Kate Hansen

Kate Hansen takes first U.S. women’s luge World Cup win since 1997

Leave a comment

Kate Hansen snapped a 17-year drought for American women lugers, winning the World Cup finale in Sigulda, Latvia, on Saturday.

Hansen, 21, beat a field lacking the top three Germans with a two-run time of 1 minute, 23.976 seconds. She edged Canadian Alex Gough by .076. Russian Natalia Khoreva was third, followed by American Erin Hamlin.

Hansen, set to make her Olympic debut in Sochi, made the World Cup podium for the first time in her young career. It marked the biggest international victory for a U.S. luger since Erin Hamlin‘s World Championship in 2009.

“Of course it’s a great surprise for me,” Hansen said, according to The Associated Press. “I’ve never dreamed of winning the event.”

The last U.S. woman to win a World Cup race was Cammy Myler in November 1997, also in Sigulda.

Hansen kept Germany from sweeping all nine races this season. The powerful sliding nation did not enter its top three women in Sigulda — Olympic gold- and silver-medal favorites Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Hufner and Anke Wischnewski.

What a bookend to the World Cup season it was for Hansen. She had the fastest run in the first heat of the first World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway, in November, but was 22nd fastest in the second run to tumble to 12th place.

The women’s luge competition in Sochi is Feb. 10-11.

“I don’t know if the pressure with regard to the upcoming Olympic Games will be greater now,” Hansen said, according to the AP. “It’s a good question. But we’ll see.”

Just watched Hansen win her first world cup!!! So amazing!!! #dancetothetop #teamusa @k8ertotz

A photo posted by Chris Mazdzer (@mazdzer) on

Nodar Kumaritashvili’s nephew will be trained in luge

Elana Meyers Taylor crashes, brakewoman ejected (video)

Leave a comment

Two-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor‘s start to the World Cup bobsled season was both record-breaking and painful.

Meyers Taylor and brakewoman Kehri Jones had the fastest women’s start time ever recorded on the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler, B.C., on Saturday.

But only one of them made it to the finish.

Meyers Taylor crashed the sled during their first run, with the impact causing Jones to eject out the back and slide along the chute before coming to a stop.

Both athletes were able to walk off the track, according to U.S. Bobsled.

Meyers Taylor missed four races last season while receiving treatment for long-term effects from a January 2015 concussion. She returned to win at the last two stops.

MORE: Why Steven Holcomb mulled retirement

Diver Sammy Lee, first Asian-American male gold medalist, dies at 96

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18:  1948 and 1952 Olympic platform diving gold medalist Dr. Sammy Lee and Olympic diving hopeful Brittany Viola of the United States attend the Team USA Road to London 100 Days Out Celebration in Times Square on April 18, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for USOC)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dr. Sammy Lee, the first Asian-American man to win an Olympic gold medal and first male diver to repeat as Olympic champion, died of pneumonia at age 96 on Friday, according to the University of Southern California.

Lee was born in Fresno, Calif., of Korean parents.

He unretired from a medical career to compete in his first Olympics in London in 1948, after the Games took a 12-year break due to World War II.

Lee earned platform gold and springboard bronze in 1948 and then retired, unretired and defended his platform title in 1952. Lee and another Asian-American, Victoria Manolo-Draves, who had a Filipino father and English mother, both won diving titles in 1948, with Draves’ springboard gold coming first.

Lee also served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Korean War.

He succeeded despite facing racial discrimination. From TeamUSA.org:

When Sammy was growing up, non-whites could use the pool where he practiced one day a week, on Wednesdays only. And then, as he has told it, the pool would be emptied after the non-whites used it, and fresh water was brought in the next day.

When the pool was off-limits, Sammy practiced by jumping into a sand pile.

Lee went on to coach divers, including Greg Louganis, after his competitive career, and continued his medical work. He graduated from USC’s medical school in 1947.

He is a member of the U.S. Olympic and International Swimming Halls of Fame.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously reported Lee was the first Asian-American Olympic champion. He was the second.