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

Olympic downhill champion wants Formula One-like qualifying in ski racing

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VIENNA (AP) — World Cup skiing needs a qualification system like Formula One, with qualifying runs determining the starting order for the race, Olympic downhill champion Matthias Mayer said Friday.

“You could compete in training for who is the first to pick a start number,” the Austrian skier said.

Mayer’s proposal goes a step further than rules for downhill and super-G implemented this season. In the new system, the top 10 skiers can choose an odd start number between 1 and 19, and the skiers ranked between 11th and 20th pick an even number between 2 and 20.

The International Ski Federation has changed the old format, where the top seven were randomly given a number between 16 and 22, because it hopes TV viewers will watch longer when the best skiers are more spread out.

“It will change something, definitely,” said Mayer, who was speaking at a sponsor event. “The best racer can pick the start number he wants. I think it’s a positive development. But we should discuss a qualifying format in training.”

FIS men’s race director Markus Waldner said skiing’s governing body considered several options before deciding on the new regulation.

“The idea is to spread out the top 10 from the start list,” Waldner said. “Most of our TV viewers were starting to watch a race after the TV break, after the first 15 starters, because the top seven racers all started between 16 and 22. We would like to motivate our TV viewers to watch from the very beginning of a race.”

A winner of three World Cup races, Mayer missed most of last season after breaking two vertebrae in a downhill crash in Val Gardena, Italy. He returned to training on snow in July, and is planning a comeback at the speed races in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Nov. 26-27.

The Austrian skipped the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden last Sunday, though he skied on the course as a forerunner, a skier doing a test run just before the race starts.

MORE: Men’s Alpine skiing season preview

Spain keeps men’s basketball coach through 2020 Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21:  Spanish coach Sergio Scariolo reacts during the Men's Basketball Bronze medal game between Australia and Spain on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Sergio Scariolo will coach Spain at a third straight Olympics in 2020.

Scariolo’s contract was extended through the Tokyo Games by the Spanish basketball federation, it announced Friday.

The 55-year-old Italian began coaching Spain in 2009 and led the nation to silver at the London Olympics and bronze in Rio.

Spain lost by seven points to the U.S. in the 2012 Olympic final and by six points to the U.S. in the Rio semifinals, though it also lost to Croatia and Brazil in group play in Rio.

The Spanish national team’s NBA veterans are aging. Pau Gasol is 36 and hasn’t announced if he will try for a fourth Olympics in Tokyo. Younger brother Marc Gasol is 31.

José Calderón, 35, retired from the national team after the Rio Games.

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