With the Olympic Trials for long track speedskating beginning Dec. 27th, FAU graduate and native Floridian Brittany Bowe just wrapped up a torrid month of work.
Brittany Bowe may be peaking at just the right time.
With the Olympic Trials for long track speedskating beginning Dec. 27th, the FAU graduate and native Floridian just wrapped up a torrid month of work.
Competing in four World Cup events from Salt Lake City to Kazakhstan, Bowe has racked up six medals including two gold and a world record in that time. She is South Florida’s best bet for a medal in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia in February.
Along with teammate and best friend Heather Richardson, Bowe may also become the first woman to medal in speedskating since 2002 when another local product, Miami’s Jennifer Rodriguez, took home two bronze in Salt Lake City.
Based on her strong showing, Bowe is all but a lock to make the U.S. team and take the biggest step yet to achieving her dream of being an Olympic champion.
“Oh yeah, I can taste it, that’s for sure,” Bowe told NBC 6 while training at the U.S. Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah.
It’s been a whirlwind 42 months for the 25-year-old, who started her career as an inline speedskater and college basketball point guard before trading in her wheels and sneakers for ice skates in July of 2010.
In just that short time, Bowe, a native of Ocala, has become the new world record holder in the women’s 1,000 meters.
Bowe set the world record on her home track Nov. 17th, finishing in one minute, 12.58 seconds, a tenth-of-a-second faster than the previous mark. In fact, she had top three finishes in the event in all four World Cup events in November and December.
The day before her world record in Utah, Bowe took home silver in the 1,500 meters.
An Olympic berth would cap off a momentous year. The former Boca resident won her first World Cup gold medal of her career in Germany in March during the early year events.
“When I first stepped onto the first place podium in Germany, it was the first time I felt victorious in a really, really long time,” Bowe admitted. “And ever since then, I haven’t wanted to get off that podium.”
Making an Olympic roster has been the plan all along, but the former point guard is 8th on the Owls’ all-time scoring list, 4th in assists and 9th in steals.
“I wanted to be an Olympian all my life,” she said.
Bowe went to FAU on a basketball scholarship, putting her mark on the school’s record book. During her senior year, Bowe was mulling a professional basketball career overseas.
“But you come to the realization of where you stand with things, and I knew I wasn’t going to fulfill my Olympic dream through basketball,” she said.
Luckily for Bowe, she had a second love in her life.
“When I was 8 years old, I was at the local skating rink in Ocala for a friend’s birthday party. The inline skating team had practiced directly following this party and the coach must’ve gotten there a little early. She saw me racing around the track and invited me out to a practice. That’s where it all started,” Bowe recalled.
From 2002 to 2008, Bowe claimed 32 World Championship medals in inline skating and three Pan-American golds in 2007. Much of Bowe’s life has been balancing hoops and skating.
“I grew up in the basketball gym with my dad. He taught high school and coached football, basketball and track. I could dribble when I could walk.”
Bowe starred at the point for Trinity Catholic High School, earning runner-up honors in the 3A Player of the Year honors. Once speeding in sneakers was done for the season, Bowe would speed on wheels.
“I loved both of them. They never clashed. I always made them work and they were always fun for me,” she said.
The balancing act continued through college. As graduation neared, Bowe felt herself at a crossroads.
“In February of 2010, I watched the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and I saw a lot of my friends and competitors from inline skating walking in the Opening Ceremony and competing and it just lit a fire within me. I need to do this. I’m going to move to Salt Lake City and try to make this dream come true,” she said.
Bowe packed up her bags and left Boca and Ocala behind, heading instead to the elevated air of Utah.
“When I first landed here and saw the mountains, I was like, oh man, there’s no beach. There’s no ocean. What am I going to do?”
While Bowe was a prodigy on wheels, switching to a blade on ice would take some adjusting.
“The first time I put on my skates, I was out there hanging onto the wall,” she joked. “Thankfully there were some ex-inliners out there who didn’t make me feel as dumb as I thought I felt.”
“It’s taken a lot of hard work and a lot of time. You have 37 seconds, give or take, to give it your best. One slip up, one misstep, that’s the end of it for you. It’s very cut-throat. It needs to be perfect from beginning to end.”
For now, the pride of Ocala continues to hone her skill, getting increasingly anxious.
“When I’m sitting around, just daydreaming, it’s in my mind 24/7. It’s something I thought about since I was just a little kid," she said. "The thought doesn’t change. It’s just the details that change a little bit.”
With Sochi just around the corner, Bowe hopes the best is yet to come.
“The Olympics is the highest platform of being a sportsman,” Bowe said. “And I want to be the best in the world and that’s being Olympic champion.”