- Week in Review
Team USA's week that was: Dec. 9-15
With the winter World Cup season now in full gear, Team USA had a full slate of action this weekend, headlined by the first U.S. Olympic qualifying event for snowboarders and freestyle skiers, the men's curling team taken to sudden-death for a ticket to Sochi and the naming of the Olympic luge team. Here are the highlights.
The iON Mountain Championships took place in Breckenridge, Colorado this weekend and marked the first of five Olympic qualifying events for freestyle skiing and snowboarding. The overall Olympic qualification standings will be determined by the two best results for an athlete over the course of the selection events. No more than four athletes can make the U.S. Olympic Team per event.
In halfpipe, American Greg Bretz upset Shaun White, the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion. Bretz took first with a first run score of 91.40 and White grabbed second place, finishing just short with a second run score of 90.40. White was off his game in the first run, crashing to the bottom of the pipe. White then opted out of Sunday's slope-style competition due to tweaking his ankle from Saturday's fall.
2010 Olympic halfpipe champion Torah Bright beat all U.S. snowboarders in halfpipe with a first-run score of 95.40. American Kelly Clark, the 2002 Olympic champion and three-time reigning Winter X Games champion, finished in second.
Mark McMorris, the two-time reigning Winter X Games champion and White's strongest competition for slopestyle, blew away the snowboard slopestyle field in Breckenridge. He scored 95.00 points on his opening run and went even bigger on his second run, landing a triple cork on the final jump for a 97.80.
Jamie Anderson landed a clutch backside 540 en route to the women's slopestyle title. Anderson, a four-time Winter X Games champion, is well on her way to booking a spot on the first-ever U.S. Olympic snowboarding slopestyle team.
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Embedded owg_slideshow: Top storylines to watch: Snowboarding
The U.S. Olympic hopefuls for the new Olympic freestyle skiing events of slopestyle and halfpipe were also in action this weekend in Breckenridge, Colorado. Like snowboarding, the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships served as the first of five Olympic qualification events.
Skier Devin Logan, who is trying to make the U.S. Olympic Team in two events, won the ski slopestyle event on Saturday and also finished sixth in the ski halfpipe on Friday. The win now puts her on top of the Olympic selection standings after the first of five events.
Nick Goepper won the freestyle skiing slopestyle event with a broken hand. The reigning Winter X Games champion scored 93.00 points in the first of two runs without ski poles. “I was just happy,” Goepper told NBC after his first run. “I'll be back with the poles, I don’t know, in a couple weeks.” 2010 X Games champion Bobby Brown finished fourth while Americans Tom Wallisch and Alex Schlopy came in fifth and seventh, respectively.
David Wise won the first Olympic selection event in halfpipe skiing after his two top American rivals (Torin Yater-Wallace and Simon Dumont) crashed in training and pulled out of the event on Saturday night. Wise scored 92.60 points in his second run to beat out fellow compatriot Aaron Blunck and Lyman Currier, giving the U.S. a podium sweep.
American Jen Hudak, one of the best halfpipe skiers in the world, tore her meniscus and partially tore her ACL in a qualifying run on Wednesday, putting her chances of making it to Sochi in doubt.
In the World Cup circuit, 2010 Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney won the season opening moguls competition in Ruka, Finland. Kearney, who said previously that Sochi would be her last Olympic Games, is attempting to become the first freestyle skier to win multiple gold medals.
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Embedded owg_slideshow: Hannah Kearney wins freestyle gold in Vancouver
It wasn’t easy, but the U.S. men’s curling team officially qualified for Sochi at the Olympic Qualification Event in Fuessen, Germany this past weekend. John Shuster and his American teammates were pushed to the brink twice, having to win a round robin tie-break match on Saturday and a sudden death qualification match on Sunday. The Americans scored five points in the eighth of 10 ends to win their fifth straight game, 8-5 over the Czech Republic, to officially punch their ticket to Sochi.
This will be Shuster’s third time competing in the Olympics after winning bronze in 2006 and finishing last in 2010. Shuster will be joined by his vice skip, two-time Olympian Jeff Isaacson and first-time Olympians John Landsteiner and Jared Zezel. Craig Brown, the brother of U.S. women’s Olympic team skip, Erika Brown, will also be on the team as an alternate. The Olympic men’s curling tournament begins Feb. 10 and the U.S. will open against Norway, which is known for its outrageous pants.
The United States will send 10 lugers to the Sochi Olympics. The women’s team, which was officially announced on Friday, will send three-time Olympian Erin Hamlin and first-time Olympians Kate Hansen and Summer Britcher to Sochi. Julia Clukey, the United States’ top luge athlete last season, did not qualify.
The men’s team will send 2010 Olympian Chris Mazdzer, who placed 13th at the 2010 Olympics, and first-time Olympians Tucker West, 18, and Aidan Kelley, 19. West is the youngest American men’s luger in Olympic history. The doubles teams will be made up of Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall and Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman.
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Embedded owg_slideshow: The U.S. Olympic luge team
Steve Holcomb continued his torrid start to the season this weekend, winning three races at the bobsled World Cup event in Lake Placid, N.Y. Racing on a course that Holcomb swept the World Championships on in 2012, the Park City resident won two 2-man races on Friday and Saturday, and wrapped up the weekend with a victory in the 4-man on Sunday.
Holcomb’s seven consecutive World Cup wins makes him the first driver to win at least seven races in one season since German Andre Lange won eight in 2003-2004. The tour now moves to Europe, where Holcomb will look to win his first overseas World Cup race in nearly four years.
PHOTOS: Holcomb leads the U.S. to gold at the 2010 Olympics
Embedded owg_slideshow: Team USA's gold medal run in bobsled
It was a bumpy weekend for American skiers in the World Cup races, with both Ted Ligety and Bode Miller unable to finish the first giant slalom run in Val d’Isere, France on Saturday. Austrian Marcel Hirscher took first, his 20th career World Cup victory. Ligety and Miller didn’t fare much better in the slalom on Sunday, both failing to make it into the top 30 to qualify for the second run. Ligety finished 39th and Miller skied off the course. David Chodounsky was the lone American to complete both slalom runs, finishing seventh for a second-best career World Cup result. Austrian Mario Matt won the slalom, becoming the oldest man to win a World Cup slalom race at age 34. The next stop on the Alpine skiing World Cup is the super-G and downhill in Val Gardena, Italy on Friday, December 20th and Saturday, December 21st.
The U.S. women’s speed team also came up short of the podium in the latest super-G World Cup race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, with Stacey Cook landing in 16th place and Julia Mancuso in 20th. Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was the winner, moving up to second place in the overall World Cup standings. In the giant slalom races, Mancuso finished 12th, her best finish this season. Mikaela Shiffrin, considered one of the best slalom skiers in the world, did not complete her first run but told the Associated Press, “There is always a reason for falling so I will go back and figure it out and hopefully not do it again.” Tessa Worley of France, the reigning giant slalom world champion, took first place. Lindsey Vonn will be back in action this coming weekend in Switzerland.
U.S. skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace marked her last weekend of racing on U.S. soil with a victory in the World Cup race in Lake Placid, New York on Friday. The Orem, Utah native went on to a third place finish in Sunday’s race. Pikus-Pace plans to retire following the 2014 Games. Fellow U.S. teammate Katie Uhlaender, who is making her way back from a preseason concussion, finished 14th.
In men’s skeleton, Matt Antoine became the first American man to win a World Cup skeleton race since Eric Bernotas in January 2010. American teammates John Daly and Kyle Tress finished 4th and 5th at the Lake Placid World Cup event, respectively.
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Embedded owg_slideshow: Through the lens: Noelle Pikus-Pace
Cross Country Skiing
American and three-time Olympian Kikkan Randall finished an impressive second in the World Cup cross-country freestyle sprint race in Davos, Switzerland. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen edged her out for first in the final meters of the 1.5 kilometer race, while Randall’s fellow Americans Sophie Caldwell and Jessie Diggins finished 9th and 12th respectively.
Men's Snowboard Cross