Steve Holcomb

Steve Holcomb wins sixth straight race as U.S. sweeps Lake Placid bobsled

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The roll continues for Steve Holcomb and U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton.

Holcomb tallied his sixth straight World Cup bobsled victory, winning a two-man race in Lake Placid, N.Y., and leading a U.S. podium sweep on Saturday morning. Holcomb and push athlete Chris Fogt posted a two-run time of 1 minute, 50.19 seconds.

Cory Butner and Chuck Berkeley were second, .55 of a second back. Nick Cunningham and Johnny Quinn were third.

How dominant was Holcomb? His winning margin was larger than the margin separating second place from eighth place.

“I’m speechless,” said Holcomb, who wore a blue Superman shirt under his uniform. “I don’t even know what to say.”

Holcomb, the Olympic four-man champion, has won all four two-man races this season. He also won the first three two-man events last season but grabbed one more medal (bronze) over the final six two-man World Cup races, all in Europe.

He hasn’t won a two- or four-man World Cup race in Europe in nearly four years.

“We get to see where we stand, starting in North America, and so far so good,” U.S. coach Brian Shimer said Friday, according to The Associated Press. “But we’ve seen time and time again, we get on European soil and on those European tracks, the Germans are very tough. Actually all the Europeans, since that’s where they’ve got all the runs. So it’s good to be a second or so up here, knowing we have a little cushion maybe.”

Holcomb, Cunningham and Butner are now first, second and fourth in the World Cup two-man standings. The U.S. swept a World Cup men’s bobsled podium for the first time ever, according to Infostrada.

“To have this confidence is huge,” Cunningham said. “You can see really where the U.S. program is going. … It’s great to have the best in the world on your team [Holcomb] because every day you see what it takes. He’s a great mentor to Cory and I. You can see that he’s definitely helping the whole U.S. program.”

The U.S. is three race wins from sweeping every bobsled and skeleton gold at this weekend’s World Cup. A nation has not swept all five disciplines at one World Cup since Germany in Altenberg, Germany, in December 2008.

The Lake Placid World Cup continues with women’s bobsled later Saturday and women’s skeleton and four-man bobsled Sunday.

Lake Placid Two-Man — Race 2
1. Steve Holcomb/Chris Fogt (USA) 1:50.19
2. Nick Cunningham/Johnny Quinn (USA) 1:50.74
3. Cory Butner/Chuck Berkeley (USA) 1:50.85

Vuvuzelas, certain ‘printed literature’ banned at Sochi Olympics

Patrick Chan plans to retire after 2018 Olympic season

Patrick Chan
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Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan said he plans to make the 2017-18 figure skating season his last, as expected.

“Yes, I have many projects lined up ahead after my competitive career,” Chan told media Wednesday.

Chan, at 25, is arguably young enough to keep skating beyond the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, which would be his third Winter Games.

But the three-time world champion (2011, 2012, 2013), who is currently coach-less following the surprise resignation of Kathy Johnson earlier this month, is in awe of the jumps that younger skaters are throwing.

“Honestly, just look at [Japanese] Shoma’s [Uno] quad flip,” Chan joked with media. “That’s enough of an answer to just be like, yeah, this is my time. I’m going to leave on a high.”

Chan earned silver at the 2014 Olympics behind Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, then took one season off from competition.

He returned last year, beating Hanyu at Skate Canada but finishing a disappointing fifth at the world championships after a disastrous free skate. That marked his worst worlds finish since his debut in 2008 as a 17-year-old.

Chan said before last season’s worlds that his performance there would determine whether he continued skating through the 2018 Olympics.

“I’m at a disadvantage now, technically,” Chan said in March. “I’m competing against men who are doing five quads between the short program and the long program, and I’m at three between the two programs. Who would ever imagine that three wasn’t enough for some people?”

Chan remains the best Canadian skater. He won his eighth national title last year.

Chan will make his Grand Prix series debut at Skate Canada the last weekend of October, against a field that again includes Hanyu.

MORE: 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships host set

Final three Pyeongchang Olympic men’s hockey spots set to be filled

Anze Kopitar
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The 2018 Olympic men’s hockey field of 12 teams will be complete by the end of this weekend.

The last three spots will go to winners of three round-robin qualifying tournaments in Europe that run from Thursday through Sunday.

The Olympic Channel will stream the action.

The current Olympic men’s hockey groups (world ranking in parentheses):

Group A Group B Group C
Canada (1) Russia (2) Finland (3)
Czech Republic (6) USA (4) Sweden (5)
Switzerland (7) Slovakia (8) Qualifier
South Korea (23 — host) Qualifier Qualifier

Those three qualifiers will be the winners of these three tournaments this weekend:

Tournament 1 Tournament 2 Tournament 3
Belarus (9 — host) Germany (10) Norway (11 — host)
Denmark (13) Latvia (12 — host) France (14)
Slovenia (15) Austria (17) Kazakhstan (16)
Poland (20) Japan (21) Italy (18)

All of the Olympic medal contenders are among the nine nations already in the Pyeongchang field, but a few notables are vying for spots this weekend.

Belarus memorably upset Sweden in the 2002 Olympic quarterfinals and wound up fourth in Salt Lake City. It last competed in the Olympics in 2010. Belarus’ biggest competition in its qualifying tournament may be Slovenia, which won two games at the Sochi Olympics and is led by Los Angeles Kings All-Star Anze Kopitar.

Like Belarus, Germany also last played at the Olympics in 2010. More recently, it beat the U.S. at the World Championship in May, behind New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss. To get to Pyeongchang, Germany must top a group that includes host Latvia, which made the last four Olympics and beat Switzerland in Sochi.

Norway hosts the group with the least amount of recent Olympic experience. None of France, Kazakhstan or Italy made either of the last two Olympics. Norway ought to be favored, then, since it reached the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, though it lost every contest at both Winter Games. New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello stars for the Norwegians.

It’s unknown whether the NHL will send its players to the 2018 Olympics.

MORE: Canada holds Soviet-like dominance after another world hockey title