Getty Images

The fastest sport on ice

1 Comment

2014 U.S. Olympian Tucker West compares a luge run to riding a roller coaster.

“But imagine you’re wearing a blindfold that kind of slipped halfway off, and you still have to make sure you stay on the track,” he said.

There is no sport at the Winter Olympics faster on ice than luge.

Lugers can reach speeds as high as 90 mph as they plunge feet-first down an icy track. Mere milliseconds over four runs can determine the winner.

The phrase “Fastest Sport on Ice” is even a registered trademark of USA Luge.

“Coming out of every turn curve feels like launching into space on a rocket,” said 2010 and 2014 U.S. Olympian Chris Mazdzer in a promotional video for the sport.

Luge is one of two Winter Olympic sports, along with short track, that are timed to the thousandth of a second. And such precision is necessary. The 1998 Olympic women’s race was decided by just .002 seconds over four runs.

“This sport can be won or lost in the thousandths of a second,” said 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin. “It’s us against the clock.”

“It’s difficult to make it look like you’re doing nothing,” he said. “If you were to send a normal person down a luge track on Olympic ice, they would probably flip the sled within a turn or two.”

NBCOlympics.com: Erin Hamlin named Team USA flag bearer for PyeongChang Opening Ceremony

You can watch the “Fastest Sport on Ice” beginning Feb. 10. The men’s competition will take place on Feb. 10 and 11 in PyeongChang, followed by the women’s competition on Feb. 12 and 13, with the doubles competition on Feb. 14 and the team relay on Feb. 15.

World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

AP
Leave a comment

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Viral Olympic moments of 2010s decade

U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Viral Olympic moments of 2010s decade