Luge

Lights out for USA Luge at Olympic sliding center

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The U.S. luge team’s training was cut short Monday afternoon at the Sanki Sliding Center in Sochi after power went out in the area.

“We didn’t really know what was going on,” said USA Luge Sports Program Director Mark Grimmette, a silver medalist at the 2002 Salt Lake Games, on a conference call with reporters. “I walked up to the finish area and started talking to the event and track manager who said that there was problem with the power in the next town over. We’re currently in the dark right now.”

A media relations representative from USA Luge said that American athletes there — Erin Hamlin, Julia Clukey, Kate Hansen, Chris Mazdzer and the doubles team of Preston Griffall and Matt Mortensen — were at their hotel in the dark, playing cards.

“We were about halfway through with our session when the power went completely out,” Grimmette said. “The lights on the track went off, the speakers went off and you could tell that everything was quiet and that all of the power had gone off on the track.”

USA Luge said power went out around 2 p.m. local time, but that it was only at the sliding center in the mountain cluster, not in the coastal city of Sochi itself.

“The team is functioning in candle light in their hotel after they had to abort their training session,” said Sandy Caligiore, the media and public relations director for USA Luge. “They were up on the track for 90 minutes.”

The U.S. is one of 31 nations training in Sochi this week,which includes 140 athletes total. The team is scheduled to be there through Thursday, though USA Luge officials said they believed the athletes would be granted a longer stay or given more runs prior to Sochi. A total of 50 runs were guaranteed to the Americans; they’ve completed 24.

“I’m sure that the FIL (International Luge Federation) is doing everything they can to make sure that everything is fair at the end of the day; they’ll figure it out,” said Gordy Sheer, USA Luge’s marketing director. “At this point, the athletes are more concerned with conserving the batteries on their cell phones.”

Living by candlelight here in Russia. #NoProblem

A photo posted by Erin Hamlin (@erinhamlin) on

Fans decide on USA Luge Olympic uniforms

Martina Hingis loses another Olympic doubles partner

Martina Hingis, Belinda Bencic
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Martina Hingis‘ Olympic return is off to a rough start, and the Games are still nine days away.

Hingis, the five-time Grand Slam singles champion who is set to go 20 years between Olympic appearances, has lost her slated doubles and mixed doubles partners on consecutive days. Hingis is not playing singles in Rio.

Belinda Bencic became the fourth female tennis player ranked in the top 20, and the second Swiss player of either gender in as many days, to withdraw from the Olympics on Wednesday.

Bencic, a 19-year-old ranked No. 16, is behind in training following a wrist injury suffered at Wimbledon last month, according to her social media.

On Tuesday, Roger Federer withdrew from the Olympics, citing a knee injury.

Whether Hingis will play with another partner hasn’t been announced.

Women’s top 20 players out of the Olympics
No. 5 Simona Halep (Zika concern)
No. 7 Victoria Azarenka (Pregnancy)
No. 17 Karolina Pliskova (Zika concern)

MORE: Complete U.S. Olympic team roster

Bubba Watson, U.S. golfers get pep talk from Olympic legend Dan Jansen

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The world’s best golfers are in Springfield, N.J., this week for the season’s final major, the PGA Championship, which was pushed up a couple weeks to accommodate golf’s return to the Olympics.

The four men set to represent the U.S. – Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar – attended an Olympic meeting, where they were able to try on their Team USA gear and speak with an Olympic legend, speed skater Dan Jansen. Watson left inspired.

“He’s a legend; he’s a legend for America,” Watson said. “Some of the things that he battled, he talked about what he battled. Not just winning. Who cares about winning a medal. Just what he battled trying to get there, what he battled in family life and things like that. It was pretty amazing to hear his stories and how he came through it.”

Jansen won a 1,000m speed skating gold medal at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, the shining moment in a career that had previously been defined by disappointment. He finished fourth in the 500m in 1984, and fell in both the 500m and 1,000m in 1988. Those mishaps came after he learned of the death of his sister, Jane, who died of leukemia the morning of the 500m final.

He just missed a medal again with a fourth-place result in the 500m in 1992, where he finished 26th in the 1,000m. Two years later, after the Winter Games shifted to be in even years not coinciding with the Summer Games, Jansen placed eighth in the 500m. But in the final event of his Olympic career, he set a 1,000m world record en route to his first and only Olympic medal.

You can see more of Jansen’s story here.

Jansen acknowledged that the golfers didn’t grow up dreaming about playing golf in the Olympics since it wasn’t in the program until recently. But now that they’re going, they’re representing their country just like everyone else on Team USA.

“All four of us are pretty passionate about it,” Watson said. “Any time you can play and represent your country to that level; obviously we represent our country this week, but to that level, a higher level, it’s pretty special.”

Watson reiterated his stance on having no reservations about going to the Rio Games, while the top four golfers in the world, and many others, pulled out, mostly due to concerns over the Zika virus.

“I mean, if they would have asked me to be the towel boy, I would have went to the Olympics. But again, my situation is different than everybody else’s. I can’t have kids. We adopted our kids and I’m not fearful of crime or anything like that. So there was no fear at all. It was a go,” he said.

The U.S. golfers are getting their custom USA gear ready:

MORE: Bubba Watson gets a jetpack to fly around the golf course