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Special coverage: Day One
2006 World Speed Skating Championships

USA Wins Two Golds
Mantia comes from behind in 15K battle

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson
posted Saturday, Sept. 2, 2006

Medal Leaders:

  • Colombia: 11
    (2 golds, 4 silvers, 5 bronze)
  • Korea: 5
    (2 golds, 2 silvers, 1 bronze)
  • USA: 3
    (2 golds, 1 silver)

USA's Joey Mantia demonstrated his continued maturity today by winning medals, a gold and a silver, in both of the first-day events at the 2006 World Speed Skating Championships in Anyang, South Korea.

Mantia, 20, won the 15,000-meter elimination race in dramatic fashion, coming from behind to catch the Colombian team on the last lap. Later, he took the silver medal, behind New Zealand sprinter Kalon Dobbin, in the 300-meter time trial.

Night Practice in Anyang
Linda Wood's photos of the the final training skate in Anyang before the start of World Speed Skating Championships.
Go to Photos.

Rounding out the U.S. medal tally for Day One was Heather Richardson. The 17-year-old from High Point, N.C., easily won the gold medal in the junior women's 300-meter time trial. (She also won the event last year.)

Her time (27.612 seconds) was three-tenths of a second faster than the second place finisher, Deidy Jaramillo of Colombia. Had Richardson raced in the adult division (18 and over), she would have won the bronze.

Just missing a medal in her first day as an adult in world competition was Brittany Bowe. The 18-year-old from Ocala, Fla., finished fourth in the 300-meter time trial, seven-hundredth of a second out of medal contention (Her time: 27.707). Last year, Bowe was the star junior woman (under 18) at the World Championships, winning nine medals, including four golds.

Finishing fifth in the time trial, just behind Bowe, was the surprising Sara Sayasane of Milpitis, Calif., who struggled last year at Worlds.

USA's Jessica Smith, making her return to Worlds after a one year absence, narrowly missed a medal in the tumultuous 15,000-meter elimination. The 22-year-old from Melvindale, Mich., was in the lead pack until the second to last lap of the race when she crashed into a skater who fell in front of her. She ended up finishing sixth.

Earlier in the race, she lost her teammate, Bowe, who was eliminated before the half way point of the 75-lap race. Bowe may have been one of a group of about 15 women who fell during a pileup in the early goings.

No one was seriously hurt in the pileup. However, later in the day, Australia's Andrew Finster broke both wrists when he lost control during his heat of the 300 meters and hit the wall.

Team Mantia-Garcia

One of the most exciting moments of the day came at the end of the men's 15,000-meter elimination.

A giant pack of 55 skaters started the race on the 200-meter banked oval track in Anyang. Skating for Team USA were Joey Mantia and Jonathan Garcia, 19, of Houston, Texas.

Garcia lead the pack for 72 of the 75 laps of the race, providing a huge pull for Mantia, who was tucked in just behind him.

But with two laps to go and only six skaters left on the track, the Colombian team of Jorge Botero and Nelson Garzon shot ahead with a late attack.

Mantia fell behind by five to ten meters but then caught the Colombians at the start of the lap. He stayed right behind them until just after the first turn when he dipped into the inside lane and shot past them. "Not only did Joey catch them, but he went by them like they were standing still," said Junior World Team coach Linda Wood. "The crowd of 5000-plus went crazy."

Botero made a last charge on the final turn, but he could not catch Mantia, who coasted in, arms raised in the air, to claim the gold.

Botero finished second; Garzon, third. Garcia finished fifth behind Italy's Pier Davide Romani.

It is the fourth senior gold medal for Mantia at Worlds. He won golds last year in the 500 meter sprint, 20K elimination and marathon.


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