U.S. women make state­ment in bob­sled, skele­ton

The Washington Post Sunday - - WPSPORTS -

A year from the Sochi Olympics, the U.S. women’s skele­ton and bob­sled teams have sent a clear mes­sage to the rest of the world.

Quite sim­ply, the Amer­i­cans plan to be ready for a medal push.

U.S. team­mates Noelle PikusPace and Katie Uh­laen­der took the top two spots — by a wide mar­gin — in the sea­son-end­ing skele­ton World Cup race on Satur­day at the 2014 Olympic track north of Sochi, Rus­sia. They did so hours af­ter Elana Mey­ers and Aja Evans won sil­ver for the Amer­i­cans in the women’s bob­sled fi­nale on the cir­cuit.

“What a sea­son,” said PikusPace, who won two of the last three World Cup races in her first sea­son back from re­tire­ment. “I am al­ready ready and look­ing for­ward to start­ing next sea­son.”

Pikus-Pace fin­ished two runs at the Sanki Slid­ing Cen­ter in 1 minute, 58.91 sec­onds, 0.11 ahead of Uh­laen­der, the 2012 world cham­pion. The gap be­tween Uh­laen­der and third-place Anja Huber of Ger­many was 0.76 sec­onds — a huge mar­gin.

Ger­many’s Mar­ion Thees fin­ished with the sea­son-long skele­ton points ti­tle, edg­ing Huber. But the real cel­e­brat­ing on Satur­day was be­ing done by the U.S., which clearly fig­ured some­thing out at the track that was built for the up­com­ing Sochi Games.

“This was an awe­some day for the team,” U.S. Coach Tuffy La­tour said. “Katie and Noelle have been push­ing each other week af­ter week, and they are con­tin­u­ally mak­ing each other bet­ter.”

BOB­SLED: Canada’s Lyn­don Rush won his first two-man bob­sled World Cup over­all ti­tle af­ter fin­ish­ing fourth in the sea­son- end­ing race at the Sochi Olympics venue. Beat Hefti of Switzer­land and pusher Thomas Lam­parter won the race at the Sanki Slid­ing Cen­tre in 1:53.76 to cap­ture their third World Cup vic­tory.

HALF­PIPE: Torin YaterWal­lace led an Amer­i­can 1-2 fin­ish in the men’s freestyle ski­ing half­pipe event in Sochi, Rus­sia, his sec­ond World Cup vic­tory this sea­son.

Switzer­land’s Vir­ginie Faivre won the women’s race ahead of two Cana­di­ans at Roza Khutor Ex­treme Park — the venue for half­pipe’s Olympic de­but at next year’s Sochi Games.

SKI JUMP: Ger­man Richard Fre­itag cap­tured the World Cup event in Ober­st­dorf, Ger­many. Aus­tria’s Gre­gor Sch­lieren­za­uer ex­tended his over­all lead by fin­ish­ing third.

Fre­itag flew 209.0 me­ters in the first heat and 206.5 in the sec­ond to col­lect 409.8 points — just 0.3 more than Nor­way’s Andreas St­jer­nen. . . .

Sara Takanashi of Ja­pan won the women’s World Cup event in Lubno, Slove­nia, to ex­tend her lead in the over­all stand­ings. The 16-year-old Takanashi had jumps of 88.5 and 88 me­ters on the nor­mal hill to earn a to­tal of 225.1 points. Amer­i­can Sarah Hen­drick­son (214.2) was sec­ond.

CROSS-COUN­TRY: Alexey Poltoranin of Kaza­khstan and Justyna Kowal­czyk of Poland had dom­i­nat­ing sprint vic­to­ries at the World Cup event in Davos, Switzer­land.

Poltoranin beat over­all World Cup leader Dario Cologna of Switzer­land by 5.49 sec­onds in the men’s 1.5-kilo­me­ter clas­si­cal race.

Kowal­czyk beat ri­val Marit Bjo­er­gen, the Nor­we­gian triple Olympic cham­pion, by 2.85 sec- onds in the women’s fi­nal.

BIATHLON: Ole Ei­nar Bjo­ern­dalen earned his 19th biathlon world cham­pi­onship ti­tle as Nor­way lived up to its pow­er­house sta­tus in the men’s re­lay, win­ning the gold medal in the dis­ci­pline for the fourth straight time in Nove Mesto, Czech Repub­lic. Emil He­gle Svend­sen an­chored the Nor­we­gian team to vic­tory in the 4x7.5-kilo­me­ter race in 1 hour 15 min­utes 39.0 sec­onds for his fourth gold at the cham­pi­onship.

SPEED­SKAT­ING: Dutch speed­skater Sven Kramer closed in on his sixth all-around world cham­pi­onship ti­tle by win­ning the 5,000-me­ter race to take the lead in the over­all stand­ings af­ter the first day at Hamar, Nor­way. Kramer was timed in 6:13.42, beat­ing Rus­sia’s Ivan Sko­brev by 5.64 sec­onds. Bart Swings of Bel­gium was third.

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