Skip to content

Jilleanne Rookard, Jonathan Kuck win at U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials

Dec 27, 2013, 9:58 PM EDT

Jilleanne Rookard Getty Images

Jilleanne Rookard and Jonathan Kuck are going back to the Olympics.

The 2010 Olympians won the opening races at the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials in Kearns, Utah, on Friday night, clinching spots on the 2014 Olympic Team that will officially be named next week.

Rookard, 30, claimed the 3000m in 4 minutes, 9.66 seconds. She beat second-place Anna Ringsred by more than four seconds. Ringsred is also likely going to Sochi.

The U.S. qualified two entries in the Olympic 3000m, an event it hasn’t won an Olympic medal in since Beth Heiden‘s bronze in 1980.

Kuck, 23, won the men’s 5000m in 6:19.76, as expected. Emery Lehman and Patrick Meek, who were second and third, are also likely going to Sochi as the U.S. has three entries into the Olympic 5000m.

The U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials continue with the men’s and women’s 500m from the 2002 Olympic oval Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET. NBC will broadcast the competition at 3 p.m.

U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials Preview, Schedule

Rookard finished 12th in the 2010 Olympic 3000m and is a contender to make the U.S. Olympic Team in the 1500m and the 5000m again, too. The former inline skater and weightlifter competed in Vancouver two months after her mother died of cancer.

“I’m going to pop champagne and celebrate with my teammate,” Rookard said, according to the U.S. Olympic Committee. “I’m really excited.”

Ringsred, 29, will join Rookard on the Olympic team as long as no more than 10 different women’s skaters qualify over the total of five distances at trials. It will help if stars Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson qualify in multiple distances to keep the overall team size down.

Ringsred would be a first-time Olympian. The University of Calgary chemical engineering graduate briefly retired after failing to make the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team.

“Last Olympic Trials, I really did have too many nerves, and it really ruined my race; I didn’t perform well at all,” Ringsred said on NBCSN. “I went into this realizing that speed skating, for the first time in my life, amidst all the turmoil and the pressure, it makes me really feel alive.”

Among the women who missed out on the top two were 2010 Olympians Maria Lamb (fifth) and Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. (ninth) and three-time Olympic short track speed skater Allison Baver (14th). They’ll try to qualify in other distances.

Kuck won an Olympic silver medal in the team pursuit in Vancouver and placed eighth in the 10,000m, his lone individual event in 2010. One month later, Kuck took silver in the World Allround Championships behind Dutch superstar Sven Kramer.

Kuck also won bronze in the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2012 World Single Distance Championships, though it will be hard for him to get past the Netherlands’ powerful trio in Sochi. Kuck is expected to win the 10,000m at the Olympic Trials on the final day of skating Wednesday.

“It’s nice to have it out of the way,” Kuck said on NBCSN. “A couple more races coming up [at trials], but there isn’t any question mark [about making the U.S. Olympic Team].”

Lehman and Meek are going to Sochi so long as 10 or fewer male skaters qualify over the five Olympic distances.

Lehman, an Oak Park (Ill.)-River Forest High School student, is likely to be the youngest male athlete among the entire U.S. Olympic delegation in Sochi. He’s 17 and the reigning world junior champion in the 5000m.

Meek, like Lehman, would be a first-time Olympian.

Comeback story at U.S. Olympic Trials

Latest Posts
  1. Top ten storylines from World Track and Field Championships

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:20 PM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Mo Farah AP

    Olympic champions came through and potential future Olympic stars broke out.

  2. Ten best performances from World Track and Field Championships

    Aug 31, 2015, 2:47 PM EDT

    Wayde van Niekerk AP

    One world record and many near marks on the track and in the field.

  3. Ten memorable quotes from World Track and Field Championships

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:09 PM EDT

    Usain Bolt AP

    Kidney failure, a Segway and goat blood.

  4. USOC, Los Angeles agree to 2024 Olympic bid, reports say

    Aug 30, 2015, 5:01 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Coliseum Getty Images

    It can’t become official until later this week.

  5. U.S. finishes World Championships with fewest medals since 2003

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:25 AM EDT

    U.S. 4x400m relay intro

    “I’m going to cut the goat … and drink the blood.”

  6. Ashton Eaton breaks decathlon world record, wins World Championship

    Aug 29, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT

    Ashton Eaton AP

    Eaton was competing in his first decathlon in more than two years and wore a cooling hood.

  7. Kayla Harrison stunned at World Judo Championships

    Aug 28, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT

    Kayla Harrison AP

    “That feeling of wanting to crawl out of your skin.”

  8. Anthony Davis would rather win second Olympic gold than first NBA MVP

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:13 AM EDT

    Anthony Davis Getty Images

    Davis, the second youngest U.S. Olympic basketball player ever in 2012, played the fewest minutes for Team USA at the London Games.

  9. Caitlyn Jenner keeps Olympic gold medal in makeup drawer

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    Caitlyn Jenner AP

    Jenner explains why the medal isn’t displayed.

  10. Aries Merritt wins bronze before kidney transplant; incredible Worlds performances

    Aug 28, 2015, 10:39 AM EDT

    Ashton Eaton AP

    Ashton Eaton clocks a decathlon world record. The third fastest woman ever in the 200m. The U.S. was shut out of the medals in its best event.

  11. Usain Bolt receives gift from Segway cameraman at medal ceremony

    Aug 28, 2015, 7:25 AM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Tao Song

    A CCTV cameraman presented Bolt with a red bracelet.

  12. Usain Bolt may retire after Rio Olympics

    Aug 27, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT

    Usain Bolt AP

    Bolt previously said he would retire after the 2017 World Championships.

  13. Usain Bolt taken out by Segway (video)

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:53 AM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Segway

    “The rumor I’m trying to start right now is that Justin Gatlin paid him off.”

  14. Usain Bolt crushes Justin Gatlin in World Championships 200m

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:52 AM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin AP

    Also, Allyson Felix broke a U.S. record for World Championships medals.

  15. Allyson Felix wins 400m, breaks U.S. record for Worlds medals; Rio preview?

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:51 AM EDT

    Allyson Felix

    Felix could try to race two individual events at the Rio Olympics.

  16. Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin’s first race together from 2005 (video)

    Aug 27, 2015, 7:48 AM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin

    Justin Gatlin got the best of Usain Bolt in their only race before Gatlin’s doping ban.

  17. Oscar Pistorius’ parole review date set, reports say

    Aug 27, 2015, 6:51 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius AP

    Pistorius could be out of prison in weeks.