Kearns • Brittany Bowe’s decompression plan could make anyone jealous. She’s boarding a plane to Bali, Indonesia, this week and going to do her best to relax. It shouldn’t be hard. The 31-year-old American long-track speedskating star just completed the best year of an already-great career on the ice. During Sunday’s long track World Cup season finale at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Bowe added another medal to her haul this year. A silver medal — and for a few minutes a new world record in the women’s 1,500 before it was later topped — puts Bowe’s World Cup medal total at 14.
Six golds, three silvers and five bronze medals. Don’t forget a world championship gold in the women’s 1,000 and a bronze in the women’s 1,500 at the 2019 single distance championships last month. It’s been some season, indeed. Despite all the success, she said Sunday that she’s ready for some recovery time.
“I am ready to be done,” she said. “It’s been a tough, hard year, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the success that I’ve had.”
It is, she conceded, her best season to date. And she’s had some great ones over the years. Prior to the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, Bowe dealt with lingering post-concussion symptoms that kept her away from her best. Her best is finally back and was on display all year. No longer does she have to worry about if she’ll ever get her burst back or if she missed her prime. She’s in the thick of it now.
“The skating shows for itself and the time explains that I’m better than ever,” said Bowe.
Before the season started, U.S. long-track coach Ryan Shimabukuro sat down with his superstar and found additional ways to train and up her own level of ability. But did he think this was possible? This dominant of a year?
“Yes, because she’s done it before,” he said. “It was just a matter of whether or not she was really willing to walk up the mountain again. That’s the hardest part. When you’re used to the top in a sport, the hardest part is staying there or bouncing back from an injury or illness and having to walk that mountain again.”
Bowe did. But with this season in the books, what is the outlook for the U.S. long-track program as a whole? Shimabukuro, who previously spent 15 years coaching with U.S. Speedskating, returned last spring after four years coaching around the world. He said the long-track program will do an extensive de-briefing now that the season is over to plan for Year 2 of this Olympic cycle. He said the team has “a lot of catching up to do in other areas.”
The staff will dive into performance statistics and training statistics and adapt the ongoing training program to work on what they deem to be necessary moving forward. In terms of personnel, Shimabukuro said it’s about maintaining the level of the veterans like Bowe and 2019 world champion mass start skater Joey Mantia and “fast-tracking” the younger group to develop.
“So that we can close the gap and have a stronger level at the top,” he said.
Bowe said to see so many world records fall this year was an eye-opener for several reasons, but chiefly because times being thrown down this early in the Olympic cycle means the rest of the world will have to adapt accordingly.
“It’s definitely tough to think about, ‘Whoa, everyone is going this fast on Year 1 of the four-year cycle,’ ” she explained. “It’s about remaining patient and just being smart. It’s four years and this is just a little battle in the whole war.”