- Olympic Zone
Team USA's week that was: Jan 13-19
After months of qualification events and the World Cup circuit, it all came down to this weekend for U.S. snowboarders, freestyle skiers, bobsledders and skeleton sliders, as tickets to Sochi were punched for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Check out the highlights of the critical weekend that was for U.S. Olympic hopefuls, which also included banner performances on the international stage in bobsled, cross-country skiing, ski cross and biathlon.
Snowboarding: White qualifies, U.S. Team named
The final three Olympic selection events for snowboarding were packed into this weekend’s schedule at Mammoth Mountain after last weekend’s qualifying event in Breckenridge, Colo. was postponed due to weather. The 12-final sprint kicked off on Thursday with a scary moment for snowboarding legend Shaun White, who crashed in the first final for slopestyle. White bounced back in the second final in a big way, winning the event and clinching a spot for the Olympics in the new snowboarding discipline that is set to make its Olympic debut in Sochi.
Joining White in slopestyle will be Sage Kotsenburg and Chas Guldemond. Kotsenburg and Guldemond locked up their spots at the final slopestyle selection event on Saturday. All three men are considered medal contenders for Sochi, but will have to top the gold medal favorite—Canadian Mark McMorris.
WATCH -- White crashes in slopestyle
Embedded video_content_type: White bounces back after rough start
Two-time X Games slopestyle champion Jamie Anderson qualified for the Games after winning the third selection event on Thursday. The gold medal favorite will be joined by 16-year-old American Ty Walker.
Shaun White, the two-time defending Olympic snowboarding halfpipe champion, ensured that he would get a shot at a three-peat by also qualifying in halfpipe after winning the final Olympic selection event on Sunday. The Carslbad, Calif. native came into the weekend in fifth place overall in the U.S. halfpipe standings but saved his best runs for last, winning the final two selection events.
U.S. snowboarders Taylor Gold and Greg Bretz will compete with White in halfpipe at the Olympics, after clinching their spots this weekend, following a strong start to the series of selection events. Danny Davis was named to the team as the fourth member via a discretionary pick.
Women’s halfpipe featured the most competitive race and a changing of the guard as Olympic medalists Gretchen Bleiler and Elena Hight were left off the team. They were surpassed by the 17-year-old Arielle Gold (younger sister of U.S. Olympian Taylor Gold) and Kaityln Farrington, who captured Sunday’s final selection event. They will join 2002 Olympic champion Kelly Clark, who was on fire during the qualification series, winning three selection events in a row. 2006 Olympic champion and 2010 silver medalist Hannah Teter was made the fourth and final member via a discretionary pick.
PHOTOS -- Meet the U.S. Snowboarding Team
Embedded owg_slideshow: Meet the 2014 U.S. Olympic snowboarding team
Freestyle Skiing: First-ever U.S. Olympic Team decided
Freestyle skiing held its final two Olympic selection events for halfpipe and slopestyle in Park City, Utah this past weekend, featuring eight total finals.
Reigning ski halfpipe X Games and world champion David Wise will be the gold medal favorite in Sochi. He’ll be joined by Lyman Currier and Aaron Blunck, who locked up berths with their results in the final Olympic selection event on Saturday.
Reigning Winter X Games champion Maddie Bowman, who had qualified in ski halfpipe last week, won a selection event on Friday. She will be joined by Brita Sigourney, who qualified on her 24th birthday on Friday, and Angeli VanLaanen, who overcame Lyme disease to make the Olympic Team.
In ski slopestyle, Nick Goepper had qualified coming into Park City, and was joined by Bobby Brown and Gus Kenworthy, who both qualified during the final weekend of selection events. 2013 World Champion Tom Wallisch is holding out hope to be selected as a discretionary pick.
Devin Logan won the fourth of five Olympic selection events in ski slopestyle on Saturday, clinching an Olympic berth. She’ll be joined by Keri Herman who finished second in the final qualifying event on Saturday.
PHOTOS -- Meet the U.S. Olympic Freestyle Skiing Team
Embedded owg_slideshow: Meet the 2014 U.S. Olympic freestyle skiing team
Bobsled: Holcomb returns to winning form; Team named
After a rough start to the European leg of the World Cup circuit, Steven Holcomb got back on track by winning the two-man bobsled event in Igls, Austria on Saturday. Holcomb and teammate Steve Langton broke the track record and snapped a four-year World Cup victory drought for Holcomb outside of North America. Holcomb followed up his Saturday success with a second place finish in the four-man race on Sunday.
Holcomb has dominated on North American tracks, with his biggest victories coming at the 2010 Olympics and 2009 and 2012 World Championships on courses in Canada and the U.S. He’ll look to continue his new-found success on the international stage in Sochi.
The U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team was announced following the World Cup event on Sunday. Joining Holcomb and Langton will be Chris Fogt and Curt Tomasevicz in the first U.S. four-man sled. The second four-man team will be comprised of Nick Cunningham, Justin Olsen, Johnny Quinn and Dallas Robinson. The two-man sleds will be driven by Holcomb, Cunningham and Cory Butner.
In the final push for a spot on the women’s team, former U.S. Summer Olympian Lauryn Williams won the World Cup event in Austria with Jamie Greubel. Americans Elana Meyers and Aja Evans finished right behind them, in second. The women that will make up the two-person sleds in Sochi include Greubel, Meyers and Jazmine Fenlator as drivers and Williams, Evans and 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympian Lolo Jones as push athletes.
PHOTOS -- Meet the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi 2014: The U.S. Olympic bobsled team
Skeleton: U.S. Olympic Skeleton Team named
In the final race before the U.S. Olympic Team was named, Noelle Pikus-Pace continued her back-and-forth battle with Brit Lizzy Yarnold at the World Cup event in Igls, Austria. Pikus-Pace was edged by Yarnold, finishing just behind her in second. Yarnold and Pikus-Pace have combined to win all seven World Cup races this season and expect to compete for the gold at the 2014 Olympics. Joining Pikus-Pace in Sochi will be 2010 Olympian Kaite Uhlaender.
The U.S. men skeleton racers placed three sleds in the top eight during the World Cup event, with John Daly finishing fifth, Matt Antoine placing sixth and Kyle Tress taking eighth. All three men were named to the Olympic Team.
PHOTOS -- Meet the U.S. Olympic Skeleton Team
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi 2014: The U.S. Olympic skeleton team
Alpine Skiing: Bode Miller lands top-five finish
American skiers found themselves with mixed results in World Cup events over the weekend. American Ted Ligety won gold in super-combined in Wengen, Switzerland on Friday. The Olympic gold medalist won his 20th career World Cup race—the last 19 of those races came in the giant slalom category.
36-year-old Bode Miller, who has been claiming how in-shape he’s been all year, endured adverse ski conditions and posted his second top-five finish in the downhill this season. The five-time Olympic medalist came in fifth place behind Patrick Keung of Switzerland and others in an impressive showing. More notable American finishes included Jared Goldberg, who posted his career best finish. The 22-year-old came in 12th place while two-time Olympian Marco Sullivan finished in 16th.
WATCH -- On the edge: Bode Miller
Embedded video_content_type: On the edge: Bode Miller
American racers didn’t fare too well in slalom over the weekend. The only one to finish the race was Bode Miller who came in 26th. Both Ted Ligety and Will Brandenburg didn’t qualify for the race while David Chodounsky and Tim Kelly didn’t finish.
The women’s races were canceled over the weekend due to heavy snow, setting skiers up with a heavy workload this week. Following this week’s World Cup events, the U.S. will announce their selections to the U.S. Olympic Ski Team on January 26th.
Cross-Country Skiing: Randall wins second straight
American Kikkan Randall won the World Cup cross-country sprint for the second week in a row. The 31-year-old Alaska native is set to make her fourth Olympic team after finishing with another World Cup win in Szkarska Poreba, Poland. The two-time reigning World Cup champion is still searching for her first Olympic medal.
PHOTOS -- Working out with Kikkan Randall
Embedded owg_slideshow: Working out with Kikkan Randall
Biathlon: Susan Dunklee makes U.S. Biathlon history
The bar was raised for U.S. Women's Biathlon this weekend. Susan Dunklee took fourth at the World Cup event in Antholz, Italy—the best result ever for a U.S. female biathlete. She was less than half a second away from a medal finish. Sara Studebaker (57th) and Annelies Cook (70th) were named alongside Dunklee to the U.S. Biathlon team last week.
Ski Cross: John Teller wins rare World Cup event for U.S.
John Teller won a World Cup event for ski cross this weekend in Val Thorens, France, becoming the first American to land on the podium this season. Teller is a pioneer in the sport for the U.S., being the first ever American medal winner back in a 2011 World Cup event. To clinch a berth to Sochi, an ski cross athlete is required two top-three finishes. No U.S. candidates have met this criteria, but Teller's first-place result ranks him as a frontrunner to be named to the team.
Speed Skating: Davis, Richardson warm-up for Sochi
Medal favorites Shani Davis and Heather Richardson finished with a silver and bronze respectively at the final major international speed skating event before the Sochi Games. The event included two 500m races and two 1000m races over two days. When asked about his race, Davis commented, "It's more just practice, going through the steps of competing at a higher level and leading into Sochi."
PHOTOS -- Top speed skating storylines to watch
Embedded owg_slideshow: Top storylines to watch: Speed skating
Best of Sochi
Best of day 4