Lolo picked for bobsled World Cup team

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American hurdler Lolo Jones may have become a bobsledder last month when she was one of six push athletes chosen by U.S. coach Todd Hayes for the national team, but that didn’t guarantee her anything but a news cycle and a pat on the back.

On Sunday they made it official.

Jones earned her spot on the sport’s top circuit over the weekend when the USBSF calculated the final race-off data of the six chosen push athletes. She’ll back pilot Jazmine Fenlator in USA-3 during Friday’s women’s World Cup opener in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Continuing the experiment, Hays picked two other track athletes who happen to be bobsled rookies: London 4x100m gold medal sprinter Tianna Madison will push pilot Elana Meyers in USA-1 and University of Illinois shotput and sprint standout Aja Evans will push Jamie Greubel in USA-2.

The USBSF is expected to release the full roster Monday, including men’s and women’s pairings, and while the public excitement will favor Jones, who has been in the spotlight as a talented and attractive 100m hurdler since before the 2008 Beijing Games, it’s Evans who the coach seems most confident in.

“Her upside is tremendous,” Hays, a 2002 Olympic silver medalist, told the Chicago Tribune last month. “By this time next year, Aja will set an entirely new standard for women’s bobsled.”

Still, on the ice as on the track, we expect all eyes to be on Lolo.

Ligety exits quietly, Hirscher brilliant again

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Marcel Hirscher, the Austrian ski god, is finally having his moment. King of the World Cup tour for the past seven seasons, on Sunday Hirscher won his second Olympic gold, in the giant slalom.

Hirscher had won a grand total of no Olympic medals, nada, zip, zero in two prior Games. Now he might — could, should — win three here at PyeongChang. The slalom, another Hirscher specialty, is due to be run Thursday.

To watch Hirscher ski is to watch one of the great athletes of our — or any — time. Like being courtside in Chicago to see Michael Jordan back in the day. At Wimbledon for a Roger Federer volley. At the Water Cube in Beijing in 2008 when Michael Phelps was swimming the butterfly.

In Sunday’s race, Kristoffersen finished second, 1.27 seconds back of Hirscher. Pinturault finished third, 1.31 behind.

American racer Ted Ligety used to own this event: the Sochi 2014 giant slalom gold medalist, he was world champion in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Pinturault took Sochi 2014 bronze.

Considering his relatively low slalom ranking and the pounding that slalom demands, Sunday’s GS was — just like that, that quickly, that quietly — likely the final race of Ligety’s outstanding Olympic career.

“This is probably it for me at these Games,” he said after run two, adding that he is planning to head back to Europe, to race the remainder of the World Cup season.

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Olympic ice dance figure skating preview

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While Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir already have a gold medal in PyeongChang from the team event, they’re back to regain their 2010 Olympic ice dance title.

The short dance is Sunday, February 18 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com and the free dance is Monday, February 19 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com.

Here are some names to know before the event kicks off:

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, Team USA

Credentials: Reigning U.S. national champions, first Olympic appearance is 2018

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, Team USA

Credentials: Three-time Worlds medalists, two-time U.S. national champions, 2014 Olympians, 2017 Grand Prix Final bronze medalists

Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Team USA
Buzz about Chock and Bates: They’re a couple on and off the ice, and say that’s given a new perspective to their athletic careers. They weren’t a couple when they competed together at the 2014 Olympics, so they believe this experience will be all the more special for it.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Canada
Credentials: 2010 Olympic champions, two-time Sochi 2014 silver medalists, three-time world champions, eight-time Canadian national champions.

Read the full ice dance preview here and watch figure skating highlights and streams