Steve Holcomb

Steve Holcomb wins first two-man bobsled race of Olympic season

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Olympic champion Steve Holcomb won his fifth straight international two-man bobsled race on North American ice, taking the season-opening Calgary World Cup in track-record time on Friday night.

Holcomb and push athlete Steve Langton led after both runs, clocking a two-run total of 1 minute, 49.22 seconds. Swiss Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann were second, .16 of a second behind. Canadians Chris Spring and Jesse Lumsden were third.

The other two U.S. sleds, piloted by Cory Butner and Nick Cunningham, were ninth and 10th.

“It’s an interesting feeling knowing that no one has been faster than us down this track,” Holcomb said, according to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (USBSF). “It’s pretty cool to have a track record on an established track, and it’s actually my first track record in two-man.”

Holcomb is the reigning Olympic four-man champion but ranked higher in the two-man in last year’s World Cup standings (fourth versus sixth in the four-man).

Holcomb, 33, wore a blue Superman shirt under his black racing suit.

“Langton gave me two great starts,” Holcomb said, according to USBSF. “I think we could have pushed even faster, but I’m getting old and not recovering as quickly from traveling as I used to. I made a few mistakes that added up and I think there’s still some room to go even faster.”

His biggest competition in the two-man going into the Olympics is unclear. Hefti could be it, given he won three of his five World Cup starts last season, including the finale in at the Sochi Olympic track.

The Calgary World Cup stop concludes with two-woman and four-man races on Saturday. Universal Sports will have coverage.

Calgary Two-Man

1. Steve Holcomb/Steve Langton (USA) 1:49.22
2. Beat Hefti/Alex Baumann (SUI) 1:49.38
3. Chris Spring/Jesse Lumsden (CAN) 1:49.42
9. Cory Butner/Andreas Drbal (USA) 1:49.81
10. Nick Cunningham/Johnny Quinn (USA) 1:49.85

Bobsled, skeleton season storylines

Mikaela Shiffrin wins Aspen World Cup slalom

Mikaela Shiffrin
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With a slalom win today in Aspen, Colo., Mikaela Shiffrin broke some of the barriers she had been chasing.

En route to her fourth consecutive slalom World Cup title – which would tie the record for the most with Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider from 1992-95 – she became the first female skier to win four World Cup slalom races in a row since Austria’s Marlies Schild did it in the 2011-12 season.

In addition, Shiffrin became the first female skier from the U.S. to win a slalom World Cup race in Aspen. And she’s now tied with France’s Perrine Pelen for sixth overall with total slalom World Cup victories.

“I was pissed after I made that ridiculous mistake yesterday,” Shiffrin said to media, referencing yesterday’s giant slalom crash. Both her and Lindsey Vonn crashed and did not finish in Aspen’s giant slalom. “I tried to use that anger today.”

Shiffrin called the mistake a “brainfart” and Vonn dismissed it because “giant slalom isn’t [her] strongest event.”

Slovakia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova was second behind Shiffrin, followed by Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter.

By finishing behind Shiffrin in Aspen, Zuzulova extends her slalom World Cup podium finish streak to four.

Hansdotter has the second-most second place World Cup slalom finishes at 13 total, including today’s race. Only Pernilla Wiberg, of Sweden, has more with a total of 14.

MORE: Shiffrin, Vonn discuss friendship and rivalry

Fencing great Valentina Vezzali fails to qualify for Rio 2016

Mario Monti, Valentina Vezzali
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TURIN, Italy (AP) – Six-time Olympic champion fencer Valentina Vezzali has failed to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.

The 41-year-old Vezzali was eliminated in the second round of the foil event at the Trofeo Inalpi meet Saturday, while Italian teammate Arianna Errigo reached the semifinals and gained the necessary points to qualify.

Vezzali won at least one gold at the last five Olympics in either individual or team foil. She has a total of nine Olympic medals and 25 at world championships.

Her second son was born in 2013, the year in which she also became a member of Italy’s parliament.

Vezzali told the Gazzetta dello Sport this week that “I had another son and it was really difficult to come back. … I don’t think I have anything else to prove.”

MORE: Hanyu, Miyahara win NHK; Wagner into Grand Prix Final