U.S. Speedskating keeps rolling, thanks to a Florida hotbed

ISU World Cup Speed Skating - Tomaszow Mazowiecki Poland
Getty Images

Hopes are rising for the U.S. to win its first individual Olympic speed skating medal since 2010 after the first two days of the World Cup season. Thank the city of Ocala, Florida.

Brittany Bowe and Erin Jackson won races in Poland on Saturday, a day after Jackson became the first Black woman to win a long-track World Cup race. Also Saturday, Joey Mantia placed third in the men’s 1500m.

Bowe, Jackson and Mantia all grew up in Ocala, training at different times under inline coach Renee Hildebrand before converting to the ice. Hildebrand, a grandmother in her late 50s, has molded skaters at a roller rink behind a Save A Lot.

Bowe, the most accomplished active U.S. speed skater, earned her 31st World Cup victory, taking the 1000m in 1:14.78. She is the reigning world champion and world-record holder in the event and was fourth at the 2018 Olympics, missing a medal by .38.

Jackson won a 500m for the second consecutive day. She clocked 37.55 seconds, again defeating a field that included the reigning Olympic champion and all three 2021 World Championships medalists. Jackson, who took up speed skating four months before qualifying for PyeongChang, came into the season with a best World Cup finish of ninth.

“I’m still learning,” Jackson joked with Dutch broadcaster NOS. “I was watching the video from [Friday’s win] and thinking, that’s kind of embarrassing skating, but I’ll take the win.”

Mantia, a three-time world champion in the mass start, took third in the 1500m on Saturday.

In 2014, the U.S. was shut out of the Olympic speed skating medals for the first time since 1984. In 2018, the U.S. earned one bronze in the women’s team pursuit (including Bowe). The U.S.’ last individual medal was Shani Davis‘ silver in the 1500m in 2010.

Speed skating is the U.S.’ most successful Winter Olympic sport by total medals and gold medals. Only the Netherlands and Norway have won more Olympic speed skating medals than the U.S.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun

Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

Brigid Kosgei

World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!