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World Cup makes fifth stop in Igls, Austria

Photo credit: Mike Kohn

IGLS, Austria (Jan. 16, 2020)– The fifth stop of the bobsled and skeleton World Cup tour will take place in Igls, Austria starting tomorrow through the weekend. The detailed schedule is as follows, with all times listed in local time:

Friday, Jan. 17

10 a.m.: Men’s skeleton run #1

11:45 a.m.: Men’s skeleton run #2

2 p.m.: Women’s skeleton run #1

3:30 p.m.: Women’s skeleton run #2

Saturday, Jan. 18

10 a.m.: Women’s bobsled run #1

11:30 a.m.: Women’s bobsled run #2

2 p.m.: Two-man bobsled run #1

3:30 p.m.: Two-man bobsled run #2

Sunday, Jan. 19

1:30 p.m.: Four-man bobsled run #1

3 p.m.: Four-man bobsled run #2

Andrew Blaser (Meridian, Idaho), Austin Florian (Southington, Conn.) and Alex Ivanov (Carlisle, Mass.) will kick off the Igls event in the men’s skeleton race tomorrow morning, followed by Savannah Graybill (Denver, Pa.), Megan Henry (Roxbury, Conn.) and Kendall Wesenberg (Modesto, Calif.) in tomorrow afternoon’s women’s skeleton race. This is the first time racing in Igls for Blaser, the fourth for Florian, and the sixth for Ivanov. Graybill has the most experience of any U.S. skeleton athlete on the roster in Igls. This will be her 14th competition on the Austrian track. It will be the ninth race for Henry in Igls, and the eighth for Wesenberg.

In women’s bobsled, Kaillie Humphries (Carlsbad, Calif.) will team with Sylvia Hoffman (Arlington, Texas) for the first time. The last time Humphries raced in Igls was in 2017, when she finished fourth. The two-time Olympic champion has claimed three World Cup medals in Austria over the years, and the 2016 World Championship silver medal. Humphries also won the women’s four-man bobsled exhibition race in 2016. Hoffman was a participant in season 2 of “The Next Olympic Hopeful,” and she excelled as a rookie last season.

Hunter Church (Cadyville, N.Y.) once again learned another new track this week. The 23-year-old will race with season 1 winner of “The Next Olympic Hopeful” Josh Williamson (Lake Mary, Fla.) in two-man on Saturday. Jimmy Reed (Garmisch, Germany) and Kris Horn (Pembroke, Mass.) will join Williamson as Church’s four-man push crew on Sunday.

NBC Sports and Olympic Channel will have broadcast and digital streaming coverage of the IBSF Bobsled & Skeleton World Cup in Igls from Jan. 17-19. Fans can catch all the action in spectacular high definition via NBC Sports online at NBCSports.com/Live, or through the NBC Sports app. Additional coverage will be available on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app.

Please contact USABS Marketing & Communications Director Amanda Bird at 518-354-2250, or amanda.bird@usabs.com, with media inquiries.

About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Omaze, Kampgrounds of America, BiPro, Boomerang Carnets, Hudl, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USABS website atwww.usabs.com.

Source; TeamUSA


Ro leads USA Skeleton in North American Cup finale with two gold medals

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Jan. 7, 2020)– USA Skeleton athletes captured two spots in the top-three North American Cup standings, and collected five medals in the Lake Placid finale this week. Mystique Ro (Nokesville, Va.) led the way for the women’s team with two gold medals and wrapped up her season ranked third overall. Chris Strup (Defiance, Ohio) concluded a successful North American Cup tour ranked second overall in the men’s field, and secured two silver medals in Lake Placid. Daniel Barefoot (Johnstown, Pa.) earned the fifth medal this week for USA Skeleton by claiming silver in today’s finale.

Two single-heat races were held yesterday, and a two-heat race concluded the skeleton North American Cup season today.

Ro struggled in yesterday’s opening heat, finishing sixth with a run of 55.96 seconds. She said one-heat races are tough because you have “one shot, so you have to make it count.”

“Once that was in the books, I had to scrap it and move on,” Ro said.

Kellie Delka of Puerto Rico won with a run of 55.50 seconds. Yuxi Li from China claimed silver with a time of 55.52, and Korean Eunji Kim was third with a downtime of 55.60. Ro was the highest U.S. finisher in sixth.

Ro rebounded in yesterday’s second one-heat race, posting the fastest run of 55.69 seconds to capture her first victory of the week by 0.01 seconds over Kim. Canadian Jaclyn Laberge earned bronze in 55.82.

In today’s two-heat competition, Ro was in third position after a first heat time of 56.03 seconds. She made up nearly half a second to overtake the lead with a second run of 55.83, earning another gold medal with a combined time of 1:51.86.

“The second win is a great feeling,” Ro said. “I tried to play it safe during my first run, but I made some mistakes. I talked to Matt (Antoine) between heats and made the adjustment before I went down for my final run. I think this was crucial for me to learn that I can be confident in my training and in the knowledge I have gained to be able to put two runs together in competition. The support of my teammates and coaches has been great. I’m excited to continue training and see how we all progress.”

Laberge finished second to Ro with an aggregate time of 1:52.06, followed by Kim in third with a total time of 1:52.18.

Ro’s Lake Placid performances helped her secure third place overall in North American Cup points, despite missing three of the eight races this season while racing the European Cup. Kim claimed the title with 373 points. Nicole Rocha Silveira from Brazil finished second overall with 301 points, while Ro was close behind in third with 290 points.

Lauren McDonald (Fairfield, N.J.) had strong performances in her first-career competitive season. The up-and-coming competitor finished 12th and eighth yesterday, and 12th again today. McDonald and Ro are two of the fastest starters on the tour. McDonald pushed a start time of 5.32 seconds yesterday, and Ro pushed a 5.33. McDonald finished the season ranked fourth with 287 points.

Michelle Toukan (Central City, Neb.) placed 19th and 10th yesterday, and wrapped up her season with an impressive sixth place finish today. She is ranked fifth overall with 271 points. Emily Schelberg (Annapolis, Md.) was 18th and 14th yesterday, and she did not finish today’s competition after a crash in the first heat.

In the men’s field, Strup cracked into the top-six in the final stop season, earning two silver medals and a fourth-place finish. Strup claimed double silver medals in yesterday’s single-heat races. His first silver medal was earned with a run of 53.89 seconds. Wenhao Chen from China was victorious in 53.52, while Ander Mirambell from Spain was third in 54.15 seconds.

Strup claimed silver again in yesterday’s second competition with a downtime of 54.33 seconds. Wenhao was golden in 53.73, and Zilong Zhu from China earned bronze in 54.37.

Strup narrowly missed the medals today, finishing a mere one-hundredth of a second from bronze with a combined time of 1:49.04 for fourth place. Strup finished the season ranked second overall with 346 points.

Barefoot was today’s men’s medalist for the U.S. The Intercontinental Cup competitor posted the fastest run of 53.98 seconds in the first heat, and fell back by just 0.06 seconds in the second heat to finish with the silver medal. Wenhao swept the men’s races. He won today with a combined time of 1:48.24, followed by Barefoot with a 1:48.30, and Zilong in third with a cumulative time of 1:49.03.

“I knew that I’ve had enough runs here to win, but I would have to be at my best,” Barefoot said. “I think that self-inflicted pressure caused some unnecessary tension, but I’m glad to have experienced that and learned how to handle it. Just a couple big mistakes spoiled my runs for races six and seven, so I was pretty happy to clean them up a bit and dip into the 53’s on an overall slower day in race eight. I’m most excited about how much our team is improving overall. Everyone is making significant progress and walking with a little confidence their steps! It’s pretty cool to be around.”

Mirambell claimed the overall title with 370 points. Strup was second, and Nathan Crumpton from American Somoa finished third with 345 points.

Barefoot was fourth and fifth yesterday, and he finished the North American Cup season ranked seventh overall. He spent most of his time racing the Intercontinental Cup, thus missed points from three North American Cup races.

Kyler Sultemeier (Fredericksburg, Texas) concluded his first competitive season ranked 14th. He finished 12th in both of yesterday’s races, and 10th today. Hunter Williams (Carnegie, Pa.) also finished his first racing season. Williams finished 17th, 14th, and 17th, and is ranked 21st.

The North American Cup will officially conclude tomorrow with three four-man bobsled competitions in Lake Placid. Please contact USABS Marketing & Communications Director Amanda Bird at 518-354-2250, or amanda.bird@usabs.com, with media inquiries.

Results


Women’s skeleton race #1
1. Kellie Delka (PUR) 55.50;
2. Yuxi Li (CHN) 55.52;
3. Eunji Kim (KOR) 55.60;
6. Mystique Ro (USA) 55.96;
12. Lauren McDonald (USA) 56.93;
18. Emily Schelberg (USA) 57.65;
19. Michelle Toukan (USA) 59.13;

Women’s skeleton race #2
1. Mystique Ro (USA) 55.69;
2. Eunji Kim (KOR) 55.70;
3. Jaclyn Laberge (CAN) 55.82;
8. Lauren McDonald (USA) 56.59;
10. Michelle Toukan (USA) 56.78;
14. Emily Schelberg (USA) 57.42;

Women’s skeleton race #3
1. Mystique Ro (USA) 1:51.86 (56.03, 55.83);
2. Jaclyn Laberge (CAN) 1:52.06 (55.78, 56.28);
3. Eunji Kim (KOR) 1:52.18 (55.90, 56.28);
6. Michelle Toukan (USA) 1:53.43 (56.56, 56.87);
12. Lauren McDonald (USA) 1:54.49 (56.80, 57.69);
Emily Shelberg (USA) (DNF)

Men’s skeleton race #1
1.Wenhao Chen (CHN) 53.52;
2. Chris Strup (USA) 53.89;
3. Ander Mirambell (ESP) 54.15;
4. Daniel Barefoot (USA) 54.21;
12. Kyler Sultemeier (USA) 55.32;
17. Hunter Williams (USA) 55.95;

Men’s skeleton race #2
1.Wenhao Chen (CHN) 53.73;
2. Chris Strup (USA) 54.33;
3. Zilong Zhu (CHN) 54.37;
5. Daniel Barefoot (USA) 54.62;
12. Kyler Sultemeier (USA) 55.95;
14. Hunter Williams (USA) 56.30;

Men’s skeleton race #3
1.Wenhao Chen (CHN) 1:48.24 (54.17, 54.07);
2. Daniel Barefoot (USA) 1:48.30 (53.98, 54.32);
3. Zilong Zhu (CHN) 1:49.03 (54.67, 54.36);
4. Chris Strup (USA) 1:49.04 (54.40, 54.64);
10. Kyler Sultemeier (USA) 1:51.21 (55.60, 55.61);
15. Hunter Williams (USA) 1:52.46 (56.25, 56.21);

About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Omaze, Kampgrounds of America, BiPro, Boomerang Carnets, Hudl, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com.


FAMILY OF STEVEN HOLCOMB RECEIVES OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALS IN HIS HONOUR

Late USA driver in two-man and four-man bobsleigh teams upgraded from bronze at Sochi 2014 after disqualification of Russian medallists

Two and a half years after his untimely death, the family of bobsleigh driver Steven Holcomb will receive two silver medals from Sochi 2014.

Holcomb piloted the USA two-man and four-man bob teams which finished third at the Games.

But they were promoted to silver in both events after Alexandr Zubkov, the driver of Russia’s original four-man and two-man gold medal sleds, was disqualified for doping offences with brakeman Alexey Voevoda also subsequently excluded.

Holcomb, who led his country to its first four-man title in 62 years at Vancouver 2010, died in his sleep at the Olympic training centre in Lake Placid in May 2017 aged 37.

Steven Langton, brakeman in the two-man and a pusher in the four-man, are also set to receive two silver medals at Tuesday’s Team USA Awards in Los Angeles with pushers Chris Fogt and Curt Tomasevicz collecting four-man silvers.

USA’s greatest bobsledder of his generation

A native of Park City, Utah, Holcomb started out as a ski racer before switching to sliding in his late teens.

He was originally a pusher and was part of Brian Shimer’s team ahead of the 2002 Games in his hometown of Salt Lake City before a hamstring injury at the worst time saw him replaced by Dan Steele.

Holcomb then switched to driving but there was a problem – his eyesight.

After laser surgery in 2000 had failed to make a difference, he was diagnosed with the incurable degenerative eye disease keratoconus which leads to the thinning of the cornea.

Deciding not to tell anyone, Holcomb wore hard contact lenses and ahead of Turin 2006 found that his sight was getting progressively worse to the point that he thought he could go blind.

In his autobiography, ‘But Now I See: My Journey From Blindness to Olympic Gold’, Holcomb admitted he should have said something sooner but that “because the only lengthy conversations I’d had about my disease had been with myself, I always came up with the most horrific scenarios for what would happen if I confessed now”.

Having managed to pass a vision test for international competition by memorising the letters on the eye chart, he took sixth place in the four-man bob and 14th in the two-man in his first Olympic Games.

But his eyesight soon deteriorated to the point that contact lenses were not up to the task making cornea transplants in both eyes, and four years out of the bob, the only feasible course of action.

Faced with that prospect, Holcomb’s already fragile mental health worsened and he attempted suicide by taking multiple sleeping pills washed down with bourbon whiskey.

Incredibly, he survived and decided to come clean about his sight issues.

His team-mates and coaches set to work and put him in touch with Calfornia doctor Brian Boxer Wachler who fitted special implants in 2008 which improved his vision markedly without surgery.

The procedure soon became known as the Holcomb C3-R.

Holcomb was able to return to the circuit and became world champion a year later at Lake Placid before securing his greatest triumph at the Vancouver Games of 2010, piloting the ‘Night Train’ – with pushers Tomasevicz, Justin Olsen and Steve Mesler – to gold.

Popular with his team-mates and bobsleigh crowds for his outgoing manner, and his ‘Holcy Shuffle’ dance, Holcomb built on his Olympic title with three golds at the 2012 Lake Placid World Championships – two-man, four-man and mixed team.

USA retained that mixed team title a year later before Holcomb headed to Sochi for his third Games.

Bronze medals in both the four-man and two-man saw Holcomb join Pat Martin as his nation’s most decorated Olympic bobsledder.

The next couple of seasons were not quite as successful, although Holcomb was ranked second in the 2016-17 two-man World Cup standings thanks in part to a victory over Canada’s subsequent PyeongChang 2018 two-man gold medallist Justin Kripps at Lake Placid.

He was still on course to pilot a Team USA sled at PyeongChang but in May 2017 his best friend, world champion skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender, broke into his room at the training centre in Lake Placid having not heard from him for two days and discovered his body.

Holcomb was later found to have alcohol and prescription sleeping tablets in his system having appeared to have passed away in his sleep.

His 60 World Cup, 10 World Championship and three Olympic medals made him one of the most decorated drivers in the sport’s history.

Medal reallocation from Sochi 2014

Six months after Holcomb’s death, Zubkov was stripped of his medals from Sochi 2014 for doping offences.

And in March this year, following the application of the Olympic Medal Reallocation Principles, the teams below Russia were promoted with Holcomb’s two-man and four-man teams upgraded to silver.

Langton, Tomasevicz and Fogt released a statement at the time saying, “It’s unfortunate that our results were not official in February of 2014 and that we’ve had to endure the long process to see justice finally served.

“We are happy that we now can celebrate and be proud of the silver medal accomplishments.”

Latvia’s four-man team, piloted by Oskars Melbardis, were upgraded to the nation’s first ever Winter Olympic gold medal with John Jackson’s Great Britain sled promoted from fifth to third with Russia 2 also disqualified for doping having been originally fourth.

Jackson said, “Disappointingly, it is a medal we should have received on an Olympic podium in 2014. Cheats have cost us that moment, along with other nations too.”

In the two-man, Switzerland’s Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann were awarded gold with Melbardis and Daumants Dreiskens taking bronze after Russia 2 were also excluded for doping.


Steven Holcomb’s Olympic legacy to grow, for a final time

U.S. bobsledder Steven Holcomb is getting one last victory celebration.

A long overdue one.

More than 2 1/2 years after his death — and almost six years removed from the bobsled races in question — Holcomb and his team are about to finally be presented the silver medals that they should have received at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Holcomb and teammates Steven Langton, Chris Fogt and Curt Tomasevicz were originally awarded bronze medals, which were eventually upgraded after a long probe of the Russian doping scandal that now overshadows those games.

deBotech, Inc. Built the sleds that brought the 2014 men home with the now, silver medal.

The medal reallocation will take place at the Team USA Awards in Los Angeles. Langton, Fogt and Tomasevicz are all expected to attend, as is longtime U.S. bobsled coach Brian Shimer and other top American sliding officials. Holcomb, who was 37 when he died in his sleep at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York in May 2017, will be represented by his family.

“I think the word that comes to mind most quickly is bittersweet,” said Jean Schaefer, Holcomb’s mother. “It’s certainly a great honor for Steven and I’m so very, very proud of him — as I have been so very proud of him his whole life. But there’s also a great sadness that he’s not here to enjoy the fruits of his efforts and to celebrate with his team.”

It took years to get to this point: Russia, which won the two- and four-man bobsled races at the 2014 Games on its home ice, was stripped of those titles in November 2017 after the long investigation into the state-sponsored doping program at that Olympics.

But it took the International Olympic Committee until this past March to formally reallocate the medals. Latvia was upgraded to gold in four-man, with Britain moving up to bronze. In two-man, Switzerland eventually was elevated to gold, with Latvia up to bronze.

The U.S., which left Sochi with bronzes from both races, is now recognized as the silver medalist in both. Holcomb and Langton were in the two-man sled; Holcomb drove Langton, Fogt and Tomasevicz in the four-man race.

“Holcomb made such an impact on so many people’s lives,” said Kaillie Humphries, the longtime Canadian bobsledder and two-time Olympic women’s champion who is now competing for the U.S. “He was the best.”

Holcomb, who had prescription sleeping pills and alcohol in his system on the night that he died and was so depressed by failing eyesight in 2007 that he attempted suicide, was by far the best bobsledder in the U.S. program — perhaps ever. He was a winner of at least 60 World Cup medals, more than a dozen World Cup championship trophies and the various awards from his career are scattered about the homes of his relatives.

His mother’s intention for the silver medals is that they be donated to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee archives. The USOPC was in possession of Holcomb’s bronze medals, as a gift from his family, when they had to be surrendered to the IOC in order to receive the new silvers.

“Steven once told me that his medals weren’t just medals for him or his team,” Schaefer said. “They were medals for his country. They represented America and he was very proud of that and I think he would be very proud to know that his medals reside where people can see them and enjoy them.”

Holcomb would have been a lock for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team as well, where he could have added to his medal haul — he drove the U.S. to gold in the four-man race at the 2010 Vancouver Games, ending a 62-year drought for the Americans in bobsledding’s signature race.

His mother went to Pyeongchang last year instead, representing her son and his memory. The grieving process is not over, though Tuesday’s event is certain to bring back happy thoughts as well.

“I’m as OK as I can be,” Schaefer said. “I don’t know if a parent ever gets over the loss of a child, because it’s certainly not the natural order of things. And I have to say that the support of his teammates and the Olympic family is incredible. Just incredible. You feel the love all the time.”

She will feel it again Tuesday, one more time.