Special Coverage: Day One

U.S. Junior Women Dominate on First Day of World Speed Championships

They Collect Four Medals in Two Events on Opening Day

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

The U.S. junior women showed remarkable depth on the first day of the World Speed Skating Championships in Suzhou, China.

They won gold in both events and also collected a silver and bronze medal.

Heather Richardson, 16, of High Point, N.C., took the gold in the 300-meter time trial to earn her first-ever individual gold medal at a world championships.

Emily Scott, 16, of Belleview, Fla., skating in her first world championship, won the 15,000-meter elimination.

Korean girls led for most of the 75 laps around the 200-meter flat oval. But they eventually tired and were passed by the U.S. and Colombian girls.

With a lap to go, Colombia's Carolina Upegui took the lead and looked likely to win. But Emily caught her with half a lap to go and passed her to take the gold.

Brittany finished third behind Carolina.

The 300 Meter Time Trial

Earlier in the day, Heather posted the fastest time (28.165 seconds) in the qualifying heats of the 300-meters. That put her in position as the last girl to race against the clock in the evening finals.

Just before her turn came, Brittany skated and posted the fastest time of the day (28.010 seconds). That put her into first place.

But then Heather went to the line and managed to skate three-thousandths of a second faster and won the gold with a time of 28.007.

Last year, Brittany won the event on the fast track in A'quila, Italy, with a time of 27.31 seconds, while Heather finished fourth.

As a team, the U.S. girls finished second in A'quila with Colombia first.

This year it appears that the U.S. girls -- with their new found strength -- have a good chance of finishing on top.

Related Reading

Day One of the 2005 World Championships

Race Commentary by World Team Manager Linda Wood:

The junior women's 15K elimination started the competition off just right for Team USA. Veteran Brittany Bowe led her teammate Emily Scott for most of the race and then protected her like a mother bear when Brittany was behind. As a result, it should be no surprise the American girls finished first and third.

It has been a while since any two American skaters have both placed in the same event. For Team USA, this was a real focus (for coaches Gypsy Tidwell and David Downing) at this year's 15 days of residency, held in Colorado Springs just days before the team left for China.

I have to say the 15K was just about as "perfect" a race as these girls could have skated. The race included wonderful teamwork and was not an easy one to win. There are some tough countries, including Colombia and Italy with two strong athletes in each race -- and they will be hungry to take back the top three spots in the races to follow.

Great job to Emily and Brittany!

Day 1 at Suzhou

Day 2 at Suzhou

Day 3 at Suzhou

Day 4 at Suzhou

Day 5 at Suzhou

Day 6 at Suzhou


Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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