Speedskating: Richardson breaks 1,000-meter U.S. record
Kearns • Emblazoned under the track at the Utah Olympic Oval is the phrase "The Fastest Ice In The World."
These past two days Heather Richardson hasn't been the fastest in the world, but she's been the fastest American, inscribing her own name into U.S. speedskating lore.
The 23-year-old broke a United States record for a second straight day, this time snapping the women's 1,000-meter record at the U.S. Long-Track Speedskating Championships on Saturday morning. Her time of 1 minute, 13.52 seconds broke the 10-year-old record held by her childhood hero Chris Witty, who skated a 1:13.83 in February 2002.
"That record has been standing for a long time," Richardson said. "Everyone looked up to her because she had that for so long."
After breaking the national record, Richardson breathed heavily from an oxygen mask for several minutes as she took her warm-down laps, trying to recover the energy expended.
"It's not something that I expected," she said, "but I'll take it."
Richardson clinched the U.S. national sprint title after breaking the records in the 500- and 1,000-meter races Friday and Saturday. Finishing second behind her in the 1,000-meter event was Brittany Bowe, and Sugar Todd was third. All three qualified for the U.S. World Sprint and World Cup team.
The trio will headline the U.S. long-track speedskaters at the Long Track World Sprint Championships in Kearns on Jan. 26 and 27.
Ryan Shimabukuro, coach for the U.S. long-track speedskating program, said before the race that he and Richardson discussed nothing about shattering records.
He just wanted his star to go out and race, and she did.
"We focus on the process and getting her skating right," he said. "Even though she skated two national records over the last two days, it wasn't perfect skating by any means."
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis won the men's 1,000-meter race Saturday with a time of 1:08.57. He has won the last two Olympic gold medals in the men's 1,000 meters and said Saturday's race brought just as much pressure as any other event.
"It's a short race, so you've got to push yourself," he said. "I'm not good enough to time it, just enough to beat the guy ahead of me. You've got to go out there and give it your all, and if you're able to win, great."
Mitch Whitmore, who won the men's 500-meter race Friday, clinched the U.S. national sprint title for the men off of combined points. Finishing second was Jonathan Garcia, and third was Clay Cholewinski. Whitmore and Garcia will represent the U.S. in the World Sprint championships in late January.
U.S. Long-Track Speedskating Championships
1. Heather Richardson 1:13.52
2. Brittany Bowe 1:14.95
3. Sugar Todd 1:16.72
1. Shani Davis 1:08.57
2. Brian Hansen 1:08.74
3. Jonathan Garcia 1:09.24
9 a.m. • Women's 1,500
10 a.m. • Men's 1,500