Mitch Whitmore Places 15th in Men's 500m At 2018 Winter Games
by Chris Cole
On a night when the Olympic Record fell twice in the men’s 500m, Team USA’s Mitch Whitmore (Waukesha, Wis.) finished the event in 15th with a time of 35.13 at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Whitmore’s finish at the Gangneung Oval on Monday was the best of his Olympic career. His time was 0.48 seconds off the podium.
“The technical cues I wanted to hit, I thought I did a good job with,” Whitmore said. “Maybe just missing some strokes here and there.”
He previously finished the 2x500m in 26th place at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games and 37th at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.
The U.S’ Casey FitzRandolph held the previous men’s 500m Olympic Record at 34.42 seconds, which he posted at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games. Gold medalist Haavard Lorentzen (34.41) of Norway and silver medalist Min-Kyu Cha (34.42) of Korea both broke the record on Monday.
“(Going into) this one, I was hoping to medal,” Whitmore said. “It could have been a number of us that could have done it. But those guys went extremely fast.”
Skating in the seventh pair, Jonathan Garcia (Houston, Texas) finished the 500m in 23rd with a time of 35.31.
Garcia competed in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, but only skated in the 1000m.
First-time Olympian Kimani Griffin (Winston-Salem, N.C.) made his debut in the 500m, skating the event in 35.39 seconds to finish 26th.
“I’m blessed to be here,” Griffin said. “I felt like it was a decent race. I’m not super pumped on a couple things but I’m not walking away from the race too sad.”
Griffin earned third place in the men’s 500m at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Milwaukee last month.
On the women’s side, Team USA – comprised of Heather Bergsma (High Point, N.C.), Brittany Bowe (Ocala, Fla.) and Mia Manganello (Crestview, Fla.) – advanced to the women’s Team Pursuit semifinals with a fourth-place finish on Monday.
Skating across from Poland, the United States finished with a season-best time of 2:59.75 to edge the People’s Republic of China by 0.26 seconds for the last semifinals spot. Team USA’s previous season-best was 3:01.87 at World Cup Salt Lake in December.
“This is the first race all three of us have skated together,” Bowe said. “It probably wasn’t the prettiest thing but I know we left our heart and soul out there, so looking up and seeing a fourth-place finish knowing that got us to the next round felt like a victory for sure.”
The time was also the United States’ fastest women’s Team Pursuit race since World Cup Salt Lake in November 2013 when Bergsma, Bowe and Jilleanne Rookard set the American Team Pursuit national record with a time of 2:57.09. Team USA has never won an Olympic medal in the women’s Team Pursuit event.
“For this just to be our first (race together) and to come so close to even third place, I think in two days we’ll be able to show some good times,” Manganello said.
The U.S. will skate against the Netherlands in the semifinals on Wednesday, February 21. The Dutch posted an Olympic Record with a time of 2:55.61 in Monday’s quarterfinals.
For results, post-race interviews and other media information, visit the US Speedskating Media Page.
Long track continues on Wednesday, February 21 with the women’s and men’s Team Pursuit semifinals and finals. Live coverage of the races will be streamed on nbcolympics.com beginning at 8 p.m. KT (6 a.m. ET).
Quotes from Mitchell Whitmore
- “I’m going to have to watch video because there was nothing that really stood out as bad skating. So, I’m a little confused but I’ll check it out.”
- “The technical cues I wanted to hit, I thought I did a good job with. Maybe just missing some strokes here and there.”
- “This one I was hoping to medal. It could have been a number of us that could have done it. But those guys went extremely fast.”
Quotes from Brittany Bowe
- “This is the first race all three of us have skated together. It probably wasn’t the prettiest thing but I know we left our heart and soul out there so looking up and seeing a fourth-place finish knowing that got us to the next round felt like a victory for sure.”
- “It’s been tough because Heather and I have had a full race schedule here and we’re all focused on our individual races, but we knew if we had the Team Pursuit opportunity we were going to try to make it work. No, we haven’t been able to prepare like these other teams, but we have just as much heart if not more heart than them and have an opportunity to do something special here in a few days.”
Quote from Kimani Griffin
- “I’m blessed to be here. I felt like it was a decent race. I’m not super pumped on a couple things but I’m not walking away from the race too sad.”
Quotes from Mia Manganello
- “I wanted this bad. I know all three of us did. It’s been a crazy year for our team and a roller coaster of emotions here at the Olympics. Hopefully in two days we can end that and get a medal.”
- “The biggest thing was learning each other’s abilities. Obviously, they’re the two fastest girls in the world and I’m not known for my starts. So, it was something to learn for them how to adapt to my speed in a start but then also not wearing me out in the beginning so that I could finish at the end.”
- “For this just to be our first (race together) and to come so close to even third place, I think in two days we’ll be able to show some good times.”