The Netherlands have been a force to be reckoned with in Olympic Speed Skating, and this will not change in 2022. Irene Wüst has eleven medals and is the most decorated active Winter Olympian; if she wins a gold in Beijing, she will be the only athlete in history to have done so in five consecutive Olympics. With Wüst as a favorite for the 1500-meter, her Dutch teammates Antoinette de Jong is a powerhouse in the 300-meter, and Irene Schouten in the 5000-meter. For the men’s competitions we’re looking at Sven Kramer, with nine Olympic medals and four consecutive World Allround Championship wins, along with his Dutch teammate Kjeld Nuis who specializes in the 1000-meter. From Sweden, Nils van der Poel will be tough competition for the Dutch, as he holds the world record in the 1000-meter and the 50000-meter. It goes without saying that both the men’s and women’s Dutch teams will be almost impossible to beat in the Team Pursuits.
We can’t overlook Brittany Bowe, who is not only the first openly LGBTQ athlete to compete for team USA in Beijing, but the American speed skater will be fighting for medals this year after having faced some of the greatest adversities throughout her career. After a concussion during a training session in 2016-17, and then being diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), she spent almost a year off the ice in recovery. The comeback-kid then qualified for the US Olympic team in Pyeongchang, placing in the top five in three individual events, and winning a bronze medal in the Women’s Team Pursuit. She faced wins and setbacks in the seasons following, including placing eighth in the 2020 Salt Lake City World Championships, and navigating training restrictions due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, she has not only qualified for the 2022 Olympic team, but she also won the 1000-meter at the 2021 World Single Distance Speed Skating Championships in which she holds a world record, and took home a silver in the 1500-meter.