past year and a half getting me back to that start line. It would mean the world to me. It is what it is but we shall continue.”
  • “There were times less than a year ago I didn’t even think I’d be able to lace the skates back up, so to be top five in the world in everything I’ve skated is a blessing.”
  • “I’m definitely planning on going another four years. I can’t be done here, that’s for sure.”

Quotes from Erin Jackson

  • “I feel great. It was nice to be out there. I wouldn’t have predicted being here just a few months ago so the whole experience has been great. I’m really happy with my performance. I’m already looking forward to working on things for next season.”
  • “There are just so many things that I need to fix and work on so I’m looking forward to tackling all those as soon as I get back.”
  • “It’s awesome. I thought I would get nervous but I never got nervous throughout the whole experience. I guess just from growing up with big inline competitions and things like that. The whole atmosphere was amazing. The set-up out there looks awesome, especially on TV like when I was watching it before. Everything is great.”

Quotes from Brian Hansen

  • “It’s hard to say but it actually was a good race in so many respects. The way we raced, it was a good race. Our pushing was good. I think the way we utilized each other’s strengths was good. It’s just hard when the middle laps didn’t go as hoped and it’s hard to make it up after that. But it was the best we could do as a team.”
  • “We’ll just treat (the D Final) as another Olympic race even though it’s not a medal race anymore but we’ll see what happens.”

Quotes from Emery Lehman

  • “It was tough out there. A little bittersweet because on one hand it’s our fastest sea level time of the year I think. But on the other hand, we could have executed it better, probably could have gotten a much better time.”
  • “I think the goal for the next one is just one-up ourselves again. That’s kinda what our plan this whole season was. It wasn’t the result we wanted obviously but our time wasn’t horrendous.”
  • “Had we been at our best, I really don’t know what the exact result would have been but it would have definitely been a little bit faster than what we did.”

Quotes from Joey Mantia

  • “Team pursuit’s tough. All three guys have got to be on that day. We knew going in exactly what we needed to do. We were in the fourth pair. We knew the exact lap times we needed to hit and we just fumbled a little bit in the middle of the race and it’s hard to get back after that. If you fall off even by half a second, that’s exponential. It ends up being three seconds over the end of the race. We gave it our best and we just didn’t have it today.”
  • “We watched John-Henry (Krueger) last night and it was really exciting. Got us all pumped up. We’re really proud of him. We feel like we’re all one big team in U.S. Speedskating whether it’s long track or short track. We all had a little giddy-up in our step today after John-Henry pulled that off.”