KEARNS — If Joey Mantia’s uncertain effort is any indication of what kind of season he might have, prepare for a lot of podium appearances.
The 2014 Olympian and 2017 mass start world championship gold medalist laid down the fastest 1,500-meter time in the world at the Kearns Olympic Oval during the U.S. team’s fall World Cup qualifier.
“Going in I was a little bit hesitant to put the pedal down,” he said, “but (I) was able to get my legs underneath me, stay strong in my position and put down a good time that I’m very happy with this part of the season, and I think it’s something I can really build off of going forward.”
The former inline champion’s time of 1:44.15 is the season’s best time, and it was nearly a second faster than second-place finisher Brian Hansen’s 1:45.36. Emery Lehman finished third with a 1:46.22. Lehman earned the top time in the men’s 10,0000 meter race with a 13:40.44.
Mantia said the fact that long-track skaters are on the ice essentially alone, battling the clock and their own doubts, has been the toughest aspect of transitioning from inline skating to speedskating.
“We’ve been training hard this summer, so I’m pretty confident with my ability,” he said. “But when you’re standing on the line you don’t really know what’s going to happen. It’s kind of like throwing darts in the dark. You know kind of where it’s at, but you might miss.” Despite the competitive fire that head-to-head competition can bring, Mantia said he prefers thinking that he’s racing alone.
“”It’s better for me because I focus on my own race,” he said. “Mentally it’s better for me not to get dusted on the first lap or lap and a half.” Still, he loves long track’s mass start because there is an element of racing against other skaters that he misses from inline competitions.
“It’s just more in my wheelhouse in that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life,” he said. “So it’s comfortable. I can reset myself, and even if I’m tired, I can still fight through it. It seems like once you get out of rhythm early in a time trial, it’s just really tough to get it back.”
On the women’s side, Heather Bergsma earned her third victory in three races with 1:54.70. Brittany Bowe was second with 1:56.51, while Mia Manganello was third with 1:58.38.
In the women’s 5,000-meter race, Carlijn Schoutens won with a time of 7:06.94, while Petra Acker earned second with a time of 7:18.44. Maria Lamb was third, skating the distance in 7:22.34.
The races conclude on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. with the men’s and women’s 1,000 and men’s and women’s mass starts. The fall World Cup teams are named after the races conclude.