Steve Holcomb

Steven Holcomb crashes in Winterberg four-man bobsled

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Steven Holcomb‘s four-man bobsled win streak came to a disastrous end in Winterberg, Germany, on Saturday.

The Olympic champion crashed in the second of two runs and finished in 20th place behind winner Max Arndt of Germany.

“Gotta push it,” Holcomb said after getting out of his sled at the finish. “Gotta try.”

Holcomb also crashed in the same curve in training earlier this week. The other U.S. drivers in Winterberg also crashed this week — Nick Cunningham in training and Cory Butner in the first run Saturday.

“Corner nine has always been an interesting corner because there’s not a lot of variance in finding the right line,” U.S. bobsled coach Brian Shimer said, according to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. “You have to be on the right line or you’ll go over, and finding that spot is tough when you’ve only had two training runs in four-man.”

The Winterberg Bobsled World Cup concludes with two-woman and four-man races Sunday. Universal Sports will have coverage.

Holcomb, who won the first seven races of the World Cup season in North America, has not won a race in Europe since Dec. 13, 2009, also in Winterberg. He was seventh in a two-man event Friday and second after the first run Saturday.

Cunningham, the only U.S. pilot not to crash Saturday, finished 12th. Butner was 25th.

The U.S. needs strong finishes from Cunningham and Butner this weekend and the next two weekends to qualify three sleds for Sochi.

Three nations will qualify three sleds via international rankings, and the U.S. was the third and final nation with three qualified sleds in rankings going into this weekend’s races. Russia, which had three sleds in the top 15 on Saturday, was right on its heels.

“It’s all about character now,” Shimer said. “Life unfortunately gives you ups and downs, and the higher you go, the steeper you fall. We’ve all been through it, and we were prepared for the low. These guys are determined, probably the most motivated they’ve ever been, and whatever happens we keep looking ahead with the big picture in mind.”

Winterberg Four-Man
1. Max Arndt (GER) 1:49.97
2. Francesco Friedrich (GER) 1:50.14
3. Aleksander Zubkov (RUS) 1:50.17
12. Nick Cunningham (USA) 1:50.84
20. Steve Holcomb (USA) 1:52.32
25. Cory Butner (USA) 57.65

Lolo Jones on USA-1 on Sunday

Lindsey Vonn gets bad luck, Mikaela Shiffrin misses gate in super-G

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Neither Lindsey Vonn nor Mikaela Shiffrin made the podium, but Swiss Lara Gut notched her first victory Sunday since a major knee injury.

Gut, the 2016 World Cup overall champion who tore an ACL in February, topped a World Cup super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, by .14 over Italian Johanna Schnarf.

Austrian Nicole Schmidhofer was third. Full results are here.

Vonn dropped to sixth, .37 behind, dropped a couple of expletives in the finish corral and posted on social media afterward that she caught her strongest wind gust in more than 400 career starts.

“I’m not mad; I’m just a little bit frustrated,” Vonn said. “Sometimes this happens in ski racing where the races aren’t really fair. The wind comes. The light comes. The clouds come. But I tried my best. I’m happy with my skiing. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t very lucky today. Hopefully I can get some of this luck and take it with me to February [and the Olympics] and get some better conditions.”

Vonn placed second and first in downhills in Cortina on Friday and Saturday, confirming she’s a favorite to become the oldest female Olympic Alpine medalist next month.

Shiffrin was off her line early in Sunday’s run and eventually missed a gate, screaming out of frustration.

She is still cutting her teeth in the speed events of downhill and super-G and was third and seventh in the previous two races.

“The problem was with my [pre-race course] inspection, and I’m not exactly sure what we can do for me to be better prepared for super-Gs,” Shiffrin said, according to The Associated Press. “One of my biggest issues right now is still switching from the timing of downhill turns to super-G turns.”

Laurenne Ross became the sixth U.S. female Alpine skier to qualify for the Olympic team thanks to a previous top-10. Ross, the second-best U.S. speed racer behind Vonn last season, came back from blowing out her right knee in a March 27 crash.

The World Cup moves to Kronplatz, Italy, on Tuesday for a giant slalom, where Shiffrin will be favored (full Alpine season broadcast schedule here).

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2018 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team General Manager Jim Johannson dies at 53

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Jim Johannson, the general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, has died on the eve of the Pyeongchang Games. He was 53.

Johannson passed away in his sleep Sunday morning, according to USA Hockey. Executive director Pat Kelleher said the organization is “beyond shocked and profoundly saddened” by the loss of the Rochester, Minnesota native.

“As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet,” Kelleher said in a release. “His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable. Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie.”

Johannson’s role in selecting this year’s Olympic team was his most high-profile job in a career spent in hockey. He also played for the U.S. in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

The United States faces Slovenia in its Pyeongchang opener on Feb. 14.

“There are few like Jimmy,” said Ron DeGregorio, chairman of the board of USA Hockey. “Our sport was so lucky to have him. He was as good of a person you’ll meet and he played such a significant role in helping move our sport forward. Today is a tough day for everyone.”

Johannson began working for USA Hockey in 2000 after spending five years as the general manager of the Twin Cities Vulcans in the United States Hockey League. He was promoted to assistant executive director of hockey operations in 2007, overseeing the organization’s efforts in fielding teams for international competition.

He played college hockey at Wisconsin and helped the Badgers win the NCAA championship as a freshman. He was selected by Hartford in the seventh round of the 1982 draft, but never played in the NHL.

“When we heard of JJ’s passing, we are reminded of what an enjoyable person he was to be around, and also what he meant to USA Hockey and hockey worldwide,” Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who have a strong connection to USA Hockey, said in a release.

“We should all strive to do our jobs and treat people as JJ did. Jim Johannson, you have moved on, but you will not be forgotten. We will miss you.”

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