- Olympic Zone
Team USA's week that was: Jan 6-12
As the country was gripped in a brutal cold spell last week, the action heated up on the road to Sochi. In a week that featured the announcement that Lindsey Vonn would not be competing at the Games, the next U.S. Olympic stars were born in Boston at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Check out the highlights from the week that was.
Figure Skating: U.S. Championships
The 2014 Figure Skating U.S. Championships featured drama, elation and heartbreak, as skaters put their Olympic aspirations on the line at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
18-year-old Gracie Gold backed up a clean short program that put her in the lead after the first night, with a free skate that delivered her the U.S. title and assured the Chicago native an Olympic berth. Two-time defending U.S. champion, Ashley Wagner, had a nightmare free skate in which she fell twice, putting her Olympic future in question as the athletes waited until Sunday afternoon for the official team announcement.
Wagner, who had been heartbroken in 2010 after coming up just short of making the Olympic Team, was chosen to join Gold in Sochi, despite finishing fourth at Nationals. The U.S. Championship results were just a part of the overall selection process which also included international competition results from the previous season. 15-year-old U.S. skater Polina Edmunds, who stunned the field in Boston by finishing in second, rounded out the three-woman team that will take on 2010 Olympic champion Yuna Kim and the world’s best skaters in February.
PHOTOS: Getting to know Gracie Gold
Embedded owg_slideshow: 10 things to know on figure skater Gracie Gold
2010 Olympian Jeremy Abbott punched his ticket to Sochi, winning the Men’s U.S. Championship. The 28-year-old Colorado native set an American record in the short program with a score of 99.86 and held on to win his fourth U.S. title after an emotional free skate, which would be his last on American ice. Abbott hopes for redemption in Sochi after finishing 9th at the 2010 Olympics.
19-year-old Jason Brown stole the show on Sunday, winning the free skate with a performance of a lifetime, skating to “Riverdance.” Brown landed 8 triple jumps during the routine, which propelled him to be named to his first Olympic team.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White officially punched their tickets to Sochi, by winning their record-breaking sixth U.S. title. Davis and White became the first couple to break the 200 point mark at the U.S. Championships since ice dance dropped from three programs to two in 2011. Considered by many to be the best in the world, the duo will attempt to avenge their defeat to Canadian rivals Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue from the 2010 Games, in Sochi.
Joining Davis and White in ice dancing will be the U.S. teams of Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and the brother-sister duo of Maia and Alex Shibutani.
Competing in front of their home crowd, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir took home the pairs U.S. championship, and were named to the U.S. Olympic Team. Joining them will be Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, who finished in second and ahead of 2012 U.S. champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, who were left off the Olympic team.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Team USA figure skaters named for Sochi Olympics
Cross-country Skiing: Randall Returns with Gold Performance
In her first World Cup event in almost a year, Kikkan Randall returned to take gold in freestyle sprint. If she repeats the performance in Sochi, she will be the first U.S. woman, and second U.S. Olympian ever, to medal in the sport. The only other American appearance on the podium was silver medalist Bill Koch in 1976.
Embedded owg_slideshow: All Access: Kikkan Randall
Nordic Combined: Lodwick Crashes, Rushed to Hospital
Concerns were raised when U.S. Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick was rushed to a hospital in France Friday after a jump went awry. The FIS reported that Lodwick had dislocated his shoulder, and his shoulder blade suffered a hairline fracture. While the implications of this injury on his appearance in Sochi are still unclear, Lodwick's coach Dave Jarrett told press late Friday, "At the moment, we are planning on Todd competing in Sochi." Lodwick, having qualified for the Olympic Team by winning U.S. Trials, is the first six-time U.S. Winter Olympian.
Related: More on the Crash
Bobsled: U.S. Still Having Trouble
The U.S. continues its rough patch in the World Cup stops in Europe this weekend. The "Night Train", piloted by Steven Holcomb, finished seventh at the event in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The result drops Holcomb to fourth in the overall points standing. When asked about their attitude moving forward he said, "We'll keep fighting the good fight."
Watch: Holcomb Leads U.S. to Vancouver Gold
Embedded video_content_type: Holcomb leads U.S. 'Night Train' to gold in Vancouver
USA-2 had an even tougher weekend, as driver Nick Cunningham had his second crash in as many weeks. Pusher Dallas Robinson was dislodged, thus disqualifying the team for not having all their racers in the sled at the finish line. Cory Butner's team, the Americans’ third Olympic hopeful sled, also crashed earlier in the week. This made them ineligible to compete.
There is one final race in Igls, Austria next weekend before teams are named for Sochi.
Skeleton: World Cup (Switzerland)
Skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace earned a first place finish at a World Cup event in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Pikus-Pace finished .40 seconds ahead of Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold. Pikus-Pace’s fellow teammate and 2012 world champion Katie Uhlaender finished sixth.
Snowboard Cross: World Cup (Andorra)
In one of the most surprising results of any Olympic sport this season, American Trevor Jacob won a World Cup snowboard cross event in Vallnord-Arcalís, Andorra, on Saturday.
Jacob, 20, had never finished higher than seventh in seven previous World Cup starts.
The win gave Jacob an Olympic berth via U.S. Snowboarding’s Olympic selection criteria, which calls for up to three snowboard cross athletes who have top-four finishes in designated events to make the team.
Seth Wescott finished 49th in qualifying where 48 advanced to Saturday’s final. It marked Wescott’s first competition since a complete reconstruction of his left ACL in April. Wescott didn’t do much better in his second competition in Andorra on Sunday, finishing 31st in the final World Cup snowboardcross event before the Olympics. Wescott may not get the opportunity to become the first American man to win a Winter Olympic event three straight times.
Watch: Wescott Takes Gold In Vancouver
Embedded video_content_type: Wescott wins SBX gold in Vancouver
Currently, three American men have top-four finishes and have clinched berths: Trevor Jacob, Alex Deibold and 2006 and 2010 Olympian Nate Holland. A fourth man will likely be added as a discretionary selection over the next week or so. That man could be Wescott, given his Olympic pedigree. It could also be 2010 Olympian Nick Baumgartner, who was the top U.S. finisher on Sunday (8th).
Alpine Skiing: World Cup
In a week that saw Lindsey Vonn announce that she would not be competing at the Sochi Olympics, struggles continued for the U.S. women on the whole as they failed once again to reach the podium at the World Cup event in Austria. The lone bright spot was Julia Mancuso, who put down some of her best skiing of the season, finishing 13th.
The American women came into the season as the top-ranked speed unit in the world, but have collectively looked lost throughout the first half of the World Cup. The closest anyone has come to a podium was on Dec. 8 when Leanne Smith finished sixth in the super-G at Lake Louise.
The U.S. Men’s team did not fare well this weekend in the slalom event at the World Cup stop in Adelboden, Switzerland. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher fought through the soft snow and rapidly deteriorating course conditions to win the event.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Alpine World Cup Adelboden: Men's giant slalom
American David Chodounsky had a strong showing, toughing out his second run to finish eighth, the second-best slalom result of his career. Ted Ligety and Bode Miller did not perform to the same level. Ligety caught an unlucky bump and straddled a gate during the second run of giant slalom on Saturday, and skied off course again in the second run of slalom. Miller, a winner on this course in slalom in 2002, skied out in Saturday’s first run of giant slalom and then lost his race line and speed at the top of the final pitch in the slalom race and finished 43rd.
Free Skiing: Skiing Halfpipe's Olympic Debut
Ski halfpipe is making its debut at the Sochi Games this year, and Maddie Bowman and David Wise became the first halfpipe skiers to qualify for the U.S. in the discipline. Bowman and Wise won the third out of five Olympic selection events in Breckenridge, Colorado. Their win, combined with previous event results, helped clinch berths on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team. Bowman, 20, is the reigning Winter X Games champion and Wise, 23, is the two-time reigning Winter X Games champion and reigning world champion.
Photos: Olympian David Wise
Embedded owg_slideshow: Model Olympian: David Wise
Freestyle Skiiing (Moguls): Kearney Wins Sixth Gold
Mogul skier Hannah Kearney won her sixth straight moguls gold at the Deer Valley Resort course in Park City, Utah. Kearney, a 2010 Olympic gold medalist, has won three out of four World Cup races this season and has qualified for the 2014 Winter Games, which she has said will be her last. Canada swept the men’s World Cup moguls podium. Alexandre Bilodeau, the 2010 Olympic champion, beat fellow countryman and world champion Mikael Kingsbury.
Biathlon: U.S. Olympic Team Announcement
U.S. Biathlon will send five men and five women to Sochi -- the largest Olympic biathlon team in 22 years. The men’s team will comprise of Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke, both 2006 and 2010 Olympians. Bailey and Burke will be joined by Russell Currier, Sean Doherty and Leif Nordgren. Doherty, 18, is the first teenager to make the U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team. The women’s team is made up of Lanny Barnes, a 2006 and 2010 Olympian, and Sara Studebaker, a 2010 Olympian. Barnes and Studebaker will be joined by Annelies Cook, Hannah Dreissigacker and Susan Dunklee. The U.S. will look to break through in Sochi, having never have won an Olympic biathlon medal.
Photos: Get to Know the U.S. Biathlon Team
Embedded owg_slideshow: Meet US Biathlon Olympic Team
Best of Sochi