SOCHI, Russia — The first time she laced on the long blades it was like a turntable needle skittering across a vinyl record.
“It wasn’t very pretty,” Heather Richardson recalls. “Derek Parra, my coach at the time, called me ‘Bambi on ice,’ so you can only imagine that.”
Richardson, who was 18 at the time, wasn’t the first inliner to switch to long-track speedskating and feel like a frightened fawn.
“A lot of us have followed the footsteps of KC Boutiette, Jen Rodriguez, Derek — all of them did it,” says Richardson, who grew up in North Carolina. “We were waiting for inline to make its Olympic debut but we just didn’t see it coming. So we took our opportunity on ice.”
On Tuesday on Adler Arena’s icy dragstrip Richardson and sidekick Brittany Bowe will get their opportunity to join one another on the Olympic podium and put a double punctuation mark to the recent renaissance of American women’s sprinting in the 500 meters, which no US skater has won since Bonnie Blair capped her three-peat in Norway in 1994.
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