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

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross win World Series of Beach Volleyball

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Rio bronze medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross bounced back from an Olympic upset to win the biggest annual tournament in the U.S. on Sunday.

Walsh Jennings and Ross captured the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball title in Long Beach, Calif., for the second time in three years. They beat Spanish pair Liliana Fernández and Elsa Baquerizo 21-16, 21-16 in the final.

“We love those girls so much, they are dear friends of ours,” Walsh Jennings said. “We wanted to beat them down.”

Absent from Long Beach were Olympic gold medalists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and silver medalists Ágatha and Bárbara of Brazil.

Walsh Jennings and Ross, who lost to Ágatha and Bárbara in the Olympic semifinals, dropped a total of two sets in seven undefeated matches this past week.

They earned their fifth international title of the year after winning none in 2015, last season shortened by Walsh Jennings’ fifth right shoulder surgery.

In the men’s final, Brazil’s No. 2 pair, Pedro and Evandro, beat top U.S. pair Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena 19-21, 21-17, 15-9.

Olympic champions Alison and Bruno of Brazil did not compete in Long Beach.

The beach volleyball season continues with the FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto in two weeks.

MORE: Tough for Misty May-Treanor to watch Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio

Monica Puig’s unlikely Olympic tennis gold reminded her of ‘Miracle’ scene

Monica Puig
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NEW YORK (AP) — Monica Puig gazed out at her fellow Puerto Ricans jamming the parade route, and in their eyes she saw hope.

They hailed her with “a sense of satisfaction,” she recalled Saturday, “and a sense of belief that things are going to get better.”

Throughout her stunning run to the Olympic tennis gold medal, Puig embraced the symbolism of each upset victory. An economic crisis is devastating the island of her birth, and she appreciated that if she could prove the impossible is possible, that message would reverberate far beyond sports.

“If Puerto Rico channels that same energy and belief that things will get better and working for the better of the island, the better of the community, things will improve,” Puig said four days after the U.S. territory honored its Olympic team and, above all, its first gold medalist.

“I really hope I gave them a lot of confidence moving forward,” she added, “that things will actually get better.”

The world’s 34th-ranked women’s tennis player met with a roomful of reporters Saturday, exactly two weeks after she beat Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber in three sets in the final in Rio de Janeiro. Poised and philosophical in ways that bely her age, the 22-year-old realizes some people deem her gold medal “a fluke.”

After all, Puig has never made it past the round of 16 at a major. And at the U.S. Open, which starts Monday, she’s never advanced beyond the second round. Puig is already bracing herself for the reality that her run at Flushing Meadows could fall well short of what took place in Rio.

“I’m 22 years old. There’s still a long way for me to go, a long stretch of career,” she said. “If anything happens, any kind of slip-up, it’s not really going to be a big deal, because I have a process and I have a long-term view of where I want to go.”

Which isn’t to say she expects a slip-up.

“I know that the Olympics wasn’t a fluke for me, because I have worked very hard to get to where I am,” Puig said. “I know the hours and the tears and the sweat and everything that’s been put into my practices. It’s been very difficult for me.

“But that moment, nobody will be able to take away.”

Even she considers that Olympic moment to be like something out of a movie script. When spectators chanted “Si se puede!” (“Yes you can!” in Spanish) during the final against the second-ranked Kerber, Puig flashed back to a scene from the film “Miracle” about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

With fans roaring “U-S-A!” coach Herb Brooks tells his players: “Listen to them. That’s what you’ve done.” As Puig said Saturday, “I needed to listen to the crowd.”

Her gold might not have been quite as unlikely as the Miracle on Ice, but it wasn’t too far off. The night after her victory, Puig slept with the medal on her nightstand, waking up every few hours to make sure it was real. She still feels the need to check up on it during the day.

“I see the videos and I’m like, ‘Did this really just happen?'” Puig said.

When they showed the clip of her medal ceremony when she was honored in Puerto Rico, she started crying again. Through it all, she insisted Saturday, she felt she kept her focus, knowing the U.S. Open was looming.

After Rio, Puig spent some time with her family in Miami, where she lives. Then it was on to the island “where the big party was waiting.” It’s been hard to squeeze in sleep and alone time and practice — all the things she needs to recover from one big event and prepare for another.

Puig faces 60th-ranked Zheng Saisai, who upset Agnieszka Radwanska at the Olympics, in the first round Monday. She originally wasn’t seeded at Flushing Meadows, which meant she could have faced a top player in her opening match, but she moved up to the final seed when Sloane Stephens withdrew because of an injury Friday.

It’s the first time Puig has been seeded at a major, and in what was a breakthrough season even before her golden moment, she’s starting to grow comfortable with those sorts of roles.

“I feel like I finally understand what I’m doing when it comes to tennis,” she said.

MORE: U.S. goes one-two in Olympic mixed doubles