Meryl Davis and Charlie White skate in the exhibition at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final at Marine Messe Fukuoka on Dec. 8, 2013 in Fukuoka, Japan.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White needed a world-record performance to continue their ISU Grand Prix Final title streak.
Davis and White set three world records in all on the way to their fifth consecutive Grand Prix Final title in the three-day event that concluded Sunday in Fukuoka, Japan. In addition to setting world records, they defeated their biggest rivals, Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, in a preview of perhaps things to come at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in February.
Virtue and Moir, the 2010 Olympic gold medalists who train with Davis and White, set world-bests before both of their skates. Davis and White responded with record scores in both the short dance and the free dance for a record total of 191.35. Virtue and Moir finished close behind with 190.00.
“Meryl and I were really happy when we finished skating,” White said. “We’ve come a long way and expect to put out everything we have every time we compete. Today it felt like all of our hard work paid off. We are happy technically and emotionally and we are where we want to be. We’ve already talked about where we can take this program to keep it from getting stale. We want to continue to show how much better we can be.”
|Ashley Wagner poses with her bronze medal at the ISU Grand
Prix of Figure Skating Final at Marine Messe Fukuoka on Dec. 7,
2013 in Fukuoka, Japan.
In the women’s event, Ashley Wagner came away with a bronze medal with a total of 187.61 points to finish behind Japan’s Mao Asada (204.02) and Russia’s Julia Lipnitskaia (192.07).
“I would love for the U.S. ladies team to be something that the world watches out for,” Wagner said. “I think that whoever we end up sending will be quite capable in the top six. I would love to be on the podium. I think I would have to give a performance similar to my short program here and my long somewhere else.”
Coinciding with the ISU Grand Prix Final was the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final. American ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker earned the silver medal while Lorraine McNamara-Quinn Carpenter earned bronze medals. The sister-brother team of Rachel and Michael Parsons placed sixth.
Nathan Chen captured the junior men’s bronze medal; Polina Edmunds finished fourth and Angela Wang sixth in the junior women’s event.
After battling back for months from a major knee injury and then suffering another setback a few weeks ago, Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn showed her comeback for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi might just be able to happen after all.
Competing in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, a location dubbed “Lake Lindsey” for all of her previous success there, Vonn recorded a fifth-place finish in the super-G. She also finished 11th in the downhill earlier in the weekend.
“This is exactly what I wanted to take away from this weekend — to know that I could ski for the win,” Vonn said Sunday. “I’m happy with today. I scrubbed some speed in a few spots but it still showed me that I can ski for the podium.
“I’m going to be selective in my races this season, and I’ll take a few days home, talk to the coaches and determine a plan.
Leanne Smith was one spot behind Vonn Sunday in sixth while Julia Mancuso was 17th and Stacey Cook 18th. Cook was 12th and Smith 17th Saturday.
On American soil, the men’s alpine skiers made quite a bit of noise as Ted Ligety and Bode Miller provided the U.S. Ski Team with its first 1-2 finish in an FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom race since 2005 with their effort Sunday to wrap up the Audi Birds of Prey race week in Beaver Creek, Colo.
Miller also was part of the last 1-2 finish, which also happened at Beaver Creek, when he won and Daron Rahlves finished second.
This time, Ligety got the win, his fourth consecutive world cup giant slalom victory and his third straight win at Beaver Creek.
“I’ve always loved this hill,” said Ligety, who won by more than a second. “It’s great to have my family and friends here for this. I’m just so psyched to get a win.”
Miller made a giant slalom podium for the first time since 2007.
“Sharing the podium with Bode is awesome,” said Ligety, who missed a super-G podium finish by one-tenth of a second Saturday while finishing fifth.
Miller, a five-time Olympic medalist, was 14th Saturday after placing 13th in the downhill Friday.
Miller has returned to the world cup after taking a year off because of a knee injury.
Read more about men’s skiing here.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team enjoyed a successful weekend at the IPC Alpine Skiing NorAm at Copper Mountain Resort, racing to three additional victories in super-G events Sunday. After taking the top spot Saturday in the women’s standing division, six-time Paralympian Allison Jones earned a second super-G gold Sunday.
Vancouver 2010 Paralympic silver medalist Mark Bathum secured a second straight victory on day two of competition, having also won super-G gold Saturday in the men’s visually-impaired classification.
Team USA’s female sit-skiers also shined Sunday in the super-G. Vancouver 2010 Paralympic silver medalist and current downhill world champion Laurie Stephens raced to gold, while three-time Paralympic medalist Stephani Victor earned a bronze medal. Both were on the podium Saturday as well.
Tyler Walker, who took home silver Saturday in the men’s sitting division, struggled Sunday and finished outside of the podium in the men’s sitting division.
The Copper Mountain NorAm continues through Dec. 12 with slalom and giant slalom events.
Results from the NorAm will count toward both world rankings and qualification for future world cup events. Skiers’ performances at world cups ultimately will determine the U.S. team that will compete at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Heather Richardson and Joey Mantia posted victories during the Essent ISU Long Track World Cup in Berlin.
Richardson and Brittany Bowe finished 1-2 in the 1,000 meters Sunday to help the United States finish the three-day event with two gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals.
“I was really happy to have a solid 1,000 meters and capture the track record, but I’m looking forward to coming home and putting some training in,” said Richardson, who finished second at 500 meters Saturday.
Mantia won his first ever gold medal at 1,500 meters Friday.
The United States won 28 world cup medals during the circuit’s first four stops, which qualify skaters for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Shani Davis just missed his fourth straight 1,000-meter win, placing third, nine-hundredths of a second off the lead Saturday.
The United States women’s bobsled team capped a successful weekend by sweeping an FIBT World Cup podium for the first time since 2001 Saturday at Park City, Utah.
After taking three of the top four spots in Friday’s race, the U.S. women changed up the lineup and finished with a gold medal and two silver medals Saturday.
Olympic gold medalist pilot Steven Holcolmb continued a dominant world cup season by winning the four-man bobsled Saturday with Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Langton and Chris Fogt.
Holcomb and Fogt led a 1-2-4 men’s finish in the two-man bobsled Friday. Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson took second while Cory Butner and Chuck Berkeley were fourth.
Read more about the men’s bobsled team here.
Meanwhile, on the women’s side, Elana Meyers and Aja Evans won for the second straight day while the teams of Jamie Greubel-Lolo Jones and Jazmine Fenlator-Lauryn Williams tied for second.
“We switched out several brakemen today and had great results, so it just shows how strong this team is from top to bottom,” Meyers said.
The world cup success has the U.S. team aiming high for Sochi.
“We’ve seen over and over how fast and consistent all of our drivers are and now the goal needs to be to take all of the medals in Sochi,” Fenlator said.
Meyers-Evans won Friday when Greubel-Katie Eberling took third and Fenlator-Emily Azevedo placed fourth.
Read more about women’s bobsled action here.
Noelle Pikus-Pace broke a 12-year-old track record while winning the women’s skeleton Friday. Her two-run total was 1:39.54 (49.80, 49.74). Matt Antoine finished third in the men’s skeleton.
Read more about skeleton here.
Erin Hamlin, a two-time Olympian and 2009 world champion, earned a spot on the Olympic team (pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee) for Sochi following her fifth-place performance in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.
“It’s really nice to get it out of the way,” Hamlin said. “It’s a big relief than going to the wire and then potentially racing off. So I feel a lot better and I can enjoy Salt Lake a little bit more.”
That was a reference to the fifth world cup stop on the 2002 Olympic track in Utah, followed by the formal announcement of the USA Luge Olympic contingent Dec. 14.
Chris Mazdzer, who also has been nominated to compete in Sochi, earned a silver medal Friday. Mazdzer, a 2010 Olympian, had secured his Sochi spot last month in Austria.
Mazdzer became the first U.S. luge racer to score in the top three since a Tony Benshoof earned a bronze medal in a world cup in the 2006-2007 season. The last U.S. men’s world cup victory was Wendel Suckow’s gold medal in the pre-Olympic test event for the Nagano Winter Games in 1997.
“It came down to the wire. It was a high-risk, high-reward run,” Mazdzer said. “I was on edge. It was a pretty sketchy run, but I kept it going straight most of the time. I was like a bowling ball going down the track, but I held on.”
Tucker West, Kate Hansen and the doubles team of Matt Mortensen-Preston Griffall also moved closer to clinching Olympic spots.
Hansen was sixth. Mortensen and Griffall, a 2006 Olympian, finished ninth.
West was 11th.
The United States was fourth in the team relay, which will debut as an Olympic event in Sochi.
Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen, Liz Stephens and Jessie Diggins matched the best U.S. relay finish at an FIS Cross Country World Cup event with a third-place finish in Sunday’s 4x5-kilometer in Lillehammer.
Bjornsen matched her career-best by finishing seventh in the 10-kilometer classic for the second straight week.
NORDIC COMBINED SKIING
Bryan Fletcher was 10th and Todd Lodwick 11th in the 10-kilometer individual Sunday at the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup event in Lillehammer, Norway.
Lindsey Jacobellis and Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, each in their first week back from injury, combined to form the second-place women’s team Sunday at the FIS World Cup snowboardcross in Montafon, Austria. Alex Deibold and Hagen Kearney finished as the sixth-place men’s team.
Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome joined Nick Fairall and Nick Alexander for a 13th-place effort in the mixed team event Friday for the best U.S. finish of the weekend at the ski jumping men’s and women’s world cup stop in Lillehammer, Norway.
Canada denied the United States a repeat of the World Sledge Hockey Challenge title when it posted a 3-1 victory in Toronto Saturday night.
Canada, which also defeated the United States in pool play, opened a 3-0 lead in the first period. Josh Pauls scored the only U.S. goal.
The women’s 4x6-kilometer relay team of Susan Dunklee, Sara Studebaker, Hannah Dreissigacker and Lanny Barnes placed eighth Saturday for the best U.S. finish at the E.ON IBU World Cup stop in Hochfilzen, Austria.
Joyance Meechai and Steve Gebauer knocked off defending champions Pete and Maureen Stolt, 7-6, in an extra end in the championship match of the USA Curling Mixed Doubles National Championship Sunday in Medford, Wis.
Missy Franklin and Andrew Seliskar won the individual high-point awards at the AT&T Winter National Championships, which were held Thursday through Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.
Katie Ledecky shattered the American women’s 1,650-yard freestyle record by more than nine seconds Saturday with a time of 15:15.17 to earn the Phillips 66 Performance Award for the meet. Ledecky, the United States Olympic Committee’s Olympic SportsWoman of the Year, lapped the entire field while finishing 9.18 seconds faster than the previous mark held by Olympian Katie Hoff.
“I felt really good going out and I just got into a good rhythm and tried to stick with it,” Ledecky said. “This is my first short-course American record, so it’s really neat.”
Franklin set a meet record while winning the 200 free and also won the 100 back with both her victories coming Friday.
Nick Thoman set American records in the 50 and 100 backstrokes while winning Friday and also was part of a record 200 medley relay with the SwimMAC Carolina men’s team.
Natalie Coughlin beat fellow Olympians Amanda Weir and Franklin to win the 100 freestyle for her second victory of the meet Saturday.
Nathan Adrian won the men’s 100 freestyle Saturday after winning the 50 free Thursday.
Elizabeth Price earned a silver medal Saturday in a world cup event in Glasgow.
Price won the all-around title at last week’s event in Stuttgart, Germany. This week, she had the highest score in the uneven bars to help her finish second.
John Orozco, a 2012 Olympian, placed fourth in the men’s all-around, improving from his fifth place finish in Stuttgart.
Sarah Hammer won the women’s omnium Saturday during the UCI Track World Cup in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Hammer, the reigning world champion and the Olympic silver medalist in 2012, outscored Olympic champion Laura Trott of Great Britain.
Hammer joined Kimberly Geist, Jennifer Valente and Ruth Winder for a fifth-place finish in team pursuit Thursday.
Winder was sixth in the individual pursuit Friday.
Elsewhere, Justin Lundin and Shawn Milne won the men’s races and Emma White and Arley Kemmerer won the women’s races at the NEPCX-NBX Gran Prix of Cross Days in Warwick, R.I.
Tim Johnson and Katerina Nash won the Deschutes Brewery Cup cyclo-cross race Saturday in Bend, Ore.
Brian Kim, in men’s air pistol, and Meredith Carpentier, in women’s air rifle, completed comebacks on the final shot Saturday to win gold medals at the USA Shooting Winter Airgun Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Carlin Isles had two tries, giving him a total of five for the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, but it was not enough for the United States, which lost to England, 33-14, in the Bowl semifinals Sunday and was eliminated.
The United States went 0-3 in pool play in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, then defeated Spain, 19-14, in the Bowl quarterfinals.
None of the three U.S. entries at the IJF Grand Prix in Jeju, South Korea, Thursday and Friday was able to advance to the quarterfinals.
A team of 12 riders was selected after the U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team Trials in Fulton, Mo., Saturday.
Aleia Brown, Quinn Mercier, Macey Miles, Kristen Smith and Nadine Von Zomeran were the three-gaited selections with Brooke Boyer as alternate. Maisie Benfield, McGee Bosworth, Emily Gutenkunst, Wiliam Nalty and Eleanor Rainbolt-Forbes were the five-gaited selections with Sydney Shaw as alternate.
The riders will represent the United States at the International Saddle Seat World Cup in Asheville, N.C., in July.
Andras Horanyi won the USA Pentathlon’s Marathon Epée Sunday in Colorado Springs.
Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Tom Robinson is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org.