|Jan 14||Team USA Weekend Wrap-Up: Jan. 14, 2012|
After nearly a decade, Noelle Pikus-Pace found her way back to the top of World Cup women’s skeleton competition.
On Friday, Pikus-Pace won her first World Cup gold medal since 2004 in Koenigssee, Germany.
“It’s been so long since I’ve won a World Cup race that I’m having a tough time accepting it,” said Pikus-Pace, who became the first U.S. woman to win a skeleton world championship when she did in 2007. She later finished fourth in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, after which she briefly retired.
“It seems surreal,” she added. “One of my regrets looking back was that I didn’t enjoy the moment enough when I was winning. So I’m going to let myself enjoy this win for the weekend before looking ahead to the next race.”
Pikus-Pace overcame a 0.03-second deficit to Canada’s Sarah Reid during the second run, which she made with snow falling.
“It felt incredible,” Pikus-Pace said after the 0.41-second win. “It was so good to hear the national anthem played, especially on foreign soil.
“It’s all coming together.”
Katie Uhlaender finished ninth in the women’s skeleton competition.
Meanwhile, in women’s bobsled, Elana Meyers and Aja Evans set a track record for fastest start, then broke it in their next race on the way to an eighth-place finish on Friday. Meyers and Evans had a start time of 5.22 seconds in the first heat and 5.20 seconds in the second heat.
Steven Holcomb, Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Langton and Chris Fogt tied for seventh in the four-man bobsled Sunday.
Alpine: Ted Ligety and Alice McKennis posted World Cup victories Saturday. Ligety won the giant slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland, while McKennis won her first World Cup race with a downhill victory in St. Anton, Austria.
McKennis led three U.S. women in the top six. Laurenne Ross was fifth and Lindsey Vonn, making her return after suffering intestinal illness and taking a hiatus from the circuit in December, placed sixth.
Ligety, the World Cup giant slalom points leader, moved to third in the overall World Cup standings.
“This has been a tough course for me in my career so I’m happy to get the win,” Ligety said after his 15th career giant slalom win, tying the total posted by Italy’s Alberto Tomba, and his first on the Koenigsberg course in Adelboden.
The victory marked Ligety’s fourth of the season.
McKennis had never finished in the top three before finishing in 1:14.62 to beat Daniela Merighetti of Italy by 0.07. Anna Fenninger of Austria was third, and overall World Cup leader Tina Maze of Slovenia finished fourth.
“It’s totally shocking for me,” McKennis said. “I had hoped to be top 10. … I’m a little overwhelmed but extremely happy. It’s a dream come true — something you think about as a little kid growing up.”
Vonn missed the podium by just a hundredth of a second in the super G. Julia Mancuso was sixth.
David Chodounsky posted a career-best 10th-place finish Sunday in the slalom. Ligety was 11th.
Cross Country: Andy Newell put together his best classic sprint finish in three seasons, taking sixth in the World Cup event Saturday in Liberec, Czech Republic. Sadie Bjornsen and Ida Sargent combined for a seventh-place finish in the World Cup freestyle team sprint Sunday.
Freestyle: Emily Cook and Dylan Ferguson finished ninth in the World Cup event in Val St. Come, Quebec, Canada.
Nordic Combined: Brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher combined for a seventh-place finish at the World Cup team sprint in Chaux-Neuve, France.
Ski Jumping: Defending overall World Cup champion Sarah Hendrickson produced her second World Cup win of the season Saturday in Hinterzarten, Germany, then added a second-place finish Sunday. Hendrickson has two wins this season and 11 in her World Cup career. Lindsey Van was 11th Saturday and 10th Sunday.
Three 2010 Olympians — Julia Clukey, Chris Mazdzer and Erin Hamlin — gave the United States top-10 finishes during the Sprint Cup Friday to begin the World Cup weekend in Oberhof, Germany.
Clukey was fifth and Hamlin seventh among the women in the format where all lugers participated in a one-heat shootout rather than the usual combination of two times. Mazdzer finished a career-best seventh in men’s singles.
“The Germans have notoriously dominated the races here in Oberhof the past few years,” Clukey said. “I was happy to be the first non-German finisher.”
Clukey and Hamlin were sixth and seventh in the women’s singles World Cup Saturday. Mazdzer and Taylor Morris had career-best World Cup finishes Sunday. Mazdzer was 12th and Morris was 20th.
Chas Guldemond and Jamie Anderson won the men’s and women’s slopestyle titles Friday at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix in Copper Mountain, Colo. The Grand Prix, an FIS World Cup event, was the first chance for athletes to begin accumulating Olympic qualifying points at an event in the United States.
“It feels so good to be on top and start the Olympic qualifying period,” Guldemond said.
Luke Mitrani and Olympic champion Kelly Clark each finished second in Saturday’s halfpipe finals. Louie Vito added a third-place finish. The United States claimed five of the top seven women’s halfpipe spots with Arielle Gold, Kaitlyn Farrington, Ellery Hollingsworth and Elena Hight taking fourth through seventh.
Steven Lopez earned a spot on the U.S. Senior National Team for the 20th consecutive year by taking the welterweight class at the National Team Trials, which were held Saturday and Sunday in Colorado Springs. The 16 winners, including six Olympians, earned the right to represent the United States at the World Championships in Puebla, Mexico, July 15-21.
Steven Lopez, a four-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medalist was joined by younger sister, Diana, and younger brother, Mark. Diana, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, and Mark, a 2008 Olympic silver medalist, won lightweight titles.
Terrence Jennings, the men’s featherweight, and Paige McPherson, the women’s welterweight, gave the team a pair of 2012 Olympic bronze medalists. Charlotte Craig, the women’s flyweight, is another Olympian on the roster.
Katie Compton won her ninth straight elite women’s national title Sunday at the USA Cycling Cyclo-Cross National Championships in Verona, Wis. Jonathan Page won the elite men’s title. Kaitlin Antonneau was ninth overall while repeating as Under-23 women’s champion. Kerry Werner of Lees-McRae College won the Division I men’s title. Saturday’s winners included Logan Owen taking the Junior Men’s (17-18) championship for his eighth consecutive national title. Yannick Eckmann won the Under-23 men, and Antonneau, from Marian University, won the Division I women’s championship.
U.S. teams skipped by Heath McCormick and Allison Pottinger helped Team North America defeat Team World at the World Financial Group Continental Cup that ended Sunday night in Penticton, Canada.
Tim Burke finished 19th Sunday in the 15k mass start at the IBU World Cup event in Rupholding, Germany. Burke, who missed relay competition Thursday because of an illness, ranks 13th in the overall World Cup standings. “After not training so much the past week and fighting sickness, I was a little nervous about how I would feel,” Burke said. “Considering everything, I am pretty happy with the race.” Annelies Cook had a career-best 26th-place finish Friday in the 7.5k sprint. Lowell Bailey was 26th to lead the U.S. men in the 10k sprint Saturday.
The Lexettes from Lexington, Mass. and the Skyliners from New York were chosen to represent the United States at the World Junior Synchronized Championships March 8-9 in Helsinki, Finland. The Lexettes finished first in the World Junior Team Selection Competition, which concluded Sunday in Fraser, Mich.
Californians Daniel Gonzalez (106), Evan Sanchez (110), Brandon Trejo (138), Javier Estrada (145), Alexis Rocha (154), Eric Murguia (165) and Suray Mahmutovic (176) won when the U.S. team was determined for the AIBA Junior Men’s World Championships. The first Junior World Team Open for 15- and 16-year-olds came to a close in Reno, Nev., Friday night.Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Tom Robinson 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.