I just wanted to come out here and have another strong race, maybe take home the 500-meter title this weekend. I really didn’t think about my PR at all. I was actually focusing on getting better in that opening 100 meters. That’s really all I thought about. —Brittany Bowe, US speed skater
KEARNS — Speedskater Brittany Bowe said her third victory in two days didn’t matter.
But the smile that spread across her face as she said that indicated the wins might mean just a little to the former inline skater who moved to Utah four years ago in hopes of competing in the 2014 Olympics.
The 25-year-old Florida native skated to her second 500-meter win and the 1,000-meter title Saturday at the U.S. long track single distance speedskating championships inside the Utah Olympic Oval. Her 500-meter time of 37.77 seconds was a personal best by more than two seconds.
“I just wanted to come out here and have another strong race, maybe take home the 500-meter title this weekend," Bowe said after doing just that. “I really didn’t think about my PR at all. I was actually focusing on getting better in that opening 100 meters. That’s really all I thought about.”
It helped Bowe that she skated with third-place finisher Lauren Cholewinski (37.99 seconds), who has a quick start.
“She definitely pulled me up to speed in the opening 100, and then I think I pulled her into a good lap,” Bowe said. “Coming into that last turn, I definitely felt her right on my hip. It made me really gun it to the end. It was a PB (personal best) for both of us, so I can’t really complain there. It feels great — just a good start to the year.”
Reigning world sprint champion and Bowe’s good friend, Heather Richardson, was second with a time of 37.86. Richardson skated with Bowe in the 1,000-meter race, which is the favorite event of both women.
Bowe passed Richardson in the final 100 meters to earn the win with a time of 1:14.06. Richardson’s finished in 1:14.28, while Sugar Todd was third with a time of 1:16.99.
“It really doesn’t mean anything,” Bowe said. “Our ultimate goal is obviously Sochi 2014. Definitely a great start to the year. I can’t complain, and I’m very happy.”
Richardson had a painful stomachache before Friday’s 500-meter race, and said she decided to see a doctor when the pain persisted all day.
“I got an ultrasound, and I actually have a cyst on my ovary,” said Richardson, who also finished second in Saturday’s 500-meter race with a time of 37.86. “I felt like a baby thinking it was cramps from my period.”
There is nothing doctors can do for the problem except monitor it and make sure it doesn’t get worse. Despite that, Richardson said she felt better Saturday, thanks to a dose of ibuprofen.
“It’s helped the pain,” she said. “I was able to get some good skating in, some technical skating, and that’s all I was hoping for. I’m excited I was able to finish as well as I did, and I look forward to the race season.”
Bowe and Richardson train together, and both women said their friendship has made them both more competitive in the sport.
“It’s awesome to have a training partner,” said Richardson, who swept these races last season. “We used to train together in inline (skating), but we would only get to train like two weeks out of the year because she lived in Florida and I was in North Carolina.”
Now both women live in Utah, where the headquarters of U.S. Speedskating are located.
“We push each other as hard as possible in our trainings,” Richardson said. “It’s nice to have another leader. She leads me out just as well as me leading her.”
In the men’s 500 meters, Mitch Whitmore won Saturday’s race and the title, beating out Friday’s 500-meter winner, Tucker Fredricks. Whitmore’s time in Saturday’s 500 was 34.81, while Fredricks’ time was 34.99. Third-place Brian Hansen skated it in 35.22.
Two-time Olympian Shani Davis won the men’s 1,000-meter race with a time of 1:08.29. Brian Hansen was second with a time of 1:08.58 and Joey Mantia was third with a personal best of 1:08.64.
Davis won gold in that distance at the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Games, and he owns the world record in the 1,000 and the 1,500-meter distances.
“My mind set was just to simply qualify and get through trials the best that I can and get as close as possible to some times I wrote down earlier that I would like to be a little ahead of, a little close to, a little behind, depending on how I skated,” Davis said. “I’m skating well, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. But the season is still young and the key, the main goal, is to be ready for the Olympics.”
He said he feels like he’s in a good place with the season’s first World Cup just two weeks away.
“I know I’m on the right track because I’ve got a little bit of speed and I’ve got a little bit of endurance, and I know that’s what I’m going to need,” he said. “I know I need a lot more of that, but for now, it’s a great start.”
The single distance championships and team selection continue Sunday with the 1,500 meters and team pursuits. Bowe said she'd love for the U.S. team to qualify for the games in team pursuit as it gives the athletes a chance to compete as a team in what is a very individual sport.
"To be able to share that with two, possibly three other people, would be awesome," Bowe said, "and super gratifying. It's always nice to win for yourself, but when you're winning with other people, it's a lot of fun."