KEARNS — It’s not tired legs, muscle atrophy or burning lungs that bother Brittany Bowe.
It’s the waiting.
“Just trusing the process and being patient,” Bow said of the most difficult aspect of coming back from a concussion she sustained during a collision with a teammate during training last summer. “It’s obviously been an unconventional year for me, so I have to remain patient, and trust the process. That’s going to be the biggest thing.”
All of the athletes competing in this weekend’s World Cup qualifier are looking for more of a startline to their season than a reward for months of off-season training.
But for those who’re coming back from injury — like Bowe who lost nearly eight months to a concussion and Mitchell Whitmore, who broke his sacrum in August — it is critical to find more than top times.
“Aside from the one World Cup last year, this is the first race I’ve been able to do in a full year,” she said. “I’ve gotten a couple of solid months of training in and I’m continuing in some hard training blocks, but it’s nice to see where you’re at and go from there. You see where you’re at training-wise, body-wise and if you need to adjust the training.”
Heather Bergsma had the fastest times in both of the women’s races — 37.88 in the first race and 37.90. Sugar Todd and Bowe swapped places in the races, with Todd earning a 38.40 in the first 500 and Bowe crossing the line in 38.43. In the second 500-meter race, Bowe finished in 38.06 and Todd skated it in 38.41.
Bergsma was in Italy for two weeks before arriving in Utah on Sunday.
“I’d been on the ice for three days, so I’m still kind of searching for the feeling,” she said. “But I’m really happy with the start. My 100 hasn’t been so awesome, so I was happy with 10.8, and 27 (second) lap is good for now.”
She said she hopes to gain both confidence and speed as she races this weekend.
“I do hope to make steps in each race,” she said. “As I race this weekend, I want to feel more comfortable and have more confidence going into the next one.”
Whitmore won both of the men’s 500-meter races, earning a 35.04 in the first race and skating the second 500 in 34.75. Jonathan Garcia and Kimani Griffin took second and third in both races. Garcia skated a 35.19 and 34.89, while Griffin crossed the line in 35.24 and 35.31.
Whitmore said he skated last weekend’s time trials just to work on his starts because he hasn’t been able to skate much since breaking his sacrum in August.
He was able to exercise, but not all of the muscles speedskating requires. To retain his strength and conditioning, he ran stairs at the Utah Olympic Park’s ski jump.
“I didn’t lose everything because I still tried to do as much as possible, like a lot of auxillary exercises like TRX,” he said. “But those fast twitch fibers in the groin and hip flexors, there was nothing I could really do for that. Strengthing those again is going to be a struggle.”
He said considering his situation, he was pleased with Friday’s results.
“I was actually OK with that race,” he said, noting the bigger issue for him was feeling comfortable in utilizing the correct technique required. “I really wanted to skate well through that (second) one. Some of what feel funny right now is just getting into the first corner, and just scrambling. I think it’s just a lack of confidence, too. I’m not as prepared as I want to be. But on the second one, I felt more comfortable with where I’m at. The skating was better.”
In the women’s 3,000 meters, Mia Manganello earned the fastest time with a 4.07.27, while Emery Lehman won the men’s 5,000-meter race with a 6:28.31. KC Boutiette was second with 6:33.99, while Ian Quinn was third with a time of 6:37.13.