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

Oscar Pistorius’ family upset with delays in possible release

Oscar Pistorius
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SOMERSET WEST, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius‘ family criticized South African authorities on Tuesday for delays in deciding whether he should be released from jail and moved to house arrest, saying his rights were being “undermined” because of the publicity surrounding his case.

The family also reacted to parole officials’ recommendation that the double-amputee runner undergo psychotherapy, saying he was already receiving “regular and ongoing” psychotherapy from both his personal and prison psychologists.

The Pistorius family spoke out in a written statement after his early release — which had been granted in June — was canceled Monday and ordered to be reconsidered.

“This experience leaves us with the uncomfortable conclusion that the public, political and media hype that was allowed to develop around Oscar’s trial has undermined his right to be treated like any other prisoner,” Pistorius’ family said.

The family expressed concerns over the “legality” of canceling Pistorius’ release.

Pistorius was approved to be released on Aug. 21 after serving 10 months of his five-year manslaughter sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. In a fairly common procedure in South Africa for offenders sentenced to five years or less, he would have been moved from jail after one-sixth of the sentence to serve the remainder under correctional supervision at home.

But the justice minister intervened two days before Pistorius was to leave jail and ordered a review on a legal technicality, saying the parole board met two months too early. After a seven-week delay, officials reviewing Pistorius’ case on Monday sent it back to that original parole board to consider all over again.

“We cannot understand … why the matter is now to be referred back to the parole board that has no reason to make a different decision from the one that was made in the first place,” the Pistorius family said.

MORE PISTORIUS: Pistorius’ top rival wants him to race again

Carolina Kostner wants to return to competition

Carolina Kostner
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MILAN (AP) — With her suspension coming to an end, Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner already has her sights set on the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang.

The Italian figure skater will be eligible to return to competition on Jan. 1 after serving a suspension for helping her ex-boyfriend evade doping controls.

”The desire is there, and it includes also obviously a possible Olympics,” the 28-year-old Kostner said Tuesday.

Kostner received clearance this week from the Court of Arbitration for Sport to return to competition next year after agreeing to have her 16-month suspension extended by five months, but then backdated, freeing her to skate earlier than anticipated.

As part of the agreement, Kostner also agreed to act as a spokeswoman against doping, her lawyer said.

But Kostner said it was too soon to lay out a program for her comeback.

”Knowing that I can return to competition in 2016 gives me great strength and great serenity to make a decision,” Kostner said.

Italian skating federation president Andrea Gioss said it would be difficult for Kostner to qualify for the European Championships from Jan. 25-31 because of time constraints. She would have time to qualify for the World Championships in Boston in March by picking up points at sanctioned international competitions.

As she has in the past, Kostner admitted she ”made an error,” by helping her ex-boyfriend, Olympic race walking gold medalist Alex Schwazer, evade a doping test and other infractions. She has said she was unaware he was doping.

”This period for me was a moment of great growth and maturation,” she said, adding she has broken off all contact with Schwazer but did not wish him ill.

Kostner, who missed out on the Worlds last year but won bronze at the Sochi Olympics, said she has been concentrating on the artistic aspects of skating since the suspension took effect in January, and will be able to return to full training in federation-sanctioned rinks from Nov. 1. In the meantime, she is preparing for an ice show in Verona this week, and spent last winter in a dance studio practicing ballet.

Kostner said she misses competing but that she had nothing to prove by returning to the rink.

”I have a big trove of experience, Olympics that have gone well, Olympics gone badly, falls, getting back up,” Kostner said. ”In a certain sense, I feel the desire and need to give it all meaning, if only to be part of a team and have the young future Italian champion turn to me and ask advice, `You, at those moments, what did you do?”’

MORE FIGURE SKATING: New star emerges at Japan Open