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No Medals for U.S. Bobsledders
Four-man bobsled team makes too many mistakes to repeat 2002 success.
By Lauren Klingel and Rebecca DeSantis
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

U.S. bobsled team
USA-2, piloted by Steven Holcomb, center, starts its third run in Four-Man Bobsled at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games at Cesana Pariol, Italy, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006.
(Photo: Herbert Knosowski/APWide World)
Friday, February 24—The bobsled was developed in Switzerland late in the 19th century when blades were placed on a toboggan to get greater speed down the mountains. This quickly became a popular sport among British and American visitors, too.

Over time, inventors changed the design. The new sled received its name because early racers thought they could get even more speed by bobbing their bodies backward and forward. They soon realized that technique didn't work, but the name stuck.

At the Olympic Games, the world can watch four-man bobsledding at its best. And the best today turned out to be the team from Germany, who made the 19-turn course in 3 minutes, and 40.42 seconds.

The German team took the gold, the silver went to the Russians and the bronze went to Switzerland. The U.S. team came in seventh, dashing the gold-medal hopes of Texan Todd Hays, who retired after his final race. But Hays had no regrets, especially considering he won silver in 2002 at the Salt Lake City Games.

"I came to compete," Hays said. "I came to represent the United States. I did all those things. The only thing you can ask for in life is a chance. I had that."

The U.S. raced two teams in the four-man bobsled event. The first team consisted of Steve Holcomb, Curt Tomasevicz, Bill Schuffenhauer, and Lorenzo Smith. Hays was on the second team with Brock Kreitzburg, Pavle Jovanovic, and Steve Mesler. Holcome and crew placed sixth.

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Sliding into Silver
American team just tenths of a second behind gold medal team from Germany
By Natalie Honodel
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Monday, February 20—Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming won a silver medal in women's bobsled today, just seconds behind the gold medal team from Germany.

Germany's driver, Sandra Kiriasis, came into the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, with a silver medal from the 2002 Salt Lake City games. Since that win, Kiriasis has been known as the world's best female driver. She and her partner, Anja Schneiderheinze, continued their success with a time of 3:49.98 minutes.

Torino is the first Olympic competition for the American team. Their overall time was 3:50.69—just 0.71 seconds behind the German team.

Coming in third place and taking home the bronze this year were Gerda Weissensteiner and Jennifer Isacco of Italy. With a time of 3:51.01, they were just 1.03 seconds behind the gold medalist.

This is Italian driver Weissensteiner's sixth Olympics. She was Italy's best hope for a medal in bobsledding this year.

Also in the spotlight was another American team, which finished in sixth place. Both women on that team, Vonetta Flowers and Jean Prahm, have had outstanding careers in bobsled competition. Flowers won the gold in Salt Lake City, making her the first African-American to take the top medal in the Winter Olympics.

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Pilot Todd Hays and brakeman Pavle Jovanovic of team USA 1 compete in the men's two-man bobsled event
Pilot Todd Hays and brakeman Pavle Jovanovic of team USA 1 compete in the men's two-man bobsled event at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 18, 2006.
(Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)
U.S. Out of Two-Man Bobsled
Two American teams fail to qualify for medal competition.
By Jonathan Amdur
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Saturday, February 18—Imagine speeding down a winding track completely made of ice at 82 miles per hour. First, you and your partner get a running start pushing the sled. Then you both jump in and hold on as the track and the people around you become a blur. It's a thrill ride that takes less than two minutes—if you're among the best bobsledders in the world.

And Saturday, only the best were on a mountain in Cesana, Italy, hoping to qualify for the gold-medal runs in the two-man bobsled event in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

Only two American teams were in the competition and neither made the cut. Todd Hays and Pavle Jovanovic came in sixth, but only the first five teams qualified. Also competing were U.S. bobsledders Steve Holcombe and Bill Schuffenhauer.

Qualifying were teams from Germany, Canada, and Sweden. Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske from Germany came in first for the day. Pierre Lueders and Lascelles Brown from Canada were second. Finally, Martin Annen and Beat Hefti from Switzerland were third.

The top contenders for Sunday's event are Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske from Germany. So far, German athletes have proved to be at the top of their game, winning the most medals as of today.

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Team USA driver Jean Prahm (center) and Vonetta Flowers sprint at the start as Vonetta Flowers' family (right) look on during a training session in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, on Monday, Dec. 12, 2005.
Team USA driver Jean Prahm (center) and Vonetta Flowers sprint at the start as Vonetta Flowers's family (right) look on during a training session in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, on Monday, December 12, 2005.
(Photo: Felice Calabro/AP Wide World)
About Bobsled

Teams of two and four athletes compete in the bobsled. As they rocket down the course, they can reach speeds of up to 80 miles an hour. The team that posts the fastest time at the end of the course is declared the winner.

Who to Watch
Top U.S. Male Athletes, Bobsled: Todd Hays, Steve Holcomb, Mike Kohn
Top U.S. Female Athletes, Bobsled: Shauna Rohbock, Jean Prahn, Jill Bakken

Top International Competitors: Bobsledders Sandra Kiriasis (Germany), Andre Lange (Germany)

2002 U.S. Gold Medalists
Bobsledders Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers won the gold in the two-woman event.

Bobsled events will go from February 18-25.

Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.