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Jamaican bobsled team seeks cash for more cool runnings

The Jamaican bobsled team may be headed to another Olympics.

The catch: It needs a lot of money, and fast.

Olympic organizers said Saturday that Jamaica has qualified for the two-man competition at next month's Sochi Games, though it remains unclear if the fledgling squad will get a chance to race. Funding is a serious problem and sled driver Winston Watts told the Associated Press on Saturday that he's trying to raise as much as $80,000 in the next couple of weeks to cover travel and equipment costs.

"Right now," Watts said, "we're at zero."

They are certainly among the most storied bobsled teams, and that has little to do with results. Jamaica first competed in Olympic bobsledding in 1988 at the Calgary Games, inspiring the film Cool Runnings. For a nation lacking bobsled tradition, or snowy winters, Jamaica has often fared quite well on the international circuit.

But it has been 12 years since Jamaica has had a sled in the Olympics; Watts was 28th in Salt Lake City with Lascelles Brown — now a key part of Canada's national team. Brown won a medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Still, Watts, 46, holds hope of sliding again on the sport's biggest stage. At lower-tier events, he and brakeman Marvin Dixon have piled up enough points to get in the Olympic mix.

Sochi officials tweeted word Saturday that the Jamaicans were in, but the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation — the sport's governing body — is not expected to confirm until today, if then, how many nations qualified.

"I'm not a person who likes to quit," Watts said. "I put my heart into it and I know for a fact that people are going to help this team."

Slopestyle: Sage Kotsenburg had a winning score of 95.4 on the first run to clinch his spot on the U.S. team in the season's last qualifying event Saturday in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. He'll be in Sochi with Shaun White and women's qualifier Jamie Anderson, who won all three events in Mammoth Lakes. Slopestyle is making its Olympic debut in Russia.

Skeleton: Katie Uhlaender and Noelle Pikus-Pace made the U.S. women's team; men's spots went to Matt Antoine, John Daly and Kyle Tress. The announcement largely was a formality, since those five have primarily been the American competitors on the World Cup circuit all season. It's the third Olympics for Uhlaender, second for Pikus-Pace and Daly.

Bobsled: The U.S. team is expected to be unveiled tonight, with Summer Olympic veterans Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams trying to make the women's squad as push athletes.

Jamaican bobsled team seeks cash for more cool runnings 01/18/14 [Last modified: Saturday, January 18, 2014 8:42pm]
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