Noelle Pikus-Pace

Noelle Pikus-Pace wins skeleton World Cup in Lake Placid

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Noelle Pikus-Pace was untouchable again, cruising to victory in a World Cup skeleton race in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Friday.

The American won in a two-run time of 1 minute, 51.37 seconds, beating Germany’s Anja Huber by .46 of a second. Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold was third. American Katie Uhlaender was 14th.

“In training, I was not doing so hot, so I just took a day off yesterday to really just kind of visualize what I needed to do,” Pikus-Pace said. “I’ve been down this track a lot, so just being able to put it together once piece at a time. It came together today, so I’m really happy with it.”

Pikus-Pace, 31, was also the fastest woman in the previous two races this season in Calgary, Alberta, and Park City, Utah. She was disqualified after winning in Calgary for illegal tape on her sled. She came back in Park City to break the track record — twice — and win by a dominant .68 of a second.

She is the 2007 world champion who finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics and second at the World Championships in February. She briefly retired after the Olympics and had a baby boy.

The last woman to win three straight World Cup races was Uhlaender, who won the first four to start the 2006-07 season.

Uhlaender, recovering from a preseason concussion, hasn’t finished better than 13th in three World Cups. She won the 2012 world title and was third in the World Cup standings last season.

A second women’s skeleton race will go in Lake Placid on Sunday. Universal Sports will have coverage.

Lake Placid Skeleton Race 1
1. Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA) 1:51.37
2. Anja Huber (GER) 1:51.83
3. Lizzy Yarnold (GBR) 1:51.88
14. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 1:52.79

Holcomb stays perfect in Lake Placid

Olympic champion, Tour de France runner-up tests positive

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Samuel Sanchez, a 2008 Olympic champion and 2010 Tour de France runner-up, was provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned growth hormone on Aug. 9.

Sanchez, a 39-year-old Spaniard, was due to race the Vuelta a España starting Saturday but is now out indefinitely until the conclusion of his case. That may include the testing of his B sample.

Sanchez denied wrongdoing, saying the failed test was a surprise, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

Sanchez won the road race on the first day of the Beijing Games in a five-man sprint that also included Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who would win the time trial in 2008 and 2016, and Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck.

Two years later, Sanchez finished fourth in the Tour de France but was upgraded to second behind Schleck due to doping bans for original winner Alberto Contador and third-place Denis Menchov.

Sanchez also took the polka-dot jersey for best climber at the 2011 Tour and finished second and third at the Vuelta in 2009 and 2007, respectively.

Sanchez rode in the 2010 Tour wearing a special helmet honoring his Olympic title. He also got a tattoo behind his right shoulder commemorating the Beijing gold on Aug. 9, 2008.

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Victoria Azarenka may miss U.S. Open due to custody battle

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Olympic and Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka says her participation in the U.S. Open is in doubt because she might not be able to bring her son with her to New York as a result of her separation from the baby’s father.

Azarenka is “faced with a difficult situation which may not allow me to return to work right away,” according to a post on the former top-ranked player’s social media accounts Thursday. “No parent should have to decide between their child or their career.”

The 28-year-old from Belarus gave birth to Leo, her first child, in December, then returned to the tour in June.

Azarenka’s post said that shortly after Wimbledon — where Azarenka lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10 — she separated from her son’s father.

“As we work to resolve some of the legal processes, the way things stand now is that the only way I can play in the U.S. Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California,” was posted on Azarenka’s social media, “which I’m not willing to do.”

The U.S. Open starts Aug. 28.

“I remain optimistic that in the coming days Leo’s father and I can put aside any differences and take steps in the right direction to more effectively work as a team and agree on an arrangement for all three of us to travel and for me to compete,” was posted, “but, more importantly, to ensure that Leo has a consistent presence from both of his parents.”

Azarenka was the runner-up in New York in 2012 and 2013, losing in the final each year to Serena Williams.

Those were also the years that Azarenka won her two Grand Slam singles titles in Australia.

Wimbledon was Azarenka’s first major tournament in more than a year. She currently is ranked 204th.

“Balancing child care and a career is not easy for any parent, but it is a challenge I am willing to face and embrace. I want to support men and women everywhere who know it is OK to be a working mother — or father. No one should ever have to decide between a child and their career, we are strong enough to do both,” was posted on Azarenka’s social media. “I am incredibly grateful for all of the support I have received from women and men around the world who recognize the importance of supporting working moms and our right to be with our children. I look forward to hopefully having positive developments soon so that this difficult situation can be resolved and I can get back to competing.”

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