John Daly announces skeleton comeback after Sochi heartbreak

John Daly
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Skeleton slider John Daly is coming out of a two-year-retirement, seeking to make a third Olympic team after heartbreak at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

“I didn’t have anything else that made me feel the way sliding did,” Daly said, according to The Associated Press. “I have a great life. I’m not complaining. But nothing made me feel more alive than the Olympics.”

Daly was in fourth place after three of four runs at the Sochi Olympics, .04 of a second behind teammate Matt Antoine for bronze-medal position.

His medal hopes evaporated with a slip at the start of his final run, his sled came out of a groove in the ice and he had no chance of recovering the rest of the way down the track. 

Daly finished 15th, came to a stop with his helmet buried in his hands and spoke through tears afterward.

“I don’t regret anything,” Daly said on NBC that night, “but I do wish I could get that last run back for just one more chance. … Now I have four more years to wait.”

After Sochi, Daly went to “a really dark place” and “ran away from everything,” according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton.

“The last picture anyone saw was that awful picture of me sliding through the finish with my head in my hands,” Daly said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “That picture and that last interview where I was trying my hardest to keep it together choking back tears. It was horrible. I was completely devastated. My world fell apart in an instant.”

He decided by June 2014 to end his skeleton career, moving to Washington, D.C., and taking a medical sales job.

But as time went on, Daly began to miss the sport.

“I started to get a tiny smolder of a flame back,” he said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton, which added that he re-entered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency drug-testing pool in March, the same month he was, jokingly he claimed, a forerunner at the U.S. Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Daly will be eligible to compete for a place on the World Cup team after he completes five competitions on three different tracks.

Olympic bronze medalist Matthew Antoine remains the class of U.S. men’s skeleton, though no Americans made a World Cup podium last season.

“Couldn’t go out like that,” Daly said of Sochi, according to the AP. “I owe this to myself and Team USA.”

MORE: Olympic skeleton champion unretires at age 43

Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

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Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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