Steve Holcomb

Steven Holcomb snaps European drought in bobsled

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Steven Holcomb ended a four-year drought, winning a World Cup bobsled race outside of North America for the first time since before the 2010 Olympics on Saturday.

Holcomb and push athlete Steve Langton set a track record in Igls, Austria, in the first two-man bobsled run and prevailed in a two-run time of 1 minute, 43.72 seconds. Swiss Beat Hefti was second in 1:43.95, followed by Russian Alexander Zubkov.

“This season we’ve been really tweaking the sled, looking to get it faster,” Holcomb said of the one-year-old BMW-designed sled. “I think we showed that this sled can be really fast.”

It marked Holcomb’s first World Cup victory in Europe since Dec. 13, 2009, in Winterberg, Germany. That was a four-man race.

His last two-man World Cup win in Europe was on Feb. 10, 2007.

This is key for Holcomb’s Olympic medal hopes in Sochi, where he will attempt to win his first major international race outside of North America.

Holcomb has long been dominant on North American tracks, where he has more experience. His biggest victories — the 2010 Olympics four-man and 2009 and 2012 World Championships — were in Canada and the U.S.

Holcomb was 11th and 12th in two- and four-man World Cup races at the Sochi Olympic track last season.

The other U.S. sleds, driven by Cory Butner and Nick Cunningham, were ninth and 15th on Saturday.

The U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team is scheduled to be named Sunday after a four-man World Cup race in Igls.

Holcomb, Butner and Cunningham will almost surely be the three two-man drivers named for Sochi.

Igls Two-Man
1. Steven Holcomb/Steve Langton (USA) 1:43.72
2. Beat Hefti/Thomas Amrhein (SUI) 1:43.95
3. Aleksander Zubkov/Dmitry Trunenkov (RUS) 1:44.00
9. Cory Butner/Chuck Berkeley (USA) 1:44.36
15. Nick Cunningham/Andreas Drbl (USA) 1:44.95

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‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ primetime special covers social justice, combating inequality

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Athletes, including Olympians, discussed social justice, locker room conversations about race and ways that sports can help combat inequality in “Race and Sports in America: Conversations,” airing Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Olympic Channel, Golf Channel and NBC Sports Regional Networks.

NBC Sports’ Damon Hack hosted roundtables with active and retired athletes at the American Century Championship Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, last week.

Panelists, including Olympians James Blake and Charles Barkley and Tokyo Olympic hopeful Stephen Curry, also reflected on personal experiences.

Barkley, an Olympic gold medalist in 1992 and 1996, said coaches recently reached out to him to speak to their teams.

“First of all, relax and breathe,” Barkley said. “This crap started 400 years ago. We can’t do nothing about that. We can’t do anything about systematic racism. What I challenge every Black person, every white person to do: What can I do today going forward?

“You have to ask yourself, I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Because if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Blake, a retired former top-five tennis player and 2008 Olympian, was wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and arrested by a plainclothes New York City police officer in 2015 in a case of mistaken identity caught on video. The police officer’s punishment was a loss of five vacation days.

“The first thing I said when I got tackled was, I’m complying 100 percent,” Blake said. “And that shouldn’t have to be your response the first time you interact with a police officer. And because that’s the way my dad taught me is stay alive. Do whatever you can to stay alive. Sort it out later with lawyers or however you want to do it, and stay alive in that moment. The fact you have to have those rules in 2020 means maybe we have to do something drastic to change the way police interact with the African-American community and the way the community interacts with the police.”

Curry said his daughters, 7-year-old Riley and 5-year-old Ryan, asked questions about the images they recently saw. He’s not shielding them, but rather being honest about society, going back centuries.

“We have to continue to double down and double down and keep people accountable in all walks of life, all industries, all forms of leadership, the judicial system, all those type of things,” Curry said. “And hopefully for my kids’ generation, their kids, we will see change. I’m hopeful and optimistic about, but I understand how much work will need to go into that.”

The full list of athletes who participated in the “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” roundtables:

• Charles Barkley – 1992 and 1996 Olympic basketball champion
• James Blake – 10-time ATP tennis champion, 2008 Olympian
• Stephen Curry – two-time NBA MVP, two-time FIBA world champion
• Troy Mullins – World Long Drive competitor
• Anthony Lynn – Los Angeles Chargers head coach
• Jimmy Rollins – World Series champion shortstop
• Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings tight end
• Ozzie Smith – Major League Baseball Hall of Famer

Additionally, Hack was joined by Super Bowl champion running back Jerome Bettis for an extended interview that will be published on NBC Sports’ digital and podcast platforms.

MORE: Elana Meyers Taylor’s claims of racism in bobsled being investigated

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Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

Shelby Houlihan
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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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