Johnny Quinn closes the door on viral Olympic career

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If there are any locked doors in PyeongChang, Johnny Quinn won’t be there to bust out of them.

Quinn, the U.S. bobsledder who went viral for breaking through a bathroom in Sochi, will not pursue another Olympic berth. He has retired from the sport.

Quinn, 33, said he made the decision after three-time Olympic medalist Steven Holcomb died in May.

“I really wanted to make another run at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but it just changed in circumstances,” said Quinn, whose last competition was finishing 12th in Nick Cunningham‘s four-man sled in Sochi. “After his passing, it was a re-evaluation. Things didn’t line up anymore as far as making a comeback.”

Quinn said he trained last year in advance of a possible return to the sport. He called a U.S. federation coach in summer 2016 to inform them of his interest in possibly returning for the 2017-18 season.

Quinn called that same coach this summer to say the comeback was off. He said his recent insurance venture, starting his own agency (JohnnyInsures.com), did not impact the decision.

“I’m going to miss being around the guys,” Quinn said. “Any type of team setting and the chemistry that you have between teammates, I’m going to miss that and the rush of the Olympics.”

Quinn capitalized on his Olympic breakout to become a public speaker, telling his story in front of Fidelity Investments, school assemblies and LiftMaster, a suburban Chicago company whose products include garage-door accessories.

“Breaking down the door opened the door to some opportunities,” Quinn said last year. “Had I known it was going to blow up, I would have saved some [pieces of the door], auctioned it off and give it to a charity or something.”

The U.S. Bobsled national team selection races are set for later this month, after which the World Cup team will be named. The Olympic team will be named in January, expected to be mostly or fully made up of athletes who compete in World Cups.

Two of the six push athletes from Sochi are back — Steven Langton and Chris Fogt — plus Justin Olsen, who switched from pushing to driving.

Other top contenders include recent crossover athletes like Quinn, a wide receiver who played four preseason games for the Green Bay Packers in 2008.

Cunningham said two weeks ago that Ryan Bailey, the 2012 Olympic 100m fifth-place finisher, will be in his sled for selection races. Bailey, who made the switch to bobsled last year, is back from a six-month doping ban that ended in July.

Sam McGuffie and Carlo Valdes, former college football players at Michigan/Rice and UCLA, respectively, will push for driver Codie Bascue, Cunningham said.

Langton and Fogt are with Olsen for selection races.

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MORE: U.S. bobsledders open season thinking of Steven Holcomb

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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