Noelle Pikus-Pace

U.S. Olympic Skeleton Team named

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The U.S. has not won a skeleton medal since the sport was reintroduced to the Olympics in 2002, but it’s sending a team that could yield men’s and women’s podium finishers in Sochi.

The team was announced Saturday, and it included the names everyone expected:

Women
Noelle Pikus-Pace — 2010 Olympian
Katie Uhlaender — 2006, 2010 Olympian

Men
Matt Antoine
John Daly — 2010 Olympian
Kyle Tress

Noelle Pikus-Pace is the best U.S. hope for a skeleton gold medal. She has won three of seven World Cup races this season, her second campaign since coming out of retirement after finishing fourth at the 2010 Olympics. Pikus-Pice has two children, Lacee and Traycen, is the 2007 World Champion and 2013 World Championships silver medalist. She is thought to be vying for Olympic gold with Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold.

Katie Uhlaender finished 11th at the 2010 Olympics, won the 2012 World Championship and then attempted to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team in weightlifting. She ranks 14th in the World Cup this season, which has been plagued by effects of a preseason concussion from a crash. She is the daughter of former MLB outfielder Ted Uhlaender, who died one year before the Vancouver Olympics.

Matt Antoine won his first career World Cup race this season among three podium finishes in seven races. He can win a medal in his first Olympics, four years after being the best U.S. skeleton slider not to make the Olympic Team.

John Daly ranks ninth in the world this year, just as he was last year. Daly was 17th at his first Olympics in 2010 and is the co-star of the YouTube hit series Your Daly Nitro with U.S. bobsledder Steve Langton. He is a former college decathlete and BMX racer.

Kyle Tress is 11th in the world this year, writes books and was an extra in “CSI: New York,” one of the “Transformers” films and “Gossip Girl.” He also co-founded SledBox Interactive, a software development company.

List of athletes nominated to U.S. Olympic Team

Zika won’t stop Olympics; only war has done that, historian says

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 07:  A general view of the Christ The Redeemer statue atop the Corcovado on July 7, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
AP
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The world’s best known Olympic historian said Friday it will take something more destructive than the Zika virus to cancel the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“Historically, the only times the Games have been cancelled is in war — World War I and World War II,” David Wallechinsky told the Associated Press. “Other than that, nothing has done it.”

Brazil is the epicenter of the rapidly spreading mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is also generating rumors that South America’s first Games may be called off instead of opening on Aug. 5.

Researchers have linked the virus to a birth defect that can leave newborns with long-lasting health and developmental problems.

Brazil’s Sports Minister George Hilton issued a statement saying that canceling the Games “is not in discussion,” and Rio organizers and the International Olympic Committee have repeatedly shot down the notion it’s even being considered.

Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, said the only similar case was the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, when three athletes from west Africa were banned from competing over fears they had contracted the Ebola virus and the subsequent possibility of it spreading.

“That’s the only time that disease has ever entered into it,” he said.

The 1916 Olympics were called off during World War I, and four Games — two summer and two winter — were cancelled between 1940 and 1944. Two Summer Olympics were hit by partial boycotts in 1980 and 1984.

Wallechinsky said it was too late to move the games from Rio.

“A lot of money has been put into this; the athletes, the infrastructure,” he said. “It’s pretty late to move the Games so I think they’ll go forward.”

Brazil is spending at least $10 billion to prepare for the Games. Add to that, billions spent on television rights, and maybe just as much on sponsorship, advertising across 28 sport federations, and the more than 200 nations that participate.

“There would be a lot of lawsuits,” Wallechinsky said. “It would be a dream event for lawyers.”

The Zika virus adds to other problems with South America’s first Olympics, including water pollution in Rio’s venues for sailing, rowing, canoeing, triathlon and open-water swimming , and deep cuts of almost 30 percent to keep a $2 billion operating budget in balance.

Only about half of the domestic tickets for the game have been sold, and organizers fear the Zika outbreak could scare off foreign tourists — particularly Americans.

Janice Forsyth, an Olympic historian at Western University in Canada, predicted the Zika threat “is going to blow over.”

“But if it really catches on, then we’ve got a global concern that’s not just about the Olympics,” she said. “But it would have to be really extraordinary for the game to be cancelled. Even with threats of terrorism, the games still don’t get cancelled.”

Forsyth said the virus might even have beneficial impact on Rio’s preparations, distracting from other problems.

“In a sad way, maybe it’s a positive diversion from what is actually going on with the games,” she said. “A twist for games that seem to be constantly struggling.”

VIDEO: Rio Olympic venues timelapse

‘Race’ film clip of 1936 Olympic long jump (video)

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“Race,” a film about 1936 Olympic legend Jesse Owens‘ triumphs in the face of Nazi Germany, hits theaters Feb. 19.

In the above clip, Owens competes in long jump qualifying after receiving a tip from fellow jumper German Luz Long to avoid fouling on his last attempt to advance to the final.

Owens would then beat Long in the final, though the pair forged a friendship.

In other clips, Owens, played by Stephan James, speaks with his Ohio State coach, Larry Snyder, played by Jason Sudeikis. Watch that here.

Also, Owens discusses taking part in the Olympics amid racial prejudice in the U.S. Watch that here.

MORE: James discusses playing Owens in ‘Race’ | VIDEO: ‘Race’ trailer