Heather Richardson, who became the first US speedskater to win the world sprint title since Jennifer Rodriguez in 2005 when she did it at the Salt Lake City oval, is well-positioned to be the first American to medal in both the 500 and 1,000 meters at the Games since Bonnie Blair won both events at Lillehammer in 1994. She’s favored to win this year’s World Cup crown at the longer distance and ranks third in the shorter . . . US driver Steve Holcomb couldn’t retain either of his titles at the world bobsled championships but he managed to get out of his fourth-pace rut on St. Moritz’s natural run by eking out the bronze medal in the four-man event. “I wish I could have done that in all four heats,” mused the Olympic gold medalist after he’d set a track record (with Melrose native Steve Langton aboard) in the finale to edge Swiss rival Beat Hefti by four-100ths of a second. Holcomb, who’d missed the podium in the two-man by eight-100ths, had come in fourth five times at the Swiss resort. The Germans claimed both men’s titles, with Maximilian Arndt and 22-year-old Francesco Friedrich, the youngest pilot to win the two-man crown. Canada’s Kaillie Humphries became the first woman since Germany’s Sandra Kiriasis in 2008 to retain her title, while the silver from Elana Meyers marked the fourth straight podium for the Americans and their ninth in 11 years.
Alexander was great
Biggest upset of the winter came at the world skeleton championships in St. Moritz, where Alexander Tretiakov won Russia’s first men’s title by upending Latvian two-time defending champion Martins Dukurs, who’d won seven of the eight World Cup races this season. Shelley Rudman claimed Great Britain’s first women’s crown by holding off US rival Noelle Pikus-Pace, the former global victor who has been on fire since returning from her post-Olympic sabbatical . . . As expected, the German lugers mined a mother lode at last weekend’s world championships on the Olympic track at Whistler, British Columbia, winning all four events for the first time since 2008 and collecting eight of a possible 10 medals. Felix Loch led a men’s sweep, Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Huefner went 1-2 in the women’s, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won their country’s first doubles gold in five years, and the mixed relay also prevailed. No medals for the Americans, who haven’t managed any on the World Cup circuit all season, but there were several encouraging finishes. Chris Mazdzer posted a career-best sixth in the men’s race, former titlist Erin Hamlin and Maine native Julia Clukey placed 6-9 in the women’s, and the relay missed the podium by 12-1,000ths of a second . . . New Hampshire native Sean Doherty is US Biathlon’s most promising wunderkind since Josh Thompson a quarter of century ago. Doherty, who hails from Center Conway, claimed a gold and two silvers at the recent world junior championships in Austria, becoming the only Yank ever to win three individual medals at a global event.
John Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Material from Olympic committees, sports federations, personal interviews, and wire services was used in this report.