Speedskaters compete for spot on US Olympic Team in Kearns



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KEARNS — The U.S. speedskating 1000m Olympic Trials took place Sunday at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns. The top four finishers out of both the men's and women's competitions will mostly likely be chosen to represent their country in Sochi for the 2014 Olympics.

The team will be named at a later time, but the first four usually get picked. We spoke to each of the top four finishers briefly about their experience so far.

MEN'S COMPETITION

Shani Davis — First place Time: 1:07.52

Davis is probably the best speedskater in the world and the gold medal favorite. He competed in the Torino and Vancouver Olympics.

"I live for these types of moments," Davis said. "I think we have a very strong team. I don't remember the last time we had a team this strong. I'm like their big brother; I have to keep them in place. I've been a little brother many times before. Now I'm on the top of the food chain - the top of the pyramid. I'm just trying to be the king of the ice."

Brian Hansen — Second place Time: 1:07.53

"The U.S. has one of the strongest 1000m speedskating teams in the world," Hansen said. "Everyone of these guys can finish top eight in the world. I think the U.S. has a lot to be proud for."

Joey Mantia — Third place Time: 1:07.88

Mantia is relatively new to speedskating.

"Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not," Mantia said about his confidence. "The more I skate on the ice, it's become a habit, and I can rely on it more and more. I need a lot of confidence from practice, so as long as my practices are consistent, which they have been the last few weeks, I can bring that to the race."

Jonathan Garcia — Fourth place Time: 1:07.95

Garcia started as a short-track speedskater.

"I needed a change of pace more than anything," Garcia said. "The long track allowed me to do that. The first couple times I skated long track I was just doing it for cross training; I wasn't even doing it to compete."

WOMEN'S COMPETITION

From left to right, fourth-place finisher Kelly Gunther, second-place finisher Brittany Bowe, first-place Heather Richardson and third-place finisher Sugar Todd celebrate on the podium following the women's 1,000 meters during the U.S. Olympic speedskating trials on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
From left to right, fourth-place finisher Kelly Gunther, second-place finisher Brittany Bowe, first-place Heather Richardson and third-place finisher Sugar Todd celebrate on the podium following the women's 1,000 meters during the U.S. Olympic speedskating trials on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) (Photo: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Heather Richardson — First place Time: 1:13.22"It's really special, especially for the second time," Richardson said about the chance to go to Sochi. "I'm so proud to go out and represent our country."

Brittany Bowe — Second place Time: 1:13.92

Bowe recently moved to Utah to train here and make the Sochi Games.

"I moved out here in 2010 to try and make my dream come true in Sochi," Bowe said. "To be able to call myself an Olympian now and be on the 2014 Olympic team is definitely a dream come true."

Sugar Todd — Third place Time: 1:15.72

"I've kind of been slowly making progress over the last few months, and today and yesterday I set some pretty big personals," Todd said. "(I'm) looking to get more competitive internationally and go to Sochi and put up some good results."

Kelly Gunther — Fourth place Time: 1:16.43

Gunther is coming back from a bad injury.

"My feet kind of just slipped right underneath me," Gunther said. "My foot was hanging off my leg, but I kept telling myself on the ice ‘someone's in worse pain. I'm going to be OK; there's surgery' and I was OK. I remember being in the paramedics thinking, ‘am I going to skate again?' The paramedics were like, ‘your foot is kind of hanging off of your leg,' and I'm like, ‘no I'm going to be OK.' Just saying that right then and there, I think I knew I was going to be OK."

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