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Canmore speed skater Connor Howe punches ticket to Olympics after world cup silver in Calgary

Canmore's Connor Howe keeps getting better and better.

CALGARY – The first Canmore athlete to pre-qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games is speed skater Connor Howe.

Howe, Canada’s top 1500 metre skater, punched his ticket to Beijing at the ISU Speed Skating World Cup after flying to silver and his first individual podium in the men's 1500m race on Saturday (Dec. 11) at the Calgary Olympic Oval.

“It was really exciting, especially being the home rink," said Howe, 21. "I'm a little bit more familiar and confident here so I think it helped for sure.

"The Olympic qualification is always in the back of our heads, but we try to just skate the race as best we can and I think it worked out."

With big strides and an attacking pace, Howe scored a personal best time of 1:42.42 – .13 seconds faster than his previous career best and more than a second faster than his gold medal performance at the 2021 Canadian Long Track Championships in October.

In the extremely tight men’s 1500m standings, only nine world cup points separated fourth to ninth place.

After four world cups, Calgary being the final, the top-eight ranked skaters pre-qualify to Beijing.

Before Saturday’s race, Howe was sitting seventh in the standings with 106 points. The long track specialist went head-to-head on home soil with Japan’s Seitaro Ichinohe, who was sixth in the standings with 110 points, in the last of 10 races in the 1500m.

Leading in the race, Howe was up .56 seconds on first place's Joey Mantia of the United States entering the final lap at the Olympic Oval.

Howe said he knew he was in first heading into the last lap by looking at the giant screen lap board.

"From last week [in Salt Lake City], I saw that I could hold the speed really good so I really tried to attack the first 700 metres and I knew I could build up time that way, so I did that."

Mantia finished first at a time of 1:41.86. Norway's Allan Dahl Johansson rounded out the podium, claiming bronze.

Howe's huge silver in Calgary catapults him up to third overall in the standings with 160 points.

At tomorrow's men's 1000m, Howe has the opportunity to pre-qualify for a second individual race at the Olympics.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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