World champions Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia lead the six-athlete U.S. team selected for this season’s three international competitions.
The long track season typically consists of six World Cups and multiple formats of world championships but has been whittled down to two World Cups and the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All three events – plus the Jan. 16-17 European Championships – will be held in a bubble environment at the Thialf venue in Heerenveen, Netherlands. The World Cups are Jan. 22-24 and Jan. 29-31, followed by a brief break leading into the Feb. 11-14 world championships. Athletes are limited to the hotel, a restricted area of the arena and pre-approved bike rides.
Bowe, Ethan Cepuran, 2018 Olympian Erin Jackson, Mantia and Ian Quinn qualified based on their season’s best times, while Conor McDermott-Mostowy earned his spot at his first worlds after a Jan. 9-10 time trial event. The team is smaller than past seasons due to some qualified athletes opting not to travel, including Kimi Goetz, who finished fifth in two distances at last year’s world championships.
Bowe, 32, led the 1000m World Cup standings last season, winning three gold medals and a silver in five races, plus two 1500m bronze medals. At the 2020 World Single Distances Championships, held on home ice in Utah, she surprisingly finished off the podium in all of her races for the first time at the event since 2012. She is a nine-time single distance world medalist.
Mantia, who turns 35 while in the bubble, claimed a mass start medal of each color and a 1500m bronze on the 2019-2020 World Cup circuit, plus 1500m bronze at worlds – the first time trial world medal of his career. He won the mass start world title in 2017 and again in 2019.