- Olympic Zone
Team USA's week that was: Jan. 1-5
As the calendar turned the page to the Olympic year of 2014, Olympic hopefuls became Team USA members as the U.S. Men's and Women's Hockey Teams were announced and the U.S. Olympic Short Track Speed Skating Trials were contested. Here's a look at the highlights from the week that was for Team USA.
Short Track Speed Skating
With the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian, Apolo Ohno, broadcasting from the sidelines, the torch was officially passed to a new generation of U.S. short track speed skaters this past weekend at the Olympic Trials at the Utah Olympic Oval. In total, eight athletes punched their ticket to Sochi (five men and three women).
Ohno, commentating for NBC, witnessed the domination of J.R. Celski and Jessica Smith, who qualified in all three events (500m, 1000m and 1500m). Celski clinched a berth on his second Olympic team and Smith locked up a spot on her first on the opening night of Trials on Friday.
WATCH: Celski heading back to the Olympics
Embedded video_content_type: J.R. Celski heading back to the Olympics
The duo swept the 500m races on Saturday to earn berths in a second distance. Eddy Alvarez and Emily Scott finished just behind them in second, locking up spots on their first Olympic team.
It was more of the same on the final day of Trials on Sunday, with Celski and Smith winning again in the 1000m. Alvarez and Scott also continued their success, wrapping up a weekend that saw them qualify for all three distances. The remaining four positions on the U.S. Olympic Team were given to 2010 Olympians Jordan Malone and Alyson Dudek and Olympic rookies Chris Creveling and Kyle Carr.
PHOTOS: Meet the Team
Embedded owg_slideshow: Meet the U.S. short track team
Long Track Speed Skating
The U.S. Olympic Trials for long track speed skating concluded this past week in Utah. Heather Richardson completed the trifecta of winning three events at Trials, wrapping up with a victory in the 1500m. Shani Davis ensured himself of a shot at breaking through in the 1500m in Sochi, by winning the event at Trials.
On the final day of competition in Utah, Emery Lehman managed to secure his spot on the team with a come-from-behind race in the 10,000m. Maria Lamb bounced back from a trip to the ER from respiratory complications earlier in the week, to seize a victory and a spot on the team in the 5000m, rounding out the 17 athlete long track team.
WATCH: Last shot for Lamb pays off
Embedded video_content_type: Last shot for Lamb pays off
American Olympic qualifiers struggled in the Luge World Cup event this weekend in Konigssee, Germany. U.S. sliders Summer Britcher, Erin Hamlin and Kate Hansen all posted finishes in the double digits with Britcher finishing 10th, Hamlin placing 13th and Hansen ending up in 15th. Although all three women have already qualified to compete in Sochi, they are still looking to finish strong in the upcoming World Cup events as they round into shape for the Olympics. 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Natalie Geisenberger won the event and her sixth this season, inching her closer to the points title with three races remaining.
Steven Holcomb’s streak of perfection came to a halt this weekend at the World Cup stop in Germany. Holcomb finished seventh in the two-man race on Friday, bringing an end to his seven race winning streak this season. Holcomb’s weekend went from bad to worse, crashing in Saturday’s 4-man.
The U.S. team of Elana Meyers and Lolo Jones managed a second place result at the World Cup event in Winterberg, Germany, finishing one hundredth of a second behind locals Kiriasis/Fritz. Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans narrowly missed the podium, finishing in fourth. The remaining two U.S. sleds, piloted by Nick Cunningham and Coty Butner, also crashed over the weekend. Both Cunningham and Butner need podiums in the remaining World Cup races to qualify three U.S. sleds for the Olympics.
PHOTOS: Elana Meyers wins bronze in Vancouver
Embedded owg_slideshow: Elana Meyers wins bronze in Vancouver
Mikaela Shiffrin returned to prominence in the slalom, reaching the top of the podium in Bormio, Italy over the weekend. She finished just .13 ahead of Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner. The rising American star is expected to compete a maximum of three more times before Sochi.
Meanwhile, the buzz phrase circling around Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn is “up in the air.” She is not expected to race in the upcoming World Cup events and her status remains questionable. “Her knee is very swollen, and it’s impossible for her to consider skiing for now,” U.S. Ski Team coach Alex Hoedlmoser said.
American men’s skeleton produced two top-six finishers this weekend in Winterberg, Germany. American Noelle Pikus-Pace continued her hot streak this season, finishing on the podium for the fourth straight event. She finished as runner-up behind Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold. American Annie O’Shea, who subbed in for Katie Uhlaender, finished 16th in her World Cup season debut.
Also up in Winterberg, was the men’s skeleton World Cup event, which produced two top-six U.S. finishers. Matt Antoine, the 2011 National Champion, finished fourth overall while fellow compatriot John Daly finished fifth. The World Cup event was won by Martins Dukurs of Latvia. His brother Tomass Dukurs came in second place and Russia’s Aleksandr Tretiyakobv finished third. Tretiyakov currently leads the overall World Cup standings. The skeleton World Cup series continues next week in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
WATCH: Pikus-Pace takes her family for a ride
Embedded video_content_type: Pikus-Pace takes her family for a ride
The freestyle skiing World Cup moguls competition was in full swing again this weekend in Calgary. American Olympic champion Hannah Kearney finished in second to Canadian Justine Dufour-Lapointe. Two other Dufour-Lapointe sisters finished in the top five with Chloe snagging the bronze and Maxime finishing fifth. Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Kearney are tied atop the season standings after two events.
American Patrick Deneen reached the podium in the men’s event at the Canadian Olympic Park, finishing in third. World champion Mikael Kingsbury won the event over Olympic champion Alex Bilodeau of Canada. The World Cup series heads to the U.S. this week, at a stop in Deer Valley, Utah.
USA Hockey announced the men’s and women’s Olympic rosters on New Year’s day during NBC’s broadcast of the NHL’s Winter Classic.
The two biggest American stars from the 2010 Olympic gold-medal game, goalie Ryan Miller and forward Zach Parise, will lead the 25-man Olympic men’s hockey team in Sochi. The starting goalie for the U.S. will be up for grabs between Miller and fellow 2010 Olympian Jonathan Quick. Parise is one of nine returning 2010 Olympic forwards, including Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel.
The blue-line crew includes 2010 Olympians Ryan Suter and Brooks Orpik as well as six first-time Olympians. Missing from the roster was Jack Johnson, best remembered from Vancouver for attending the Opening Ceremony between NHL games.
PHOTOS: Meet the men’s team
Embedded owg_slideshow: Get to know the faces of the U.S. men's hockey team
The U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team will be led by 2002, 2006 and 2010 Olympic forward Julie Chu and team captain Meghan Duggan. Forward Amanda Kessel, sister of NHL-All-Star and 2014 Olympian Phil Kessel, will also be on the roster despite suffering a lower-body injury this season. The same three goalies from the 2010 Olympic roster will return, led by Jessie Vetter.
The U.S. is coached by Harvard’s Katey Stone, who is set to be the first female coach of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team.
PHOTOS: Meet the women’s team
Embedded owg_slideshow: Get to know the faces of the U.S. women's hockey team
Both the men’s and women’s U.S. Olympic hockey squads will look to capture the gold medal after both finished runner up to Canada at the 2010 Games.
The men’s team will open in Sochi with a group-play game against Slovakia on February 13th, while the women’s team will kick-off their Olympic play against Finland on February 8th.
Best of Sochi
Best of Day 3