U.S. speed skater Joey Mantia bowed out of the men’s 1000m event on Friday due to “back issues,” he announced on Instagram. The 36-year-old is still scheduled to participate in the mass start on Saturday, a discipline in which he is a three-time world champion.
Austin Kleba, 22, will skate for the U.S. in the 1000m as a replacement.
“Been dealing with some back issues lately and I don’t want to risk making it worse before the mass start,” Mantia wrote.
He then posted that he plans to give the mass start everything he’s got on Saturday.
Mantia was slated to perform in four events at the 2022 Winter Olympics. He finished sixth in the men’s 1500m, a “devastating” result for him.
He, Casey Dawson, Emery Lehman and Ethan Cepuran then captured the bronze medal in the men’s team pursuit on Tuesday. The Ocala, Florida, native collected his first career Olympic medal at his third Games.
Mantia has yet to earn an individual medal, but he previously singled out the mass start as one of his best opportunities. He won the event at World Championships in 2021, 2019 and 2017.
The men’s mass start semifinals begin at 2 a.m. ET on Saturday.