U.S. women make statement in bobsled, skeleton
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.