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

Gracie Gold to miss U.S. Championships, Olympics

Gracie Gold
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Figure skater Gracie Gold will miss the rest of the season — including the Olympics — as she continues to undergo treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

“I have not had adequate training time in order to perform at the level at which I want to,” Gold said in a statement Friday. “It pains me to not compete in this Olympic season, but I know it’s for the best. I wish everyone the best of luck and will be cheering you all on. I want to thank everyone for the ongoing love and support. It means the world to me.”

Gold, a Sochi Olympic team bronze medalist and two-time U.S. champion, announced Sept. 1 that she was taking time away from figure skating to seek unspecified professional help.

On Oct. 13, she announced she was in treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety and would skip the fall Grand Prix season.

The 22-year-old last competed at the U.S. Championships in January, placing a disastrous sixth.

Gold, the top American woman at the Sochi Olympics in fourth place, has not been the same skater since dropping from first after the 2016 World Championships short program to finish fourth, again just missing her first individual global medal.

She considered skipping the fall 2016 Grand Prix season, talking openly about physical struggles and even depression in that offseason.

She split from coach Frank Carroll after that sixth-place nationals. Gold then announced in February that she moved to Michigan to train under new coaches Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein.

Then on Sept. 1, Gold announced she was taking a leave.

“My passion for skating and training remains strong,” Gold said in the reported Sept. 1 statement. “However, after recent struggles on and off the ice, I realize I need to seek some professional help and will be taking some time off while preparing for my Grand Prix assignments. This time will help me become a stronger person, which I believe will be reflected in my skating performances as well.”

The favorites for three U.S. Olympic women’s spots are 2014 Olympian Ashley Wagner, 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, reigning U.S. champion Karen Chen and U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

The Olympic team will be named after nationals in San Jose in January.

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Javier Fernandez rebounds to lead Grand Prix France (video)

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez was back at his best, landing two quadruple jumps to top the Grand Prix France short program on Friday.

Fernandez, who was sixth at his opening Grand Prix two weeks ago with a reported stomach bug, tallied 107.86 points in Grenoble. It’s the second-best score of his career.

The 2015 and 2016 World champion goes into Saturday’s free skate with a 13.94-point lead over Shoma Uno of Japan. Uno fell on his opening quad flip attempt.

Uno went into France as the clear favorite, the only man to break 300 total points this season. He did it at both of his competitions this fall.

Earlier Friday, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond led a group of favorites who topped the short programs for the women, pairs and ice dance. All of the free skates are Saturday.

GP FRANCE: Full Results | TV Schedule

Both U.S. men fell Friday, not helping their cases for the three-man Olympic team.

Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, fell on his opening jump combination. He failed to build on his personal-best free skate from his last competition, where he landed three quads to claim bronze at Cup of China.

U.S. silver medalist Vincent Zhou crashed on both quadruple jump attempts, two weeks after falling three times between two programs at his Grand Prix debut.

Zhou, 17 and the world junior champion, has the jumps to easily make the three-man U.S. Olympic team. But those big mistakes allow the likes of Jason Brown and Adam Rippon to pass him.

“To say the least, my performance was dismal,” was posted on Zhou’s Instagram. “It was not a representation of how I train or who I am. Smiling and waving while my heart is breaking is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I have been following my Olympic dream for as long as I can remember, fighting, being set back, conquering obstacles, and experiencing the ups and downs of striving to better myself every single day. I am capable of so much more. I am a fighter. I fully believe that I can and will draw on my spirit, inner strength, and faith to my words to perform much better in the future.”

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Internationaux de France
Men’s Short Program
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 107.86
2. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 93.92
3. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 91.51
8. Max Aaron (USA) — 78.64
10. Vincent Zhou (USA) — 66.12