Sochi recap, Women’s luge, first two runs

Erin Hamlin’s long-shot bid for a medal looks a bit stronger at the halfway point of the women’s luge. She raced to the second fastest time in the first run, then improved her start to go a little faster in the second run. The American veteran stands third behind two German sliders.

Date: 10-Feb

Sport: Luge

Event: Women’s, runs 1 and 2 (of four)

How U.S. fared: Hamlin is in terrific shape. She’s just 0.052 seconds behind second-place Tatjana Hüfner and 0.216 ahead of Russia’s Natalia Khoreva.

Kate Hansen, having a bit of a breakout season, is a solid 10th. Summer Britcher moved up from 19th after her first run to 15th.

What happened: Natalie Geisenberger of Germany is simply peerless. She set the track record at 49.891 in the first run and nearly matched that at 49.923 in the second. No one else broke 50. Geisenberger leads by 0.766 seconds, an eternity in luge.

The second German, Hüfner, broke Geisenberger’s start record in the second run to move ahead of Hamlin. But the third, Anke Wischnewski, is eighth. Still, very little separates her from fourth-place Russian Khoreva. Between them are two Canadians, Alex Gough and Kimberley McRae, and Russian favorite Tatyana Ivanova.

No one crashed, though NBC got a bit of mileage out of a practice crash by Sandra Robatscher and showed it to the confused but smiling Italian in the mixed zone for an offbeat postrace interview.

Full results

Sochi recap: Men’s luge, first two runs

Not too many surprises in men’s luge at the halfway point. Germany’s Felix Loch, the favorite, leads ahead of ageless Russian Albert Demchenko and Italian Armin Zöggeler. Germany’s David Möller had a rough time in 14th.

Event: 8- Feb

Sport: Luge

Event: Men’s, first two runs (of four)

How U.S. fared: The U.S. sliders weren’t major contenders, but this was still a bit disappointing. Chris Mazdzer was 10th in the first run and 12th in the second, sliding to 13th overall. The two teens, Tucker West and Aidan Kelly, stand 23rd and 26th.

What happened: The track record fell multiple times, with 42-year-old Demchenko leading the first run with a time of 52.170 seconds, just 0.015 ahead of Loch. But Loch broke the 52-second mark in the second run at 51.964.

Demchenko is still very much in striking strange. Then it’s a battle for bronze, with two Russians lurking in the mix.

The most entertaining run: Chinese Taipei’s Te-An Lien, who slid off his sled in his first run but managed to scamper back on. His second run was uneventful. He’s in last place, but he’s still in it.

Full results

2014 medal projections: Jan. 14 update

Time for a few tweaks given the results (and untimely injuries) of late — and when you add it all up, we have a new leader:

Alpine skiing: Lindsey Vonn’s absence shakes things up a bit and pretty well insures the USA won’t come near its total of eight medals in 2010. Ted Ligety (third overall) and Mikaela Shiffrin are still favorites, and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal (second overall; downhill and super-G leader) is still as dominant as ever.


  • Men’s downhill: Erik Guay (CAN) up to silver, Klaus Kröll (AUT) down to considered, Adrien Theaux (FRA) up to considered
  • Men’s giant slalom: Alexis Pinturault (FRA) up to bronze, Manfred Moelgg (ITA) down to considered
  • Men’s slalom: Mario Matt (AUT) up to silver, Ivica Kostelic (CRO) down to considered
  • Men’s combined: Pinturault up to gold, Ligety up to silver, Svindal up to bronze, Kostelic down to considered
  • Women’s downhill: Vonn out, Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) up to gold, Tina Maze (SLO) up to silver, Tina Weirather (LIE) up to bronze, Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden (SUI) up to considered
  • Women’s super-G: Vonn out, Anna Fenninger (AUT) up to gold, Tina Maze (SLO) down to silver, Lara Gut (SUI) up to bronze, Julia Mancuso (USA) down to considered
  • Women’s giant slalom: Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (SWE) up to considered
  • Women’s slalom: My medal picks are currently 1-2-4 in the World Cup standings. They’ll stay put.

Biathlon: Andreas Birnbacher (Germany) has been sick, so we won’t knock him out of the projections just yet. Not too many surprises on the men’s side, though France’s relay team needs to improve. The surprise in the women’s competition is the Czech Republic’s Gabriela Soukalova, who’s leading the World Cup standings. France’s Marie Dorin Habert has a ruptured tendon in her ankle, so we’ll remove her from consideration.


  • Women’s sprint: Soukalova (CZE) up to bronze, Olena Pidrushna (UKR) down to considered
  • Women’s pursuit: Soukalova up to silver, Valj Semerenko (UKR) up to bronze, Andrea Henkel (GER) and Pidrushna down to considered

Bobsled: The early-season races in North America have skewed the current standings toward the U.S. and Canadian teams. The men haven’t done as well in Europe. Manuel Machata isn’t getting many opportunities for Germany, and Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis isn’t in great form.


  • Men’s two-man and four-man: Drop Machata from considered
  • Women’s: Elana Meyers (USA) up to silver, Sandra Kiriasis (GER) down to bronze, Cathleen Martini (GER) down to considered, Jamie Greubel (USA) up to considered

Cross-country skiing: Dario Cologna (SUI) is trying to come back from ankle surgery. We’ll leave him in for now. A couple of other skiers have skipped the odd World Cup event or the entire Tour de Ski, so the World Cup standings from this season aren’t that meaningful. One surprise: American Simi Hamilton won a freestyle sprint.


  • Women’s sprint: Denise Herrman (GER) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) up to considered

Figure skating: Most of the pre-Sochi competition is complete aside from the European Championships this week, so the projections won’t change much. The Four Continents will only have a couple of Olympians in action. But qualification and national championships have made things interesting. Ashley Wagner placed fourth, and her inclusion is mildly controversial. Evgeni Plushenko on the fringe of Russia’s plans, Japan’s Miki Ando retired after missing out an Olympic berth, and projected gold medalist Mao Asada was third in Japan’s championships. At least defending gold medalist Yuna Kim won handily in South Korea after skipping the Grand Prix season. Gracie Gold’s score from U.S. Championships would be the highest in the world this year, but would international judges be as generous?


  • Women’s: Gracie Gold (USA) considered. Miki Ando (Japan) out. Considered list now specifying the likely Russian skaters: Adelina Sotnikova and Julia Lipnitskaia

Freestyle skiing: The X Games and World Cup events may still shake things up.

Changes in aerials

  • Men: 2010 World Cup champion Anton Kusnhir (BLR) missed the 2012-13 season and has come back with a win in Deer Valley and another podium. Countryman Alexei Grishin, the 2010 gold medalist, is making a comeback and was third in Deer Valley. They’re up to considered.
  • Women: We’ll see who makes China and Australia teams. USA’s Ashley Caldwell and Emily Cook up to considered.

Changes in moguls

  • Men: Medal contenders are 1-2-3 in World Cup. No change.
  • Women: No change, though Miki Ito (JPN) is trying to come back from a knee injury.

Changes in skicross

  • Men: Dave Duncan (CAN) up to silver, Andreas Matt (AUT) up to bronze, Chris Del Bosco (CAN) down to considered, Filip Flisar (SLO) down to considered
  • Women: Katrin Mueller (SUI) up to considered

Changes in slopestyle

  • Men: Waiting for U.S. team announcement to shake things up.
  • Women: Kaya Turski (CAN) is fighting a knee injury. Devin Logan (USA) up to considered

Changes in halfpipe

  • Men: Watching health of Torin Yater-Wallace (USA). Justin Dorey (CAN) up to considered.
  • Women: Roz Groenewoud (CAN) had — you guessed it — knee surgery. We’ll see how she recovers. Devin Logan (USA) up to considered — yes, in two events

Luge: They’ve run seven of nine World Cup events this season, so that should be enough to give us a clearer picture. Still a whole lot of Germany.


  • Men: David Möller (GER) up to silver, Dominik Fischnaller (ITA) up to bronze, Andi Langenhan (GER) down to considered, Chris Mazdzer (USA) up to considered
  • Women, doubles, relay: No change

Nordic combined: Most medal contenders are having solid seasons, particularly World Cup leader Eric Frenzel (GER) and Jason Lamy-Chappuis (FRA).


  • Normal hill: Mikko Kokslien (NOR) up to bronze, Bernhard Gruber (AUT) down to considered

Short-track speedskating: No change. We’ll keep an eye on the Euro championships and make sure all the picks are healthy, but the major pre-Sochi competitions are long complete.

Skeleton: Feeling a little more bullish on Matt Antoine (USA) but not quite moving him up into the medals.


  • Men: Tomass Dukurs (LAT) up to bronze, Frank Rommel (GER) down to considered
  • Women: Shelley Rudman (GBR) up to bronze, Marion Thees (GER) down to considered

Ski jumping: He used to look like Harry Potter. Then he looked like Trevor Horn. Now he’s back — Salt Lake/Vancouver champion Simon Ammann (SUI) was third in the Four Hills. And 40something Japanese jumper Noriaki Kasai is fourth in the World Cup. In women’s, we’re still holding out hope for the rehabbing Sarah Hendrickson (USA).


  • Men’s large hill: Simon Ammann (SUI) up to bronze, Noriaki Kasai (JPN) up to considered, Anders Jacobsen (NOR) down to considered
  • Women’s: Irina Avvakumova (RUS) up to bronze, Carina Vogt (GER) up to considered, Coline Mattel (FRA) down to considered

Snowboarding: Just did the picks 14 days ago; no point in changing anything until after the X Games.

Speedskating: These picks were also recent, and the European Allround Championships didn’t give us any reason to change.

No changes in curling or ice hockey, and no changes are likely unless we have a sudden wave of injuries or other changes.

2014 medal projections: Luge

Updated Jan. 14 and Feb. 4


Oh, you want more detail? OK. But anyone who makes the German team (only three spots in individual races, two in doubles) is a contender. The German men took the top four places in the 2013 World Championships. One of them will miss out.

And without any proven contenders who have emerged in the last four years, we’re looking at the best possible result for Germany: men’s sweep, women’s sweep, 1-2 in doubles, relay win. (The relay is a new Olympic event.)


Gold: Felix Loch (Germany)
Silver: David Möller (Germany)
Bronze: Dominik Fischnaller (Italy)

Also considered: Albert Demchenko (Russia), Andi Langenhan (Germany), Chris Mazdzer (USA), Armin Zöggeler (Italy)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8: Loch, Zöggeler, Fischnaller, Moller, Mazdzer, Langenhan, Samuel Edney (CAN), Wolfgang Kindl (AUT)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Loch, Langenhan, Möller, Zöggeler, Demchenko, Johannes Ludwig (Germany), Fischnaller, David Mair (Italy)

2013 World Championship top 8: Loch, Langenhan, Ludwig, Möller, Edney, Mazdzer, Demchenko, Kindl

2010 Olympic medalists: Loch, Möller, Zöggeler


Gold: Natalie Geisenberger (Germany)
Silver: Tatjana Hüfner (Germany)
Bronze: Anke Wischnewski (Germany)

Also considered: Alex Gough (Canada), Erin Hamlin (USA), Kate Hansen (USA), Tatiana Ivanova (Russia)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8: Geisenberger, Gough, Hüfner, Wischnewski, Dajana Eitberger (GER), Hamlin, Hansen, Ivanova

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Geisenberger, Wischnewski, Hüfner, Gough, Ivanova, Julia Clukey (USA), Hamlin, Sandra Gasparini (Italy)

2013 World Championship top 8: Geisenberger, Hüfner, Gough, Wischnewski, Aileen Frisch (Germany), Hamlin, Kimberley MacRae (Canada), Arianne Jones (Canada)

2010 Olympic medalists: Hüfner, Nina Reithmayer (Austria), Geisenberger


Gold: Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt (Germany)
Silver: Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken (Germany)
Bronze: Andreas Linger/Wolfgang Linger (Austria)

Also considered: Christian Oberstolz/Patrick Gruber (Italy), Peter Penz/Georg Fischler (Austria), Andris Sic/Juris Sic (Latvia), Tristan Walker/Justin Smith (Canada)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8: Wendl/Arlt, Eggert/Benecken, Oberstolz/Gruber, Penz/Fischler, Linger/Linger, Walker/Smith, Vladislav Yuzhakov/Vladimir Makhnutin (Russia)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Wendl/Arlt, Eggert/Benecken, Penz/Fischler, Oberstolz/Gruber, Sic/Sic, Rieder/Rastner (Italy), Walker/Smith

2013 World Championship top 8: Wendl/Arlt, Eggert/Benecken, Linger/Linger, Walker/Smith, Penz/Fischler, Sic/Sic, Oberstolz/Gruber, Yuzhakov/Makhnutin (Russia)

2010 Olympic medalists: Linger/Linger, Sic/Sic, Leitner/Resch (Germany)

RELAY (new event)

Gold: Germany
Silver: Italy
Bronze: Russia

Also considered: Austria, Canada, Latvia, USA

World Cup 2013-14 top 8: Germany, Canada, USA, Italy, Latvia, Austria, Russia, Slovakia

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Germany (won all six), Italy, USA, Canada, Russia, Austria, Latvia, Romania

2013 World Championship top 8: Germany, Canada, Latvia, Austria, USA, Italy, Russia, Poland



Albert Demchenko (Russia): Fourth in 2010 Olympics. Silver medal in 2006 Olympics. Second in 2012 World Championships – best-ever finish, at age 40.

Andi Langenhan (Germany): On the podium in three of the last five world championships. Runner-up each of the last two World Cup seasons.

Felix Loch (Germany): Olympic champion. Four of the last five world championships (runner-up in 2011). Back-to-back World Cup champion.

David Möller (Germany): 2004 and 2007 world champion. 2010 Olympic silver medalist. World Cup seasons since 2004: 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, (not listed), 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 4th, 3rd, 3rd.

Armin Zöggeler (Italy): Olympic gold medalist in 2002 and 2006; silver in 1998; bronze in 1994 and 2010. World champion in 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2011. Nine-time World Cup champion. He’ll be 40 in Sochi.


Natalie Geisenberger (Germany): World champion in 2013 after three straight runner-up finishes (2008, 2009, 2011) and a third-place finish in 2012. World Cup champion in 2013 after four straight runner-up finishes. Third in 2010 Olympics. Finally her time to take throne from Hüfner?

Alex Gough (Canada): Third place in 2011 and 2013 world championships.

Erin Hamlin (USA): Only American to win world championship (2009).

Tatjana Hüfner (Germany): World champion in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012; runner-up in 2013. World Cup champion five straight years, from 2008 to 2012.

Tatiana Ivanova (Russia): World championship runner-up in 2012.

Anke Wischnewski (Germany): Best World Cup season (second overall) in 2013 at age 35. Five top-fives in World Championships.


Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken (Germany): 2012 and 2013 world championship runner-up.

Andreas Linger/Wolfgang Linger (Austria): 2006 and 2010 Olympic champions. 2011 and 2012 world champions; third in 2013. 2012 World Cup champions.

Christian Oberstolz/Patrick Gruber (Italy): Fifth and fourth in last two Olympics. 2005 and 2009 World Cup champions. One World Championship medal (silver, 2011).

Andris Sic/Juris Sic (Latvia): Never better than sixth in World Cup season but second in 2010 Games and third in 2011 World Championships.

Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt (Germany): Sadly, no Tobias Funke. 2013 world champions. World Cup champions in 2011 and 2013; second in 2012.

Monday Myriad, Feb. 11: Ligety, Ligety

Headlines of the weekend:

– The USA’s Ted Ligety won his second gold medal at the Alpine skiing world championships, adding the supercombined to the super-G. Super.

– Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen won the sprint and held on to win the pursuit by a few millimeters over France’s Martin Fourcade at the biathlon World Championships. You just might see a highlight clip farther down in this post. The best U.S. finish so far: Lowell Bailey moved up from 32nd to take 13th in the men’s pursuit.

– England took their second win in two matches in rugby’s Six Nations Championship. So what if it was the lowest-scoring game in Six Nations history?

– The U.S. women’s tennis team fell out of the Fed Cup. Missing Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens might have been a bit of a factor. A bit.

Julia Clukey took second in women’s singles and the U.S. team took second in the team relay as the luge World Cup ran on U.S. ice at Lake Placid.

– Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the ice dance at figure skating’s Four Continents Championship, which drew a strong field in some events despite the upcoming World Championships being higher priority.

The wrapup has the rest of the weekend in Olympic sports. A few more things to peruse, Storify permitting:

Monday Myriad: Feb. 4

Yes, this will be more of an evening thing from now on.

The week’s headlines:

– Jose Aldo defended his UFC featherweight title as Frankie Edgar suffered yet another close decision loss. The rest of the UFC 156 card scrambled the title chases in ways I’m still working out. Rashad Evans was supposed to fight for the middleweight title, but he lost a dreary light heavyweight fight to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. In the heavyweight division, Alistair Overeem was supposed to fight for the title, but Antonio Silva knocked him out. And now lightweight contender Anthony Pettis says he wants to drop down to featherweight and fight Aldo.

– Steve Holcomb’s four-man sled set a track record in the fourth and final heat to take bronze in the World Championships.

– Noelle Pikus-Pace took silver in the skeleton World Championships.

– Erin Hamlin and Chris Mazdzer each placed sixth in their events at the luge World Championships. They, along with doubles team Matthew Mortensen/Preston Griffall, placed fifth in the team event.

– The U.S. men struggled past Brazil in the Davis Cup. Turned out to be a great first round for North America, with Canada upsetting Spain.

– Katie Compton was second in the elite women’s race at the cyclocross World Championships.

– Helen Maroulis was the Outstanding Wrestler at the Dave Schultz Invitational.

– U.S. sailors at the World Cup stop in Miami: Five golds, three silvers, three bronzes.

– Upcoming: Biathlon and Alpine skiing world championships, some of which will be televised. Also the U.S. men vs. Honduras as World Cup qualifying’s Hexagonal starts.

Luge thoughts: Uphill in Sochi

A few members of the U.S. luge team checked in today from Sochi (or, technically, Rzhanaya Polyana), and we learned the following:

– The track has some substantial uphill portions, which can be a bit of a challenge for people getting their bearings. “It does kind of affect your vision coming uphill to a crest, especially going blind into a curve,” said doubles slider Matt Mortensen and his echo. “That curve goes back downhill.” (On a related note: Phone connections from the mountains were a little spotty.)

– It’s not a particularly difficult track. (Easy for them to say, sure.) Finding speed might be tough.

Want to see for yourself? Here’s 2010 Olympian Chris Mazdzer when he got some time on the track in March (the big uphill is between Turns 14 and 15, so … count carefully):

– Mazdzer says construction is still going on at a frenetic pace, but at least now, you can see progress on things like windows.

– Erin Hamlin says, in response to a question about fears from the fatal accident at Whistler in 2010, that she feels quite safe on this track.

– It’s relatively warm in the area at the moment, which makes the track a little frosty.

The U.S. men’s team had a rough time last winter, but Mazdzer posted a few good results after missing the first three World Cup races. Then 17-year-old Tucker West, the best of a promising group of young sliders, tied Mazdzer for first place in the recent national championships. Ties don’t happen often in a sport timed to the 0.001 of a second.

The women welcome back Julia Clukey, who had surgery to correct a spinal condition in 2011. She upset former world champion Hamlin in the national championships.

Mortensen and Preston Griffal will be the top U.S. doubles team in the absence of Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman. Niccum is recovering from surgery and may be back for the World Championships. Both teams were in the World Cup top 10 last season.

Audio is posted at You may need to change a “1” from a “2” in the URL to hear Part 2.

Monday Myriad: Ligety Ligety Ligety

Let’s rush out this wrapup before the power runs out:

Alpine skiing: The time it takes you to read this sentence is Ted Ligety’s margin of victory (2.75 seconds) in the season-opening World Cup giant slalom on the big glacier in Solden, Austria, the traditional opener of the World Cup season in which fans celebrate the first snows of the Alps, putting away for a moment their concerns about the state of the climate and the European economy, which continues to be plagued by crippling debt in a few countries while Germany, a traditional power in winter sports, ponders the fate of the Euro, which has never been fully supported in some portions of the British aristocracy, which was also concerned that Lindsey Vonn missed a gate and didn’t finish the opening women’s race, along with Julia Mancuso, whose mishap you can read about here.

Figure skating: Spain’s Javier Fernandez upset Canada’s Patrick Chan to win Skate Canada. Depending on your point of view, that’s either an inspiring first Grand Prix win for Spain or signs of trouble with one of Canada’s star athletes. American Ross Miner bounced back after a rough short program to finish fifth.

Better news for Canadian women: Kaetlyn Osmond edged Japan’s Akiko Suzuki by 1.29 points to win. Americans Gracie Gold and Caroline Zhang were seventh and ninth.

The U.S. pairs were the last two. The USA’s Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donahue were fifth in the ice dance, predictably won by Canadian greats Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

But if you want to look ahead to the Big Ice Dance Throwdown and compare scores, Virtue/Moir won Skate Canada with 169.41; the USA’s Meryl Davis and Charlie White won Skate America with 176.28.

Short-track speedskating: J.R. Celski was second in the 1,500 meters and fourth in the 1,000, and the U.S. men finished third in the relay in an otherwise dreary World Cup weekend for American skaters in Montreal.

Bobsled/luge/skeleton: Wikipedia currently lists 17 current sliding tracks in the world, with two more planned. It’s about to be 16. The Torino 2006 track will be dismantled.

Oh, it was scheduled to host a World Cup luge stop in December? Too bad.

Shooting: Jason Parker won the World Cup Final in men’s three-position.

Beach volleyball: Jen Kessy and April Ross won in Thailand.