High Point native Bergsma qualifies for Pyeongchang Olympics

Speed skater Heather Richardson Bergsma will have four chances to earn an Olympic medal next month after a strong performance at the US trials

The US Long Track Speed Skating Olympic trials are being held in Milwaukee this weekend (Jeff Swinger/USA TODAY Sports)

High Point native Heather Richardson Bergsma earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team this week, qualifying for the PyeongChang Games with a strong performance at the U.S. Long Track Speed Skating trials in Milwaukee.

Bergsma assured her third Olympic trip on Wednesday by edging out friend and rival Brittany Bowe to win at 1,000 meters. She is the defending world champion at the distance and is among the favorites to bring home a gold medal from Korea.

Two days later, Bergsma placed second, a quarter of a second behind Bowe to qualify for the Olympics in the 500. The two were matched against each other in the final pairing of the event. Bergsma then added a third event to her program in PyeongChang by again finishing a fraction of a second behind Bowe in the 1,500 meters.


A former in-line skater who didn’t take up speed skating until she was a teenager, Bergsma has won three World Cup medals so far this season and 15 over the past two seasons. She completed her successful weekend on Sunday by qualifying the newly created mass start event. She will be the only woman on the U.S. team to compete in four Olympic races next month.

Bergsma is looking to redeem herself for a disappointing performance at the Sochi Olympics four years ago. Her best finish in an individual event was seventh in the 1,000 and 1,500. She had a sixth-place finish at the Vancouver Games in 2010.

The 28-year-old’s career has taken off since marrying Dutch star and Olympic gold medalist Jorrit Bergsma, moving to the Netherlands and training with his national team. Jorrit will also compete in PyeongChang.

“My main goal was to qualify for the Games in four events and that happened, so I’m happy,” Bergsma. “Anything can happen at the Olympic Games, that’s why it is so exciting to watch. I have four chances (to get a medal) and I’m going to do my best at all four.”