By Allyson Burger / BSU at the Games
Four years ago, long-track speedskating champion Brittany Bowe had never given speedskating a second thought. Now she is on track to make the 2014 Olympic team at the Trials this month.
The 25-year-old Florida native's Olympic dreams originally had her on a basketball court, not an ice oval. Bowe was a point guard on the Trinity Catholic High School basketball team in Ocala, Fla., before she went on to play four years, three of them as captain, at Florida Atlantic University.
After graduating from FAU, Bowe wanted to focus on moving to the professional level, hoping to sign a contract with a team overseas. That is until she watched the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
"When the Vancouver Olympics aired, and I saw some of my friends, teammates and competitors from inline dominating the ice scene, it lit a fire inside of me and I had a change of heart with what my future plans would hold," Bowe said via email while skating at the World Cup.
Those friends dominating the ice were five-time Olympic medalist Chad Hedrick and world champion skater Heather Richardson. Richardson is competing for a 2014 Olympic spot alongside Bowe, and even though they were each other's competition during their inline years, the two now train together.
From that moment in February 2013, Bowe traded out her sneakers for long-track skates. She says playing basketball benefitted her skating by teaching her persistence and toughness, and like Richardson, her history with inline skating helped her start training for competition.
Bowe says on her RallyMe fundraising page that her quest for gold started in 1996, when she was 8 years old, put on her first pair of inline skates at a friend's birthday party, and was approached by the coach of the rink's inline skating team. Her past and training must work well for her because Bowe has been extremely successful in her speedskating career thus far.
Her USOC official bio shows that just this year she has won one silver, one bronze and four gold medals in major national and international competitions.
In November alone, U.S. Speedskating announced Bowe has broken two national speed and track records in the 1,000m at the World Cup at the Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City. She beat the previous record of 1:12.68 with her 1:12.58 finish.
Since World Cup competitions come to an end Dec. 8, Bowe has stayed in Salt Lake and continued to train for Trials, more than 2,200 miles from the Florida home where she was raised. She and Richardson will continue training together with coach Ryan Shimabukuro, U.S. long-track sprint team head coach.
While Richardson still holds the No. 1 spot in women's long-track, Bowe's speed continues to improve, and she may soon skate her way past Richardson, right to the top.
Also see WTHR Olympic Zone for updates.