Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe love to chill out together, whether it's going to the movies or just lounging on the couch watching TV.
Sure, they're competitors on the ice. But their friendship isn't affected in the least by who finishes first at the speedskating oval.
"We always talk to each other after our races," said Richardson, who shares as apartment with Bowe in Park City, Utah. "We congratulate each other, then we go home and hang out."
The former inline skaters are two of the top U.S. medal hopefuls heading into the Sochi Olympics, though it may come down to one beating the other for gold.
Richardson and Bowe are ranked 1-2 in the World Cup standings for the 1,000 meters, with Richardson on top even though Bowe set a world record at the Utah Olympic Oval in November. They'll also compete in the 500 and 1,500, with Richardson considered the stronger of the two in the all-out sprint, while Bowe is more of a medal threat in the longer event.
Amazingly, racing each other for much of the same hardware hasn't affected how they get along. If anything, it has spurred Richardson and Bowe to greater heights as competitors, while bringing them closer together during their down time — a far cry from some of the more heated rivalries in the sport, such as Shani Davis vs. now-retired Chad Hedrick.
"We have a really special relationship," Bowe said. "We're teammates, friends, competitors and roommates. It's really special to have one of the fastest, if not the fastest, girl in the world on my team, working with me day in and day out. We're really lucky to have each other."
The 24-year-old Richardson will be competing in her second Olympics. She gave a glimpse of her potential at the Vancouver Games, posting a pair of top-10 finishes while still a relative neophyte on the ice, and her expectations are much higher this time around.