Elana Meyers

Elana Meyers, Lolo Jones second in Winterberg bobsled

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Elana Meyers and Lolo Jones improved mightily in their second run, jumping from fifth to finish second, one-hundredth of a second behind, in a bobsled World Cup race in Winterberg, Germany, on Sunday.

Germany’s Sandra Kiriasis won with a two-run time of 1 minute, 55.41 seconds, one day after her 39th birthday. Kiriasis, a two-time Olympic medalist, is the most decorated women’s bobsledder in the sport’s short history.

The Olympic bronze medalist Meyers followed in 1:55.42 and continued her streak of top-two finishes with her fifth straight this season to keep the World Cup overall lead. Meyers and Jones were fifth after the first run but had the fastest second run.

“I feel good with the outcome, but I don’t feel great about my performance,” Meyers said, according to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. “I watched my runs after the race and realized that no one had perfect runs today, so it made me feel a little better. I’m still not happy with my runs, but I’m definitely satisfied with a medal.”

Their faster start run can be attributed to their start time, the part of the race where the push athlete has the biggest impact. They were 5.64 on their start in the first run and 5.52 in their second.

Meyers took the blame for the slow start in the first run.

“We like to live on the edge, keep everybody on the edge of their seats,” said Meyers, who teamed with Jones on USA-1 for the first time this season. “We had a little slip-up at the beginning of the first run. I didn’t run further enough, and she followed me. It caused us to drop some time, but we came back the second one.”

Another American led after the first run. Jamie Greubel was attempting to win her first World Cup race but fell to fourth with the top U.S. push athlete, Aja Evans.

The third U.S. sled — Jazmine Fenlator and three-time Olympic sprinter Lauryn Williams — was ninth.

Evans is expected to team with Meyers at the Sochi Olympics. It’s a bit up in the air for Olympic selection after that. Greubel’s normal push athlete, Katie Eberling, sat out Sunday’s race. Jones, Williams and 2010 Olympian Emily Azevedo are in the running, too.

The women’s bobsled World Cup continues in St. Moritz, Switzerland, next week. The Olympic Team will be announced following the World Cup stop in Igls, Austria, in two weeks.

“Lolo definitely showed her fight by dropping a few hundredths in the second heat,” Meyers said. “Coming back and doing that is impressive. I felt better about my drive, but I still have a lot of room to gain time on these tracks.”

Winterberg Two-Woman
1. Sandra Kiriasis/Franziska Fritz (GER) 1:55.41
2. Elana Meyers/Lolo Jones (USA) 1:55.42
3. Anja Schneiderheinze/Stephanie Schneider (GER) 1:55.48
4. Jamie Greubel/Aja Evans (USA) 1:55.52
9. Jazmine Fenlator/Lauryn Williams (USA) 1:56.09

Video: Holcomb crashes in four-man

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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