The (g)olden Olympians stealing show in Sochi


KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – The spirit of the ‘70s is alive and skiing, shooting, sliding, skating and jumping at the Sochi Olympics.

Albert Demtschenko, 42, and Armin Zoeggeler, 40, won luge medals Sunday, one day after Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, 40, tied the record for most career Winter Olympic medals with a gold of his own. It marked the first time two 40-somethings won individual event medals on the same day at a Winter Olympics.

VIDEO: Demtschenko makes Olympic history

Also Sunday, speed skater Claudia Pechtein and ski jumper Noriaki Kasai, both 41, finished fourth and eighth, respectively, in their first events of these Games. Suddenly, Bode Miller skiing at 36 and Yevgeny Plushenko skating at 31 doesn’t seem so out of the ordinary.

The Olympics call upon the youth of the world to assemble every four years. The Sochi Games give new meaning to that.

Start with Zoeggeler, who won luge bronze to become the first athlete to win medals at six Winter Olympics.

The Italian is nicknamed the “Cannibal” for his ability to eat up the competition the last two decades. His medal collection now includes two gold, one silver and three bronze. He could add to it by entering the new luge team relay event Thursday.

Zoeggeler showed the vigor of a man half his age upon crossing the finish at Sanki Sliding Center on a chilly Sunday night. He slid into first place with two lugers to go and pumped his fists and raised his arms, knowing he had clinched a medal.

VIDEO: Watch Zoeggeler win 6th straight medal

Then Demtschenko came storming down the icy chute, bettering Zoeggeler in not only time but also post-race exuberance. Fireworks accompanied his final run, lighting up the Caucasus Mountains.

Demtschenko would win silver, his second Olympic medal. He also took silver in 2006, that time behind Zoeggeler. He’s now the oldest individual event Winter Olympic medalist ever (unless you count figure skating from the 1908 and 1920 Summer Games).

Zoeggeler and Demtschenko both watched the final slider, whippersnapper German Felix Loch, cruise to his second straight Olympic gold. Loch is 24, so look for him again in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030. The spry silver and bronze medalists had enough vigor after four runs over two days to lift Loch onto their shoulders at the post-race flower ceremony.

“The old guys can have a little back problem,” Zoeggeler joked.

MORE: Loch, 24, wins men’s luge singles

Surely, that must have inspired a Sanki crowd that included International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, 60, soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer, 68, and retired five-time Olympic medalist Georg Hackl, who at 47 should really give a thought to compete again.

Their feats impressed their competition, that’s for sure.

“Well if I was getting medals, I’d definitely stick around as long as possible as they are,” said American Aidan Kelly, who was born seven months after Zoeggeler’s first Olympic medal and finished 24th in his Olympic debut.

The first ski jumping final of the Sochi Olympics took place simultaneous to luge. Japan’s Kasai, 41, came in as a medal contender having his best World Cup season since the turn of the millennium. So maybe eighth wasn’t what he wanted, but it matched his best individual Olympic event finish since 1998.

Kasai and Demtschenko are the first athletes to compete in seven Winter Olympics.

Earlier Sunday, German Claudia Pechstein came up just short in her bid for a 10th medal, finishing fourth in speed skating’s 3000m.

Pechstein is in her sixth Olympics. She won her first medal when Olympic speed skating was on an outdoor oval in 1992 in Albertville, France, and missed the 2010 Games due to a doping ban.

There are always 40-somethings in team sports, such as curling. The four oldest members of the U.S. athlete delegation are women’s curlers in their 40s, including skip Erika Brown, who competed at the 1988 Olympics at age 15. Curling was a demonstration sport then.

Two of the coolest old man in Sochi stories come from the men’s hockey tournament. Czech forward Petr Nedved is 42 and last competed at the Olympics in 1994. For Canada. He’s teammates with Jaromir Jagr, 41.

Latvian defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, also 41, is old enough to have competed internationally for the Unified Team and the Soviet Union.

Then there are the more odd tales, such as Jamaican bobsledder Winston Watts, 46, Mexican Alpine skier Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe, 55, and the Dominica husband and wife cross-country skiers ages 47 and 48.

“I guess maybe we’re lucky, or good, or what,” Nedved said of being a 40-something athlete last week. “But we’re here.”

Summer McIntosh breaks 400m individual medley world record, extends historic week

Summer McIntosh

Canadian swimmer Summer McIntosh broke her second world record this week, lowering the 400m individual medley mark on Saturday.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old who trains in Sarasota, Florida, clocked 4 minutes, 25.87 seconds at the Canadian Championships in Toronto.

She took down Hungarian Katinka Hosszu‘s world record of 4:26.36 from the 2016 Rio Olympics. Before Saturday, McIntosh had the fourth-fastest time in history of 4:28.61.

“It’s always nice to set world records,” McIntosh said.

On Tuesday, McIntosh broke the 400m freestyle world record, becoming the youngest swimmer to break a world record in an individual Olympic event since Katie Ledecky in 2013.

McIntosh also this week became the fourth-fastest woman in history in the 200m individual medley and the eighth-fastest woman in history in the 200m butterfly.

In each of her four races this week, she also broke the world junior record as the fastest woman in history under the age of 19.

She is entered to swim the 200m free on the meet’s final day on Sunday. She is already the eighth-fastest woman in history in that event.

McIntosh, whose mom swam the 1984 Olympic 200m fly and whose sister competed at last week’s world figure skating championships, placed fourth in the Tokyo Olympic 400m free at age 14.

Last summer, she won the 200m fly and 400m IM at the world championships, becoming the youngest individual world champion since 2011.

This summer, she could be at the center of a showdown in the 400m free at the world championships with reigning world champion Ledecky and reigning Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus of Australia. They are the three fastest women in history in the event.

Around age 7, McIntosh transcribed Ledecky quotes and put them on her wall.

MORE: McIntosh chose swimming and became Canada’s big splash

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Hilary Knight leads new-look U.S. women’s hockey roster for world championship

Hilary Knight

Hilary Knight headlines a U.S. women’s hockey roster for this month’s world championship that lacks some of the biggest names from last year’s Olympic silver-medal team. Changes have been made as the U.S. looks to end losing streaks to Canada, both overall and in major finals.

The full roster is here. Worlds start Wednesday in Brampton, Ontario, and run through the gold-medal game on April 16.

It was already known that the team would be without stalwart forwards Kendall Coyne Schofield, who plans to return to the national team after having her first child this summer, and Brianna Decker, who announced her retirement last month.

Notable cuts include the No. 1 goalies from the last two Olympics: Alex Cavallini, who returned from Christmas childbirth for the tryout camp this past week, and Maddie Rooney, the breakout of the 2018 Olympic champion team.

Cavallini, 31, was bidding to become the first player to make an Olympic or world team after childbirth since Jenny Potter, who played at the Olympics in 2002, 2006 and 2010 as a mom, plus at several world championships, including less than three months after childbirth in 2007.

Forward Hannah Brandt, who played on the top line at last year’s Olympics with Knight and Coyne Schofield, also didn’t make the team.

In all, 13 of the 25 players on the team are Olympians, including three-time Olympic medalists forward Amanda Kessel and defender Lee Stecklein.

The next generation includes forward Taylor Heise, 23, who led the 2022 World Championship with seven goals and was the 2022 NCAA Player of the Year at Minnesota.

The team includes two teens — 19-year-old defender Haley Winn and 18-year-old forward Tessa Janecke — who were also the only teens at last week’s 46-player tryout camp. Janecke, a Penn State freshman, is set to become the youngest U.S. forward to play at an Olympics or worlds since Brandt in 2012.

Abbey Levy, a 6-foot-1 goalie from Boston College, made her first world team, joining veterans Nicole Hensley and Aerin Frankel.

Last summer, Canada repeated as world champion by beating the U.S. in the final, six months after beating the U.S. in the Olympic final. Canada is on its longest global title streak since winning all five Olympic or world titles between 1999 and 2004.

Also at last summer’s worlds, the 33-year-old Knight broke the career world championship record for points (now up to 89). She also has the most goals in world championship history (53). Knight, already the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s hockey player in history, will become the second-oldest American to play at a worlds after Cammi Granato, who was 34 at her last worlds in 2005.

The Canadians are on a four-game win streak versus the Americans, capping a comeback in their recent seven-game rivalry series from down three games to none. Their 5-0 win in the decider in February was their largest margin of victory over the U.S. since 2005.

Last May, former AHL coach John Wroblewski was named U.S. head coach to succeed Joel Johnson, the Olympic coach.

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