Kearns • The International Skating Union’s Single Distance World Championships are recognized as the most significant long-track speed skating event in any non-Olympic year. Therefore most, if not all, the athletes competing inside the Utah Olympic Oval this weekend have scheduled their training so this is when they’ll be at their very fastest.
Something in that scheduling went awry for Brittany Bowe.
Prior to last week, the Salt Lake City resident hadn’t lost at 1,000 meters in an entire year. She had swept six straight World Cup gold medals and claimed victory at the 2019 World Single Distance Championships. She holds the world record of 1 minutes, 11.61 seconds at the distance, which she set at the Oval last March.
But little of that speed has been on display this weekend. Bowe, 31, opened the championships with a 13th place finish — third among Americans — in the 500 on Friday. Then, in her marquee event Saturday, she not only failed to defend her title in the 1,000, she placed eighth overall and second among Americans behind Kimi Goetz.
The results, which were obviously upsetting to Bowe, came a week after her streak of golds ended when she placed fifth at the World Cup stop in Calgary on Feb. 7.
“It's a nightmare,” Bowe said.
Goetz, on the other hand, is outdoing her dreams. A year after switching to long track from short track skating, she secured a pair of fifth-place finishes, in the 500 and the 1,000.
After the 500 Friday, she said she has been visualizing herself at the world championships all season. Then, “I did better today than I do in my visualizations, so I really can’t be upset with that,” she said.
She expressed similar sentiments after Saturday’s 1,000. The 25-year-old improved her personal best by more than a second, knocking teammate Brianna Bocox — who also beat her PR by more than a second and landed in 12th — from the leader’s position. Then as the racers who entered with faster PRs took to the track, Goetz held on and again finished as the only American in the top five.
“I crossed the line and looked at the board and was like, ‘Is that mine?’ ” She said of her 1:12.07 mark. “I had a goal time of 1:12, but that was kind of a far out, like a dream so to speak, so to be able to get it really was exciting.”
Goetz, 25, said she knows she has room for improvement, especially on her opening lap. But that gives her optimism for the next World Cup season and even the 2022 Olympics.
“I know I still have a lot I can improve on,” she said. “So to know I’m right in the mix with all these other girls and to finish fifth in both of my disciplines is really exciting.”
The men’s team pursuit squad also placed fifth Saturday, which means no Americans have graced the podium yet at the Oval this weekend. Some of Team USA’s best skaters are yet to come, however.
Bowe will get another shot at righting her ship in the women’s 1,500, where Goetz will also race. In addition, three-time Olympian Joey Mantia will try to defend his back-to-back world titles in the men’s mass start, where he will be joined by teammate Ian Quinn. Mantia will also race the men’s 1,500 along with American Emery Lehman.
Mantia said after placing 12th in the 1,000 on Saturday that he may sacrifice that event so he can improve his chances at medaling in the mass start and 1,500 in Beijing in 2022.
"That might be the last 1,000 I skate,” he said. “I’d rather focus on 1,500 and mass start moving on and into the Olympics.”
“If I’m being realistic, in the 1,000 there’s no way,” he said. “I mean, a 1:05.7? When Shani [Davis, the 2006 gold medal winner] was at the peak of his career and had the world record, it was half a second slower. So, the level is just outrageous right now, and I need to be smart about what I do in the Olympics.”
In the women’s mass start Sunday, Mia Kilburg-Manganello, currently in fifth in the World Cup standings, will race alongside teammate Paige Schwartzburg.
ISU SINGLE DISTANCE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Natalia Voronina, RUS, 6:39.021^
Martina Sáblíková, CZE, 6:41.184
Esmee Visser, NED, 6:46.685
Pavel Kulizhnikov, RUS, 1:05.697^
Kjeld Nuis, NED, 1:06.730
Laurent Dubreuil, CAN, 1:06.765
Also: 12. Joey Mantia, USA, 1:07.516;
Jutta Leerdam, NED, 1:11.847
Olga Fatkulina, RUS, 1:12.331
Miho Takagi, JPN, 1:12.344
Also: 5. Kimi Goetz, USA, 1:12.705; 8. Brittany Bowe, USA, 1:12.914; 12. Brianna Bocox, USA, 1:14.111
Men’s team pursuit
Also: 5. USA, 3:38.512
^ World record
Sunday, 12:30 p.m. — Ladies and Men’s 1,500m and Mass Start