Brittany Bowe took 13th place in the women’s 500-meter speed skating event at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Tuesday.
Thirteenth place might not sound like much, but it was an impressive race for the 25 year-old Ocala, Florida native. A former inline skating chamption, Bowe didn’t even start ice skating until July 2010. She was playing basketball at Florida Atlantic University during the last Winter Olympics.
The 500-meter event consists of two heats. Because the distance is too short to allow for lane changes, each skater gets to race on both the inner and outer lanes of the big oval in order to compensate for the slight advantage given the skater on the inner lane.
Bowe skated a 38.81 in the first heat and a 38.37 in the second giving her a combined time of 77.18.
The gold medal went to South Korea’s Lee Sang Hwa. Her performance was a record-breaking one. Her time in the second heat – 37.28 – broke the single race record and her combined time – 74.70 – broke the overall two-race Olympic record. Lee was favored to win the gold at Sochi, after having won it four years ago in Vancouver. She set the world record for the distance four times in 2013.
Bowe’s teammate Heather Richardson took eighth place in the 500-meter with times of 37.73 and 38.02, for a total of 75.75. This is Richardson’s second Olympic Games; she finished sixth in the 500-meter at Vancouver four years ago.
Richardson and Bowe came in first and second respectively at the qualifying races in Salt Lake City. Along with Shani Davis, they are part of what is considered by many to be the strongest US long-track speed skating team since the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Image via Wikimedia Commons