Seventeen long track speed skaters have qualified for the Sochi Olympics through their top finishes at the U.S. Olympic Speedskating Team Trials in Salt Lake City, UT.
From December 27 through New Year’s Day, a few hundred speed skaters chased their dreams along this Olympic oval – the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Once the ice sheet dust, settled eight women and nine men jumped on-board the ever-growing “Sochi Express” for Team USA. Up to four skaters could qualify for a single Olympics event, based on quotas gained by American athletes at via past international competition results.
Returning for his fourth Olympics, Shani Davis won his two specialties at the 1000m and 1500m distances. Having won, two medals at both the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the 13-time World Cup all-round gold medalist seeks to become the first American male to win the same race (1000m) at three consecutive Olympics.
“I’m really happy with my fitness and conditioning right now. I’m going to look to improve in certain areas, but I have plenty of time to do that before Sochi,” said Davis.
Vancouver Olympian Heather Richardson qualified for Sochi in all three of her short-distance 500m, 1000m, and 1500m victories. She bested rival Brittany Bowe, a convert from inline skating, who also qualified for these three contests as the runner-up.
The remaining six women who sealed the deal for Sochi are Jilleane Rookard who will compete in the 1500m and 3000m events, Sugar Todd, Kelly Gunther, Lauren Cholewinski, and veteran Mary Lamb who won the final 5000m capstone event.
Joining Davis are Vancouver silver medalists in the team pursuit event: Jonathan Kuck (5000m winner) and Brian Hansen. Rounding out the nine-man roster are Tucker Fredericks, Jonathan Garcia, Joey Mantia, Patrick Meek, Mitchell Whitmore, and 17-year-old sensation Emery Lehman who won the 10,000m race on Wednesday.
For both genders, the four-member team pursuit units will soon be named.
For those enjoying this Sochi Express ride, the Team USA contingent now numbers 92 athletes who are one step closer to their Olympics dreams. In addition to these 17 speedskaters, the following sports have nominated men and women.
Ice Hockey (Men: 25, Women: 21)
Luge (Men: 7, Women: 3)
Curling (Men: 4, Women: 4)
Biathlon (Men: 3, Women: 2)
Nordic Skiing (Men: 2, Women: 1)
Snowboarding (Women: 2)
Freeski (Men: 1)
While all of the above have qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics, they must be approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
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