The holidays are over and it’s back to work for many U.S. athletes this weekend. Winter Olympic hopefuls are competing this weekend in various skiing, luge, skeleton and biathlon World Cups. And don’t forget about hockey. The NHL is in the midst of a lockout but that doesn’t mean the sport isn’t being played. Over in Russia, the top 20-and-under U.S. hockey players are competing for gold at the World Junior Championships. These are just some of the U.S. athletes in action this weekend. Check out the Team USA Weekend Preview for all the details.
FIS World Cup Alpine, men’s and women’s slalom, Jan. 4-6, Zagreb, Croatia
American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin won the slalom competition Friday, becoming the first U.S. alpine skier ever to win two World Cups before turning 18. The 17-year-old skiing sensation won the race by a margin of 1.19 seconds. Shiffrin’s win helped her regain the World Cup slalom points lead.
Defending overall champion Lindsey Vonn, who returned to snow training in Europe Thursday after a month-long break from the circuit, skipped the race.
Vonn said she anticipates returning to the World Cup tour for a scheduled downhill and super-G in St. Anton, Austria, where she swept a downhill and super combined during a 2007 stop at the Arlberg resort en route to the first World Cup overall and downhill titles of her career.
TV: 8 p.m.-9:30 p.m. ET Friday, Universal Sports; 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Universal Sports
Tour de Ski, Jan. 5-8, various locations, Italy
Olympian Kikkan Randall was in eighth place entering the fifth stage Friday of Tour de Ski. She is just 59.3 seconds out of first place. The event concludes over the weekend with races Saturday and Sunday in Val di Flemme, Italy. The competition Friday in Toblach/Cortina includes a women’s 3-kilometer race and a men’s 5k classic. Other U.S. skiers include Liz Stephen, 19th place; Jessie Diggins, 27th place; Holly Brooks, 34th place. Men skiers include Kris Freeman, Noah Hoffman and Andy Newell.
“I’m looking forward to another short and fast race,” Randall said. “This is when the Tour really starts to get interesting and it’s great to see how the team is responding to the challenge.”
TV: 7 p.m.-8 p.m. ET Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Universal Sports
U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships, Jan. 3-8, Soldier Hallow, Utah
More than 430 athletes are competing in the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah, which was the cross country skiing and biathlon venue for the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The men’s 15k and women’s 10k freestyle will be held Friday. Torin Koos and Jennie Bender won classic sprint titles Wednesday.
Also in skiing:
FIS World Cup Freestyle, men’s and women‘s aerials, Jan. 5, Changchun, China
FIS World Cup Ski Jumping, men, Jan. 3-4, Innsbruck, Austria
FIS World Cup Ski Jumping, men, Jan. 5-6, Bischofshofen, Austria
FIS World Cup Ski Jumping, women, Jan. 4-6, Schonach-Schonwald, Germany
FIS World Cup Nordic Combined, Jan. 5-6, Schonach, Germany
IIHF World Junior Championship, Dec. 26-Jan. 5, Ufa, Russia
The U.S. National Junior Team will play Sweden for the gold medal Saturday in the IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. Team USA advanced to the title game with a 5-1 victory Thursday against Canada.
“We’re going to enjoy this win tonight and then start thinking about the gold-medal game tomorrow,” coach Phil Housley, a 2002 Olympic silver medalist, said after the victory.
John Gaudreau of Boston College and Jake McCabe of the University of Wisconsin each scored twice for Team USA. Gaudreau’s seven goals in the tournament are tied for the second most in a single tournament by a U.S. player. After consecutive 2-1 losses to Russia and Canada in the preliminary round, Team USA has won three straight games by a combined score of 21-4.
TV: 8 a.m. ET Saturday, NHL Network
IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship, Dec. 29-Jan. 5, Heinola and Vierumaki, Finland
The U.S. Women’s Under-18 National Team won its three preliminary-round games by combined scores of 25-0 and cruised into Friday’s semifinal round of the IIHF U-18 Women’s Championship in Finland. An 8-0 victory against Sweden Tuesday included four goals being scored within a 1:25 span.
A victory Friday sends Team USA into the gold-medal game Saturday.
World Cup, Jan. 5-6, Konigssee, Germany
Julia Clukey ruled the entire Konigssee course for the Nations Cup (the World Cup qualifier) with the fastest split times of the field until a bobble at the end cost her a few fractions of a second. Clukey’s time of 51.411 seconds was just 0.066 from German winner Carina Schwab, who led a 1-2 finish for the home team.
However, Clukey had the quickest start on Konigssee’s flat start ramp, and parlayed that into the best intermediate times over the first four timing points.
“I am really happy with my run today,” Clukey said. “It has been raining all morning and is set to continue through the weekend so I was focused on really staying calm and keeping good position to minimize movement on the sled. I set a personal best-start today, and was my first sub three second start time. To be .06 behind the Germans on their home track is great. I am ready for the World Cup tomorrow.”
A strong performance Saturday could finalize her qualification for the World Championships next month in Whistler, B.C., Canada.
Emily Sweeney, a member of the Army National Guard, placed ninth in the Nations Cup in 51.916. Kate Hansen, the 2008 junior world champion, was 12th in 52.074.
Erin Hamlin, by virtue of her status in the A seed of racers, was exempt from qualifying. Hamlin, a two-time Olympian and 2009 world champion, is ranked sixth in the overall World Cup standings.
The men’s Nations Cup qualification saw 2010 Olympian Chris Mazdzer, Taylor Morris, and Joe Mortensen gain entry into the World Cup competition Sunday. Mazdzer and Morris tied for seventh place in 50.534. The event also saw Germany finish with gold and silver medals. Mortensen took 15th.
Mazdzer and Morris wound up 0.36 from Ralf Palik’s winning time of 50.172.
Mortensen, a member of the Army National Guard’s World Class Athlete Program, qualified in 50.817. After training the entire first half of the season in Lake Placid, this will mark Mortensen’s first international race of the year.
Doubles and women’s singles will be held Saturday beginning at 3:15 a.m. ET, followed by men’s singles and the team relay on Sunday at 3 a.m. ET. All action with live timing and scoring can be found at www.fil-luge.org.
World Cup, Jan. 4-6, Altenberg, Germany
Katie Uhlaender finished 0.01 seconds shy of gold to earn the silver medal and teammate Noelle Pikus-Pace claimed bronze in women’s skeleton Friday. This was the second bronze medal for Pikus-Pace, a 2010 Olympian, since beginning her comeback. Uhlaender has already won two World Cup races this season.
“Overall it was a good day because we’re walking away with two medals for Team USA,” Uhlaender said. “I’m happy, especially considering what was happening to other people because of the weather.”
Steady rain created sloppy track conditions, leaving no room for driving errors if athletes wanted to be in medal contention. Uhlaender had a strong lead of 0.17 seconds after sliding a smooth first run of 1:00.12. Pikus-Pace was fourth with a time of 1:00.40. In the second run, Germany’s Anja Huber, third after the first run, made crucial mistakes to bump her down to fifth place, allowing Pikus-Pace to move into medal position. Huber’s teammate, Marion Thees, put together a speedy second run to keep her ahead of Pikus-Pace.
Uhlaender was the last competitor to take to the ice, and was en route to her third victory of the season until a mistake in the 360-degree Kreisel corner scrubbed speed from her run, putting her just behind Thees who celebrated her second win of the season.
"I know Katie was disappointed, but I'm proud of her and it was really good to see two U.S. flags raised today," Pikus-Pace said. "Our team camaraderie is better than it's ever been, which makes us an even stronger force to be reckoned with."
John Daly and Kyle Tress will lead the U.S. men’s skeleton team into World Cup competition on Saturday in Altenberg, Germany. Brad Stewart, a medalist on the Intercontinental Cup circuit, also will compete, replacing Matt Antoine, who is in a rehabilitation program because of a knee injury.
No U.S. teams will compete in the bobsled because the national squad chose to skip the World Cup event in order to spend the weekend training on the 2013 World Championship track in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Also in bobsled/skeleton:
Intercontinental Cup, Jan. 5-6, Igls, Austria
IBU World Cup, Jan. 3-6, Oberhof, Germany
Tim Burke, who placed third in the mass start at a World Cup race in December in Slovenia, leads the U.S. Biathlon Team to the fourth World Cup of the season this weekend in Oberhof, Germany. Burke’s finishes have been on the rise, and his bronze medal performance in Slovenia was his fourth career podium. He is in sixth place in the World Cup overall standings.
Joining him in Oberhof are Lowell Bailey, Russell Currier, Susan Dunklee and Sara Studebaker.
UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, Jan. 6, Rome
World Cup leader Katie Compton will try to build on her 105-point advantage in the season standings when she races Sunday at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup event in Rome. Compton won two golds and a silver in three World Cup races in December.
Other U.S. cyclists include Kaitlin Antonneau and Nicole Duke in elite women, and Jonathan Page, Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson in elite men. Logan Owen is coming off a second-place finish in junior men last week in Belgium.
Webcast: 9 a.m. ET Sunday, universalsports.com
USA Curling Men’s Challenge Round, Jan. 3-6, Hibbing, Minn.
Thirty teams are battling for the final six spots in the USA Curling National Championships, which begin Feb. 9 in Green Bay, Wis. The top seed of the 30 is Team Birr, which advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals. Todd Birr won the 2007 national championship and led Team USA to a bronze medal at the world championships.
Four men’s teams have already qualified for the national championships: Team Heath McCormick, Team Pete Fenson, Team John Shuster and Team Tyler George.
Also in curling:
World Curling Tour, Mecure Perth Masters, Jan. 3-6, Perth, Scotland
Junior World Cup, women’s and men’s saber, men’s epée, men’s foil, Jan. 4-5, Udine, Italy
Junior World Cup competition in four disciplines will take place Friday and Saturday in Udine, Italy. Among those expected to compete for the United States in women’s saber are Skyla Powers, who won bronze at the Cadet World Championships last year and also bronze at the Sosnowiec, Poland, Junior World Cup this season. Competition will also be held in men’s saber, epee and foil.
Also in fencing:
Junior World Cup, women’s epée, Dijon, France
Regional Youth Circuit, Jan. 5, Troy, Mich., and Kaysville, Utah
RohrMax Cup, Jan. 4-6, Vienna, Austria
Twelve members of the U.S. Women’s National Indoor Team will play in the RohrMax Cup in Vienna, Austria, beginning Friday. The tournament also includes teams from Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
“As we prepare for future indoor Pan American qualifiers, it is important for us to consistently hone our skills against strong international indoor programs,” said Denise Zelenak, U.S. Women’s Indoor National Team Coach.
The U.S. roster: Megan Bozek, Susan Ciufo, Ashley Dalisera, Wesley Drew, Amanda Fleischut, Maria Kessling, Meredith Long, Lindsay McArdle, Ali McEVoy, Rachael Bloemaker, Kim Tunell and Emily Valeo.
USA Modern Pentathlon Selection Camp, Jan. 4-7, Colorado Springs
The second national selection competition begins Friday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The World Cup season begins in February. A third selection camp will be held later in January.
TRACK AND FIELD
Great Edinburgh International Cross Country, Jan. 5, Scotland
A U.S. team of 30, including 18 senior division athletes, will compete Saturday in the Bupa Great Edinburgh International Cross Country event in Scotland. Among those competing for the United States: Elliot Krause, an All-American in 10,000 meters at the University of Wisconsin, and Meghan Peyton, a four-time All-American at the University of Iowa.
The event at Holyrood Park features teams from Britain, the United States and Europe in four races (senior men, senior women, junior men, junior women) that determine the overall team champion.
Junior World Team Open, Jan. 7-11, Reno, Nev.
U.S. athletes in 13 male weight classes and six female divisions will compete in the inaugural Junior World Team Open, beginning Monday in Reno, Nev. The tournament will take place at the Sierra State Pavilion in the Grand Sierra Resort.
The tournament is expected to draw the top 15- and 16-year-old boxers in the United States. Preliminary rounds start Monday, leading up to the finals Jan. 11. It is a qualifying tournament for the 2013 AIBA Junior Men’s World Championships.
USBC Team USA Trials, Jan. 3-7, Henderson, Nev.
John Szczerbinski, a two-time national team member, and Kristina Frahm, the bowling coach at Maryland Eastern Shore, were the opening-round leaders Thursday at the USBC Team USA Trials in Henderson, Nev. Szczerbinski led the men’s field of 171 with a six-game total of 1,516. Frahm was atop the women’s field of 85 with a six-game total of 1,376.
Marshall Kent is the defending men’s champion and Danielle McEwan is the defending women’s champion.
Roster spots for the 2013 U.S. team are determined through the trials, which are being held at Sunset Station in Henderson. The top three men and top three women after five qualifying rounds will clinch spots on the national team. The two champions after the stepladder finals will qualify to represent the United States at the 2013 QubicaAMF World Cup. Additionally, seven more men and seven more women will also be named to the national team.
The trials also will determine four spots on the junior national team. Four additional roster spots, two men and two women, will be at-large selections.
Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. Material from various news services and press releases from National Governing Bodies was used to compile this report. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.