Elana Meyers

U.S. sweeps women’s bobsled in Park City (video)


U.S. Bobsled has been stellar to start the season, but it’s never been stronger than Saturday.

The U.S. swept the medals in Park City, Utah.

Elana Meyers and Aja Evans won in a two-run time of 1 minute, 38.61 seconds, followed by Jamie Greubel and Lolo Jones and Jazmine Fenlator and Lauryn Williams, who tied for silver in 1:39.24.

It’s the first time since Feb. 17, 2001, that the U.S. swept a women’s bobsled World Cup podium, according to Infostrada. That was also in Park City, one year before the Olympic debut of women’s bobsled.

“The greatest feeling today isn’t necessarily the gold medal,” Meyers said in the awards area. “It’s the fact that the three of us [teams] are up here together.”

The U.S. Bobsled Federation mixed up the second and third sled pairings from Friday’s race, where the U.S. placed first, second and fourth.

The track and field Olympians Jones and Williams replaced Katie Eberling and Emily Azevedo, respectively.

Evans and Eberling are considered favorites to make the U.S. Olympic Team. Jones and the 2010 Olympian Azevedo are thought to be vying for the third and final push athlete spot.

“It feels great to be on the podium,” said Jones, who won her first World Cup medal of the season. “With bobsled you never know when you are going to be on the podium and how long it will be before you are back on again. It makes you cherish the moments when you are doing well. Our drivers are doing outstanding this year.”

The bobsled rookie Williams won a bronze medal in her World Cup debut Saturday.

“It has been really fun to learn this whole process,” said Williams, the 2004 Olympic 100m silver medalist. “I got on the line and said, ‘I don’t want to disappoint Jazmine.’ I’m a rookie and I have to do this.”

The U.S. Olympic Team will be named in mid-January. Push athletes are chosen via discretionary selections, though World Cup results play a role in the decision-making process.

Meyers took the solo World Cup overall lead with the win, moving ahead of Canadian Olympic and world champion Kaillie Humphries. Humphries finished seventh, her worst result in nearly two years.

The U.S. has now won five of six men’s and women’s bobsled races this season. The Park City World Cup wraps up with a four-man bobsled later Saturday.

The women’s bobsled World Cup continues in Lake Placid, N.Y., next week. The sled pairings are expected to be announced midweek.

“All in all, I feel pretty good going into the rest of the season because we have a lot of room for improvement,” Evans said.

Park City Women’s Bobsled
1. Elana Meyers/Aja Evans (USA)
2. Jamie Greubel/Lolo Jones (USA) 1:39.24
2. Jazmine Fenlator/Lauryn Williams (USA) 1:39.24

Oldest man to carry Olympic torch

Hanyu, Miyahara into Grand Prix Final with wins at NHK Trophy

Yuzuru Hanyu
Leave a comment

Yuzuru Hanyu won the NHK Trophy in front of a home crowd in Japan in spectacular fashion – setting three world records – and qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the process.

He followed up his short program world record with a record setting free skate of 216.07 and a combined overall score record of 322.40.

China’s Boyang Jin finished second overall followed by Japan’s Takahito Mura. The U.S. Grant Hochstein finished fourth after an eighth-place finish in the short program.

Though the results are still unofficial, the men’s field in Barcelona will likely include no U.S. men, a streak that has continued since 2012. Max Aaron is eighth in the standings, but would be invited if he finished seventh overall. More on that the qualifying process here.

MORE: Fernandez into final with Rostelecom win

Japan’s Satoko Miyahara took the ladies’ competition over the U.S.’ Courtney Hicks, who finished second in her first career Grand Prix circuit medal, and countrywoman Mao Asada, who finished third.

Ashley Wagner was fourth, the lowest place she could have to give her a berth to Barcelona. Wagner has earned a medal at every Grand Prix Final since 2012 (silver in 2012, and bronzes in 2013 and 2014).

Again, the overall standings are unofficial, but Miyahara, Asada, and Wagner should join Gracie Gold, Evgenia Medvedeva, and Elena Radionova in the Grand Prix Final.

Russia finished off the podium entirely in the ladies’ field – Alena Leonova and Anna Pogorilaya finished eitghth and ninth while Maria Artemieva finished 11th.

The last time no Russian women were on a Grand Prix podium – the final or otherwise – was in the 2012-13 season, where it happened a handful of times. Russian women have been featured on every Grand Prix circuit podium since the 2012-13 season, where they only missed out on Skate Canada, the Rostelecom Cup, the NHK Trophy, and the Grand Prix Final from that season. Names like Olympic gold medalists Adelina Sotnikova and Julia Lipnitskaya, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Elena Radionova, Pogorilaya, Leonova, and 2015 world junior champion Evgenia Medvedeva all contributed to that streak.

MORE: Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir practice dog handling skills before dog show

U.S. pairs champions Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim earned a trip to Barcelona with a bronze medal in Japan. Leading the field in their ninth straight international win was Canadian pair Meaghan Duhamel and Eric Radford followed China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Jin Yang.

7 more Kenyan athletes banned for doping

Emily Chebet
Leave a comment

Two-time cross-country world champion Emily Chebet was among seven Kenyan athletes banned for doping Friday, another indication that the country has a serious problem of cheating among its famed distance runners.

Chebet, the cross-country world champion in 2010 and 2013, was banned for four years after testing positive for the diuretic and masking agent furosemide, the Kenyan athletics federation said.

The list of sanctions announced by Athletics Kenya included bans for the two runners that failed doping tests at the world championships in Beijing in August. Joyce Zakary and Koki Manunga, who were provisionally suspended at the worlds, also received four-year bans for furosemide.

There has been a recent spike in doping cases in Kenya and more than 40 athletes have now failed tests since 2012. Kenyan track officials are under scrutiny after allegations of doping cover-ups, and separate accusations of embezzlement of money at the national federation.

This week, a group of athletes stormed the federation headquarters in Nairobi demanding the resignation of top officials over the doping scandals and corruption allegations.

Along with her two cross-country world titles, the 29-year-old Chebet was a bronze medalist in the 10,000 meters at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Her ban was backdated to July 17 and she will be unable to compete until July 16, 2019.

The doping cases of Zakary, a 400-meter runner, and Manunga, a 400-meter hurdler, undermined Kenya’s impressive display at this year’s worlds, where the country tied with Jamaica for the most gold medals with seven. They failed targeted tests carried out by world athletics body the IAAF in Beijing, enhancing suspicions that doping in Kenya is widespread.

Zakary set a national record of 50.71 seconds at the worlds before her failed test. The two were banned until Aug. 24, 2019.

The other four athletes banned on Friday were Agnes Jepkosgei, Bernard Mwendia, Judy Jesire Kimuge and Lilian Moraa Marita.

Jepkosgei was banned for four years for testing positive for the anabolic steroid metabolite norandrosterone. Mwendia was given a two-year ban for norandrosterone. Kimuge was banned two years for the norandrolone and Marita two years for the blood-booster EPO.

A World Anti-Doping Agency panel that recently reported on a systematic program of doping cover-ups in Russia said that Kenya also has a serious doping problem. That has spurred speculation that, like Russia, Kenya could face a blanket ban from international competition.

The IAAF has opened investigations into allegations that track officials in Kenya were involved in covering up positive doping tests. In a separate investigation, the IAAF is also looking at accusations of corruption against top officials at Athletics Kenya after they were questioned by Kenyan police over the alleged embezzlement of around $700,000 of the federation’s money.

One of the officials accused, AK Vice President David Okeyo, is a member of the IAAF’s decision-making council. The athletes protesting at Athletics Kenya this week demanded that Okeyo and AK President Isaiah Kiplagat step down.