Team USA Weekend Wrap-Up: Dec. 30, 2013

By Tom Robinson | Dec. 30, 2013, 2:01 p.m. (ET)
Mikaela Shiffrin skis to second place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup women's slalom on Dec. 29, 2013 in Lienz, Austria.

Mikaela Shiffrin had a big weekend at the site of her first FIS Audi World Cup podium finish.

The 18-year-old world champion finished second in the slalom Sunday after placing third in the giant slalom Saturday at Lienz, Austria. The two results increased her total of career world cup podium finishes to 12.

Shiffrin had the lead after the first slalom run in the rain but could not hold on in foggy conditions. She held on to her lead in the season world cup slalom standings.

“Two podiums in two days was really exciting for me,” said Shiffrin, who reached the podium for the first time with a third-place finish in the slalom exactly two years earlier on Dec. 29, 2011. “I’m having a lot of fun skiing slalom and giant slalom. Both days were good. Lienz is a great stop for me.”

Elsewhere, Travis Ganong finished 10th in the downhill Sunday at the FIS World Cup men’s stop in Bormio, Italy, to improve his hopes of making his first Olympic appearance.

NORDIC COMBINED

Todd Lodwick made history Saturday at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Nordic Combined & Ski Jumping in Park City, Utah.

Lodwick won the competition to become the first U.S. athlete to be nominated to a sixth Olympic Winter Games team. Pending approval from the United States Olympic Committee, Lodwick will be the first American to participate in six Winter Games when he competes in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The remainder of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team for Nordic combined will be selected based on world cup competition.

“Winning today was definitely a monkey off the back in being able to say that I am, in fact, going to my sixth Olympic Games,” Lodwick said. “It’s a daunting and humbling statement, but I don’t think there was any doubt in my mind, even before the competition, that I was going to make my sixth team as long as I trained hard and competed well.”

Lodwick gained the only spot up for grabs Saturday by taking the lead on the jump and holding it throughout the cross-country skiing portion of the competition.

After making his Olympic debut in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994, Lodwick has made four return trips. He earned the silver medal in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games as part of the 4 x 5-kilometer team event. 

“I haven’t been this nervous for a competition for a really long time,” Lodwick said, “and I think that is something I’ve been missing a little on the world cup tour. Today there was a lot on the line.

“And, to be in front of friends, family and supportive people who have traveled so far to cheer us on as Nordic combined skiers and as the legacy of the sport is overwhelming.”

Following the jump, Lodwick started the 10-kilometer cross-country race with a 36-second lead over Billy Demong. Bryan Fletcher had the second-fastest time in the cross-country ski to cut Lodwick’s final margin of victory to 17.3 seconds.

“I think that racing against your teammates is probably the hardest race you can do,” Bryan Fletcher said.

Taylor Fletcher, Bryan’s brother, finished fourth, behind Demong.

“I’ve never been surprised at what Todd can pull off,” Demong said. “He’s proven time and time again that he can pull through.”

Read more about Todd Lodwick’s history-making performance here.

SKI JUMPING

Jessica Jerome earned a spot in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, pending approval from the USOC, after winning the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Nordic Combined & Ski Jumping on Sunday in Park City, Utah. Women’s ski jumping makes its Olympic debut at Sochi.

Nick Fairall won the men’s title at the trials and also was nominated to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team. The remainder of the ski jumping team will be announced in January based on points in other events.

Two-time Olympian Anders Johnson and Peter Frenette were second and third, respectively, behind Fairall.

Lindsey Van and Alissa Johnson finished behind Jerome. Sarah Hendrickson, the 2013 world champion, was unable to compete in the trials because of severe knee injury. 

Read more about the women’s ski jumpers jumping into Olympic territory here.

SPEEDSKATING

Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe finished 1-2 both Saturday and Sunday at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Long Track Speedskating at the Utah Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City.

Richardson, a 2010 Olympian and the world cup leader this year at 1,000 meters, won the 500 meters Saturday and 1,000 meters Sunday.

Shani Davis won the men’s 1,000 meters Sunday to clinch a berth for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, subject to USOC approval, where he will try to become the first American man to win a single Olympic Winter Games event three consecutive times. Davis won the gold medal at 1,000 meters at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games.

Winners secured Olympic berths, pending approval of the USOC. After the completion of the Trials, the remaining spots will be nominated with the top finishers from the week up to a maximum of 10 men and 10 women.

Read more about Shani Davis and his race for history here.

Both the men and women earned the maximum four quota spots for the Olympic Winter Games at 1,000 meters. Sugar Todd and Kelly Gunther set personal records while finishing third and fourth behind Richardson and Bowe. Davis was followed by Brian Hansen, Joey Mantia and Jonathan Garcia. Mantia and Garcia also set personal bests.

Read more about Kelly Gunther’s perserverance here.

Mitch Whitmore was the men’s 500 winner Saturday. The United States also earned the four quota holds in both the men’s and women’s 500 Saturday. In the men’s 500, Whitmore was followed by Tucker Fredericks, Hansen and Davis. In the women’s 500, Richardson and Bowe were followed by Lauren Cholewinski and Todd.

Jonathan Kuck won the men’s 5,000 and Jilleanne Rookard the women’s 3,000 Friday. The men earned three 5,000 quota spots and the women two 3,000 spots. Kuck was followed by Emery Lehman and Patrick Meek. Anna Ringsred was second to Rookard.

Read more about Jilleanne Rookard’s comeback here.

After a day off Monday, the trials will continue Tuesday and conclude Wednesday.

ICE HOCKEY

The U.S. women closed out the home portion of their Bring on the World Tour with their third consecutive victory against Canada, 3-2, in a shootout Saturday afternoon in St. Paul, Minn.

Jessie Vetter made 37 saves then stopped all three Canada attempts in the shootout.

“We didn’t have the same intensity as before the break, but we started getting our legs back and found a way to win,” U.S. coach Katey Stone said. “Fortunately, Jessie was a rock back there and she settled things down when we really needed it.”

Hilary Knight scored the decisive shootout goal after assisting on both goals in regulation.

Kelli Stack and Alex Carpenter, who connected on a power play with nine seconds left in the second period, scored the goals for a 2-0 U.S. lead.

Watch video highlights of the USA-Canada game here.

Elsewhere, the United States is off to a 3-0 start at the IIHF World Junior Championships after an 8-0 rout of Germany on Sunday in Malmo, Sweden.

Vince Hinostroza had two goals and two assists, Matt Grzelcyk had a goal and two assists and the United States clinched a spot in the playoff round by scoring six power-play goals. Anthony Stolarz made 15 saves for the shutout.

The United States, which is the defending champion, has outscored opponents, 19-4. 

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

Andy Newell finished 10th in the freestyle sprint Sunday at the Tour de Ski in Oberhof, Germany.

Jessie Diggins was 18th in the women’s sprint and Sophie Caldwell placed 22nd after qualifying a career-best fifth in Saturday’s 3-kilometer prologue.

BIATHLON

Kelsey Dickinson won the junior women’s sprint Saturday and the pursuit Sunday at the US Biathlon Youth/Junior World Championships Team Trials in Presque Isle, Maine. Anna Kubek won both events in youth women.

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Tom Robinson is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org

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