Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn says she’s ready for Sochi after best comeback result (video)

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Lindsey Vonn improved for the second straight day in her first races in 10 months.

The Olympic downhill champion placed fifth in a World Cup super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Sunday. Vonn skied the course in 1 minute, 23.71 seconds. Winner Lara Gut of Switzerland was .85 of a second faster.

Vonn, in her first races since blowing out her right knee at the World Championships in February, finished 40th and 11th in downhills Friday and Saturday.

“I know I can win again,” Vonn told reporters after finishing Sunday. “I’m ready for Sochi.”

She was skiing at a course nicknamed “Lake Lindsey” for her overwhelming success there. She had won the last seven World Cup races at Lake Louise before this weekend. She didn’t finish lower than second at a Lake Louise race from 2009 through 2012.

“Huge step in the right direction,” Vonn said, according to USA Today. “A perfect way to end the weekend. I have a lot of self confidence now. Every day I got more and more aggressive, more confident and I feel great.”

The Alpine skiing World Cup continues in St. Moritz, Switzerland, with a super-G on Saturday and a giant slalom Sunday. It has not been reported if Vonn will race in St. Moritz.

Vonn said she may do as little as one more race before Sochi to avoid risking long-term damage on her knee, which she reinjured in a Nov. 19 training crash. She’s skiing on a partially torn ACL and needs offseason surgery.

“I do need a couple more stops,” Vonn said, according to USA Today. “I want to make sure I at least get on the podium once, if not win before going into Sochi. For me mentally I really want to have that in my back pocket.”

Gut won for the fourth time in eight races this season. She’s won both World Cup super-Gs and is the overall World Cup leader.

Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather was second for the second straight day, .03 behind Gut. Austrian Anna Fenninger was third.

German Maria Hoefl-Riesch was attempting to sweep the Lake Louise races after downhill wins Friday and Saturday but tumbled to 19th.

American Leanne Smith took sixth, her first top 10 of the season. Julia Mancuso, the reigning world bronze medalist in the super-G, was 17th, her first top 20 in seven races this season.

Lake Louise super-G
1. Lara Gut (SUI) 1:22.86
2. Tina Weirather (LIE) 1:22.89
3. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:23.19
4. Elisabeth Goergl (AUT) 1:23.64
5. Lindsey Vonn (USA) 1:23.71
6. Leanne Smith (USA) 1:23.75
7. Kajsa Kling (SWE) 1:23.87
7. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) 1:23.87
9. Verena Stuffer (ITA) 1:23.97
10. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) 1:24.08
17. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:24.53
18. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:24.55
32. Julia Ford (USA) 1:25.38
35. Jacqueline Wiles (USA) 1:25.48
41. Laurenne Ross (USA) 1:25.76

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Bobsled Olympic medalist Steve Langton retires

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 03:  (BROADCAST-OUT)  Steve Langton of the United States Bobsled team poses for a portrait ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on February 3, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.

A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.

At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”

“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.

Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.

“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”

Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.

None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.


Dan Jansen explains recent flurry of world records

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Dan Jansen has significant experience rewriting the speed skating world record book.

The 1994 Olympic 1000m champion broke the 500m world record in 1992, and then lowered his mark another four times. He also set world records in the 1000m and sprint combination.

Yet even Jansen is shocked by the number of edits to the record book over the last two weeks.

“I haven’t seen anything like it,” Jansen said. “Not this many.”

Four world records were broken this past weekend at the World Cup in Kearns, Utah. The weekend before, world records in three Olympic events fell at the season-opening World Cup in Calgary.

There is no surprise about the locations of the record-breaking performances.

The Utah Olympic Oval claims to have the “fastest ice on earth,” and for good reason. The venue is located 4,675 feet above sea level. At such a high altitude, the air is less dense, meaning speed skaters experience less air resistance and are therefore able to achieve faster speeds.

It is the same reason baseball players hit more home runs at the Colorado Rockies’ stadium, Coors Field, and football kickers are able to make longer field goals when they travel to play the Denver Broncos.

The Calgary Olympic Oval is also at a high altitude, although not as high as at the venue in Kearns. All of the current Olympic event world records have been set in either Utah or Calgary.

What is surprising, however, is the large number of world records broken during a two-week stretch.

Brittany Bowe started the revision of the record book by breaking her own women’s 1000m world record on Nov. 14 in Calgary. Just three minutes later, her U.S. Olympic teammate, Heather Richardson, claimed the world record for herself. Then, this past Sunday in Utah, Bowe broke the world record once again. NBCSN will televise the coverage from Utah this Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET, with Jansen providing the commentary.

Richardson also stole a world record from Bowe in the women’s 1500m. Bowe broke the world record on Nov. 15, only to have Richardson lower the time on Nov. 21.

“It’s pretty easy to tell that we bring out the best in each other,” Bowe said to U.S. Speedskating on Sunday. “When we’re racing together something special happens almost every time.”

In the men’s competition, Russia’s Pavel Kulizhnikov broke the 500m world record  on Nov. 15, and lowered it again on Nov. 20. Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen shattered the men’s 10,000m world record, taking 5.39 seconds off Sven Kramer’s mark from 2007.

Jansen attributes the women’s world records to the continued development of Bowe and Richardson. Both are converted inline skaters who have become more confident racing on the ice.

Bowe started inline skating when she was eight years old. After graduating from high school, she was offered the opportunity to move to Utah to transition to speed skating for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. But she decided hang up her inline skates to focus on playing collegiate basketball at Florida Atlantic University.

She only started speed skating after being inspired by watching Richardson compete at the 2010 Games.

“Brittany learns more almost daily,” Jansen said. “She is still going to get better.”

Richardson quickly adjusted to racing on the ice, despite being described as “Bambi on ice” when she first started speed skating in 2007. She married Dutch distance skater Jorrit Bergsma in 2015 and moved to the Netherlands. Richardson’s endurance has improved since she started training with her husband, the 2014 Olympic 10,000m champion.

“Those two ladies are dominant right now,” Jansen said about Bowe and Richardson. “It is hard to see anybody else closing the gap they have in the middle distances.”

Jansen, the first speed skater to break 36 seconds in the 500m, seemed surprised that it took so long for the men’s 500m and 10,000m world records to fall. Canada’s Jeremy Wotherspoon held the men’s 500m world record since Nov. of 2007. Kramer’s 10,000m time, which was recorded in Feb. of 2007, was the longest-standing Olympic event world record.

“It’s about time,” Jansen said. “These guys are flying right now.”

No more world records are expected to be broken this season, as the rest of the competition venues are located closer to sea level. Similarly, no world records are expected to be broken at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics.

“It’s a little bit of a bummer because you would like to see world records at the Olympics, but our sport is not conducive to that,” Jansen said. “Unless you have the Olympics up high.”

Jansen believes U.S. Speedskating will continue to experience positive momentum.

At Sochi 2014, losing became contagious, and the U.S. contingent departed Russia with zero Olympic medals. Jansen now expects the recent success to reverberate throughout the entire team.

“It’s an exciting time for U.S. Speedskating,” Jansen said. “They are making statements, and I don’t think they are finished.”