Martins Dukurs, skeleton legend, retires at age 38

Martins Dukurs
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Latvian Martins Dukurs, arguably the greatest skeleton slider in history, retired at age 38.

“I made a decision, full of emotions but logical,” Dukurs, nicknamed “Superman,” posted on social media on Saturday, according to an International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) translation. “I have experienced defeats, great victories, indescribable excitement and will definitely miss competing. But sometimes you have to quit to take on new challenges in life.”

Dukurs holds the skeleton record for world championships (six), World Cup season titles (11) and World Cup race victories (61). He earned Olympic silver medals in 2010 and 2014, both times finishing behind a slider from the host nation who benefited from substantially more training experience on the track.

The IBSF reported that Dukurs retired in 2018, but he forged ahead after placing fourth in the PyeongChang Winter Games for one last shot at Olympic gold in Beijing. He ended up seventh at his fifth and last Olympics.

Dukurs is on the short list of greatest Olympians not to win a gold medal with the likes of Michelle Kwan (figure skating), Jeremy Wotherspoon (speed skating) and Marc Girardelli (Alpine skiing) in winter sports.

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Katie Uhlaender makes fifth, likely final Olympics in skeleton

Katie Uhlaender
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Katie Uhlaender is going to a fifth and likely final Olympics in skeleton, clinching a spot as the highest-ranked American woman this season.

She’s joined by first-time Olympians Kelly Curtis and Andrew Blaser on the smallest U.S. Olympic skeleton team since the sport returned to the Olympic program in 2002.

Uhlaender, a 37-year-old with a best Olympic finish of fourth, will tie the record for Winter Olympic appearances by a U.S. woman. She will likely be the oldest female Olympian on the entire U.S. team in Beijing, if neither Lolo Jones nor Lauren Gibbs makes it in bobsled.

She will be the oldest U.S. Olympic female skeleton slider ever, breaking the record held by Lea Ann Parsley, a silver medalist in 2002 in women’s skeleton’s debut.

Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis and curler John Shuster previously qualified for their fifth Olympics. Shaun White is also likely to be named to his fifth Olympic team.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for 2022 Winter Olympics

Uhlaender, the 2012 World champion and two-time World Cup season champ, didn’t compete in the season after placing 13th at the 2018 Olympics. She returned in 2019-20 and did lower-level races before her first World Cup in nearly three years in January 2021.

Her best finish in 11 World Cup races over the last 13 months: a pair of fifths.

The Olympic medal favorites include World Cup season champion Kimberley Bos of the Netherlands, Austrian Janine Flock, German Tina Hermann and Russian Yelena Nikitina. In a twist Friday, 31-year-old Australian Jackie Narracott beat all of them in the last World Cup before the Olympics. Narracott’s best prior World Cup finish was seventh.

Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold, who won the last two Olympic titles, retired in 2018.

In 2014, Uhlaender finished fourth at the Olympics, .04 of a second behind Nikitina for bronze. Nikitina was later stripped of her medal in 2017 as part of the Russian doping scheme during the Sochi Games, but was reinstated two months later by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, citing insufficient evidence.

Uhlaender plans to retire from competition after Beijing and pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Curtis, a 32-year-old former heptathlete who first converted to bobsled, was second in the U.S. rankings, edging Megan Henry for the last Olympic women’s spot. Curtis completed basic training for the U.S. Air Force in August 2020.

Blaser, a 32-year-old former decathlete at the University of Idaho, was the top-ranked American man this season — 28th in the world — despite being passed over for World Cups to start the campaign in favor of the more accomplished John Daly and Austin Florian. It’s the first time the U.S. will not have multiple male skeleton sliders at the Olympics.

Latvian Martins Dukurs won his 11th World Cup season title. At 37, he’s still seeking a first Olympic gold after silvers in 2010 and 2014 and a fourth-place finish in 2018. A slider from the host nation won the last three golds, boosted by more experience on the Olympic track.

China’s top slider, Geng Wenqiang, is 12th in this season’s standings (with one three-way-tie for a victory), one spot below 2018 Olympic champ Yun Sungbin.

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Lake Placid awarded pre-Olympic bobsled and skeleton world championships

2019 IBSF World Cup Bobsled & Skeleton - Day 1
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The quaint upstate New York village of Lake Placid was awarded the 2025 bobsled and skeleton world championships at the recent International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation Congress.

The home-track advantage will give the Americans a welcomed boost and should set them up well heading into the 2026 Olympic season.

Lake Placid, home to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Games and still the only U.S. city to twice host the Winter Olympics, was originally awarded the 2021 World Championships but that event was moved to Altenberg, Germany, due to the pandemic.

There is no IBSF World Championships in the upcoming season, due to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The 2023 edition will be in St. Moritz, Switzerland, followed by the 2024 Worlds in Winterberg, Germany.

2025 will mark the 11th time Lake Placid plays host to worlds for one of both of the sports but the first time in 13 years.

The last time worlds was in Lake Placid, the Americans raked in five medals, led by two- and four-man bobsled golds from pilot Steven Holcomb, who died in 2017. That remains the greatest U.S. medal tally at the event since 2007.

Two of the U.S. medalists from 2012 are still actively competing: Elana Meyers Taylor and Katie Uhlaender.

Meyers Taylor earned bronze that year in just her second season as a driver. She remains one of the world’s best bobsledders and medaled in three of her four World Cups last season in her return from giving birth to son Nico.

Uhlaender won skeleton gold at the 2012 Worlds. Now vying for a fifth Olympic team, the 37-year-old was sixth at the 2021 Worlds and finished as high as fifth on last season’s World Cup circuit.

Kaillie Humphries won the two-woman bobsled world title that year for Canada. Now representing the U.S., she has since won three more world titles in the event, including in 2020 and 2021. She also won 2021 gold in monobob, which makes its Olympic debut in Beijing.

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