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Brittany Bowe posts career-best finish in World Sprint Championships at Utah Olympic Oval

Published: Saturday, Jan. 26 2013 8:12 p.m. MST

Korea's Sang-Hwa Lee takes second place in the Ladies 500 meter event at the Essent ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

KEARNS — For weeks, long track speedskater Brittany Bowe hasn't worried about anything but her own races.

That way, the former in-line skater never fretted over what it might take to beat her friend and teammate — Heather Richardson. Richardson had not only won every race at the U.S. Championships in December, but also edged Bowe at last weekend's World Cup in Calgary when Bowe earned her first World Cup podium with a third-place finish in the 1,000 meters. Richardson, of course, won the race.

The finishes, however, were not Bowe's focus.

She has said repeatedly that she skates her own race — regardless of what's going on around her.

"I just approach each race as it's own, and my goal this weekend is just to have four solid races," said Bowe, who beat Richardson for the first time this season with her best career finish — a silver medal — in the 1,000 meters at the Essent ISU World Sprint Championships. "And that was a really, really good 1,000 for me. So hopefully I can have two really strong races again tomorrow."

Canada's Christine Nesbitt, who owns the world record (1:12.68) in the 1,000, won the event with a time of 1:12.91. Bowe was second with a time of 1:13.68, while Richardson finished third at 1:13.75.

"That is my best finish to date," said Bowe. "I'm feeling really, really good about myself. Two personal bests today; I can't complain."

Bowe skated a 38.03 in the 500, which was good enough for 13th place. Richardson was third in the 500-meter race with a time of 37.31.

The podiums were firsts for Richardson in a World Sprint competition, which was made more meaningful because her mother and aunt were in the crowd at Utah Olympic Oval.

"I wanted to win," said Richardson. "But it's nice to finally hop up on the podium. It was nice to finish third, rather than fourth like I've been getting."

China's Jing Yu was first in the 500 with a time of 37.21, while current world record-holder Sang-Hwa Lee (Korea) earned second with a time of 37.28.

Richardson said she was happy with the two bronze medals, despite having some trouble in both races. She slipped on the second turn of the 500 and the first turn of the 1,000. "I just wanted to have solid races," she said. "It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but I had a few slips and my legs just got tense."

U.S. long track speedskating coach Ryan Shimabukuro said the slip in the 1,000 caused Richardson the most trouble.

"She had a bad slip on her first outer (lap), and that seemed to take her out of her rhythm," he said. "She usually builds the first 200 pretty easily." He said he has no doubt that Richardson can go faster in Sunday's races.

"She's going to have to," he said laughing.

He said Sunday's women's races would be especially brutal because the times are so tight.

"It's going to be a really, really tight battle tomorrow," he said of the overall points race in which Richardson is second after two events. "There are four girls within three tenths of a point." Defending World Sprint champion Yu leads the points race, while Nesbitt is in third.

On the men's side, Japan's Kato Joji won gold in the 500 with a time of 34.10, while Canada's Jamie Gregg was second at 34.43 and Japan's Ryohei Haga was third with a time of 34.43.

Mitchell Whitmore was the fastest U.S. man with a time of 34.76. Jonathan Garcia, who just switched to long track from short track, earned a personal best with a time of 35.37.

In the 1,000, Hein Otterspeer won with a time of 1:07.46, while Haralds Silovs was second with a time of 1:07.47. Michel Mulder was third with a time of 1:07.49.

Races continue Sunday beginning with the women's 500 at 1 p.m. The overall sprint champions will be crowned after all four races. Races are open to the public and tickets are $5 at the door.

Twitter: adonsports

Email: adonaldson@desnews.com

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