Reigning world champs Kaillie Humphries, Lolo Jones lead bobsled national team

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Reigning world champion Kaillie Humphries was announced as part of this season’s USA Bobsled national team on Monday, even with her status for this winter’s Beijing Olympics remaining unclear.

Humphries was a lock to make the team after winning gold medals in both the traditional two-person and the new women’s monobob event at last season’s World Championships.

Lolo Jones, the Olympic hurdler-turned-bobsledder who pushed Humphries’ two-person sled on the way to that world championship last winter, also was selected for the national team. The teams were revealed Monday morning in Lake Placid, New York.

Humphries will compete in World Cup races this season and be part of the U.S. contingent traveling to China next month for the first race of the season on the newly built track that will play host to the Olympics in February.

But her Olympic status remains murky because she has yet to receive a U.S. passport and has asked the International Olympic Committee to grant her permission to race at the Games — where she would be a gold-medal favorite in two events.

Joining Humphries as drivers on the women’s team this season are Elana Meyers Taylor and Brittany Reinbolt. And joining Jones in the pool of women’s push athletes are Aja Evans, Lauren Gibbs, Sylvia Hoffman, Lake Kwaza and Kaysha Love.

The men’s team has drivers Hunter Church and Codie Bascue, and push athletes Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, Kris Horn, Blaine McConnell, Jimmy Reed, Nic Taylor, Carlo Valdes, Charlie Volker and Josh Williamson.

The USA Skeleton national team was also announced Monday, led by Katie Uhlaender — who is seeking to compete in her fifth Olympics in what will be her final season — and fellow Olympic veteran John Daly.

Megan Henry and Kelly Curtis will join Uhlaender on the women’s World Cup team. Daly will be joined by Austin Florian on the men’s team for World Cup races to open the season.

The six skeleton athletes picked to open the season on the Intercontinental Cup tour, which could provide a path toward making the Olympic team, were Kendall Wesenberg, Savannah Graybill, Sara Roderick, Andrew Blaser, Dan Barefoot and Stephen Garbett.

The U.S. will announce its Olympic teams for bobsled and skeleton in January.

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Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes, beach volleyball’s new sensation, win World Tour Finals

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In just a few months since reuniting, Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes have become not just the best women’s beach volleyball team in the U.S., but also, arguably, the world.

Cheng and Hughes, former partners who got back together for a 2024 Olympic run, won the World Tour Finals for the biggest title for a U.S. pair since April Ross and Alix Klineman took gold in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old Californians swept reigning world champions Duda and Ana Patricia of Brazil 21-18, 21-16 in Sunday’s final in Doha.

Cheng and Hughes have entered four tournaments since reuniting last fall and won all of them — once on the domestic AVP tour and now three international events.

They are rolling into the start of the 2024 Olympic qualifying window next week. It’s likely that the top two U.S. women’s pairs across international events over the course of the next 18 months qualify for the Paris Games.

Cheng and Hughes were previously NCAA champion teammates at USC, then the most promising, young U.S. pro team before splitting in 2018. Cheng made the Tokyo Olympics with Sarah Sponcil (lost in the round of 16), while Hughes’ Tokyo bid flamed out when partner Summer Ross suffered a back injury in 2019.

“It was a lot of the unknown and being young and kind of immature and listening to maybe outside forces and not really knowing how to deal with things as well,” Hughes said in October of their past breakup. “We’ve pretty much moved past that in our relationship. Moving forward with one another, we’re completely different players, and we’re a lot more mature. It feels like the right time. The past is past. We’re just moving forward.”

Cheng and Hughes have taken over from April Ross and Klineman as the top U.S. team. After winning Olympic gold, Klineman underwent shoulder surgery in January 2022 and last week announced she is pregnant and may return from childbirth for a “last-second” 2024 Olympic qualifying bid.

April Ross, a 40-year-old with an Olympic medal of every color, last competed in March, then withdrew before June’s world championships, where she was entered with Emily Day, with an unspecified injury. She has not announced if or when she plans to return to competition.

The U.S. earned at least one beach volleyball medal at every Olympics that the sport has been on the program (since 1996), and a men’s or women’s gold at all but one Olympics. Eighteen months out from the Paris Games, Cheng and Hughes are the best hope to keep the podium streak going.

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Germany opens bobsled worlds with double gold; Kaillie Humphries gets silver

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Germans Laura Nolte and Johannes Lochner dethroned the reigning Olympic and world champions to open the world bobsled championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, this weekend.

Nolte, the Olympic two-woman champion driver, won the four-run monobob by four tenths of a second over American Kaillie Humphries, who won the first world title in the event in 2021 and the first Olympic title in the event in 2022. Another German, Lisa Buckwitz, took bronze.

In the two-man, Lochner became the first driver to beat countryman Francesco Friedrich in an Olympic or world championships event since 2016, ending Friedrich’s record 12-event streak at global championships between two-man and four-man.

Friedrich, defeated by 49 hundredths, saw his streak of seven consecutive world two-man titles also snapped.

Lochner, 32, won his first outright global title after seven Olympic or world silvers, plus a shared four-man gold with Friedrich in 2017.

Swiss Michael Vogt drove to bronze, one hundredth behind Friedrich. Geoff Gadbois and Martin Christofferson filled the top American sled in 18th.

Americans Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton were the last non-Germans to win a world two-man title in 2012.

Bobsled worlds finish next weekend with the two-woman and four-man events.

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