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Team USA Weekend Wrap-Up: Oct. 29, 2012

By Tom Robinson | Oct. 29, 2012, 11:30 a.m. (ET)

Julia Clukey
Julia Clukey competes in a women's luge practice run held at Whistler Sliding Centre ahead of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics on Feb. 11, 2010

Not even thousandths of a second could separate Chris Mazdzer and Tucker West, who shared the men’s singles title at the Norton USA Luge National Championships. West, 17, also won the gold in team relay.

Mazdzer and West both had combined times of 3:33.262 over four runs, covering four miles. Mazdzer, a 2010 Olympian, led through three runs before having trouble at the start of his fourth.

Julia Clukey ended Erin Hamlin’s streak of national titles at five in a battle of Olympians in women’s singles.

“We have a great women’s team,” Clukey said. “I think Erin and I are going to push each other all year.”

Matt Mortensen and 2006 Olympian Preston Griffall won the men’s doubles title when Jake Hyrns and Andrew Sherk were disqualified for an equipment violation.

Summer Britcher, West and the doubles team of Hyrns and Sherk combined for the team relay win.


Three-time FIS Alpine World Cup champion Ted Ligety opened the season with a 2.75-second victory in giant slalom, marking the largest in a World Cup event in 34 years, Sunday in Soelden, Austria.

Ligety repeated his title and made the podium in Soelden for the sixth straight time. The title was the 12th of his World Cup career, all of which he earned in GS.

According to the International Ski Federation, the time difference between winner and runner-up in a World Cup GS has only been bigger six times before -- all in the 1970s. Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark holds the record with a gap of 4.06 seconds.

“I knew I was skiing well,” said Ligety, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist in the combined event. “I’ve been skiing fast in training. I’ve been working really hard on these new skis to get to the point I knew I was going to be among the best.”

Ligety was in second place before the second run, which was made in blizzard conditions.

“It was a tough day for everybody and I just fought and maybe took more risks,” he said.

The U.S. women had a tough day in the giant slalom Saturday.

Three-time Olympian Julia Mancuso went down in the first run and defending World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn went out in the second. Mikaela Shiffrin missed the top-30 final by one-hundredth of a second.


Olympic silver medalists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross saved their gold-medal performance for the season finale.

Kessy and Ross won the Thailand Open, the final event of this year’s FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, for the third time when they defeated Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova, 21-17, 21-19.

Kessy and Ross won the Thailand Open in 2008 and 2009 and finished second last year. They won the bronze at the Grand Slam in Rome this year and silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“Winning silver at the Olympics was great, but we really wanted this medal,” Kessy said. “We were desperate to win here.

“We won gold in every year we played together, but this year we left it ‘til the very end.”

Kessy and Ross have a total of 10 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze medals in 71 career events on the World Tour.

Nicole Branagh and Lauren Fendrick, playing together in international competition for the first time, reached the bronze-medal match where they fell to Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas de Freitas, 19-21, 21-19, 15-9.


J.R. Celski earned a silver medal in the men’s 1,500 meters Saturday and was part of a bronze-medal effort in the men’s relay Sunday at the Samsung ISU Short Track World Cup event in Montreal. Celski’s medal marked his second consecutive weekend winning a medal. In Calgary a week ago, Celski set a world record in the 500.

Travis Jayner, John-Henry Krueger and Chris Creveling joined Celski in the relay in Montreal.

The Samsung ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series will resume in Nagoya, Japan, Nov. 30-Dec. 2.


Gracie Gold, the 2012 U.S. women’s junior champion, made her senior Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada in Windsor, Ont., with a seventh-place finish. Caroline Zhang placed ninth.

The U.S. ice dancing team of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue finished fifth, and two-time U.S. bronze medalist Ross Miner finished fifth as the lone American entrant in the men’s event.

The pairs team of Lindsay Davis and Mark Ludwig also placed seventh in its Grand Prix debut, finishing one spot behind Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin.

Meanwhile, at the Cup of Nice event in France, Keegan Messing successfully defended his title and teammate Max Aaron finished second. The pairs team of Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim also won gold. Messing was second in the free skate behind Zhan Bush but the Russian had placed 15th in the short program.


FENCING: Anton Piskovatskov, Ariel Simmons, Porter Hesslegrave and Justin Yoo combined to lead the United States to the men’s epee team gold medal Sunday at the European Cadet Circuit event in Klagenfurt, Germany. Amanda Sirico, Madeline Kehl, Kasia Nixon and Madeline Antekeier earned the women’s team epee silver. Sirico picked up an individual silver and Harrison MacRae a bronze.

JUDO: Siblings George and Annie Truong took gold and silver medals at the Flanders Cup Sunday after Lauren De Smidt earned bronze Saturday in Lommel, Belgium. George Truong went 7-0 to win the 20-year-old, 66-kg division. Annie Truong took silver in the Under-17, 48-kg division in her first competition since a shoulder injury suffered in November 2011 that required surgery. De Smidt competed in the Under-15, 63-kilogram division.

MODERN PENTATHLON: Dennis Bowsher and Samantha Achterberg won titles at the Junior/Senior National Championships in Colorado Springs. Brendan Anderson finished second and Justin Torrellas third among men Sunday. Isabella Isaksen and Alison English were second and third among women Saturday.

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.