Brittany Bowe wins world champs 1000m, tying for most titles at that distance

Nearly one year to the day after a world championships experience that Brittany Bowe called “a nightmare,” she rebounded to win the 1000m world title on Saturday in the famed Thialf arena in Heerenveen, Netherlands, setting and tying records along the way.

With her 10th ISU World Single Distances Championships medal, Bowe became the most decorated U.S. woman in the history of the event, breaking her nine-medal tie with now-retired Heather Bergsma.

She is also now tied with German Anni Friesinger and Canadian Christine Nesbitt as the winningest women at this distance with three world titles apiece. Bowe also won in 2015 and 2019.

“This was my goal coming into the bubble, winning a world title, and thankful that I could come out with that today,” Bowe told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Bowe, who turns 33 on Feb. 24, won with a time of 1:14.28, 0.54 seconds ahead of 2020 world champion Jutta Leerdam of the Netherlands; the two raced head to head in the penultimate pair. Russian Elizaveta Golubeva was third in 1:14.848 for her sixth career world bronze medal. This is Bowe’s fifth 1000m world championship medal, one shy of Friensinger’s record six; Bowe’s span eight years, while Friesinger’s first and last were six years apart.

“You always want to be paired with the best and the most competitive and she is the reigning world champion; she’s got the target on her back,” Bowe said. “I pulled the nice inner lane today and skated a nice race, and happy to come out with that one.”

The American entered the 2020 world championships, held at her home rink outside of Salt Lake City, as the favorite. Though she was coming off a disappointing sixth-place performance at a World Cup, just prior to that Bowe had won seven straight 1000m World Cup races, the longest streak by any U.S. woman. After placing eighth in her best distance, she would leave the event with no medals for the first time since 2012.

“It was a great year overshadowed by great disappointments those two weekends, in particular the one weekend with the world championships, so it definitely relit my fire” Bowe told NBCSports.com entering this season. “I’m more determined than ever.”

This year, Bowe was all smiles as she crossed the finish line, raising both hands in the air with her index fingers pointed to the sky before she continued to pump her right fist in celebration of what she knew was a victory.

Bowe has been firing on all cylinders in both the 1000m and 1500m this season. With a shortened season due to the pandemic, only two World Cups were held – also in Heerenveen – and Bowe won both distances both times, continuing to improve throughout. Her 0.54 seconds over Leerdam at the world championships is her greatest 1000m winning margin this season.

The women’s 1000m was the fifth individual race contested this week and Bowe was the first of this season’s World Cup winners to also claim gold at worlds.