Jan 03 Team USA Weekend Preview: Jan. 3, 2014

By Paul D. Bowker | Jan. 03, 2014, 11:24 a.m. (ET)
J.R. Celski, Lee Ho-Suk of Korea and Charles Hamelin of Canada compete in the men's 5,000-meter relay during the Samsung ISU World Cup Short Track at the Oriental Sports Center on Sept. 29, 2013 in Shanghai, China.

The 2014 U.S. Olympic Team list of nominees continues to grow this weekend as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for short track speedskating get underway in Utah. Meanwhile, top U.S. athletes are competing in world cups in bobsled, skeleton, luge, cycling, biathlon and various skiing events. Check out the Team USA Weekend Preview for all of the details.

SPEEDSKATING

2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Short Track Speedskating, Jan. 2-5, Kearns, Utah

J.R. Celski and Jessica Smith started off strong Thursday at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Short Track Speedskating at the Utah Olympic Oval, each finishing first in both the four- and nine-lap time trials for men and women, respectively. They lead the points standings entering the final three days of competition.

The trials will include the men’s and women’s 1,500-meter races Friday, 500-meter races Saturday and 1,000-meter races Sunday. Five men and three women will be nominated for the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.

Celski earned two bronze medals at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and is one of the brightest stars in short track for the United States. Other top men include Eddy Alvarez and Chris Creveling, who finished runner-up to Celski in both time trials. In addition to Smith, top women skaters include Alyson Dudek, a 2010 Olympian, and Emily Scott.

TV: 8 p.m.-10 p.m. ET Friday and 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC Sports Network; 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, NBC

BOBSLED & SKELETON

World Cup, Jan. 3-5, Winterberg, Germany

The second half of the IBSF World Cup season begins Friday in Winterberg, Germany, but a bigger goal is clearly in focus for USA Bobsled & Skeleton athletes as the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games draw closer.

“Every week we are one step closer to the Olympics and that gold medal is what we’re all chasing this year,” said men’s bobsled pilot Steven Holcomb, the 2010 Olympic champion who is unbeaten in seven two- and four-man competitions this season.

The Winterberg World Cup will feature three medaling opportunities for Holcomb: Two four-man races Saturday and Sunday, in addition to Friday’s two-man bobsled competition. He will team up with 2012 world championship teammate Steve Langton in the two-man. Chris Fogt and Curt Tomasevicz will join them in the Night Train 2 sled for the four-man.

The United States won 25 medals in the first three world cups before the break for the holidays. The qualification period for the Sochi Winter Games ends Jan. 19.

The women’s bobsled competition Sunday will feature Olympic silver medalist Elana Meyers and two-time Olympic track star Lolo Jones together for the first time this season, plus Jamie Greubel/Aja Evans and Jazmine Fenlator/Lauryn Williams. Meyers and Greubel have medaled at every world cup this season. Noelle Pikus-Pace, who has two gold medals and a silver medal this season, plus a track record, will be among two U.S. athletes in the women’s skeleton races Saturday. Matt Antoine, who is ranked third in the world cup men’s standings, is among three Americans in the men’s skeleton Friday.

Also in bobsled & skeleton:

Intercontinental Cup, Jan. 5-6, Whistler, B.C., Canada

FIGURE SKATING

Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Jan. 4-12, Boston

Nearly 400 skaters will compete for national titles at the Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, beginning Sunday in Boston.

The senior-level competitions will likely decide the nominations for the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, but that is a week off. The championship rounds in women, men, ice dancing and pairs will be held on the final two days of the nationals Jan. 11 and 12.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White, silver medalists at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and two-time world champions, are the heavy favorites to win a record sixth national title in ice dancing. Other top skaters include Ashley Wagner, who is seeking her third consecutive national title in the women’s competition, U.S. silver medalist Gracie Gold, 2010 Olympian Jeremy Abbott, defending U.S. champion Max Aaron, Caydee Denney, a 2010 Olympian, and John Coughlin and 2013 U.S. pairs champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir. Castelli and Shnapir and 2013 U.S. men’s silver medalist Ross Miner train at the Skating Club of Boston. 

Before the senior skaters take to the ice, a number of championships will be decided at the novice, juvenile and junior levels. After a full day of practice Saturday, the championships are scheduled to begin Sunday with novice-level competition in women, men, pairs and dance.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

Tour de Ski, Dec. 28-Jan. 5, various locations

Simi Hamilton became the first American to win a stage in the Tour de Ski when he won the freestyle sprint Wednesday in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

The event moves on to Cortina-Toblach, Italy, Friday, and Val di Fiemme, Italy, Saturday and Sunday. The competition Sunday includes 50-kilometer races.

Liz Stephen posted the fifth-fastest time of the day Friday, starting from 22nd to finish 12th in the 15-kilometer pursuit stage of the Tour de Ski. World champion Jessie Diggins moved up to 13th from 21st in the freestyle pursuit, the fifth of seven stages of the grueling Tour de Ski. Diggins posted the eighth-fastest time of the day.

TV: 7 p.m. ET Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Universal Sports

Also in cross-country skiing:

U.S. Cross-Country Championships, Jan. 4-10, Soldier Hollow, Utah

ALPINE SKIING

FIS World Cup Alpine, women’s slalom, Jan. 5, Bormio, Italy

Mikaela Shiffrin enters the women’s slalom race Sunday in Bormio, Italy, in first place in the world cup slalom standings. She finished second in a world cup slalom race last week in Lienz, Austria.

“I know my best skiing is enough for a podium,” said Shiffrin, 18. “I am going to work harder now and try to win the next race.”

FIS World Cup Alpine, men’s slalom, Jan. 6, Bormio, Italy

A world cup men’s slalom competition will be held Monday in Bormio, Italy, where the men’s tour also was last week. The slalom race was moved to Bormio from Zagreb, Croatia, due to a lack of snow.

Ted Ligety ranks third in the overall world cup standings and 21st in slalom. 

Also in skiing:

FIS World Cup Freestyle, men’s and women’s halfpipe and moguls, Jan. 3-4, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

FIS World Cup Ski Jumping, men, Jan. 3-4, Innsbruck, Austria

TV: 7 p.m. ET Saturday, Universal Sports

FIS World Cup Ski Jumping, men, Jan. 5-6, Bischofshofen, Austria

TV: 7 p.m. Sunday, Universal Sports

FIS World Cup Nordic Combined, Jan. 4-5, Chaikovsky, Russia

PARALYMPIC SKIING

U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Championship, Jan. 2-10, Soldier Hollow, Utah

Andy Soule, a bronze medalist at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, and Oksana Masters, a bronze medalist at the Alberta World Cup, are among those competing for ranking points at the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Championship. The event is taking place at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah.

Top finishers will earn ranking points toward consideration for the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team that will compete in Sochi.

In addition to Soule and Masters, top contenders include Tatyana McFadden, a six-time gold medalist at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships; Aaron Pike, a teammate of McFadden on the University of Illinois wheelchair track & field team; Sean Halsted, a 2010 Paralympian; and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen, who was a medalist at the world cup in Cable, Wis.

LUGE

World Cup, Jan. 4-5, Konigssee, Germany

The sixth world cup event of the season begins Saturday in Konigssee, Germany. The United States is coming off a strong showing at the fifth world cup stop in Park City, Utah, when Chris Mazdzer earned a silver medal in men’s singles and the relay team also took a silver. The 10 U.S. Olympic Team nominations, including Mazdzer and Erin Hamlin, were made after the Park City competition.

The U.S. luge team will go after another podium finish in the relay Sunday in Konigssee. Mazdzer, Kate Hansen and the doubles team of Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall combined to earn the relay silver medal in Park City.

BIATHLON

E.ON IBU World Cup, Jan. 1-5, Oberhof, Germany

The fourth world cup of the season goes through Sunday in Oberhof, Germany. The competition includes men’s and women’s pursuit races Saturday, and mass start races Sunday. Tim Burke ranks 15th in the world cup standings in the men’s pursuit.

Also in biathlon:

IBU Cup, Jan. 3-5, Ridnaun-Val Ridanna, Italy

ICE HOCKEY

World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Dec. 29-Jan. 4, Sydney, Nova Scotia

The U.S. Men’s National Under-17 Team will play Team Quebec Friday in the semifinals of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The United States won the top seed in Group B with its fourth consecutive victory, 6-2 over Team Ontario Thursday.

Colin White scored twice in the win over Ontario. All 17 members of the team are from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

IIHF World Junior Championship, Dec. 26-Jan. 5, Malmo, Sweden

The U.S. National Junior Team was eliminated from medal contention in the IIHF World Junior Championship when it lost, 5-3, to Russia in the quarterfinals Thursday in Malmo, Sweden. The United States won its first three games in the tournament before losing to Canada and Russia.

CYCLING

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, Jan. 5, Rome

UCI Cyclo-cross standings leader Katie Compton will seek her fifth consecutive victory in a world cup race Sunday in Rome. Compton has dominated the elite women’s series, winning a medal in all five races. She earned a silver medal in the first race, then won four straight races.

Compton has 290 points with two races to go in the season.

Other expected U.S. riders include Kaitlin Antonneau, Arley Kemmerer, Crystal Anthony and Meredith Miller in elite women, and Jonathan Page, Jeremy Durrin and Zach McDonald in elite men. Peter Goguen is coming off an 18th-place finish in junior men last week in Belgium.

Also in cycling:

UCI Masters Cyclo-cross World Championships, Jan. 4-5, Gossau, Switzerland

Kingsport Cyclo-cross Cup, USA Cycling Pro CX, Jan. 5, Kingsport, Tenn.

FIELD HOCKEY

Leipzig Messestadt Cup, Jan. 3-5, Leipzig, Germany

Two USA Field Hockey indoor teams, a men’s squad and a women’s squad, will participate in the 27th Leipzig Messestadt Cup in Germany. Coaches expect to use the competition to help determine the roster selection for the Pan American Indoor Cup in April.

“To have the opportunity to compete against some of the top German club teams prior to the Pan Am Cup is immeasurable,” U.S. women’s indoor coach Denise Zelenak said. “Our travel squad features a strong group of veteran players including Ali McEvoy, Rachael Milne, Kim Tunell and Susan Ciufo. The timing of this tour is perfect as we progress into our final preparations and selections for April’s event.”

FENCING

Junior World Cup, men’s epée and women‘s sabre, Jan. 4, Udine, Italy

The Junior World Cup starts back up Saturday in Udine, Italy, when competition will be held in men’s epée and women’s sabre. Epée fencer Joshua Cole of the United States had a seventh-place finish at the Espoo Junior World Cup in December and Lewis Weiss had a career-best, sixth-place finish in the Bratislava Junior World Cup.

The competition on Sunday in Udine shifts to men’s foil and sabre.

Also in fencing:

Junior World Cup, women’s epée, Jan. 5, Dijon, France

BOXING

USA Boxing Junior and Youth Open, Jan. 5-11, Reno, Nev.

AIBA Male Junior Boxer of the Year Shakur Stevenson, and junior women world champions Caitlin Orosco and JaJaira Gonzalez will be among more than 260 athletes competing in the second annual USA Boxing Junior and Youth Open. Bouts begin Monday at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev.

Stevenson, 16, won the light bantamweight division last year and went on to win a world championship and the gold medal at the Junior Olympic National Championships. A youth division for 17- and 18-year-olds was added to the tournament this year. The junior division is for 15- and 16-year-olds.

BOWLING

Team USA Trials, Jan. 4-8, Las Vegas

A record 280 bowlers are expected to compete in the USBC Team USA Trials in Las Vegas. The event continues through Wednesday and will determine half of the 20 spots (10 men, 10 women) for the 2014 national team. The other half is selected through other competition performances and the Trials, if they participated.

The tournament consists of five rounds of qualifying, followed by the semifinals and finals Wednesday. The top three men and top three women after qualifying will earn berths on the national team. The winners will qualify to compete at the 2014 QubicaAMF World Cup.

Eight spots on the Junior Team USA squad (four boys, four girls) will also be awarded. The top two in each division earn automatic spots. Additionally, two boys and two girls will be named through at-large selections.

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org

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