Shani Davis poses at the NBC Olympics/United States Olympic Committee promotional shoot in April 2013.
Shani Davis and Heather Richardson each won gold medals in the 1,000 meters and finished on the overall podium Sunday at the Essent ISU Long Track World Sprint Championships in Nagano, Japan, the final event prior to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Both are headed to Sochi next month, pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
Davis, who won the 1,000 meters in the past two Olympic Winter Games, finished second overall among men. He was second in Saturday’s 1,000 meter race before moving up a spot Sunday.
“Things are looking good as we’re three weeks out from Sochi,” Davis said.
Richardson, the 2013 world sprint champion, added a bronze medal in the 500 and finished third overall in the women’s points. She was fourth at 1,000 when it was contested for the first time Saturday.
“I’m really happy I was able to finish with a really strong 1,000 meters and jump up to third overall,” Richardson said. “I’m looking forward to getting to Sochi.”
Sugar Todd and Mitch Whitmore each placed 14th overall.
An eventful weekend for the U.S. bobsled and skeleton team included a track-record performance, multiple world cup medals and the announcement of the nominations for the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team that will compete next month in Sochi.
The list of nominees includes two women will make their Olympic Winter Games debuts on an icy bobsled track after competing on a running track in the summer Games. Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams will become the ninth and 10th Americans to compete in both the winter and summer editions of the Olympic Games when they hit the bobsled track in Sochi next month. All nominees are subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee.
“I was definitely very nervous entering the room,” Jones told reporters about waiting out the decision-making process. “I'm usually used to looking up at a screen after I cross the finish line to see the results. You're just like anxious, armpits are sweating, don't know what's going to happen.”
Jones finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles in 2012 and was in striking distance of reaching a gold medal in 2008 but clipped the ninth hurdle and finished seventh. Now she has a shot at a gold medal in bobsled.
Williams had retired after winning a gold medal in the London 2012 Olympic Games as part of America’s 400-meter relay. She also earned a silver medal at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games in the 100 meters. Joining Williams and Jones as push athletes in Sochi is Aja Evans.
“This is the deepest field of push athletes we’ve ever had,” USBSF CEO Darrin Steele said after the bobsled selections Sunday. “We knew heading into the season that the Olympic selection was going to be extremely difficult. It’s a good problem to have, but it meant that some outstanding athletes would not make the Olympic team.”
The pilots named to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team are Jamie Greubel, Elena Meyers and Jazmine Fenlator. Greubel has five world cup medals on the season, including a gold medal Sunday with Williams. Greubel and Meyers, who won twice and earned a total of six medals in the world cup season, are ranked second and third in the world. Meyers and Evans were second Sunday. Evans earned four medals this season.
Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton broke the track record in Igls, Austria, while winning the two-man bobsled world cup race Saturday. The win was the fifth of the season in two-man world cup races for Holcomb and the third while teaming with Langton.
The final competition prior to the Olympic Games finalized the number of quota spots available for each nation. The U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation then announced its 2014 U.S. Olympic Teams. The skeleton team selections were revealed Saturday, then the bobsled team was named Sunday with a combination of veterans and newcomers.
Holcomb and Nick Cunningham will pilot two-man and four-man sleds while Cory Butner will drive a two-man sled in Sochi. Langton, Curt Tomasevicz and Chris Fogt will join Holcomb on the USA-1 four-man team that will try to defend its 2010 Olympic title. That combination earned the silver medal Sunday. Justin Olsen, Johnny Quinn and Dallas Robinson will be on Cunningham’s team. The two-man bobsled brakemen will be selected from among the six push athletes.
In skeleton, 2010 Olympian Noelle Pikus-Pace medaled for the sixth consecutive time when she claimed a silver medal on Saturday. Pikus-Pace and Katie Uhlaender were the women’s skeleton Olympic choices while Matt Antoine, John Daly and Kyle Tress were the men’s selections. Daly finished fifth, Antoine sixth and Tress eighth at Igls.
Thirteen U.S. Olympic Team selections for halfpipe and slopestyle snowboarding were announced Sunday afternoon following a hectic and successful weekend for many of the team members. Earlier postponements caused the last of the Olympic qualification events to be jammed into competitions Thursday through Sunday at Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
Two-time defending Olympic halfpipe champion Shaun White, 2002 halfpipe champion Kelly Clark and 2006 halfpipe champion Hannah Teter were among those selected.
“We’re taking an outstanding team to Sochi that’s ready to bring home those medals,” halfpipe and slopestyle coach Mike Jankowski said.
Greg Bretz joins White in returning to the Olympic Winter Games in men’s halfpipe while Danny Davis and Taylor Gold are set for their first appearances. Clark and Teter join newcomers Kaitlyn Farrington and Arielle Gold on the women’s halfpipe team.
Slopestyle snowboarding will make its Olympic debut as the opening event of the 2014 Winter Games with men’s qualifying Feb. 6 and the finals Feb. 8, the first day that medals will be decided. The U.S. men’s team is Sage Kotsenburg, Chas Guldemond and White. The women’s team is Jamie Anderson and Ty Walker.
White earned a shot at a third straight Olympic halfpipe gold medal with a win Sunday at Mammoth Mountain in the final event of the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix Series. White also won Friday’s competition. Farrington also clinched with a halfpipe win Sunday.
Kotsenburg and Anderson won the Grand Prix slopestyle titles Saturday. Anderson, who won that day’s race, and White locked up their slopestyle spots in Sochi with their performances Thursday.
Freeskiing, a discipline that includes halfpipe, slopestyle and skicross, will also make its Olympic debut in Sochi, and the first 11 athletes who will represent the United States in the two events were announced on Saturday night. Nine of the 11 spots were determined during the final two events during the weekend at Park City, Utah.
There could be additions to the team once final quota allocations for the Winter Games are made this week.
The team features David Wise, Aaron Blunck and Lyman Currier in men’s halfpipe; Maddie Bowman, Brita Sigourney and Angeli VanLaanen in women’s halfpipe; Nick Goepper, Bobby Brown and Gus Kenworthy in men’s slopestyle; and Devin Logan and Keri Herman in women’s slopestyle.
“This is an historic moment for the sport of freeskiing,” said Jeremy Forster, director of freeskiing and snowboarding for U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. “It was clear throughout the five-event Grand Prix qualifying series that we had a growing depth of top athletes who were pushing the sport to new levels.”
Goepper and Wise were the only ones to have spots secured prior to this weekend.
Bradley Wilson clinched a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team for moguls Sunday when he placed third in the event at the FIS World Cup at Val St. Come, Quebec, Canada. Wilson’s second podium finish in five days allowed him to secure a spot in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee. The qualifying period closed Sunday and official team nominations are scheduled to be announced Tuesday.
“I came in thinking that maybe my third-place finish last week would be good enough to get me to the games,” Wilson said. “So I went out there and skied just for myself, which was really nice. The pressure was off because I wasn’t skiing for anyone but myself.
“I lowered my degree of difficulty today because the course was eating people up and I didn’t want to push it, and it ended up working out really well. I’m really pleased with the way everything went today.”
Troy Murphy finished fifth on the men’s side. Olympic champion Hannah Kearney was fourth to lead the U.S. women. Heidi Kloser, Sophia Schwartz and Eliza Outtrim followed Kearney in fifth through seventh places.
Elsewhere, Mac Bohonnon was named FIS World Cup Rookie of the Year following the final aerials event of the season Saturday in Lake Placid, N.Y. Emily Cook had the top U.S. finish with a fifth while Mike Rossi led the U.S. men with a season-best, sixth-place finish.
Bohonnon, who had his first podium finish less than a week earlier, finished 13th, one spot behind teammate Dylan Ferguson.
Ted Ligety posted the 20th Audi FIS Alpine World Cup victory of his career by winning the super combined Friday in Wengen, Switzerland. The win was the first world cup victory by Ligety, the 2006 Olympic combined gold medalist, in a discipline other than giant slalom.
“It’s nice to win a super combined finally,” said Ligety, who has three wins on the season to move into third in the overall world cup standings.
Elsewhere, heavy snow wiped out the weekend of women’s downhill and super-G competition in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Kikkan Randall won every one of her heats Saturday to take the world cup sprint title at Szklarska Poreba, Poland. Randall won for the second time in a week to move up to second in the world cup sprint season standings.
“The focus of the season has always been on getting in peak shape for the Olympics,” Randall said. “ … I’m really happy to be feeling healthy and strong with just three weeks to go now.”
Andy Newell led the U.S. men, finishing sixth. Liz Stephen finished a career-best sixth and Ida Sargent placed ninth Sunday in the women’s 10-kilometer classic mass start at the FIS World Cup event in Szklarska Poreba.
Jessica Jerome finished 10th Sunday in the FIS World Cup event in Zao, Japan. Jerome became the first American woman to qualify for ski jumping in the Winter Games when she won the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Nordic Combined & Ski Jumping last month in Park City, Utah, and she will represent Team USA in Sochi.
Bryan Fletcher finished fifth Friday through Sunday during the first FIS World Cup Nordic Combined Triple in Seefeld, Austria. Billy Demong was 11th in the event, which combined results from three days of competition.
PARALYMPIC SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING
Evan Strong edged teammate Mike Shea for the gold medal in the lower limb impairment men’s snowboardcross at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing and Para-Snowboard World Cup Sunday in Copper Mountain, Colo. The teammates reversed their results from Saturday’s race in the same event.
Marc Dervaes won the men’s upper limb impairment race Sunday after finishing second Saturday. Fatu Matagi earned medals both days.
Heidi Jo Duce finished second in the women’s lower limb impairment Sunday after placing third in the event Saturday.
In alpine skiing, seven-time Paralympic medalist Allison Jones earned a silver medal Saturday and a bronze medal Sunday in women’s standing slalom. Heath Calhoun was second in the men’s sitting race.
Team North America defeated Team World, 36-24, in Las Vegas to win the World Financial Group Continental Cup title for the second consecutive time. American skip Erika Brown was part of a winning cup team for the fourth time while helping North America improve to 6-4 in the event.
U.S. members of Team North America also included Debbie McCormick, Jessica Schultz, Ann Swisshelm, John Shuster, Jeff Isaacson, Jared Zezel and John Landsteiner. Brown, McCormick, Schultz, Swisshelm, Shuster, Isaacson, Zezel and Landsteiner have been nominated to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team.
Erin Hamlin finished sixth in women’s singles and was part of the team relay that also placed sixth Sunday when the world cup season concluded in Altenberg, Germany. Chris Mazdzer and the doubles team of Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall completed the relay team.
The United States finished third in the season standings in the team relay, which makes its Olympic debut in Sochi.
Mazdzer was ninth in men’s singles Saturday and the doubles team of Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.
Elsewhere, Jesse Arndt won the USA Luge National Masters Championship Sunday in Park City, Utah.
Susan Dunklee finished a career-best fourth in Thursday’s 7.5-kilometer sprint at the E.ON IBU World Cup event in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy. Dunklee became just the third U.S. woman to finish as high as fourth in a world cup competition. She combined perfect shooting and a time of 20:40.9. Lowell Bailey, who was also nominated to the Olympic Team, was 19th in Friday’s 10-kilometer sprint and 12th in Saturday’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit.
TRACK & FIELD
Meb Keflezighi and Serena Burla won titles Sunday in the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston. Keflezighi, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the marathon, finished the 13.1-mile course in 1:01:23. Aaron Braun finished 15 seconds back as the second of seven runners to finish under 1:02. Burla finished in 1:10:48 to win by almost a minute and a half over Lauren Kleppin (1:12:12). The race was the first stop of the US Running Circuit.
Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian won the 100-meter freestyle Friday and beat a stellar field in the 50 freestyle Saturday at the Arena Grand Prix event in Austin, Texas.
Saturday’s 50 free final included fellow Olympians Anthony Ervin, Cullen Jones, Matt Grevers and Jimmy Feigen. Ervin won the Olympic gold medal in the event in 2000 and Jones claimed the Olympic silver medal in 2012.
Adrian, Ervin, Jones and Grevers qualified within 13-hundredths of a second of each other Saturday morning to take the top four seeds in the final.
When Adrian finished Saturday’s final in 21.89 seconds, he was the only swimmer to break 22 seconds, allowing him to win by more than half a second over Ervin, who edged Feigen for second place by one-hundredth of a second.
“My start was not what I wanted it to be, but you’ve got to do what you can given the circumstances,” Adrian said. “If I had hit my break-out and start, I might have been a little faster, but you have to focus on what you can control and look at the positives of the race.”
Natalie Coughlin won another battle of U.S. Olympians in the women’s 50 free final, finishing in 25.17 seconds to edge Amanda Weir, the American record-holder in the event who was second in 25.23. The top four seeds had qualified within three-hundredths of a second.
By the time the meet concluded Sunday, Olympians Caitlin Leverenz, Conor Dwyer and Katie Ledecky added their second wins of the meet. Leverenz and Dwyer each swept the 200 and 400 individual medleys. Ledecky won the 400 and 800 freestyles.
The United States defeated Mexico, 4-0, Sunday in George Town, Cayman Islands, to win the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship. Andi Sullivan scored off a corner kick in the ninth minute for the only goal of the first half. Savannah Jordan and Margaret Purce added goals before an own goal completed the scoring.
The United States took home several individual awards as well. Midfielder Rose Lavelle won the golden ball winner as the tournament’s MVP, goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland won the golden glove and McKenzie Meehan was the co-goal scoring leader. Lavelle also was Woman of the Match in the final. The team received CONCACAF’s Fair Play Award.
The U.S. women earned the silver medal in women’s team pursuit Friday as part of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup event that continued to Sunday in Guadalajara, Mexico, and wrapped up the season.
Cari Higgins, Lauren Tamayo, Jennifer Valente and Jade Wilcoxson formed the team that finished second to Canada. The team closed the season third in the points standings.
Valente finished eighth in the women’s scratch race.
Jacob Duehring finished 14th in the men’s omnium Saturday and Sunday, including a fourth-place finish in the scratch race. He completed the world cup season 12th in the overall point standings.
The U.S. Men’s Foil Team defeated Russia, 45-30, Sunday in Paris for the bronze medal at the world cup opener. Elsewhere, the U.S. Women’s Epée Team finished fourth at the world cup event in Doha, Qatar, when it lost, 45-33, to Hungary in the bronze-medal match.
Andras Horanyi, a three-time senior world team member in foil who is now competing in epée, had his best world performance to date when he finished 16th with the help of consecutive wins over two-time world champion Nikolai Novosjolov of Estonia and U.S. No. 1 Soren Thompson.
Michael Puertas, the only U.S. player in the field of 16, lost in four games to fourth-seeded Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi of Qatar in the opening round of the U.S. Pro Squash Series event in St. Louis, Mo. Julian Illingworth, the winner of the inaugural series championship in 2013, had to retire from a qualifying event because of an injury.
Elsewhere, Amanda Sobhy was the only U.S. player to get through Saturday’s first round before also adding a quarterfinal victory Sunday at the Women’s JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York to make it into the tournament’s main draw. Sobhy is ranked 18th in the world.
Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Tom Robinson is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org.