Sochi recap: Skeleton, women’s

Noelle Pikus-Pace finally got her Olympic medal while Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold ran away and hid from the field.

Date: 14-Feb

Sport: Skeleton

Event: Women’s, runs 3 and 4

Medalists: Lizzy Yarnold (Britain), Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA), Elena Nikitina (Russia)

SportsMyriad projections: Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA), Lizzy Yarnold (Britain), Shelley Rudman (Britain)

How U.S. fared: The perseverance of Pikus-Pace paid off with silver. The 2005 World Cup champion missed the 2006 Olympics after a runaway bobsled shattered her leg in October 2005. She came back to win the 2007 world title but was fourth in the 2010 Games. She retired but decided to come back for another run. She reached the podium in the last four races of the 2012-13 World Cup season and co-dominated the 2013-14 season with Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold — four wins, two seconds, a third place and a controversial DQ.

She wasn’t able to mount much of a challenge to Yarnold this time, giving up at least 0.19 seconds in each of the four runs. But she kept a comfortable lead over the rest of the field.

Katie Uhlaender also has been through a lot in her career. After her Olympic debut — sixth in 2006 — she won the next two World Cup titles. But injuries knocked her out of form, and she wasn’t a factor in 2010. She came back to win the World Championship in 2012. Her World Cup results this season were marginal, but she was gearing up for a run here.

And she made one. She was a close fourth after the first day, slipped back to fifth after the third heat, then charged in the last heat … missing a medal by 0.04 seconds.

What happened: Lizzy Yarnold left no suspense. She set a track record in the first heat and broke it in the third. She had the fastest time in each heat and cruised to victory.

The Russian sliders took full advantage of their home track despite some inconsistency. Elena Nikitina set a start record in the first heat and was only 0.05 behind Yarnold.

In the final heat, Uhlaender passed Russia’s Olga Potylitsina, only to see Nikitina squeeze out just enough speed to bump her from the podium.

The Canadian challengers didn’t figure out the track until the last heat, when they tied for second. By then, it was too late to topple Yarnold, the Americans and the Russians.

Full results

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Sochi recap: Skeleton, women’s first two runs

The expected battle between Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold and the USA’s Noelle Pikus-Pace is going the way of the British at the halfway point.

Date: 13-Feb

Sport: Skeleton

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

How U.S. fared: Noelle Pikus-Pace is 0.44 seconds behind the leader, finishing second in each heat. The minor surprise is Katie Uhlaender, who has a world championship on her resume but not much World Cup success this year. She’s fourth, 0.69 seconds back, and right in the thick of the mix for the podium.

What happened: Russia’s sliders are third, fifth, and sixth, and Australia filed a protest, claiming Russia was warming up on a push track that wasn’t open to others. Protest denied. So prepare for the medal stage of a rare sliding event in which the Germans aren’t contending.

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.

Changes:

  • 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.

Changes:

  • 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.

Changes:

  • 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.

Changes: 

  • 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?

Changes:

  • 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.

Changes

  • 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).

Changes

  • 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.

Changes

  • 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).

Changes

  • 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: Skeleton

Updated Jan. 14 and Feb. 4

Yes, it’s the sliding sport in which athletes do what American football players should not — lead with their heads.

The men’s World Cup circuit has had a distinct elite group. Only six men’s sliders finished on the podium in 2012-13 World Cup races — the Dukurs brothers, Alexander Kröckel, Alexander Tretiakov, and Christopher Grotheer. The latter only popped up once. But now the USA’s Matt Antoine is pushing into that tier.

The women’s competition is a bit more wide-open — 10 sliders had podium finishes in 2012-13.

The Olympics often lend themselves to surprises, anyway.

Downhill we go …

MEN

Gold: Martins Dukurs (Latvia)
Silver: Alexander Tretiakov (Russia)
Bronze: Tomass Dukurs (Latvia)

Also considered: Matt Antoine (USA), Alexander Kröckel (Germany), Frank Rommel (Germany)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8: M. Dukurs, T. Dukurs, Antoine, Tretiakov, Rommel, Kröckel, Sergey Chudinov (Russia), John Fairbairn (Canada)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: M. Dukurs, T. Dukurs, Kröckel, Tretiakov, Rommel, Eric Neilson (Canada), Kristan Bromley (Britain), Christopher Grotheer (Germany)

2013 World Championship top 8: Tretiakov, M. Dukurs, Chudinov, Neilson, Rommel, John Daly (USA), Jon Montgomery (Canada), T. Dukurs

2010 Olympic medalists: Montgomery, M. Dukurs, Tretiakov

WOMEN

Gold: Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA)
Silver: Elizabeth Yarnold (Britain)
Bronze: Shelley Rudman (Britain)

Also considered: Anja Huber (Germany), Sarah Reid (Canada), Marion Thees (Germany), Katie Uhlaender (USA)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8: Yarnold, Pikus-Pace, Rudman, Janine Flock (Austria), Huber, Thees, Marina Gilardoni (Switzerland), Sophie Griebel (Germany)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Thees, Huber, Uhlaender, Yarnold, Reid, Mellisa Hollingsworth (Canada), Rudman, Cassie Hawrysh (Canada)

2013 World Championship top 8: Rudman, Pikus-Pace, Reid, Yarnold, Hollingsworth, Michelle Steele (Australia), Uhlaender, Thees

2010 Olympic medalists: Amy Williams (Britain), Kerstin Szymkowiak (Germany), Huber

BIOS

Men

Matt Antoine (USA): Moving into contention with some World Cup success, including an outright win in Lake Placid. (Yes, someone other than Dukurs, Rommel and Tretiakov won a race.)

Kristan Bromley (Britain): Earned a PhD with his research project, “Factors Affecting the Performance of Skeleton Bobsled.” Also the 2008 world champion and the 2004 and 2008 World Cup champion. Still competing past age 40. Engaged to women’s star Shelley Rudman, with whom he has a child.

Sergey Chudinov (Russia): Third place in 2013 World Championship was a bit of a surprise, though he had a World Cup win in 2010-11 on his way to fourth overall.

Martins Dukurs (Latvia): Four straight World Cups, 2011 and 2012 World Championship wins, 2010 Olympic silver medal, 2013 World Championship silver, won all but one race in the 2013 World Cup season and all but one the season before that. We get it. He’s good.

Tomass Dukurs (Latvia): Martins’ older brother had four podium finishes in 2013 to finish second overall. Third overall in 2012.

Alexander Kröckel (Germany): Youngster was third overall in 2013, up from fifth in 2012.

Jon Montgomery (Canada): Home-ice advantage certainly helped in the 2010 Olympics, where he beat the great Martins Dukurs by 0.07 seconds, but he has solid results elsewhere. Not recently, though — he won the 2011 season opener in Whistler and hasn’t been close since. Left off initial Canadian roster for Sochi.

Frank Rommel (Germany): The only person other than Martin Dukurs to win a World Cup race in 2012-13 season, though an early disqualification dropped him to fifth overall. Also the only person other than Dukurs to win a race in 2011-12 season, when he finished second overall. Third in 2011 World Championship.

Ben Sandford (New Zealand): An interesting wild card with a couple of podium finishes, including third in the 2012 World Championships.

Alexander Tretiakov (Russia); Bronze medalist in 2010 climbed to silver in the 2011 World Championships and took the 2013 world title. Also won the World Cup title in 2009. Won a World Cup race in Park City in December 2013.

Women

Mellisa Hollingsworth (Canada): Third overall in 2011 season. Second in 2012 World Championships. Only one podium in 2013 season. Long competition history — two-time World Cup champion, bronze in 2006 Olympics, disappointed to take fifth in 2010 on home ice with rough final run.

Anja Huber (Germany): 2008 world champion and 2011 World Cup champion. Had no wins in 2013 season but still finished second overall.

Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA): Eased back into competition in 2012-13 and ended season with four straight podiums, including a win at Sochi. Won the first three World Cup races of 2013-14. Sort of. She was DQd from the first one.

Sarah Reid (Canada): One win, two runner-up finishes to take fifth overall in 2013. Also third in 2013 World Championships.

Shelley Rudman (Britain): 2006 Olympic silver medalist took time off to have a baby (with fiance Kristan Bromley of the British men’s team), then was the overall runner-up in three straight World Cup seasons before winning it in 2012. One win in erratic 2013 season, but she won the World Championship. Flag bearer at 2010 opening ceremony.

Marion Thees (Germany): Edged Huber by four points to win 2013 World Cup title after finishing second in 2012. Also World Cup champion in 2009. World champion in 2009 and 2011.

Katie Uhlaender (USA): 2012 world champion. Two wins, two second-place finishes en route to third overall in 2013. World Cup champion in 2007 and 2008. Also chased Olympic berth in weightlifting. Two-time Olympian – best finish was sixth in 2006.

Elizabeth Yarnold (Britain): Won two of last four races in 2013 season, then on the podium in the first four races of 2013-14. Also third in 2012 World Championship.

Big winter weekend for USA

No, I’m not talking about the fact that every tree and power line in the Mid-Atlantic is covered with ice right now. I’m talking about skiing, sliding and skating, where a lot of things went right for U.S. athletes two months and change before Sochi:

– Figure skating: Meryl White and Charlie Davis are hardly a surprise in ice dancing, though they have tough rivals for gold in Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. But the record they set in winning the Grand Prix Final was a grand statement. (NBC)

Ashley Wagner also made it to the podium — perhaps all isn’t lost for the non-dancing U.S. skaters in this Olympic year after all. But she’s not totally happy with her skating, and rival Yuna Kim wasn’t at the Final. (NBC)

– Speedskating: 1-2 for Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe. Get used to it. (NBC) Shani Davis lost his win streak but took third, and Richardson took another podium place as well. (NBC) And there was a surprise win for Joey Mantia. (NBC)

– Bobsled: Yes, it was on a home track, but this was total domination. Steve Holcomb won his third and fourth straight races. The U.S. women finished 1-3-4 in one race and 1-2-2 in another, with Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams getting medals. (NBC with video of Day 1; NBC with video of Day 2; USA TODAY)

Skeleton: Noelle Pikus-Pace said “disqualify THIS” and won in Park City. Matt Antoine took third. (NBC with video)

– Luge: Chris Mazdzer won the first World Cup medal for a U.S. man since 2007.  (NBC)

– Alpine skiing: Ted Ligety, as usual, won the giant slalom. Bode Miller’s second place was a little less expected. (NBC with video; USA TODAY)

And Lindsey Vonn got partway back with each race — 40th, 11th, fifth. (NBC with video | USA TODAY)

Not all is well on the Alpine team — after Ligety, Miller, Vonn and slalom specialist Mikaela Shiffrin, the rest of the U.S. skiers haven’t been competitive. But this weekend might make my ongoing medal projections look conservative for the USA.

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.

http://storify.com/duresport/monday-myriad-feb-4-features

Winter weekend: World Championships vs. X Games

Quick peek at the calendar shows us a couple of items to consider for 2014 medal projections:

12-27: Handball, Men’s World Championships
14-27: Tennis, Australian Open
18-27: Snowboarding, World Championships
19-Feb. 10: Soccer, African Cup of Nations
20-27: Figure skating, U.S. Championships
24: Bellator: Askren vs. Amoussou (welterweight title)
24-27: Winter X Games Aspen
25-Feb. 2 Bobsled/skeleton, World Championships

A few details:

SNOWBOARDING (worlds and X)

Reminder of the ever-expanding Olympic snowboarding program: halfpipe, snowboardcross, parallel giant slalom, slopestyle (new) and … parallel slalom (also new)?

The World Championships, underway in Stoneham, Quebec, have all those events, plus big air. The only problem is that a lot of top riders, especially Americans, have skipped the World Championships to prep for the X Games in Aspen, which will be heavily televised.

In slopestyle, the new world champs and runners-up in men’s and women’s slopestyle will make the trip — Roope Tonteri (FIN), Mark McMorris (CAN), Spencer O’Brien (CAN), Sina Candrian (SUI). Just a guess: Shaun White will get a bit more attention.

The men’s halfpipe has the top five from Worlds — Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI), Taku Hiraoka (JPN), Markus Malin (FIN), Christian Haller (SUI), Ryo Aono (JPN). But again, we’ll guess Shaun White will get the attention. And Louie Vito and Scotty Lago.

Do you know me? I'm a world champion at age 16. Photo by Oliver Kraus, FIS via USSA
Do you know me? I’m a world champion at age 16. Photo by Oliver Kraus, FIS via USSA

The women’s halfpipe (or SuperPipe, as they call it) features the big names: Kelly Clark, Elena Hight, Gretchen Bleiler, Hannah Teter and Aussie Torah Bright, who finished third in slopestyle at Worlds. The fourth- and fifth-place halfpipers in Quebec — USA’s Kaitlyn Farrington, Spain’s Queralt Castellet — will go to Aspen, while 16-year-old world champ Arielle Gold is an alternate. As Lane Myer said when he heard Ricky and Monique were speaking “the international language of love,” that makes sense.

But Aspen won’t have the races. The World Championships have snowboardcross, parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom all to themselves. Two-time Olympic snowboardcross champion Seth Wescott is on the U.S. team along with 45-year-old Lynn Ott. Multiple-time world champion Lindsey Jacobellis is recovering from an ACL injury suffered in last year’s X Games.

The other Oly-related events to watch in Aspen: freestyle skiing’s skicross, slopestyle and half/superpipe. Yes, they’re adding a lot of the X events in Sochi.

BOBSLED/SKELETON

Actually just bobsled this week, the Zweierbob Frauen and Zweierbob Manner. There is a Team Wettkampf on Sonntag, so maybe I should translate the official site or check the FIBT site for a full preview and timetable — ah, that’s the bobsled/skeleton team event.

Switzerland’s Beat Hefti is the favorite on home ice, particularly here at St. Moritz, the only natural ice track in the world. Some of its idiosyncrasies are in this fun video, where you can see how it’s carved out of the snow instead of built up like other bobsled runs:

Defending champion Steven Holcomb had a great start to the two-man season but has dropped off considerably over the last two months. The U.S. women have bounced on and off the podium — Elana Meyers is third in the World Cup, Jamie Greubel fifth and Jazmine Fenlator eighth.

The USA also is the defending team champion.

Lolo Jones? Nope, not on the U.S. team for this one. She has done pretty well in her races and kept her sense of humor after a crash:

FIGURE SKATING

No Evan Lysacek, no Johnny Weir, no problem. For your U.S. Championships viewing pleasure, check the TV schedule; for your amusement, keep these predictions in mind:

Men: Jeremy Abbott, Ross Miner, Richard Dornbush

Women: Ashley Wagner, Mirai Nagasu, Gracie Gold (yes, Christina Gao had better Grand Prix results, but Gold has the higher score)

Pairs: Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir, Alexa Scimeca/Chris Knierim, Tiffany Vise/Don Baldwin (defending champ Caydee Denney/John Coughlin pair is out injured)

Dance: Meryl White/Charlie Davis, Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani, Madison Chock/Evan Bates

SPEEDSKATING

World Sprint Championships, the least interesting of the three championships the long-trackers hold each year but a fun event to catch if you happen to be in Salt Lake City this weekend.

Monday Myriad: Bye-bye, Beckham

Admit it. You never thought David Beckham would be here as long as he was.

When I spoke with him in 2008, a year into the “experiment,” he was saying all the right things. Then over the years, he stuck with the Galaxy but had trouble convincing fans of his commitment to the team.

But in 2011, the last year of his original contract, he once again won over the fans (and maybe teammates). Winning MLS Cup didn’t hurt. And then he signed a two-year extension.

I can imagine fans clamoring for Grant Wahl to write Part 2 of The Beckham Experiment. But at this point, is there any doubt that the experiment worked? MLS is in infinitely better shape today than it was in 2007, and while plenty of other factors are at play (Seattle, other expansion, other business deals), Beckham’s presence surely has helped.

Elsewhere in myriad sports …

MLS: Beckham’s Galaxy held off the Sounders on what Taylor Twellman insists was a legit handball call. And the Dynamo sprayed beer all over their locker room at RFK Stadium.

The waiver draft gave Real Salt Lake another Duke alum.

Premier League: Tactics man Jonathan Wilson wonders if West Brom’s decision to split their management jobs between two people instead of one All-Encompassing Man of Total Power is paving the way for a prolonged stay in the top flight.

Field hockey: Should North Carolina’s seniors be disappointed with only one title out of their four appearances in the final? Or was Princeton due?

Chess: Just call the Kosintsevas the Williams sisters of chess. Nadezhda beat Tatiana in the women’s world championship. She’s the only Russian in the quarterfinals. China has three.

Wrestling: Good showing for Greco-Roman Americans.

Figure skating: Fairfax County’s own Ashley Wagner is two-for-two on the Grand Prix circuit after her Trophee Bompard win in France, ensuring a U.S. presence at the Finals. Christina Gao has a spot in the top six in the standings, with fellow Americans Agnes Zawadzki and Mirai Nagasu among those who can knock her out this weekend. It’s a safe bet Meryl Davis and Charlie White will get there in ice dance. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin might make it in pairs.

Jeremy Abbott, second in France, is clinging to a spot in the top six of the men’s standings (note all the guys with 15, 13 and 11 points who are competing in Japan).

Speedskating: U.S. top-five finishes in the World Cup opener in Heerenveen, Netherlands:

– Heather Richardson, 1st, 1,000
– Heather Richardson, 2nd, 500 and 2nd, 500. Yes, they raced that distance twice.

That is all. Didn’t see Shani Davis in the results.

Bobsled/skeleton: Huge U.S. weekend. Steven Holcomb was first in two-man and second in four-man. And Katie Uhlaender won the women’s skeleton.

Cody Butner and Chuck Berkeley took second behind Holcomb and Steve Langton in the two-man.

The U.S. women’s bobsledders were fourth, fifth and eighth. Olympic track and fieldsters Lolo Jones and Tianna Madison had the week off.

More Olympic sports: Good results for the U.S. field hockey men and a few other athletes; see the roundup.

MMA: GSP beat up Condit, Tom Lawlor got robbed, and strikes to the back of the head are still illegal.

In Bellator, Marcin Held held a toe hold … OK, that’s awful. Anyway, Held got Rich Clementi to tap to a toe hold and Dave Jansen won a split decision over Ricardo Tirloni in the lightweight semifinals. Also, Marlon Sandro beat TUF alum Dustin Neace. Remember the fight where Akira tapped but said he didn’t? That was Neace.

Champions League tomorrow!

Monday Myriad: U.S. athletes slide well

Our sleds are better than yours.

You may have heard Lolo Jones got second in her World Cup bobsled debut with driver Jazmine Fenlator, but U.S. success went farther than that. Elana Meyers and Tianna Madison, the latter also a track and field Olympian, took third.

The men weren’t bad, either. Steven Holcomb/Steve Langton and Cory Butner/Chuck Berkeley finished 1-2 in the World Cup two-man opener. Holcomb was second in the four-man, with Nick Cunningham taking third in just his third World Cup race.

The skeleton crew had a few top-fives: John Daly and Kyle Tress 4-5 in the men’s race; slider/weightlifter Katie Uhlaender fifth in the women’s race with the best time of the third run.

Figure skating

Gracie Gold at Skate Canada last month: 151.57 points, seventh place.

Gracie Gold at the Rostelecom Cup over the weekend: 175.03, second place. Just 2.16 out of first. That’s what skating insiders would call “an improvement.”

Agnes Zawadzki also had a bit of an improvement, posting a personal-best 166.61 for third place.

Caydee Denney and John Coughlin also reached the podium, finishing third in pairs. Ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani were fourth.

The men didn’t do quite as well. Johnny Weir had a rough time in the short program, then withdrew. Richard Dornbush was sixth.

Alpine skiing

Well she’s … speedy and 17! Our U.S. ski-slalom queen!

Yes, she’s far too young to get that Stray Cats reference, but Mikaela Schifrin was on the World Cup podium this weekend, finishing third in a slalom somewhere near the North Pole. Ted Ligety was 13th in the men’s race.

Wrestling

Big win for Tervel Diagnev over Russia’s Magomedgadzhi Nurasulov, who scored less than 0.05 points for every letter in his name, at the New York Athletic Club Invitational. Austin Trotman also beat one of the invited Russians and was named outstanding wrestler of the meet.

Basketball

Ready for a World Cup that won’t be sullied by the Netherlands’ negativity? Basketball is moving its world championship to soccer’s off-years and rebranding it as a World Cup. Better than World Series, at least.

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.