Olympic notebook: Kohn likely won’t know 2-man pusher until training
AP National Writer
American bobsledder Mike Kohn needs someone to give him a push.
While Chuck Berkeley’s name was on the roster submitted to Vancouver Olympic organizers, the push athlete for Kohn’s two-man sled won’t be decided until the Americans get back on the track in Whistler, said Darrin Steele, CEO of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. The U.S. men are scheduled to arrive in Whistler on Feb. 13, and two-man training begins the night of Feb. 17.
Berkeley is already in John Napier’s USA-2 sled in the four-man.
“We really won’t know until Mike gets on the ice. We certainly have a short list of individuals we’re looking at,” Steele said. “I would say give us a couple of days on the ice with Mike and the two-man, and we’re probably going to be able to narrow down that list and maybe ID who that’s going to be.”
Kohn only got back into the mix for Vancouver after Todd Hays retired following a December training crash that caused bleeding in his brain. Because Kohn didn’t have much time to rack up the world ranking points needed to qualify two- and four-man sleds, all the U.S. bobsledders pitched in to help. Curt Tomasevicz, who’ll push Steven Holcomb’s USA-1 sled, was in Kohn’s sled for the final race of the Olympic qualifying period.
Kohn qualified both sleds. But the shuffling meant he didn’t have an established push athlete in the two-man.
Kohn’s USA-3 sled will have Jamie Moriarty, Bill Schuffenhauer and Nick Cunningham aboard.
“It depends on what he looks like when he gets there and what kind of a push athlete he’s going to need behind him,” Steele said.
The good thing is, the United States has plenty of potential candidates. The Americans qualified three sleds in both the two- and four-man.
“A lot of this is strategic,” Steele said. “Do you take the gamble and have a four-man athlete from USA-1 push (Kohn)? There’s always a risk of getting tired and not being fresh or getting injured. We’re going to weigh all of that.”
HAITI RELIEF: Earthquake-ravaged Haiti is getting some help from the world’s top Alpine skiers.
An online auction of autographed race bibs raised over $90,000, the U.S. Ski Team announced earlier this week. All of the proceeds are being donated to the American Red Cross.
Race bibs from the famed Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria, and the women’s Super G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, were auctioned off. Hahnenkamm winner Didier Cuche’s bib raised the most money, going for $16,209, while Lindsey Vonn’s was the most sought-after of the women’s bibs, selling for $8,600.
Bibs worn by Americans Bode Miller and Ted Ligety were big moneymakers, too. Miller’s bib went for $2,504 while Ligety’s raised $1,075.
TATTOO YOU: Canadian curling skip Cheryl Bernard keeps her promises.
Bernard told teammate Cori Bartel a few years ago they’d get tattoos if they ever qualified for the Olympics. So a week after her rink won Canada’s Olympic trials, Bernard, Bartel and teammate Susan O’Connor all got tattoos of the Olympic rings and a small maple leaf on the inside of their forearms.
The lone holdout on the team was Carolyn Darbyshire, whose daughter objected.
“I’m like, if I’m ever going to get a tattoo this is going to be the one I wanted,” Bernard told Canadian Press. “It’s something even my grandmother would approve of.”
That doesn’t mean she’s going to do it again, though.
“It hurt a lot,” Bernard said. “Someone asked me if I win a medal if I intend to add to it and the answer is no.”
LUCKY CHARM: Canada is breaking out the Lucky Loonie again.
The protective casing on the coin has been removed, allowing visitors to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto to rub the loonie for good luck. The loonie will go back under cover after the men’s gold medal game on Feb. 28.
The Lucky Loonie is credited with helping Canada win its first Olympic gold medal in 50 years at the 2002 Games. Canadian ice maker Trent Evans surreptitiously buried the loonie under the dot at center ice in Salt Lake City, and the $1 coin was dug out and held aloft by Wayne Gretzky after Canada finally won the gold.
The Canadians won both the men’s and women’s gold medals in Salt Lake City.
Gretzky donated the coin to the hockey hall, and it has been on display there ever since.
STEP RIGHT UP: The medals podiums at the Vancouver Olympics will have a distinctly local look.
Inspired by the mountains and forests around Vancouver and Whistler, each of the podiums’ three tiers resembles a tree trunk. Wavy, individual pieces of wood – there are more than 200 pieces in each of the 23 podiums – give the front and side of the tiers a mountainous look.
Athletes will receive their medals at their competition venues. There will also be nightly victory ceremonies at the BC Place and Whistler Medals Plaza.
“Built from wood donated by communities, First Nations, businesses, and individuals across the province, each one of these podiums has a story to tell about the people and places that make up British Columbia and about the forest industry that is the heart of so much of our culture and history,” British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell said.
OLYMPIC RINGS: First condoms, now Scotch. USA Curling has a new sponsor in whiskey maker Laphroaig. “They fit well because they have kind of a niche market,” said Rick Patzke, USA Curling’s chief operating officer. “It seems like anywhere in the world, if you’re a curler and you happen to meet another curler, you have an instant bond. It sounds to me like the same thing with Laphroaig.” … Gymnasts Sasha Artemev and Kevin Tan are back in competition this weekend for the first time since helping the U.S. men win a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. The Winter Cup, a ranking meet for the U.S. men, is Thursday and Saturday. … USA Triathlon has chosen Burlington, Vt., to host its 2011 and 2012 national championships. Dates are still being determined, but they likely will be in August, with the venue located between Battery Park and Lake Champlain.
AP Sports Writers Howard Fendrich, Fred Lief and Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.