Videos: Vote for USA Luge sled, suit, helmet designs

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USA Luge announced it has worked with Dow Chemical to overhaul its sleds as the Sochi Olympics approach. Now, fans can have a say in what those new sleds look like at the Winter Games through an online poll.

“We’re by no means done,” USA Luge assistant coach Duncan Kennedy told The Associated Press about the new sleds. “But we’ve come a long way.”

The team endured the departure of its longtime sled-builder about three years ago, and that’s only one of the reasons those around the team point to when describing U.S. struggles on the World Cup circuit in recent seasons. And for about as long as anyone can remember, the U.S. sleds were basically being built one at a time, with no parts of one seeming to work with another.

“So far I’m liking what’s been happening and am looking forward to seeing everything come together,” 2009 world champion Erin Hamlin told the AP. “I think there is a lot of potential to see some great gains and speed, so I can’t wait to get on ice.”

Luge has been part of the Olympic program since 1964, but the U.S. has never medaled in men’s or women’s singles. American doubles teams did win silver and bronze in both 1998 and 2002. Germany dominates.

The top American luge hopes in Sochi are 2010 Olympians Chris Mazdzer (13th in the 2012-13 World Cup standings) and Julia Clukey (sixth in the World Cup), two-time Olympian Hamlin (seventh in the World Cup) and the doubles team of Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall (10th in the World Cup).

The 2013-14 World Cup season leading into the Olympics begins in Lillehammer, Norway, in November.

Below are the videos of the four sled, suit and helmet designs up for vote. After watching, go to USALuge.org through Aug. 23 to place your vote.

Photo: World Games medals missing letter “L”

Eliud Kipchoge wins Berlin Marathon; no world record

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Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge won the Berlin Marathon but missed the world record by 35 seconds, slowed by rain and humidity.

The Kenyan clocked 2:03:32, just missing the three-year-old record of 2:02:57. Countryman Dennis Kimetto set that mark at the 2014 Berlin Marathon.

Kipchoge, who has won nine of his 10 career marathons, said Sunday marked the toughest conditions under which he has run 26.2 miles.

“My mind was to run at least a world record,” the 32-year-old said. “Next time. Tomorrow is a [new] day. … I still have a world record in my legs.”

The two other men chasing the record — Kenenisa Bekele and Wilson Kipsang — dropped out after 18 miles.

Instead, the runner-up was surprise Ethiopian Guye Adola, who ran the fastest debut marathon ever on a record-eligible course in an unofficial 2:03:46.

Adola stuck with Kipchoge until the last mile as both men trailed off Kimetto’s world-record pace.

Kenyan Gladys Cherono won the women’s race by 18 seconds in 2:00:23. It’s her second Berlin win in three years.

Many expected to see a men’s world record Sunday. Kipchoge, Bekele and Kipsang had all run within 16 seconds of the mark in the last two years but had never raced together in the German capital.

Berlin is the world’s fastest marathon. The men’s world record has been lowered six times since 2003, each time in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate.

Kipchoge was the pre-race favorite.

On May 6, he ran 2:00:25 in Nike’s staged sub-two-hour marathon attempt on an Italian Formula One track. It was contested under special conditions that made it ineligible for record purposes with pacers entering mid-race.

Kipchoge won Berlin in 2015 in 2:04:00 despite insoles flopping out the back of his shoes the last half of the race.

Bekele and Kipsang teased the world record in a memorable Berlin duel last year, with Bekele winning six seconds shy of it.

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MORE: Top Americans set for major marathon next month

Yuzuru Hanyu falters as Javier Fernández wins opener

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Even Yuzuru Hanyu can struggle in September.

The Olympic and world champion singled his first jump, doubled a few more and fell in the free skate of his opening event of the Olympic season on Saturday. Video is here.

He squandered an 11.52-point lead over two-time world champion Javier Fernández from Friday’s short program at the Autumn Classic in Montreal.

Hanyu ended up 10.83 points behind Fernández overall, even though the Spaniard also fell in his free skate.

Full scores are here.

It’s a familiar feeling for Hanyu, who saw Fernández pass him in the free skate at the 2015 and 2016 Worlds.

The Japanese megastar also been known to have clunker programs at fall events in past seasons. In every one of his senior seasons, Hanyu has been beaten in one of his first two competitions.

Hanyu came to Montreal with a sore knee, which reportedly led him to take the quadruple loop out of his repertoire for one weekend.

Still, Hanyu was marvelous in the short program. His score was the second-highest under the 13-year-old judging system.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November. The Autumn Classic is a lower-level event.

Hanyu, 22, next skates at the Rostelecom Cup in four weeks. He will face 18-year-old U.S. champion Nathan Chen, who beat Hanyu at the Four Continents Championships at the PyeongChang Olympic venue in February.

The figure skating season continues next weekend with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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