Pair gets the call
With John Coughlin and Caydee Denney opting out while he rehabs after December hip surgery, Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim will be the second American pair at next week’s world figure skating championships in London, Ontario, joining new US champs Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir of the Skating Club of Boston. Scimeca and Knierim, who were second at the nationals, originally were named alternates after Coughlin and Denney petitioned onto the team. It’ll be the first time the US has sent two rookie pairs to a pre-Olympic worlds . . . The German lugers ran the World Cup table for the first time since their East Siders did it in 1984, claiming all four crowns. Felix Loch outpointed teammates Andi Langenhan and David Moeller to retain his men’s title. Natalie Geisenberger, who collected her first women’s title, led her country’s 12th consecutive sweep ahead of Anke Wischnewski and Tatjana Huefner, while Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt reclaimed their doubles title ahead of countrymen Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken and the relay completed a perfect season. In all, the Teutons had 60 of a possible 87 podium finishes. While the Americans had one individual medal all season — Julia Clukey’s silver at Lake Placid — they finished third in the relay standings and have a chance at their first Olympic medal since 2002.
Burke willing and able
If USA Hockey asks Brian Burke to re-up as general manager of the Olympic men’s team for Sochi, he’s ready for duty. “I’ll go if they ask me,” says Burke, who was GM in Vancouver, where the Yanks won a surprise silver and now is an Anaheim Ducks scout. “It’s a patriotic thing.” Burke’s star-spangled connection goes back to 1993 when he was GM of the US world team. “When they asked me then I told them, I’ll fold towels,” he said. “I’ll get a Class A license and drive a bus. I owe them everything.” . . . US cyclist Sarah Hammer was a one-woman medal count for her country at the world track championships in Minsk, winning her fifth individual pursuit crown and her first omnium after collecting a couple of silvers at the Olympics . . . The Sochi track, which will be used for bobsled, skeleton and luge, not only is the world’s longest it also has three uphill sections designed to bleed speed. That’s a safety measure adopted in the wake of the 2010 death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili on the Whistler run that was so fast that it was dubbed “The Elevator Shaft.’’ “They want to minimize the danger,” said US bobsled driver Steve Holcomb, who won the Olympic four-man in Whistler.
John Powers can be reached at email@example.com; material from Olympic committees, sports federations, and wire services was used.