Mia Manganello

U.S. Olympic speed skating team finalized after trials

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WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) — All Joey Mantia needed to do to qualify for the mass start in the Olympics was to finish at the U.S. speed skating trials.

He took it a little easy to begin the race Sunday before adrenaline kicked in.

The fifth-place finish on Sunday clinched Mantia’s spot in the mass start at the Winter Games, where the reigning world champion has bigger goals in mind.

“I really wanted to let those guys race it out and then I got a little hungry with a half-lap to go. I thought, ‘Maybe I can win this,’” Mantia said.

Brian Hansen took the event with a time of 7:48.24 on Sunday, the final day of the trials.

Mantia and Hansen had already qualified in other events. U.S. Speed Skating added Emery Lehman as a specialist in team pursuit to complete the seven-member men’s squad.

  • Jonathan Garcia — 500m
  • Kimani Griffin — 500m
  • Mitchell Whitmore — 500m, 1000m
  • Shani Davis — 1000m, 1500m
  • Joey Mantia — 1000m, 1500m, mass start
  • Brian Hansen — 1500m, mass start
  • Emery Lehman — team pursuit specialist

Lehman, a 2014 Olympian, will have to interrupt his junior year at Marquette, about a 10-minute drive from the Pettit National Ice Center near Milwaukee.

“I have to email my adviser, withdraw from classes,” Lehman said.

Mantia and Hansen finished one-two in the overall rankings to secure the two entries in the mass start, which makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

“I think we can put together a solid plan. I think he’s on board for working for me, as the designated winner for the Games, but we’ve got to see how it plays out and who’s feeling the best when we get there,” Mantia said. “But I’m very confident having a strong teammate like Hansen.”

The mass start is speed skating’s version of NASCAR. Foregoing the traditional time-trial format, all entries were on the oval at the same time for the 16-lap, 6400m free-for-all that included four sprint laps.

“You never know what’s going to happen in that race,” Hansen said.

Asked if the goal was to help Mantia, Hansen added “We’ve got three weeks. I don’t know what exactly the strategy is going to be yet.”

With 24 entries on Sunday, the men’s race was a little more hectic than the eight-entry women’s race in which Heather Bergsma finished second and Mia Manganello third.

That gave each skater, who had already qualified in other events, enough points to finish atop the rankings to clinch the U.S. berths.

Consider the combinations of Mantia and Hansen, and Bergsma and Manganello, as two-person squads at the Games.

“I think that’s the best way that we can get a country medal at the Olympics, is working as a unit,” Manganello said, “and I think with [Bergsma] and I, I think we’ve got a great opportunity to do so.”

Maria Lamb won the women’s race at 9:15.17, but could not pass Bergsma or Manganello in overall points in order to qualify. The women’s roster for the Olympics is complete with six skaters.

  • Heather Bergsma — 500m, 1000m, 1500m, mass start
  • Brittany Bowe — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
  • Erin Jackson — 500m
  • Jerica Tandiman — 1000m
  • Mia Manganello — 1500m, mass start
  • Carlijn Schoutens — 3000m, 5000m

The mass start wrapped up what U.S. Speedskating high performance director Guy Thibault considered a successful trials.

They drew sellout crowds for all six days in the return to Pettit for the first time since 1998.

Once considered the American mecca for the sport, Pettit had been overtaken by the Utah Olympic Oval in recent years as the home for top speedskaters.

“I’ve never seen the Pettit Center so busy,” Thibault said. “That was actually pretty amazing.”

Now it’s on to PyeongChang, where the U.S. hopes to erase the painful memories of getting shutout four years ago in Sochi.

It was the first time that Americans failed to earn a medal in speed skating since 1984.

“As far as selection goes, I think we ended up with the best team,” Thibault said.

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Former professional cyclist makes Olympic speed skating team

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WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) — Mia Manganello made her first Olympic team with a third-place finish in the 1500m at the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials, capping a comeback following a five-year break from the sport.

Manganello qualified with a time of 1:59.28 on Saturday night.

Brittany Bowe upset world champion and world-record holder Heather Bergsma for the win — 1:55.93 to 1:56.13.

All three made the Olympic team in the 1500m. Bowe and Bergsma previously qualified for the Olympics in the 500m and 1000m.

Manganello smiled as she circled the ice after crossing the finish line in time to qualify. She returned to speed skating in 2016 after focusing on professional cycling for five years.

“It’s everything I thought it would feel like. It’s a moment that I’ve been dreaming about, at least this year for sure every day,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s actually true.”

A former inline skater who switched to ice at age 13, Manganello needed a break after failing to advance out of the 2010 Olympic Trials. She spent five years racing professionally in cycling before returning to speed skating in 2016.

Manganello skated in the last pair on Saturday, two groups after favorites Bowe and Bergsma squared off. She felt an Olympic berth was within reach.

“I was pretty much tearing up when going to the line, knowing that if I just went out and skated the best I could (to) my potential that I would make it,” Manganello said with an ear-to-ear grin. “Luckily that day came that I finally could be an Olympian.”

In the men’s 1500m, Brian Hansen qualified for his third Olympic team with a second-place finish behind Joey Mantia, who already made the team in the 1000m.

Shani Davis, who earned 1500m silver in 2006 and 2010, also joined Mantia on the team in the 1000m and 1500m with a third-place finish.

“I think that I have the tools to be a real threat for sure in the 1000m,” Davis said. “The 1500m is kind of questionable, but anything can happen in the Olympics.”

Jonathan Garcia and Kimani Griffin, who did not race Saturday, earned trips to the Games in the 500m by virtue of qualification rules, with Mantia and Davis eligible at multiple distances.

Garcia and Griffin finished second and third, respectively, in the 500m on Friday.

On the women’s side, Jerica Tandiman clinched a spot on the team, with Bowe and Bergsma able to double up in other distances. Tandiman finished fourth in the 1000m but made the team because third-place Manganello doesn’t have a fast enough qualifying time from this season.

The Olympic Trials wrap up with mass-start races Sunday.

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials TV Schedule

Former Dutch speed skater wins U.S. Olympic Trials 3000m

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Carlijn Schoutens, who competed for the Netherlands until 2014, won the U.S. Olympic Trials 3000m to become the first speed skater to make the PyeongChang team.

Schoutens, born in the U.S. but raised in the Netherlands by Dutch parents, clocked 4:14.02 to clinch her first Olympic berth.

Mia Manganello, who came out of a six-year retirement to try and make her first Olympic team, was second in 4:15.73.

The U.S. can only send one woman to the Olympics in the 3000m, meaning Manganello is out of luck in her best event. She still has a shot in the 1500m, 5000m and mass start later this week.

Schoutens, 23, is the top U.S. woman in the 3000m this World Cup season, ranking 13th, after suffering from concussion effects for about a year between 2015 and 2016.

She was a national junior medalist for the dominant Dutch before switching to the U.S. in 2014 while in medical school.

“I was looking to find a different training team for my sport, and I decided to include American options into my search,” said Schoutens, who continued her studies from long distance in Utah. “I came in contact with [U.S. coach] Matt Kooreman, and after Skyping with him a couple of times, I made up my mind.”

The U.S., not strong in distance races recently, last won an Olympic 3000m medal in 1980 (Beth Heiden‘s bronze).

The U.S. is strongest in the 1000m and 1500m. Those Olympic Trials races are later this week.

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MORE: Olympic speed skating trials TV schedule