Five Reasons Why The US Men’s Squad Likes Its Medal Chances In Team Pursuit

Casey Dawson skates during the men’s team pursuit quarterfinals during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 13, 2022 in Beijing.

They Have The Flexibility

With four potential team members, rather than three, Team USA has options other countries do not. Mantia, a three-time world champion in the mass start, is an individual medal contender in at least two events in Beijing, while the others view the team pursuit as their best bet for a podium spot. As such, three-time Olympian Mantia can hop in and out of the event, skating at the front of the three-man train and providing fresh legs as needed.

The Americans do not know yet which skaters will compete in the semifinals and final on Tuesday.

“That’s something we have to work out,” Cepuran said. “We’ve already started talking about it. (The quarterfinal) was a game-day decision, and two days from now, we have no idea how we are going to be feeling, so … we’ve done it every order, every combination of us. So just who feels the best that day in the morning and then have a fresh set of legs in the final.”

They Train To The Max

Cepuran, Lehman and Dawson train together daily in Salt Lake City, while Mantia often trains on his own, giving him the opportunity to watch his teammates.

“I have a lot of faith in these guys, I’ve seen them work together day in and day out,” Mantia, 36, said. “I probably have more confidence in them, than they do in themselves. … It was just interesting watching (the quarterfinal). I was inspired, more than anything really, watching them lay it down.”

All the hours logged enable the skaters to race without verbal communication.

“Mostly, it goes by feel, we touch each other’s backs,” Cepuran said. “If Casey doesn’t feel me behind him, or I can’t feel Ethan, or Ethan is not on me, Casey can feel the effect of that.”

“We kind of pace it out, whether it’s just the tempo, or the pressure,” Lehman, 25, said. “(It’s about) really feeling it out, whether you have to pick it up in the front or whether you have to lay back a bit.”

They Are All Flexible

The skaters are all comfortable with their position in the three-man train, be it lead, second or third.

“It’s a comfort thing for all of us,” Lehman explained. “For me, Joey and Casey have relatively easy track patterns to follow. Ethan’s got really long legs, so it’s kind of tough for me to follow him. … We just practice different situations. We’ve kind of picked two positions that we feel really comfortable doing, and that’s the positions that we race in.”

And what are those positions?

“It depends on (which three) of us is skating, but Joey likes to be up front, Casey can be in the front or back, Ethan can be in the second or the back,” he said. “Our followers can lead, and our leaders can follow.”

The Schedule Works In Their Favor

Having the semifinals and the finals the same day plays into Team USA’s strategy.

“We like it, we train for it,” Lehman said. “It excites us, we practice it going faster the second round.”

“It’s a puke and rally situation,” Cepuran added. “It’s great. We love it. It gets you hiped up.”

On Tuesday, Team USA will race in the second semifinal, along with the team from the Russian Olympic Committee. Norway and the Netherlands meet in the other semi.

“We all know we are all going to show up,” Cepuran said. “We all trust each other. Honestly, that’s what makes the team pursuit easy. I know going up to the line, I can trust in the two guys ahead of me, I know they believe in me. It’s just easy to get around.”


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