Bobsled crashes, makes final 8 turns upside down (video)

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Belgian bobsledders An Vannieuwehnhuyse and Sophie Vercruyssen spent nearly 30 seconds sliding upside down, making the final eight turns on the track, after crashing in a World Cup race in Whistler, B.C., on Friday night.

They finally slowed to a stop after crossing the finish line nine seconds behind the fastest sleds in the first of two runs.

The athletes quickly emerged from the sled and gingerly walked off the track on their own power. They did not qualify for a second run later that night.

The Whistler track has been known for its difficulty since it opened one year before hosting the 2010 Olympics.

In the first four-man training session in 2009, four of eight sleds crashed on curve 13, which led the late Steven Holcomb to nickname it “Curve 50/50.”

VIDEO: Bobsledder ejected in World Cup crash

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The Story of Holcy's 50/50 It was a nasty afternoon of sliding in January 2009, just over a year until the 2010 #Olympics. Tour had been on the track in #Whistler for a few days when eight sleds decided to move from 2-man to 4-man. It was the first day international 4-man sleds would go off the top of the track. Four sleds made it through curve 13 and four sleds did not… they met the entrance of curve 14 on their heads, definitely worse for wear. That night Steve Holcomb, @justinbolsen, @ctomasevicz & I headed down to the garage to prep our backup sled for our first 4-man training the next day. We didn’t dare take the Night Train down the track, with a 50% chance of making it through. So we started to joke as we prepped our lightening bolt sled, that there was a fifty percent chance people were making it down on all four runners. That quickly turned into Holcy saying there was a fifty/fifty chance and we joked about it the rest of sled prep – which was trying to fit in the sled properly (since it wasn’t our normal sled), getting runners on, and everything else ready. We headed up to the rooms, still laughing about it and ordered delivery sushi. After we were done eating, Justin, Holcy, Emily Azevedo & I decided we were going to rip open the bag and make a sign for Holcy to duct tape to the roof on his track walk the next morning; if we were going to go down the track, we might as well have some fun with it, we thought! Within days, when the track announcer called the Germans “sliding 50/50”, the four of us couldn’t stop giggling! From then on, we always found it amazing that the name of the curve stuck and even on the @nbcolympics broadcast, curve 13 was forever enshrined as Curve 50/50. Today I learned that corner was renamed. For now and forever it'll be called “Holcy’s 50/50” – a loving memory of our fallen teammate, who never did crash our 4-man in that corner. A little more than a year after ripping that sushi bag, Holcy, Olsen, Curt, and I crossed the line to make history. I wish I could be in Whistler this weekend to hear the call of sliding "Holcy's 50/50"… Miss you my friend and brother. @ibsfsliding @teamusa @martinhaven @elanameyerstaylor

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Canada in control of hockey rivalry going into Olympics

AP
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Four years ago, the U.S. women’s hockey team rode a four-game winning streak over rival Canada into the Olympics, then lost both games in Sochi, including a gut-wrenching overtime final.

This time, Canada goes into the Winter Games having won four straight.

The Canadians beat the Americans 2-1 in overtime in Edmonton on Sunday night, taking their pre-Olympic series 5-3 overall.

“I don’t think it was our best performance,” Canada coach Laura Schuler said. “There’s still more work to do.”

The Canadians were led by their stalwarts — captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored in regulation, Sochi gold medalist Jennifer Wakefield scored 26 seconds into overtime and longtime goalie Shannon Szabados stopped 34 of 35 shots.

Hilary Knight netted the U.S. goal, with Maddie Rooney making 24 saves.

“The goal for us is to be hitting on all cylinders in February,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.

The U.S. appeared to be in that kind of form until about two weeks ago.

Before this losing streak, the U.S. had a 12-4 record against Canada since the start of 2015, including taking the last three world championship finals.

At one point, the U.S. won six straight games over a 12-month stretch, its longest streak over Canada since it famously won eight straight going into the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics then lost the gold-medal game.

Canada also beat the U.S. in their last four meetings before the 2006 Olympics and five straight going into the 2010 Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic team will be announced Jan. 1. The national-team roster is at 25 players (22 skaters, three goalies), but the Olympic roster is 23 (20 skaters, three goalies).

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Yuzuru Hanyu to miss Japan Figure Skating Championships

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world figure skating champion, will miss his national championships this week due to ankle and knee injuries suffered in a Nov. 9 practice fall, according to Japanese media citing the Japan Skating Federation.

Hanyu can (and very likely will) be named to Japan’s three-man Olympic team despite missing nationals.

Hanyu has reportedly been off the ice for more than one month since the fall.

“It is an important selection competition, and the Olympics are a big goal, so with that in mind we would like to think things through together,” Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi said last week, according to Kyodo News.

Hanyu, who turned 23 on Dec. 7, fell on a quadruple Lutz attempted and then favored his right ankle in a Nov. 9 practice at a Grand Prix event (video here).

He skated the run-through for his free skate, although he elected not to do any more jumps.

“I have been told by the doctor that I need 10 days of complete rest,” Hanyu said in a statement on Nov. 12, according to Kyodo. “Following that, it will take three to four weeks to return and get back to where I was.”

Hanyu and world silver medalist Shoma Uno are favored to lead Japan’s Olympic men’s figure skating team. The third spot is likely to go to Takahito Mura or Keiji Tanaka.

Hanyu competed twice this season.

He posted a world-record short program score in his debut at a small September event in Canada, but struggled to fifth place in the free skate and finished second overall behind two-time world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.

He then finished second to U.S. champion Nathan Chen at the first Grand Prix event of the season in Moscow in October.

Chen is the only undefeated male singles skater this season.

Hanyu won four straight national titles before missing last season’s event with the flu.

He was still named to Japan’s team for worlds, where he won his second title in four years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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