GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Against a field of powerful Dutch and Japanese skaters that included world record holder Nao Kodaira, a strong start and powerful first lap by American Brittany Bowe wasn’t quite enough Wednesday at the Gangneung Oval.
The gap was narrow enough to be cruel, with Bowe finishing fourth in the women’s 1,000 meters — just 0.38 seconds off the bronze medal-winning time.
Had Bowe’s legs held out just a tick longer, the United States’ eight-year Olympic speedskating medal drought would have ended. That’s what Bowe hoped for so fervently after her torrid performance, paired in the 31-woman competition with Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands.
Ter Mors’s time, an Olympic record 1:13.56, held up with eight skaters yet to compete, giving the Netherlands a gold medal sweep of all five speedskating events held thus far at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. Bowe, in a provisional second, was left to wait and watch, the outcome beyond her control, as a succession of competitors attempted to knock her from the podium, including her American teammate Heather Bergsma, who was in the final pairing.
In the end, Japanese teammates Kodaira and Miho Takagi improved on Bowe’s time to take silver and bronze, respectively.
“Had a great start; had a great first lap,” said Bowe, a former inline skater and college basketball player who is competing in her second Olympics. “Just didn’t have the legs there at the end.”
It left her torn: proud of how far she had come in a relatively brief time, proud that she had improved on her fifth-place finish in Monday’s 1,500 meters, yet disappointed to have fallen short of a medal again.
“Best finish yet at the Olympics,” said Bowe, 29. “But it doesn’t matter if it’s not top three.”
Bergsma, who had few words to offer after finishing eighth in the 1,500 meters just 48 hours earlier, repeated the placement Wednesday in the final pairing of the event but was relatively at peace, she explained, because she felt she had done all she could.
“It’s always difficult going last,” said Bergsma, 28, a North Carolina native who now lives in the Netherlands after marrying Dutch men’s speedskater Jorrit Bergsma. “There were fast times before me. Mentally I was prepared for that, so I went out there and went for it.”
American Jerica Tandiman finished 28th.
Wednesday’s 1,000 was the third of the women’s long-track distance races contested (3,000, 1,500 and 1,000) at the 2018 Winter Games. Of those nine medal opportunities, the Dutch had claimed six; Japan, three.
The Americans were seeking the United States’ first speedskating medal since the 2010 Vancouver Games, when Shani Davis (gold, silver) and Chad Hedrick (bronze) won three individual medals between them and the American men took silver in the team pursuit. No U.S. female speedskater has won an Olympic medal since the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, when Christine Witty won gold in the 1,000 and Jennifer Rodriguez took bronze (as well as bronze in the 1,500).
Read more Post coverage of the PyeongChang Olympics: