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Most decorated active Winter Olympian eyes career end in 2022

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Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst, the most decorated active Winter Olympian with 11 medals, said she plans to finish her career with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic season, according to Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Wüst, 34, ranks fourth on the career Winter Olympic medals list behind three retired Norwegians — cross-country skiers Marit Bjørgen (15 medals) and Bjørn Dæhlie (12) and biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen (13).

Wüst’s resume is arguably more impressive, given she is the lone Winter Olympian to earn individual gold medals at four different Games. The list of Summer Olympians to do so: sailors Paul Elvstrøm and Ben Ainslie, discus thrower Al Oerter, long jumper Carl Lewis, swimmer Michael Phelps and wrestler Kaori Icho.

Nobody has earned individual gold at five Olympics. Wüst can try to become the first, barring a Phelps unretirement or Icho being put on the Japanese team after at first failing to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

Wüst said her focus in Beijing will be the 1500m, defending her most recent individual Olympic title. Wüst said leading into 2018 that PyeongChang would be her last Olympics, but she kept going, earning world titles at the distance in 2019 and 2020.

If Wüst also tacks on 2022 medals in the team pursuit and the 1000m, she would move one shy of Bjørgen’s Winter Olympic medals record, set in 2018 in her final Olympic-level competition.

Come Beijing 2022, Wüst will be older than any previous Olympic speed skating champion, according to Olympedia.org. She earned her first gold at the 2006 Torino Games at age 19.

Wüst could make the Olympics her last competition or bow out at the March 2022 World Cup Final in the Netherlands.

MORE: World champion speed skater from U.S. retires

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Heather Bergsma, world champion speed skater, retires

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Heather Bergsma, a world champion and Olympic medalist speed skater, decided to retire during what has been a two-year break from the sport, according to U.S. Speedskating.

“I don’t have any regrets,” Bergsma said, according to TeamUSA.org. “I’m completely satisfied with how everything went.”

Bergsma, 30, now lives in the Netherlands with her husband, Jorrit, a Dutch Olympic champion speed skater, and son, Brent, who was born in October 2018.

Bergsma converted from inline skating to make the last three Olympic teams. She was the U.S.’ best skater in the 2014 and 2018 Olympic cycles and finished her career with a team pursuit bronze medal in PyeongChang, the first podium finish for U.S. women’s speed skating since the 2002 Olympics.

When Bergsma announced a two-year break from the sport in April 2018, she said she would “see if I have that drive again.”

Bergsma retires as the only U.S. speed skater to earn world titles in three different individual events — the 500m, 1000m and 1500m, between 2015 and 2017 — since the world single distance championships debuted in 1996.

Her best individual Olympic finish was sixth in her first Olympic race — the 500m at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

She also broke the 1000m and 1500m world records on consecutive Saturdays in November 2015. Other skaters since lowered those records.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds in Olympic program events on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating