KEARNS — Brittany Bowe was making plans to play professional basketball overseas when she saw something that changed the course of her life.
"One of my dreams was to play college basketball," said Bowe, who will compete in this weekend's Essent ISU Long Track World Cup at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns on Saturday and Sunday. "I graduated in 2010 and I was planning to play professionally overseas. I watched the Winter Olympics and saw some of the top inline skaters competing and doing well — Heather Richardson, Chad Hedrick and Lauren Cholewinski. It kind of lit a fire in me. I wanted to try it for myself. I'd been inline skating all my life, and my dream has always been to be an Olympian."
Growing up in Florida, she didn't think a lot about speed skating. But when the U.S. Speed Skating Team came out with a program aimed at recruiting inline skating's best athletes into the winter sport, she was curious.
Still, like many inline skaters, she heard and believed rumors that the sport would included in the summer Olympic Games at some point.
She'd almost given up on that second childhood dream of representing the U.S. in the Olympics when she saw her friends doing just that in Vancouver.
"It's a lot more difficult than I had anticipated," she said. "It's much more technical and very challenging."
Luckily, Bowe is one of those people who thrive on challenges.
"I grew up around athletics," she said. "If I wasn't in the gym dribbling a basketball, I was playing soccer or inline skating. I played baseball, too. Anything that is in front of me, I'd say I'm competitive."
She loves the teamwork of basketball, but the personal responsibility of long track speed skating.
"I feel like I'm a very self-motivated person," she said. "I love to be around other people with those same characteristics. It increases the level of competition, makes everyone work harder. It makes everyone better."
This weekend she is hoping to finish in the top 15, but with just a couple of years as a speed skater, she's focusing on doing her best each time she's on the ice.
The races begin at noon and run until 3 p.m. They are free and open to the public.