Shani Davis, Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson headline the U.S. Speedskating long-track team that will open its World Cup season in Calgary, Alberta, this weekend before making a stop at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns on Nov. 15-17.
The 31-year-old Davis is the star veteran of the group, a two-time Olympic champion who also has won two world allround championships and owns the world record in both the 1,000 and 1,500 meters. One of the greatest speedskaters ever, he clearly is the team’s top threat both on the World Cup circuit and at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia, after working his way back from an early-season groin injury last year.
World Cup speedskating schedule
Event Location Dates
World Cup 1 Calgary, Alberta Friday-Sunday
World Cup 2 Salt Lake City Nov. 15-17
World Cup 3 Astana, Kazakhstan Nov. 29–Dec. 1
World Cup 4 Berlin Dec. 6-8
World Sprint Championships
Nagano, Japan Jan. 18-19
Olympic Games Sochi, Russia Feb. 8-22
World Cup 5 Inzell, Germany March 7-9
World Cup 6 Heerenveen, Holland March 14-16
World Allround Championships
Heerenveen, Holland March 21-23
"I’m just happy that I feel like I’m on the right path," he said recently, after sweeping his events for the fourth straight year at the U.S. Single Distance Championships.
Boe and Richardson, a 2010 Olympian, have been the strongest women on the team recently — both qualified for race the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 on the World Cup circuit — and they finished first and second overall in the 1,000 last season.
Bowe, in particular, has made giant strides the past couple of years, after the former point guard at Florida Atlantic University switched from inline skating to the ice, and she swept her races at the U.S. championships in dominating fashion.
"I really just went into the weekend to prep myself for Calgary," she said. "I skated some really fast times, some personal bests, and it was a great start to the season."
Two-time Olympian Tucker Fredricks is among the other skaters hoping for a strong start to the season — he’s coming off the worst year of his career, yet still dreams of an Olympic medal — along with Brian Hansen, who won silver in the team pursuit at the 2010 Vancouver Games and claimed four individual World Cup medals last season.
Perhaps most intriguing is Joey Mantia, another former inline skater who switched to the ice just two years ago and last month became the only American qualified to race every distance on the World Cup circuit. He finished one of the 1,500 races at the U.S. Championships ahead of Hansen and just 0.09 seconds behind Davis.
"It’s just a big peace of mind this early in the season to be next some of the best skaters in the world," he said. "I like racing with these guys and it gives me a lot of experience, and I’m looking forward to the season. I made all four distances, so I have sit down with [my coach] and figure out what the goal is ultimately for the Games and really come up with a good game plan."
Skaters will compete in six World Cup events this season, but only four before the Sochi Olympics that run Feb. 7-23. The short-track speedskating World Cup season already is under way, and athletes in that discipline won’t compete in Utah this year.
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