Winterberg

Elana Meyers

Elana Meyers, Lolo Jones second in Winterberg bobsled

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Elana Meyers and Lolo Jones improved mightily in their second run, jumping from fifth to finish second, one-hundredth of a second behind, in a bobsled World Cup race in Winterberg, Germany, on Sunday.

Germany’s Sandra Kiriasis won with a two-run time of 1 minute, 55.41 seconds, one day after her 39th birthday. Kiriasis, a two-time Olympic medalist, is the most decorated women’s bobsledder in the sport’s short history.

The Olympic bronze medalist Meyers followed in 1:55.42 and continued her streak of top-two finishes with her fifth straight this season to keep the World Cup overall lead. Meyers and Jones were fifth after the first run but had the fastest second run.

“I feel good with the outcome, but I don’t feel great about my performance,” Meyers said, according to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. “I watched my runs after the race and realized that no one had perfect runs today, so it made me feel a little better. I’m still not happy with my runs, but I’m definitely satisfied with a medal.”

Their faster start run can be attributed to their start time, the part of the race where the push athlete has the biggest impact. They were 5.64 on their start in the first run and 5.52 in their second.

Meyers took the blame for the slow start in the first run.

“We like to live on the edge, keep everybody on the edge of their seats,” said Meyers, who teamed with Jones on USA-1 for the first time this season. “We had a little slip-up at the beginning of the first run. I didn’t run further enough, and she followed me. It caused us to drop some time, but we came back the second one.”

Another American led after the first run. Jamie Greubel was attempting to win her first World Cup race but fell to fourth with the top U.S. push athlete, Aja Evans.

The third U.S. sled — Jazmine Fenlator and three-time Olympic sprinter Lauryn Williams — was ninth.

Evans is expected to team with Meyers at the Sochi Olympics. It’s a bit up in the air for Olympic selection after that. Greubel’s normal push athlete, Katie Eberling, sat out Sunday’s race. Jones, Williams and 2010 Olympian Emily Azevedo are in the running, too.

The women’s bobsled World Cup continues in St. Moritz, Switzerland, next week. The Olympic Team will be announced following the World Cup stop in Igls, Austria, in two weeks.

“Lolo definitely showed her fight by dropping a few hundredths in the second heat,” Meyers said. “Coming back and doing that is impressive. I felt better about my drive, but I still have a lot of room to gain time on these tracks.”

Winterberg Two-Woman
1. Sandra Kiriasis/Franziska Fritz (GER) 1:55.41
2. Elana Meyers/Lolo Jones (USA) 1:55.42
3. Anja Schneiderheinze/Stephanie Schneider (GER) 1:55.48
4. Jamie Greubel/Aja Evans (USA) 1:55.52
9. Jazmine Fenlator/Lauryn Williams (USA) 1:56.09

Video: Holcomb crashes in four-man

Noelle Pikus-Pace finishes second, jumps up World Cup skeleton standings

Noelle Pikus-Pace
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Noelle Pikus-Pace‘s risk didn’t pay off, but she continued her climb up the World Cup standings in Winterberg, Germany, on Saturday.

Pikus-Pace finished second to Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold after the two tied for the lead in the opening run. Yarnold won in a two-run time of 1 minute, 58.10 seconds. Pikus-Pace adjusted her race strategy in a tricky part of the track and fell .57 behind after the second run.

“I tried something totally different [in the second run],” Pikus-Pace said in the finish area, where podium finishers receive a glass of Veltins beer in addition to the customary bouquet. “It still didn’t work for me. Overall I’m really happy. It’s a great start to the second half.”

Pikus-Pace finished on the podium for the fourth straight World Cup race after her season-opening disqualification for having too much tape on her sled handles. She jumped from fourth to second in the World Cup standings, the best indication of Sochi medal prospects.

She only trails Yarnold, who has finished on the podium in every race this season. Yarnold, who slid while the James Bond theme played on speakers at the Winterberg track, leads by a comfortable 225 points and is likely to win the season title with three races to go.

Pikus-Pace finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics, retired, gave birth to her second child and came out of retirement for last season.

“I was a little cloudy coming back to training after the holiday break and had some trouble getting back into it,” Pikus-Pace said, according to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. “It really is a relief to have a podium finish to get second half started. Second half feels different than first half, it always has. I know I have to rejuvenate and I have to start second half with a fresh perspective as if it’s a new season.”

American Annie O’Shea subbed in for 2012 world champion Katie Uhlaender, who took a planned break this week. O’Shea finished 16th in her World Cup season debut.

The skeleton World Cup continues in St. Moritz, Switzerland, next week.

Winterberg Women’s Skeleton
1. Lizzy Yarnold (GBR) 1:57.53
2. Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA) 1:58.10
3. Sarah Reid (CAN) 1:58.49
16. Annie O’Shea (USA) 1:59.77

Video: Holcomb crashes in four-man bobsled

Steven Holcomb crashes in Winterberg four-man bobsled

Steve Holcomb
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Steven Holcomb‘s four-man bobsled win streak came to a disastrous end in Winterberg, Germany, on Saturday.

The Olympic champion crashed in the second of two runs and finished in 20th place behind winner Max Arndt of Germany.

“Gotta push it,” Holcomb said after getting out of his sled at the finish. “Gotta try.”

Holcomb also crashed in the same curve in training earlier this week. The other U.S. drivers in Winterberg also crashed this week — Nick Cunningham in training and Cory Butner in the first run Saturday.

“Corner nine has always been an interesting corner because there’s not a lot of variance in finding the right line,” U.S. bobsled coach Brian Shimer said, according to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. “You have to be on the right line or you’ll go over, and finding that spot is tough when you’ve only had two training runs in four-man.”

The Winterberg Bobsled World Cup concludes with two-woman and four-man races Sunday. Universal Sports will have coverage.

Holcomb, who won the first seven races of the World Cup season in North America, has not won a race in Europe since Dec. 13, 2009, also in Winterberg. He was seventh in a two-man event Friday and second after the first run Saturday.

Cunningham, the only U.S. pilot not to crash Saturday, finished 12th. Butner was 25th.

The U.S. needs strong finishes from Cunningham and Butner this weekend and the next two weekends to qualify three sleds for Sochi.

Three nations will qualify three sleds via international rankings, and the U.S. was the third and final nation with three qualified sleds in rankings going into this weekend’s races. Russia, which had three sleds in the top 15 on Saturday, was right on its heels.

“It’s all about character now,” Shimer said. “Life unfortunately gives you ups and downs, and the higher you go, the steeper you fall. We’ve all been through it, and we were prepared for the low. These guys are determined, probably the most motivated they’ve ever been, and whatever happens we keep looking ahead with the big picture in mind.”

Winterberg Four-Man
1. Max Arndt (GER) 1:49.97
2. Francesco Friedrich (GER) 1:50.14
3. Aleksander Zubkov (RUS) 1:50.17
12. Nick Cunningham (USA) 1:50.84
20. Steve Holcomb (USA) 1:52.32
25. Cory Butner (USA) 57.65

Lolo Jones on USA-1 on Sunday