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

Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

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Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

Kobe Bryant
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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

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