Gangneung, South Korea • No medal. No matter.
Yeah, Team USA continues to struggle across the board here at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Podiums are not plentiful, which means you’ll read more stories about perseverance, about the Olympic embodiment personified by some athletes. None perhaps more so than Brittany Bowe.
There were days less than a year ago when she doubted she’d be able to race again. She was unsure if she’d even be able to lace up skates, step out onto the ice and take a relaxing lap. Bowe, a former world champion and world record holder, was lost for much of the last 18 months in the haze of severe post-concussion symptoms that took so long to dissipate
“What I thought was going to be a couple weeks turned into a couple months, into a year,” she said. “Just trying to regain that confidence.”
America’s best long-track speedskater is back to her former self.
Bowe’s career-best 500-meter skate at sea level (37.53 seconds) was the fastest of her career. It kept her on the podium until the final two pairs skated, leaving her once again that close, yet so far away. She missed out on a bronze medal in the women’s 1,000-meter by .38 seconds. She missed the podium by .19 in the women’s 500 meters, finishing fifth overall Sunday inside the Gangneung Ice Arena.
“Other than being two-tenths off the podium, really, really happy with that race,” said the 29-year-old who has called Salt Lake City home since 2010. “Can’t think of anything I could’ve executed better.”
Bowe finished top 5 in all three individual disciplines: fifth in the 1,500 meters, fourth in the 1,000 meters and fifth in the 500 meters, the last of the individual long-track events here in South Korea. She’s not done yet, either. The Americans qualified for the women’s team pursuit event here Wednesday, awarded the spot as the first reserve slot after Russia lost its spot due to the doping bans imposed before the Games.
“We shall continue,” she said, smiling.
And what about at this moment, now she’s turned in her best Olympic performance with the concussion firmly in the past?
“It’s a mixed emotions,” she said. “It’s been a huge uphill battle to get here. It’s been a crazy journey. Grateful to have the opportunity, grateful to be able to lace my skates up and get to the start line. … [I] really want to medal for myself, I really want to medal for everyone who’s helped me along the way my whole life, especially this last year-and-a-half, getting me back to that start line. It would mean the world to me.”
Bowe said that these Games obviously are proof that she’s still got it. She confirmed she’ll be back after the Olympics, gunning for a return spot in 2022 in Beijing. And yes, she’s back to pre-concussion Brittany Bowe, and that’s all that matters.
“Pretty darn close,” she said. “I think the time doesn’t lie on that.”