Kate Hansen

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

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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

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North Korean member of IOC expects team at PyeongChang Olympics

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 12:  Song Chol Ri of North Korea carries the national flag during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at BC Place on February 12, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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The North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee believes a North Korean delegation will be at the PyeongChang Olympics, according to Kyodo News.

“There is no reason why we won’t come and no reason why we can’t,” IOC member Chang Ung said last week at the Asian Winter Games in Japan, according to the news agency. “We will proceed according to the Olympic Charter.”

An IOC spokesman previously said that the first step toward possible North Korean participation in the PyeongChang Olympics would be the North Korean Olympic Committee’s response to its invitation to the Winter Games sent out two weeks ago.

The IOC sends invitations to National Olympic Committees around the world coinciding with one year out to an Olympics.

However, it’s not a certainty that North Korea will qualify any athletes for the Winter Games. Despite winning at least four medals at every Summer Games since boycotting Seoul 1988, it didn’t have any athletes at the Sochi Olympics and just two at Vancouver 2010.

North Korea has zero top performing international winter sports athletes and few who even appear at major competitions.

North Korean short track speed skater Choe Un Song ranks No. 123 in the world after appearing in one World Cup this season in Beijing. A pairs figure skating team is ranked No. 54. A different North Korean pairs team missed a Sochi berth by 1.5 points at the last qualifying competition.

Nations without qualified athletes are still able to enter one man and one woman in the Summer Olympics in swimming and track and field. But no such exception applies in the Winter Games.

The IOC has given no indication that an exception could be made to invite a non-qualified North Korean athlete to PyeongChang.

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Chad le Clos still has nightmares of losing to Michael Phelps in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09:  Michael Phelps (L) of the United States leads Chad le Clos of South Africa in the Men's 200m Butterfly Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
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Chad le Clos reportedly said he still has nightmares about losing to Michael Phelps in their much-anticipated rematch in the Rio Olympic 200m butterfly.

“I wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat over that race,” le Clos said, according to Independent Online in South Africa.

In Rio, le Clos finished fourth in the 200m butterfly final (video here), seven tenths of a second behind Phelps after famously turning his head to look at Phelps in the final 50 meters of the race.

In 2012, le Clos beat Phelps for Olympic gold by .05.

When Phelps unretired in 2014, he said he would never race the 200m butterfly again. But he picked it up a year later, in part because times around the world were not that fast and in part because of his desire to exact revenge on le Clos in Rio.

Now, it’s le Clos who wants a rematch.

“I want it that bad,” le Clos said, according to the report. “I just want Phelps to come back.”

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