KEARNS, Utah (AP) — Mitchell Whitmore won the men's 500 meters at the U.S. Olympic speedskating trials. The real drama came for the fourth spot on the team.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis claimed the last berth, but only after Jonathan Garcia was disqualified for failing to wear a timing transponder on his ankles while skating a personal-best time that would've earned him a trip to Sochi.
U.S. Speedskating officials granted Garcia a re-skate about a half-hour later, after everyone else was done, but he didn't come close to matching his previous time. That gave the fourth spot to Davis, who finished behind Whitmore, Tucker Fredricks and Brian Hansen.
Whitmore won with a combined time of 1 minute, 9.12 seconds over two races. Fredricks earned his third trip to the Olympics in 1:09.44.
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KEARNS — Olympic speed skating trials are taking place in Utah this weekend.
Two athletes have already qualified to complete in Sochi 2014. Jilleanne Rookard from Wisconsin won her first Olympic nomination for the 3000 meter, and Jonathan Kuck from Illinois has won his second nomination for the 5000 meter.
Heather Richardson from North Carolina has been living in West Valley and training in Utah.
"My parents used to compete on inline skates, and I just grew up on those skates," Richardson said. "At one point I saw Joey Cheek make the transition to ice. I wanted to do the same thing and go to the Olympics so I made the move out here.
Richardson has medaled at the World Cup, World Championship and National Championship events, and now she has her sites set on the Sochi Olympics.
"We have been training nonstop since Vancouver, so I'm really excited to be racing this weekend," Richardson said. "And hopefully I qualify for all spots for the games and do well in Sochi."
The competition and training gets tougher every year, so Richardson says she gives "everything at each practice.
I just try to remember that everyone's training just as hard as I am, so I give it everything at each practice.
The men's and women's speedskating trails started Friday and run through Jan. 5.
Contributing: Martha Ostergar