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Winter sports roundup: Park City native Steve Holcomb wins double gold at World Cup event

Three Utah sledders are favorites to make the 2014 USA Olympic Team, bobsledder Chris Fogt, skeleton slider Noelle Pikus-Pace and bobsledder Steve Holcomb (left to right) are participating at the United States Olympic Committee 2013 Media Summit at the Ca
Three Utah sledders are favorites to make the 2014 USA Olympic Team, bobsledder Chris Fogt, skeleton slider Noelle Pikus-Pace and bobsledder Steve Holcomb (left to right) are participating at the United States Olympic Committee 2013 Media Summit at the Canyons Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Park City.
Tom Smart, Deseret News

CALGARY, Canada — Park City native Steve Holcomb returns to his hometown track this week after sweeping the season’s first World Cup competitions over the weekend.

Holcomb and Steve Langton broke a track record to win gold in the two-man bobsled competition on Friday night.

“It’s an interesting feeling knowing that no one has been faster than us down this track,” Holcomb said after the victory. “It’s pretty cool to have a track record on an established track, and it’s actually my first track record in two-man.”

Their combined time was 1:29.22 — 0.16 seconds faster than any other sled. The good news is Holcomb believes there is still speed to be found.

“Langton gave me two great starts,” Holcomb said. “I think we could have pushed even faster, but I’m getting old and not recovering as quickly from traveling as I used to. I made a few mistakes that added up and I think there’s still some room to go even faster.”

Holcomb and the Night Train crew, which includes Langton, Alpine native Chris Fogt and Curt Tomasevicz, won gold Saturday night in the four-man World Cup.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend,” Holcomb said. “It’s Olympic year, and this is when it counts. Walking away from the season opener with two gold medals feels really good.”

USA 1 won with a two-run time of 1:48.56, while Germany’s Maximilian Arndt and Russian Alexander Zubkov tied for second place with a combined time of 1:48.65.

“It blows my mind that after two runs teams can be tied,” Holcomb said. “No one is slouching this year. You have to want and take every hundredth to win.”

Holcomb will compete in two-man bobsled on Friday night and in four-man World Cup races on Saturday at the Utah Olympic Park. General Admission is free.

DISQUALIFICATION SPOILS PIKUS-PACE VICTORY

Orem native Noelle Pikus-Pace won the season-opening skeleton World Cup in Calgary this weekend. But instead of celebrating her victory atop the first podium of the Olympic season, she was devastated when officials disqualified her.

Assistant U.S. coach Zach Lund said the reason for the disqualification was a piece of tape on the handle of her sled about the size of a nickel.

“It’s a travesty,” Lund said. “There’s no competitive advantage, and we are really disappointed.”

More frustrating for Pikus-Pace was the fact that her sled passed inspection earlier in the week and hadn’t been altered between the inspection and the race.

U.S. head skeleton coach Tuffy Latour said Pikus-Pace won’t allow the disappointment to discourage her.

“Noelle is devastated,” Latour said. “She didn’t violate the spirit of the rule. But I’ll tell you what, this has released the lioness in her. She is going to be on a tear, and I have no doubt she’ll be back on the medal stand next week in Park City, Utah.”

Pikus-Pace will compete in the second World Cup of the season Friday morning at the Utah Olympic Park.

SPEEDSKATERS EARN HARDWARE IN KAZAKHSTAN

The U.S. long track speedskaters shook off jet lag in the second day of World Cup competition with two gold medals.

Brittany Bowe won her first 1,500-meter gold with a time of 1:57.28, while Shani Davis won his third straight 1,000-meter race with a time of 1:08.66. The victory puts Davis in position to do something no other skater has done — win a sixth World Cup title in the 1,000 meters.

“I’m happy to have made steps in the right direction,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to competing more on sea-level tracks and seeing where my strengths and weaknesses are.”

On Sunday, Bowe and Heather Richardson earned more hardware for the USA. Richardson won gold, while Bowe won silver in the 1,000 meters. Richardson won the event with a time of 1:14.22, and she currently leads in World Cup points.

“I’m happy to have gotten a solid race in that last day here in Astana and that Brittany and I were able to go one-two again. I’m looking forward to Berlin next weekend.”

Richardson and Davis both set track records with their times in the 1,000 meters. Davis leads in World Cup points in the 1,000 meters and is second in the 1,500 meters.

SHIFFRIN EARNS FIRST GS PODIUM

Colorado native Mikaela Shiffrin earned her first FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom podium Sunday with a silver medal in the Nature Valley Raptor women’s World Cup.

“It’s my first GS podium, and I’ve been working on my GS, so it’s a big relief to be able to get on the podium and know that I’m actually doing something right,” Shiffrin said. “It’s my favorite slope and two amazing courses with awesome conditions. I don’t think they could have done much better with this hill today, so I just tried to take advantage of that.”

Jessica Lindell-Vikarby of Sweden won the event with a combined time of 2:17.92. Shiffrin’s combined time was 2:18.01.

BRONZE FOR BIATHLON

U.S. veteran Tim Burke won bronze in the 10K sprint event at the biathlon World Cup in Ostersund, Sweden, on Saturday. Martin Fourcade of France won gold, while Fredrick Lindstroem of Sweden was second, with Burke finishing 31.3 seconds behind the winner.

“I am very happy with my performance today, especially the shooting,” Burke said. “My goal going into the race today was to be aggressive on the shooting range, and I was able to carry that through. I was actually a little surprised to make it to the podium today with how I felt skiing. I felt like I started the race strong, but it was really tough for me in the last lap. I definitely still need some more races to reach my racing shape, so considering that I am thrilled with how things turned out. Now I am looking forward to an exciting pursuit tomorrow.”

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