By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports activities Author
Some U.S. luge, bobsled and skeleton athletes have rejoined the worldwide World Cup sliding circuits, after all of them stayed residence for the primary half of the season due to points associated to the coronavirus pandemic.
There are some exceptions: most athletes and coaches who’re members of the U.S. Military’s World Class Athlete Program won’t be with their groups for the rest of the season, an inventory that features USA Bobsled coach Mike Kohn. The Military hasn’t signed off on letting troopers in that program, which incorporates greater than a dozen Olympic sports activities, compete but whereas citing considerations concerning the rising numbers of constructive COVID-19 circumstances each within the U.S. and all over the world.
Friday marked the primary day of precise worldwide competitors for American sliders, with USA Luge participating in a Nation’s Cup race in Königssee, Germany. That was a precursor to this weekend’s World Cup races there, and 7 of the eight U.S. sleds that competed certified for races Saturday and Sunday.
USA Luge athletes and coaches all needed to get three unfavorable COVID-19 checks in a three-day span earlier than rejoining the circuit, and the Worldwide Luge Federation has been capable of pull off 4 race weekends already this season with none main virus points.
“I’m so glad to be again within the World Cup,” mentioned USA Luge’s Summer time Britcher, who was third within the girls’s Nation Cup race Friday and was the top-ranked American in final season’s World Cup standings.
The U.S. bobsled and skeleton groups flew to Germany this week and can re-join the World Cup circuit in Winterberg on Jan. 9 and 10. Kohn, together with a handful of different coaches and USA Bobsled and Skeleton athletes, remained residence to adjust to the WCAP mandates for security.
Brian Shimer will function the appearing on-site head coach for bobsled, whereas Kohn will stay concerned from his residence in Lake Placid, New York, the crew’s coaching base. A brilliant aspect for him: This would be the first time that he’s residence for the birthdays for his spouse and their two sons. He normally misses these as a result of all of them happen throughout sliding season.
“Simply since you’re not on the World Cup racing, if you happen to’re maximizing your alternatives again at residence, there are features that may be made,” Kohn mentioned. “It frees me as much as handle and direct and arrange lots of issues that I wouldn’t be capable to if I used to be in Europe proper now.”
Most of the prime U.S. sliders are actually in Europe, an inventory that features reigning girls’s bobsled champion Kaillie Humphries, three-time Olympic bobsled medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, 2018 Olympic males’s luge silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and ladies’s luge world championship medalist Emily Sweeney. Lolo Jones, a three-time Olympian — two in observe and discipline, one in bobsled — and searching for to make the 2022 Olympic crew as a push athlete, can also be among the many Individuals who have been picked to compete this winter.
It’s potential that some extra Individuals might head over for racing earlier than the season ends. WCAP officers are monitoring the COVID-19 numbers and the way the sliding sports activities are combating the virus recurrently and can re-evaluate as wanted. Sweeney is a longtime WCAP athlete; she’s competing this weekend as a result of she’s not at the moment on orders.
“We’ve received to position the well being and security of the troopers first,” mentioned Willie Wilson, the WCAP chief. “Whenever you’re competing otherwise you’re actively concerned in one thing, you’re laser-focused on carrying out that purpose. … We’re having to make robust selections proper now and attempting to make the best and finest determination for your entire program.”
USA Luge might compete in six occasions over the subsequent six weekends, together with the world championships in Königssee on the finish of January. USA Bobsled and Skeleton might be in as many as 5 competitions, culminating on the planet championships for these sports activities in Altenberg, Germany, over the primary two weeks of February.
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