Tag Archive | "olympics"

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Phelps’ comeback to continue next week in Charlotte

Posted on 07 May 2014 by WNST Staff

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — (AP) Next up for Michael Phelps’ comeback: Two events that produced Olympic gold.

Phelps has entered the 100-meter butterfly and the 200 freestyle at the Charlotte Grand Prix meet in North Carolina next week, his coach, Bob Bowman, told The Associated Press on Monday night.

With both events on May 16, Bowman can stick to the plan of building up Phelps’ endurance while staying away, at least for now, from the grueling, multi-day programs that were once the norm for Phelps. There will be morning preliminaries and evening finals, though the coach said he’s not yet certain Phelps will actually compete in both races.

Phelps returned to competitive swimming at a meet in Arizona less than two weeks ago, his first since retiring after the 2012 London Games as the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.

He is the three-time defending Olympic champion in the 100 fly, so it’s obvious that race would be part of any plans to compete at the Rio Games. He won the 200 free at the 2008 Beijing Games — during his record eight-gold performance — but dropped the event in London.

Phelps also competed in two events at the Mesa Grand Prix, finishing second to longtime rival Ryan Lochte in the 100 fly and matching the fourth-fastest time in the world this year. The other event, the 50 freestyle, wasn’t nearly as serious. That race has never been part of Phelps’ program at a major meet, and he even used his preliminary heat to work on his butterfly stroke. Not surprisingly, he finished 42nd overall against swimmers who were using the much faster freestyle.

Still, it was a good starting point for what the Phelps’ camp is describing as a low-key comeback.

“We were encouraged by his performances in Mesa and look forward to trying a 200 in Charlotte,” Bowman said in a text message.

Phelps has also put his name in for the final Grand Prix meet of the season in Santa Clara, California, next month, though he is taking the comeback one step at a time and not committing to any long-term goals.

Still, it’s clear he wouldn’t be putting in the work if the 2016 Olympics were not his primary focus. Phelps has already competed in four Summer Games, winning 18 golds and 22 medals overall.

The Grand Prix schedule provides tuneups for the U.S. national championships in August, where spots will be earned for the Pan Pacific Championships later that month and next year’s world championships in Kazan, Russia — an important steppingstone for the Olympics.

After the Charlotte meet, Phelps will head to Colorado for high-altitude training beginning May 27.

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Phelps says he’ll never swim 400IM again

Posted on 25 April 2014 by WNST Staff

By BETH HARRIS Associated Press

MESA, Ariz. — Michael Phelps’ comeback meet was cut short Friday when he failed to advance to the 50-meter freestyle final.

The 18-time Olympic gold medalist used the morning preliminaries at the Arena Grand Prix to fine-tune his butterfly stroke instead of doing freestyle like everyone else. He finished seventh in a time of 24.06 seconds, missing out on the eight-man evening final.

Phelps didn’t even make any of the three consolation finals because he was 42nd overall; only the top 32 qualify for those, so his first competition since retiring after the 2012 London Olympics ended early.

“I don’t think there will be enough scratches,” coach Bob Bowman joked about the possibility of Phelps getting into any of the finals.

Phelps ended up in the sprint because none of the day’s other events — 400 individual medley, 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke — are ones that he plans to compete in during this comeback. He dominated the 400 IM during the height of career, but he vows he won’t swim the grueling event anymore.

“I’m putting that out there: I am never swimming the 400 IM again,” he said.

Bowman jabbed him, saying, “Kind of like, ‘I will never swim again.’”

At that, the longtime friends laughed.

Phelps had insisted he was done with swimming after London and frequently pointed out he had no intention of swimming past the age of 30. He turns 29 next month, and would be 31 by the time of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Phelps tread lightly when pressed about his intentions toward a possible fifth Olympics. He was 15 at his first games in Sydney in 2000, when he was the youngest member of the entire U.S. team. He didn’t medal, but went on to haul in 22 medals over his next four games, including a record eight gold in 2008.

He repeatedly emphasized he’s having fun this time around and feels more relaxed than ever.

“I felt like a kid and that was the coolest part about it,” he said. “It’s a good starting point, being able to get some races back under my belt.”

Phelps’ goal Friday was to take just three breaths in the one-lap race; easy enough for a sprinter but not for a swimmer who specialized in distances ranging from 200 to 400 meters during his career.

“It’s weird for me not to breathe,” he said. “I’m used to breathing every single stroke.”

He gulped air every second or third stroke, and halfway through he took two consecutive breaths.

“As soon as I did that, I was like, ‘Man, I wonder if I can hold my breath the whole way,” he said. “I was like, ‘No, I don’t think so, so I snuck one more at 15.”

Afterward, Bowman told him, “You don’t really know how to swim a 50.”

Phelps replied, “I guess that’s a good thing.”

He finished second to Ryan Lochte in the 100 butterfly on Thursday, tying the fourth-fastest time in the world this year.

Next up for Phelps is high-altitude training in Colorado next month. He’s entered in Grand Prix meets in North Carolina and California, although his presence hasn’t been confirmed yet.

 

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Michael Phelps’ return makes swimming relevant again

Posted on 25 April 2014 by johngallo

Sports needed this.

Swimming needed this.

And of course, Baltimore needed this.

Michael Phelps is back, which means swimming is back and even more importantly, it means one of the most underappreciated sports rivalries is back: Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte.

You can’t have a sport without a rivalry, which makes fans gravitate to the competition, whether it’s on land or water.

The Ravens have the Steelers, and the Orioles have the Red Sox. But those are teams and Phelps is a 28-year-old man, well, more like a demigod considering what he does in the pool isn’t human.

Expect the national media, including Sports illustrated, to follow Michael Phelps' every move after coming out of retirement. (Courtesy of Michael Phelps' Facebook page)

How many great athlete vs. athlete rivalries are there right now? LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant? Nope. Talk to me when Durant beats James in the Finals. Baseball? Who?

What about boxing? The Baby Boomer generation grew up with Muhammad Ali, who never stopped throwing jabs – verbally or physically – at opponents. Now, we have Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao talking about fighting each other instead of actually, well, you know, getting in the ring and proving who’s the man.

I miss the days when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird went at each other. I long for the time when Michael Jordan had to learn to fail against the Pistons before conquering them. And how about the Knicks and Heat? I still crack a smile when I see footage of Knicks Coach Jeff Van Gundy clinching to Alonzo Mourning’s leg like a toddler during the 1998 playoffs.

Every decade can be defined by its rivalries. The 70s had the Steelers and Cowboys and even NASCAR was in the mix, with Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough trading punches next to the track at the 1979 Daytona 500. Awesome.

The 80s had had Martina Navratilova against Chris Evert and the Edmonton Oilers against everyone else. The 90s had Pate Sampras and Andre Agassi.

Sports forces us pick sides. You can’t like the Terps and Duke, just as you can’t cheer for the Yankees and Red Sox. You either cheer for Tiger Woods or the rest of the field, with the same applying to NASCAR drivers.

That’s why swimming needs Phelps back in the pool. Lochte, a native New Yorker, simply isn’t polarizing enough, or good enough, to carry swimming the way Mark Spitz did decades ago. How many professional swimming races did you watch after Phelps called it quits? That’s what I thought.

But Phelps says he’s coming back and immediately, swimming’s relevant again.

How else can you explain that all sessions of the three-day Arena Grand Prix at the Skyline Aquatic Center in Arizona were sold out. A pair of $40 all-session tickets was being sold for more than six times that on the Internet. Phelps should get a cut.

All of the sudden, swimming was in a news cycle dominated by the NHL and NBA playoffs and the release of the NFL schedule. On SportsCenter, Phelps received more coverage than the Orioles.

And for good reason. The only way Phelps, an avid Ravens and Orioles fan, could be any more “Baltimore” is if you covered him in Old Bay. When Phelps is at the starting block, our city is there with him. By having Phelps, we could go to anywhere and say our guy is better than your guy. Phelps isn’t one of those athletes who lives here during the season and spends the offseason in Miami.

Phelps lives in Canton.

Even Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, acknowledges swimming is much better with Phelps in the pool than on the golf course.

“With what he’s done for the sport of swimming and him leaving kind of broke my heart a little because I love getting on those blocks and racing him,” Lochte told reporters after his winning time of 51.93 seconds was two-tenths of a second faster than Phelps (52.13) in the 100-meter butterly on Thursday night in Arizona. “Now that he’s back, I’ve got a big ol’ smile on my face.”

And so does everyone else. We get another chapter in the Phelps-Lochte saga, with the two biggest bullies on the block, lining up at that the starting block, wanting nothing more than to touch the wall before the other guy.

Phelps, a Rodgers Forge native, has won a world record 22 Olympic medals, including 18 gold medals that probably are worth more than Dundalk.

The guy’s super human. Who else can go from retiring after the 2012 London Games and, with minimal training, jump and beat Lochte – and everyone else – by swimming the fastest qualifying time in the 100-meter butterfly in 52.84 seconds?

“Him and I can’t stand losing to one another,” Phelps told reporters. “We both want to beat each other as many times as we can. That’s the competitiveness we both have. When we do get in the water, we’re going to do everything we can to get our hand on the wall before [the other] in every single race. And it’s the same for him. We’ll fight to the end, in any stroke, in any event we swim.”

Consider: Phelps is a three-time Olympic champion and current world record-holder in the 100-meter butterfly and his time on Thursday night tied for the fourth fastest in the world this year.

“It’s one meet; it’s one race,” Phelps told reporters after the final. “It’s a long way whether I decide to continue or not. This was awesome. I’m really excited about how things went. I do know what I need to do if I want to continue and swim faster.”

How much faster would his time have been he wasn’t overweight or hadn’t spent the past 18 months on the golf course, where he claimed to have struck 20,000 balls in the past six months?

“I’m doing this for me,” Phelps said at a press conference before the competition. “I’m doing this because I enjoy being in the pool and I enjoy the sport of swimming. I am looking forward to wherever this road takes me.”

Michael, we all know where this road is leading: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 2016 Olympics.

Follow me on Twitter @JonGallo1

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For USA Hockey, Sochi Memory will Sting

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For USA Hockey, Sochi Memory will Sting

Posted on 24 February 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

Perception can be amazingly unstable in sports. One day you can be on top of the world and the next, rock bottom. Perception of the USA hockey team entering the Olympic semi-finals in Sochi was that the Americans could potentially bring back the gold.

Team USA went undefeated through the preliminary round match-ups, including a thrilling shootout victory over the Russian’s. That victory on top of being the highest scoring team entering the semis, had people convinced that the Americans were ready to earn the respect from the rest of the hockey world.

You had a good feeling about this US team entering the semi final game versus their border rivals. Even though the Americans had a good showing going into the semis throughout the tournament, they were a huge under dog to the reigning champions. If team USA wanted to be taken seriously across the world, they would have to defeat the team that took away their gold medal in 2010.

The first period was competitive both ways, but the tides turned quickly. Canada defeated team USA 1-0 in the semi-final round. It was a hard fought match by both teams, but the game was a bit more lopsided than the score indicated.

Jonathan Quick was remarkable throughout the sixty minutes, keeping his team alive until games end. He was the sole reason why team USA always had a chance to get back into the match. The team that entered this round as the highest scoring nation could not find the back of the net.

The Canadians defense was smothering all game long. The Americans were unable to find holes through the neutral zone to utilize their great team speed. Once in the offensive zone, USA could not get off the boards. With the bigger ice surface in Sochi, they were not a threat to score from the boards. They could not get near the slot to give themselves a better chance on Carey Price.

Carey Price posted a shutout with 31 saves, but he was not nearly as battle tested as Quick was on the opposite end. There are only a handful of golden chances that Price denied of the Americans to find the back of the net.

The defense was considered the weaker part of Team USA heading into Sochi, but they held up their end of the bargain against Canada. Canada is stacked with forwards across all lines, but they were held to just one goal. USA had seven 20+ goal scorers in the NHL on their roster, but was unable to muster one goal against Canada.

It was a tough defeat for team USA, there was so much hope for this team coming into their match up vs. Canada. Having the chance to break the hearts of those that did the heartbreaking just four years ago. It was difficult, but they had a chance to move on and play for a bronze medal the next day.

Team Finland knocked off Russia in the quarterfinals led by Tuukka Rask. Rask had an illness the day of their semi-final game against Sweden, so he was unable to go. If he had not been ill facing team Sweden, they could have won. Instead, Finland fell 2-1 to Sweden.

Finland gave everything they got to receive the Bronze medal. Finland went on to a  5-0 rout over team USA. The first period of action was competitive, but Finland scored two goals within 11 seconds in the opening minutes of the second frame. Once Patrick Kane missed two penalty shots in the game, the air was sucked out from the USA bench. This same USA team that came into the semis as the highest scoring team, failed to score one goal in their final two games.

So perception of team USA entering Friday’s semi final game was promising. They were perceived as a team that could make a gold medal run. Perception of the same team just two day’s later, a complete failure.

When everyone look’s back at the 2014 Sochi Winter games, they will remember T.J. Oshie and his amazing shootout performance. They will remember defeating Russia on their home ice in a nail biter. They will also remember losing to their archrivals in Canada while failing to score one goal in the two most important games of the tournament.

This will be a painful memory for the Americans because they had a golden chance to earn respect everywhere by making a run. Instead, they overwhelmingly underachieved when it counted the most.

NHL play resumes this Tuesday with a make up game from earlier in the season. It will be interesting to see how the majority of these players play right after the Olympics. Some players will thrive off of the excitement they had playing in Sochi for their countries. Some of them will have painful memories of what could have been at the Olympics. These athletes will need to get it all together quickly because this is the most important stretch of the season.

Playoffs are near upon us and some teams are in need of making a run just to get there. Which players will be able to get past the Olympic games and put their sole focus just on their teams chances at a post-season birth? We have the months of March and April to see just that.

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Top 10 Baseball Distactions

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Top 10 Baseball Distactions

Posted on 17 February 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Boxing-Angelo Santana vs. Hank Lundy (Friday 10:45pm from Cleveland live on Showtime); Golf: WGC Accenture Match Play Championship (Wednesday 12pm Thursday & Friday 2pm live on Golf Channel Saturday & Sunday 12pm live on Golf Channel 2pm live on CBS), Honda LPGA Thailand (Thursday & Friday 9am Saturday 2pm Sunday 1:30pm from Chonburi, Thailand on Golf Channel); Tennis: ATP Tour Delray Beach Open (Tuesday-Thursday 12:30pm Friday 6:30pm Saturday 8:30pm from Delray Beach, FL live on Tennis Channel); Women’s College Basketball: Florida State @ Maryland (Thursday 8:30pm from Comcast Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Maryland @ Georgia Tech (Sunday 4pm from Atlanta live on ESPN2); MISL: Pennsylvania Roar @ Baltimore Blast (Friday 7:05pm from Baltimore Arena live on YouTube), Syracuse Silver Knights @ Baltimore Blast (Saturday 6:05pm from Baltimore Arena live on YouTube), Baltimore Blast @ Rochester Lancers (Sunday 3pm from Rochester, NY live on YouTube)

10. Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week (Tuesday-Sunday throughout Charm City); Christian Finnegan (Friday & Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Sebastian Maniscalco (Friday-Sunday DC Improv); 3 Days to Kill” and “Pompeii” out in theaters (Friday)

Christian Finnegan is GREAT. You may remember him as Chad from “The Mad Real World” on Chappelle’s Show…

He’s skinny now. He’s still funny.

9. Kings of Leon/Gary Clark Jr. (Friday 8pm Verizon Center), Justin Timberlake (Monday 8pm Verizon Center); Lady Antebellum (Friday 7pm Patriot Center); The Bridge (Saturday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Joe Nichols (Friday 9pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Young The Giant (Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Black Joe Lewis (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club), G. Love & Special Sauce (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club); Bob Weir & Ratdog (Tuesday 6:30pm Lincoln Theatre); Josh Turner (Friday 8pm Strathmore); Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons (Saturday 8pm France-Merrick Performing Arts Center); Tim Reynolds and TR3 (Saturday 8:30pm The Hamilton); Lake Street Dive “Bad Self Portraits” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Every time you forget how freaking great KOL are they do something to quickly remind you.

You could never forget how freaking great GCJ is. NEVER.

I dare you to name five things better than Justin Timberlake’s Pusher Love Girl.

Cris Jacobs is a great Baltimorean.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Bovada gives Ovechkin 8/1 odds to MVP of Olympics

Posted on 17 February 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

2014 Olympic Ice Hockey – Men’s Gold Medal    

Canada                                                 7/4

USA                                                       11/4

Russia                                                   16/5

Sweden                                                5/1

Finland                                                  11/1

Czech Republic                                 25/1

Switzerland                                          25/1

Slovakia                                               100/1

Norway                                                 500/1

Latvia                                                    500/1

Austria                                                  500/1

Slovenia                                               500/1

 

2014 Olympic Ice Hockey – Men’s Olympic MVP

Sidney Crosby (CAN)                            11/2

Phil Kessel (USA)                                  11/2

Pavel Datsyuk (RUS)                             13/2

Drew Doughty (CAN)                             15/2

Alex Ovechkin (RUS)                             8/1

Henrik Lundqvist (SWE)                         10/1

Carey Price (CAN)                                 10/1

Jonathan Quick (USA)                           10/1

Erik Karlsson (SWE)                              12/1

Semyon Varlamov (RUS)                       12/1

T.J. Oshie (USA)                                   15/1

Tuukka Rask (FIN)                                 15/1

James van Riemsdyk (USA)                   15/1

John Tavares (CAN)                               20/1

Jonas Hiller (SUI)                                   25/1

Ondrej Pavelec (CZE)                            40/1

Olli Jokinen (FIN)                                   50/1

Tomas Plekanec (CZE)                          50/1

 

2014 Olympic Ice Hockey – Men’s Top Goalscorer          

Michael Grabner (AUT)                           5/4

Phil Kessel (USA)                                  7/4

Drew Doughty (CAN)                             13/2

Jeff Carter (CAN)                                   8/1

Alex Ovechkin (RUS)                             9/1

Evgeni Malkin (RUS)                              11/1

Iilya Kovalchuk (RUS)                            11/1

Erik Karlsson (SWE)                              12/1

Sidney Crosby (CAN)                            20/1

Joe Pavelski (USA)                               30/1

Ryan Getzlaf (CAN)                               30/1

2013-14 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship – Odds to Win (Teams in red have longer odds , teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)         

      Odds on 1/7/14             Current Odds

Florida                          20/1                              6/1

Syracuse                      10/1                              6/1

Kansas                         15/2                              15/2

Michigan State              6/1                                17/2

Arizona                         11/2                              9/1

Duke                            12/1                              9/1

Louisville                      10/1                              12/1

Kentucky                      7/1                                14/1

Wichita State                 28/1                              14/1

Michigan                       50/1                              22/1

Creighton                      66/1                              25/1

Iowa                             40/1                              25/1

Virginia                         100/1                            25/1

Wisconsin                     16/1                              25/1

Villanova                       40/1                              28/1

Oklahoma State            10/1                              33/1

San Diego State            50/1                              33/1

Cincinnati                      100/1                            40/1

Iowa State                     50/1                              40/1

Ohio State                    12/1                              40/1

St. Louis                       100/1                            40/1

Connecticut                   50/1                              50/1

North Carolina               25/1                              50/1

Texas                           200/1                            50/1

Pittsburgh                     40/1                              66/1

UCLA                            40/1                              66/1

VCU                             66/1                              75/1

Gonzaga                       66/1                              100/1

Memphis                       50/1                              100/1

SMU                             Off the Board                100/1

Arizona State                300/1                            150/1

Kansas State                150/1                            150/1

New Mexico                  150/1                            150/1

Oklahoma                     150/1                            150/1

Oregon                         50/1                              150/1

Tennessee                    150/1                            150/1

UMass                          100/1                            150/1

California                      500/1                            200/1

George Washington       200/1                            200/1

LSU                              150/1                            200/1

Xavier                           200/1                            200/1

Baylor                           75/1                              250/1

Florida State                 150/1                            250/1

Georgetown                  100/1                            250/1

Harvard                         200/1                            250/1

Indiana                          150/1                            250/1

Minnesota                     200/1                            250/1

Missouri                        66/1                              250/1

Ole Miss                       250/1                            300/1

Stanford                       300/1                            300/1

Arkansas                      500/1                            500/1

Clemson                       300/1                            500/1

Colorado                      50/1                              500/1

Alabama                       500/1                            Off the Board   

Boise State                  250/1                            Off the Board   

Boston College             1000/1                          Off the Board

Butler                            200/1                            Off the Board   

BYU                             500/1                            Off the Board   

Colorado State              1000/1                          Off the Board

Davidson                      2000/1                          Off the Board

Dayton                         250/1                            Off the Board   

Fordham                       1000/1                          Off the Board

George Mason              500/1                            Off the Board
Georgia                        1000/1                          Off the Board

Georgia Tech                1000/1                          Off the Board

Illinois                           150/1                            Off the Board   

La Salle                        1000/1                          Off the Board

Marquette                     250/1                            Off the Board   

Maryland                       500/1                            Off the Board   

Miami Florida                500/1                            Off the Board   

Northwestern                 1000/1                          Off the Board

Notre Dame                  250/1                            Off the Board   

NC State                       300/1                            Off the Board   

Purdue                          500/1                            Off the Board   

Rhode Island                 1000/1                          Off the Board

Richmond                     1000/1                          Off the Board

South Carolina              1000/1                          Off the Board

St. Bonaventure            1000/1                          Off the Board

St. Joe’s                       1000/1                          Off the Board

St. John’s                     300/1                            Off the Board   

St. Mary’s                     300/1                            Off the Board   

Temple                         1000/1                          Off the Board

Texas A&M                   300/1                            Off the Board   

UNLV                            500/1                            Off the Board   

USC                             500/1                            Off the Board   

Vanderbilt                     500/1                            Off the Board   

Virginia Tech                 500/1                            Off the Board   

Wake Forest                 300/1                            Off the Board

Washington                   500/1                            Off the Board   

Washington State          1000/1                          Off the Board

West Virginia                 500/1                            Off the Board

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Local Olympian Britcher finishes 15th in luge competition

Posted on 11 February 2014 by WNST Staff

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Finally, Olympic gold for Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger.

Finally, Olympic anything for Erin Hamlin and the United States.

Leaving no doubt that she absolutely rules her sport, Geisenberger won the women’s luge gold medal at the Sochi Games on Tuesday — posting the second-largest victory margin in Olympic history. Her final time was 3 minutes, 19.768 seconds, 1.139 seconds better than German teammate Tatjana Huefner, the 2010 gold medalist.

And Hamlin finished third, grabbing the first medal for any American singles luge athlete at the Olympics, 50 years after luge first appeared at the games. So in the sport’s golden anniversary as part of the Olympics, Hamlin came up with bronze, a feat that will surely go down as perhaps the greatest moment in USA Luge history.

U.S. individual sliders had been fourth on three occasions at the Olympics, but never any better. So every four years, the same question gets asked — when will an American break through?

Hamlin, a native of Remsen, N.Y., finally put an end to that.

Hamlin finished 0.236 seconds behind Huefner in the race for silver, but held off Canada’s Alex Gough by 0.433 seconds for the final spot on the flower stand. It was the fifth Olympic medal for USA Luge, the first four — two silvers and two bronzes — coming in doubles races.

When Hamlin crossed the line, that medal finally clinched, she threw her arms skyward, then covered her face briefly with her hands. U.S. coach Mark Grimmette — a doubles medalist for the Americans — raced over to offer congratulations, and men’s slider Chris Mazdzer reached down from the bleachers to hand Hamlin the U.S. flag.

“It’s amazing,” Hamlin said. “It’s surreal, really.”

Then the roars kept coming, for the Germans.

Maybe it was fitting that Geisenberger, Huefner and Hamlin were the three who found their way to the top. Every single time since 2007, in the year’s final race — either the world championships or the Olympics — one of those three women were crowned champion. And this marked the first time in Olympic women’s luge history that three world champions stood side by side on the medal podium.

But there’s no doubt which one stands tallest these days, both literally and figuratively.

Geisenberger turned 26 last week, already was a world champion and World Cup champion, and now has the Olympic title after taking the bronze in Vancouver four years ago. Much likeFelix Loch, the men’s two-time Olympic champion and fellow protege of all-time great Georg Hackl, her run of dominance might just be getting started.

How dominant was Geisenberger at the Sochi Olympics? Consider: The victory margins posted by the last four Olympic women’s winners, combined, was 0.949 seconds. Geisenberger’s lead after three runs this time was 1.049 seconds. And she didn’t take her foot off the gas for the final run, either.

In other words, there was never a doubt.

Kate Hansen of La Canada, Calif., was 10th for the U.S., and Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., placed 15th. They were both making their Olympic debuts.

Geisenberger dominated the World Cup circuit this year with seven wins in eight starts, came to Sochi brimming with confidence, then simply made no mistakes. Geisenberger’s lead was just over three-quarters of a second after Monday’s first two heats, and she had confessed in the days leading up to the race that she was concerned about how she would handle sleeping with the lead.

Given what she did to open things up Tuesday, it’s a safe guess she snoozed rather soundly.

All she did in the opening run of the third heat was set a track record, a trip that took 49.765 seconds and took away any chance — there wasn’t much to begin with — that she would be getting caught.

Gold was Germany’s again, the fifth straight time that’s happened and the 10th time in 14 Olympics overall. It also was the ninth time that German women, either unified or separated in the days the country was divided into east and west, won gold and silver.

For them, Olympic hardware is a constant.

And for the U.S., it’s no longer out of reach.

“I’m sure everyone at home is going crazy,” Hamlin said, “and I can’t wait to get home to see them.”

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Local Olympian Britcher in 15th place headed to luge finals

Posted on 10 February 2014 by WNST Staff

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – (AP) – History. It’s what German lugers always seem to be making. And it’s what Erin Hamlin is chasing.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger closed in on what appears to be an inevitable Olympic gold medal Monday night, finishing the first two runs of the women’s luge competition in 1 minute, 39.814 seconds. That’s 0.766 seconds better than her countrywoman Tatjana Huefner, who took the title at the Vancouver Games.

Germans first and second? That’s no surprise.

Instead, the surprise is who’s on their heels in third.

Hamlin — vying to be the first American to win a singles luge medal at the Olympics — was second after the first heat, then slipped to third at the midway point after losing about a tenth of a second to Huefner in her second trip down the Sanki Sliding Center track.

Still, a medal is very much within reach for the 2009 world champion from Remsen, N.Y.

“I’ll take it,” Hamlin said. “Definitely.”

Huefner’s time was 1:40.580. Hamlin’s was 1:40.632, giving her a cushion of 0.216 seconds over fourth-place Natalja Khoreva of Russia.

Barring a crash or major mistake from Geisenberger, no one will be catching her for the top spot — her lead at the midway point is the second-largest in women’s Olympic luge history.

“The first run was perfect,” Geisenberger said. “The second one was a little bit worse, but good enough. I’m absolutely satisfied with both runs.”

The final two runs are Tuesday night.

Hamlin was 12th at the Turin Games and 16th four years ago in Vancouver, where the start position was moved down the track after a men’s slider died in a training accident hours before those Olympics began. Hamlin never figured out the new start and her chances there ended essentially before the racing even got started.

Not this time. Training times suggested she would be in the mix, and two solid runs Tuesday might give her what she’s spent half a lifetime chasing.

“I like my consistency,” Hamlin said.

Also for the U.S., Kate Hansen of La Canada, Calif., is 10th, and Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., is 15th.

Geisenberger is a protege of the German great Georg Hackl, much like Felix Loch, who won his second straight Olympic gold on Sunday night in the men’s competition. She was the second woman down the ramp in the opening heat, and if anyone needed a reminder she’s the world’s best, she opened a one-run lead of 0.465 seconds.

It meant most of her competitors were beaten before getting on the ice. Italy’s Sandra Gasparini made one small slip and finished 1.141 seconds behind Geisenberger in that first heat. She shrugged and playfully punched her helmet when the run was over, as if to say, “What else can I do?”

So the race is essentially for second, and an American actually has a shot. Three times in Olympic singles luge history, a U.S. man or woman has finished in fourth. The U.S. has four Olympic luge medals, all in doubles, two silver and two bronze.

By comparison, Germany — if combining the days when the nation was split into East and West — has 52 Olympic singles luge medals, 71 overall at the games. That’s about a couple dozen more than all other nations combined, and it’s a tally that is almost certainly going to rise when Geisenberger finishes her fourth run to complete her long-awaited coronation as the sport’s undisputed best.

“It’s a good lead,” Geisenberger said, “and I don’t have to be nervous.”

Geisenberger said she’s curious to know what it’ll be like to try to sleep knowing she leads at the Olympics. Hamlin had her usual large group of family and well-wishers cheering her every move Monday night, and she seems relaxed — much as she was on the way to the 2009 world title in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“I don’t think, ‘Oh, I want to make history’ as much as I want to get a medal,” Hamlin said. “I did once before and I didn’t even think about it then, so maybe that’s the way to go. I’m just trying to set everything up, have fun, and be happy with my runs. That’s the bottom line.”

 

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 10 February 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Tennis-ATP Tour U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships (Friday 8pm Saturday 6pm Sunday 4pm from Memphis live on Tennis Channel); Women’s College Basketball: Maryland @ Duke (Monday 7pm from Durham, NC live on ESPN2); Soccer: Russia @ Team USA Women (Wednesday 7:30pm from Atlanta live on USSoccer.com)

10. Top Shelf Comedy Tour feat. Bruce Bruce/Earthquake/Gary Owen (Saturday 8pm Baltimore Arena); Ralphie May (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Katt Williams (Saturday & Sunday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Godfrey (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Sex At The Zoo (Friday 6pm Maryland Zoo); Cecily Strong/Mike O’Brien (Sunday 8pm Stevenson University); Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week (Friday-Monday throughout Charm City); RoboCop (Wednesday) and “About Last Night (Friday) out in theaters

I apparently made a mistake and included Cecily Strong last week instead of this week. “Oh no, more Cecily Strong in T10BD? That’s terrible” said no one in response.

O’Brien has actually had some nice highlights in his first year as a player as well.

9. Kanye West (Friday 8pm Baltimore Arena); JJ Grey & Mofro (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head Live); Johnny Winter Band (Saturday 8pm Sunday 7pm Rams Head on Stage); Rebelution (Thursday 9pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Umprhey’s McGee (Saturday & Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Dru Hill (Thursday 8pm Howard Theatre); Delta Rae (Saturday 7pm 9:30 Club); Eddie From Ohio (Friday-Sunday 7:30pm Birchmere); Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (Tuesday 7pm Lincoln Theatre), Jennifer Nettles (Friday 7pm Lincoln Theatre), Bob Weir & Ratdog (Monday 6:30pm Lincoln Theatre); Lake Street Drive (Wednesday 7pm The Hamilton); Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds (Saturday 7:30pm Carroll Arts Center); Eric Church “The Outsiders” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Dru Hill was so much more important to my childhood than I should ever admit.

Delta Rae is freaking wonderful. Here’s a night I saw them at Rams Head Live and FELL IN STINKING LOVE.

You might not be familiar with Lake Street Dive. But perhaps you’ve seen this wonderful video.

I saw Sister Sparrow in Brooklyn during Super Bowl week. They played Led Zeppelin IV in its’ entirety. I’m certainly glad they did.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Local Olympic hopeful Britcher begins Olympic luge competition Monday

Posted on 10 February 2014 by WNST Staff

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Natalie Geisenberger can be beaten. It just doesn’t happen very often.

The German will look to add Olympic gold to her list of luge accomplishments — which include bronze in Vancouver — when the women’s competition at the Sochi Games gets underway Monday night with the first two runs of a four-heat competition.

Medals will be decided in the final two runs on Tuesday. All four count toward a slider’s total time.

Geisenberger was beaten only once in the World Cup season, by teammate Tatjana Huefner, the defending Olympic champion who almost seems like an afterthought entering these games. And while that might not be wise, it makes some sense given Geisenberger’s dominance during the past two years.

Here’s five things to watch as the women’s luge competition begins at Sanki Sliding Center:

UPSET CHANCES? No one is likely to catch Geisenberger or Huefner, unless they crash or make a big mistake. But if disaster strikes the favorites, Canada’s Alex Gough might see the door to becoming an Olympic champion swing wide open. Gough might be the most consistent, most talented non-German in the women’s luge right now.

AMERICAN HOPES: Erin Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y., is a former world champion, and Kate Hansen of La Canada, Calif., won the last World Cup race on the circuit this season. Sure, no American has ever won a luge singles medal at the Olympics. And while it might be slightly surprising if Hamlin or Hansen break through against this stacked field, it would hardly be a complete stunner.

THE KEY: The three uphill portions leave very little room for error on the Sanki Sliding Center track. The course is long, but that just means there’s more room for mistakes. If the men’s competition showed anything, it’s that sliders have to be pretty clean at the start of the track, then settle in before the first five or six curves are completed. After that, good luck making up time.

INTIMIDATION FACTOR: Geisenberger will be the second woman on the track in the first run. If she puts up a great time, the other hopefuls in the field might feel beaten before the race even starts.

BEST NAME: In the Winter Games best name contest, a podium place has to go to American luger Summer Britcher, from Glen Rock, Pa.

 

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