Jamie Greubel, Lolo Jones

U.S. Bobsled announces pairings for Lake Placid World Cup

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The U.S. women’s bobsled team, fresh off unprecedented success at last week’s World Cup stop, made more changes to its lineup going into this weekend’s races in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The U.S. went 1-2-2 in Park City, Utah, on Saturday.

It marked the first time the U.S. swept a women’s bobsled podium since 2001, the season before its Olympic debut, and the first time it had ever gone 1-2-2.

The lineup last Saturday was:

Elana Meyers-Aja Evans
Jamie Greubel-Lolo Jones
Jazmine Fenlator-Lauryn Williams

U.S. Bobsled made changes to each pairing as it tinkers with lineups to see who best meshes in advance of selecting Olympic push athletes in mid-January. A push athlete’s inclusion or absence does not necessarily reflect on her likelihood of making the U.S. Olympic Team.

Here are the pairings for this Saturday’s event in Lake Placid:

Elana Meyers-Lauryn Williams
Jamie Greubel-Aja Evans
Jazmine Fenlator-Emily Azevedo

Meyers, the overall World Cup leader, is not paired with push athlete Evans for the first time since last season’s World Championships.

Meyers and Evans had won two of three races so far this season and finished second in the other. It would be surprising not to see them paired together in Sochi.

Williams’ pairing with Meyers is a testament to her rise in her rookie season after coming over from track and field. Williams is a three-time Olympian and the 2004 Olympic 100m silver medalist.

She won a silver medal in her World Cup debut last week and appears to be entering the mix with Azevedo and Lolo Jones in the battle for the third Olympic team spot behind Evans and Katie Eberling.

Eberling and Jones are sitting out Saturday’s race. For both, it’s the second absence in four races this season. Evans is the only push athlete who has been in all four World Cup races.

Universal Sports will have coverage of this weekend’s bobsled and skeleton races. Here’s the race schedule for Lake Placid (all times Eastern):

Two-man bobsled heat 1 — 8:30 a.m.
Two-man bobsled heat 2 — 10 a.m.
Women’s skeleton heat 1 — 12 p.m.
Men’s skeleton heat 1 — 1 p.m.
Women’s skeleton heat 2 — 2:15 p.m.
Men’s skeleton heat 2 — 3:15 p.m.

Two-man bobsled heat 1 — 8:30 a.m.
Two-man bobsled heat 2 — 10 a.m.
Women’s bobsled heat 1 — 1 p.m.
Women’s bobsled heat 2 — 2:30 p.m.

Women’s skeleton heat 1 — 9 a.m.
Women’s skeleton heat 2 — 10:30 a.m.
Four-man bobsled heat 1 — 1 p.m.
Four-man bobsled heat 2 — 2:30 p.m.

Lindsey Vonn to skip St. Moritz, ski Val d’Isere downhill

New generation of male figure skaters owns spotlight at worlds; preview

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Nobody in the men’s field at figure skating worlds owns an Olympic or world title for the first time since 1985. This could lead to the best U.S. men’s results in years.

Yuzuru HanyuJavier Fernandez and Patrick Chan combined to win every gold medal since 2011, but all of them ended their seasons at the Olympics.

This week in Milan, the four leading men, who just competed in their first Olympics, are all 20 years or younger. And that includes two Americans.

Nathan Chen can become the first world singles champion from the U.S. since Evan Lysacek in 2009. Chen and Vincent Zhou could be the first U.S. men to finish in the top five together since Lysacek and Johnny Weir in 2005. Chen, Zhou and Max Aaron could make up the best U.S. trio at a worlds in more than 20 years.

Start with Chen. The 18-year-old said he planned to compete this week regardless of what happened at the Olympics, but after his struggles in the team event and individual short programs, the quad master nailed his free skate, came home to California and said he took maybe one day off of training before this event.

Chen is one of three men in the gold-medal hunt, along with Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan and world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China. While Chen largely struggled at the 2017 Worlds and in PyeongChang, Uno and Jin each made the podium at both events. And each can come close to or equal Chen in quad numbers.

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Zhou, 17, has a chance to become the youngest man to earn a world medal since Hanyu in 2012. Or the first man to win the world junior title one season and make the world senior podium the next since Yevgeny Plushenko in 1997-98.

Zhou is riding momentum. He struggled in the fall and entered nationals in January ranked fifth among Americans for the season. He placed third to make the Olympic team and then landed three clean quads in his Olympic free skate to jump from 12th to sixth.

“I did better there than a lot of people thought I would,” Zhou told NBC Sports research last week. “I knew I was capable of that all season.

“I want to reach my ultimate goal of being Olympic champion, and my best chance is in 2022 … because by 2026 I will probably be old and creaky with four prosthetic limbs.”

Aaron made it to Milan after Olympian Adam Rippon gave up his spot, and the top two alternates (Jason Brown and Ross Miner) both declined. Still, Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, is seeded seventh in the men’s field based on top scores this season.

NBC Sports figure skating researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

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Carolina Kostner the sentimental favorite at figure skating worlds

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Olympic champion Alina Zagitova is without question the favorite at this week’s world figure skating championships, especially after the sprightly Russian’s training partner and rival Yevgenia Medvedeva withdrew because of injury.

She won’t be the sentimental favorite, though.

That would be Carolina Kostner, the ageless Italian star who could be competing at worlds for the last time on home soil. The 2012 champion and six-time world medalist seemed to indicate that retirement could be looming after she finished fifth at the PyeongChang Games, where she was chosen to carry the Italian flag at the Closing Ceremony.

Kostner will have a huge home crowd behind her when the event begins Wednesday in Milan.

“Decisions like that should never be taken in a hot moment. It will come naturally,” said Kostner, who no longer can compete with the sport’s high-fliers when it comes to technical marks, but whose elegant artistry and presentation often make up the difference.

“She is an example of perseverance, of a long-lasting athlete,” Medvedeva said. “I have trouble imagining how someone can stay in that shape for a very long time. When you see people like Carolina, you understand that if she can do something, then that something is possible. If you love what you do, you put all of yourself into it, like Carolina Kostner.”

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When asked about retirement, Kostner brought up her cousin, Isolde Kostner, who won three Olympic Alpine skiing medals before deciding to step away from competition.

“She stopped skiing shortly before the (2006) Olympics in Italy,” Caroline Kostner said. “Many did not understand why she wouldn’t pull through because it was her home country, and she said, ‘You will feel strongly when it is time to stop.’ And I haven’t felt it yet.”

The biggest story at the world championships in an Olympic year tends to be who is missing rather than who shows up. The grind of competing for an entire season builds toward the quadrennial event, and athletes who medal or intend to retire rarely press on to worlds. Then there are the injuries, which accumulate during the year.

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