Bergsma finishes eighth in Pyeongchang speedskating debut

The former inline skater from High Point got off to a fast start, but couldn't keep up the the pace in the first of her four Olympic races

High Point's Heather Richardson Bergsma, (right) races Japan's Miho Takagi during Monday's women's 1,500 meter speedskating event at the Pyeongchang Olympics (Phil Noble/Reuters)

Heather Richardson Bergsma’s Olympic disappointments continued Monday when the High Point native finished eighth in the 1,500-meter women’s speedskating event in Pyeongchang.

Bergsma, whose best individual finish in her two previous Olympic appearances was sixth in the 500 meters at the 2010 Vancouver Games, had hoped to be in medal contention after a strong 2017 season on the international circuit. She has won three World Cup medals so far this season and 15 over the past two years.

But her time of 1:56.74 was nearly two seconds slower than that of gold medalist Ireen Wust of the Netherlands.

Miho Takagi of Japan won the silver medal while Marrit Leenstra of the Netherlands took home bronze. Brittany Bowe was the top U.S. finisher, placing fifth.

Skating in the final pairing alongside Takagi, Bergsma started fast, completing her first lap in just 25.01 seconds. But the current 1,500 world record holder couldn’t keep up the pace on her final lap, dropping her out of medal contention.

“It was just a hard last lap,” Bergsma told after the race. “The beginning of the race was OK, so I can take that away going into the 1,000.”

The 1,500 will be televised on a tape-delay basis by NBC on its Monday afternoon broadcast. It was Bergsma’s first race in these Games. She will also take part in the 1,000 meters, her best event, on Wednesday, as well as the 500 meters on Sunday and the newly created mass start race on Saturday, Feb. 23.

A former inline skater who didn’t take up long track speed skating until she was a teenager, Bergsma has been training with the strong Dutch team in the Netherlands with her husband Jorrit, a gold medalist at the Sochi Olympics four years ago.