It is a common and recurring theme when the one-year out date arrives for an upcoming Olympic Games.
Athletes are ramping up their training and positioning themselves for another shot at the podium. And many past stars have chosen to come back for possibly one final shot at Olympic glory.
That will definitely be the case at the world championships for bobsled and skeleton in Koenigssee, Germany. Competition for the event is set for Feb. 17-19 and Feb. 24-26.
The world championships have been held in Koenigssee on four previous occasions, most recently in 2011. This year’s event serves as a very important event with the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, now being less than a year away.
Here’s a look at some of the top storylines in bobsled and skeleton to follow at this year’s world championships:
Will bobsled legend Steven Holcomb continue to excel at age 36?
What’s left for bobsled pilot Steven Holcomb to accomplish in his incredible career? He’s already won three Olympic medals, including one gold, in addition to being a three-time world champion.
Holcomb battled injuries during the 2015-16 season, but has continued to compete at a high level this season despite a few setbacks and some changes in teammates in recent years. He’s added five world cup medals to his vast collection this season, including one gold, two silvers and two bronzes.
Holcomb won gold at the 2014 Koenigssee World Cup in the four-man event and he won silver at last month’s event there in the two-man competition.
Look for the experienced Holcomb to be in the hunt for medals on the German track.
He will team with Carlo Valdes, who has pushed him to four medals this season, in two-man. In four-man, Holcomb will be joined by Valdes, Jimmy Reed and Sam McGuffie.
What will Elana Meyers Taylor do for an encore?
The 32-year-old Elana Meyers Taylor is another star in the sport of bobsled. Meyers Taylor owns a whopping five world medals in the two-woman event – four as a driver and one as a brakewoman. She will race with Kehri Jones for her sixth medal and Jones’ first.
When she won gold in 2015 with Cherrelle Garrett, it marked the first time the U.S. ever won a world title in women’s bobsled.
She won a gold medal last month at the world cup in Koenigssee. Next year she will be seeking her third Olympic berth, after winning an Olympic bronze medal in Vancouver in 2010 as a push athlete and then an Olympic silver medal in Sochi in 2014 as a pilot.
Meyers Taylor is still on top of her game and has continued to stockpile momentum for PyeongChang. She’s won four gold medals and two silvers this season.
Will Jamie Greubel Poser win her first world medal?
Jamie Greubel Poser, another experienced competitor who is often on the podium, is coming off a silver-medal showing in the world cup on the German track. She’s won six medals, including one gold and one silver, this season.
But she has yet to earn a world championships medal. Her highest finish was fifth in each of the past two years.
Greubel Poser and Aja Evans won the Olympic bronze medal in 2014. Evans will push Greubel Poser once again in Koenigssee.
Expect American pilots Meyers Taylor and Greubel Poser to battle it out with Canadian Kaillie Humphries, the two-time defending Olympic champion, for the world title. At last month’s world cup in Koenigssee, Greubel Poser finished second by 0.13 seconds. Humphries was 0.21 seconds behind Meyers Taylor in third.
Brittany Reinbolt, who has three top-10 finishes this season, will make her world championships debut pushed by Lauren Gibbs, who pushed Meyers Taylor to bronze last year.
How will John Daly fare in his return to competition?
The 31-year-old John Daly recently announced a return to skeleton competition after retiring following the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Daly, who already owns a 2013 world title in the mixed team competition, took a medical device sales job after retiring from the sport.
Daly’s comeback is in full swing now, and he medaled in six out of seven lower-level-circuit races upon his return in January. His rank of 20th in the world qualified him for the world championships team after just one month back competing.
Daly was in medal contention at the 2014 Winter Games, sitting in fourth place after three of four runs in Sochi. But his medal hopes evaporated with a slip at the start of his final run. He finished 15th, coming to a stop with his helmet buried in his hands.
The two-time Olympian has competed in skeleton since 2001.
Daly is still knocking the rust off after making his return, but don’t be surprised if he finishes in the top six at the worlds. His previous best finish is fifth in 2013.
Matt Antoine could also contend for the podium. The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, who won the first U.S. men’s medal since Jimmy Shea’s gold in 2002, has earned world cup silver and bronze medals this season.
Annie O’Shea leads the U.S. women’s skeleton hopes. She has two sixth-place finishes on the world cup this season and was fifth at last year’s world championships. Kendall Wesenberg is also a contender after earning silver at the St. Moritz, Switzerland world cup.
Justin Olsen and Nick Cunningham continue to chase their dreams
Already an Olympic gold medalist as a push athlete on Holcomb’s 2010 four-man crew, Justin Olsen has now moved into the bobsled driver’s seat and will make his worlds debut in that role.
Olsen and teammate Evan Weinstock placed fourth in the two-man world cup race in Igls, Austria, earlier this month, showing he’s fully capable of medaling in his first world cup season as a pilot.
The 29-year-old also competed in four-man at the 2014 Games with Nick Cunningham, who he will be competing against in Koenigssee.
After missing out on the world cup team for the first time in five years, Cunningham, 31, has had an outstanding seaso on the North American Cup circuit. He compiled six gold, two silvers and two bronzes in 16 races. He is now ranked 19th in the world in two-man and 21st in four-man, which earned him a spot on the world team. Cunningham will be pushed by Adrian Adams in the two-man.
In four-man, Olsen will be pushed by Weinstock, Austin Landis and Sam Michener, while Cunningham will team with Adams, Christopher Kinney and Frank Del Duca.