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Speedskating: Brittany Bowe blossoming at just the right time as Olympic Trails approach

Published December 26, 2013 10:59 pm

Speedskating • Florida native and 1,000 world record holder nearly a lock to make team.
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Speedskater Brittany Bowe touched the ice for the first time barely 31/2 years ago, when she finished a college basketball career and moved to Utah to pursue her goal of reaching the Olympics.

Already, she's poised to achieve her dream.

Bowe is among the dozens of skaters — many of them also live and train in Utah — who will compete this week in the U.S. Olympic Trials at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, with places at the upcoming 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia on the line. The 25-year-old Florida native and former in-line skating champion is all but certain to make it, having blossomed just that fast into a world-record holder and one of her country's top gold-medal prospects.

"We're definitely on the right road," she said.

Bowe and fellow middle-distance stars Heather Richardson and Shani Davis are the surest bets to emerge from the trials with Olympic berths, though as many as 17 others could make the long-track team.

The trials run Friday to next Wednesday , with the trials for short-track speedskating following from Jan. 2-5. It's the first time the trials have been held in Utah since before the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.

While the 31-year-old Davis is a two-time Olympic champion who holds two world records, Bowe and Richardson, a 2010 Olympian, have spent the season establishing themselves as the favorites in the women's 1,000 meters. One or the other has won each of the four World Cup races at that distance this season, and they have been on the podium together every time.

Oh, and Bowe set the world record at 1,000 meters last month, in her last race in Utah.

"It's a dream come true," she said at the time.

Many others will soon experience the same feeling.

As many as 10 men and 10 women can qualify for the long-track team for Sochi, while up to eight short-trackers — five men and three women — can do so.

The short-track team will be without superstar Apolo Anton Ohno for the first time since 1998, with the nation's most-decorated winter Olympian having retired to a job analyzing the races in Sochi for NBC Sports.

Between that, the retirement of chronically injured Olympic medalist Katherine Reutter, and a mid-quadrennium scandal centered around allegations of coaching abuse that tore apart the team, the short-trackers are not expected to shine quite as brightly in Sochi.

J.R. Celski is a strong medal contender — he was a 2010 Olympian who won bronze in the 1,500 and won the event in the last World Cup race of the season — with teammates John Henry Kruger and Eddy Alvarez having each earned a World Cup medal this year.

But no Americans won medals at the world championships last March, and none of the women won any medals during the four-meet World Cup season. The women did not qualify to race the relay in Sochi, either.

Still, Jessica Smith is the strongest contender among the women, having finished as high as fourth during the World Cup season as she tries to make up for narrowly missing the 2010 Olympics. She also has won three world championship medals during her career, as well as 12 World Cup medals, and has been paying her own way in order to keep training with ousted national team coach Jae Su Chun and an independent program in Salt Lake City.

Three-time Olympian Allison Baver is aiming for a fourth Olympics, and she plans to compete in both the long- and short-track trials, a federation spokeswoman confirmed. —

U.S. Olympic Trials

O At the Utah Olympic Oval, Kearns

Long-track speedskating

Friday • Men's and women's 3,000, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday • Men's and women's 500, 9:30 a.m.

Sunday • Men's & Women's 1,000 - 11:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 31 •  Men's & Women's 1,500 - 3 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 1 • Men's 10,000 and women's 5,000, 1:30 p.m.

Short-track speedskating

Jan. 2 • Men's & Women's Time Trials - 1:30 p.m.

Jan. 3 • Men's & Women's 1,500 - 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 4 • Men's & Women's 500 - 10 a.m.

Jan. 5 • Men's & Women's 1,000 - 10 a.m.

Speedskating on TV

NBC Sports will televise almost every day of the U.S. Olympic Trials for long-track and short-track speedskating:

Friday • NBC Sports Network, 6 p.m.

Saturday • NBC, 1 p.m.

Sunday • NBC, 1 p.m.

Monday • NBC Sports Network, 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 1 • NBC Sports Network, 3 p.m.

Jan. 3 • NBC Sports Network, 6 p.m.

Jan. 4 • NBC Sports Network, 2 p.m.

Jan. 5 • NBC, 2 p.m.






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