Speed Skating

The Associated Press - Saturday Dec. 28, 2013 16:57 ET

Heather Richardson cruises in women's 500m at U.S. speed skating trials

Brittany Bowe also Sochi bound

American Heather Richardson, left, celebrates her win with second-place finisher Brittany Bowe after their women's 500-metre race at the U.S. Olympic speedskating trials Saturday in Kearns, Utah, (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

Heather Richardson won the women's 500 metres at the U.S. Olympic trials Saturday in Kearns, Utah, claiming the first of what is expected to be three events at the Sochi Olympics.

Richardson is one of the top American medal hopes on the big oval, and she lived up to the hype with a combined time over two races of 1 minute, 14.19 seconds at the Utah Olympic Oval.

Brittany Bowe took second in 1:15.51 despite slipping right off the start in her opening race. The former inline skater and college basketball player kept from falling and easily qualified for her first Olympic team.

Lauren Cholewinski (1:16.18) and Sugar Todd (1:16.42) took the other two expected spots on the U.S. team. Elli Ochowicz was denied a fourth Olympic berth by just 0.12, finishing fifth.

Whitmore wins men's 500

On the men's side, Mitchell Whitmore won the 500m event.

The real drama came for the fourth spot on the team. 

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Shani Davis claimed the last berth, but only after Jonathan Garcia was disqualified for failing to wear a timing transponder on his ankles while skating a personal-best time that would've earned him a trip to Sochi. 

U.S. Speedskating officials granted Garcia a re-skate about a half-hour later, after everyone else was done, but he didn't come close to matching his previous time. That gave the fourth spot to Davis, who finished behind Whitmore, Tucker Fredricks and Brian Hansen.

Whitmore won with a combined time of 1 minute, 9.12 seconds over two races. Fredricks earned his third trip to the Olympics in 1:09.44. 

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