Welcome to The Sports Examiner SPEED READ, a 100 mph (44.7 m/s) review of what happened over the last 96 hours in Olympic sport:
Wednesday: Ready for chaos? This might be the year for it in Olympic politics. Our column looked at seven issues ready to boil over in 2019, including
● Will the 2026 Olympic Winter Games find a host?
● Will boxing and weightlifting stay on the Olympic program?
● IOC and IAAF corruption: will Lamine Diack ever face trial?
● The IAAF rules on women and testosterone
● Russia and doping and WADA’s 2019 elections
● The Nassar scandal and USA Gymnastics
● The Nassar scandal and the United States Olympic Committee
Friday: Athlete protests about the USOC demonstrate how to miss an opportunity, as the furor over the USOC’s Board appointments is completely misplaced. The real possibilities for change are with the U.S. Congress. The USOC’s Athletes’ Advisory Council has been the only one to make suggestions for actual change – and they are worthy of action – instead of dreaming of the return of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, and “Off with their heads!”
The USOC could make some changes on its own, too, and stave off some of the punishment to come.
Thursday: Phil Hersh contributes an excellent column on Gracie Gold’s situation. The Sochi Olympic medal winner has canceled her 2019 season and is now has to decide about her future … and whether skating is going to be a part of it. A fascinating portrait of an athlete at a crossroads.
THE BIG PICTURE:
Tuesday: The World Anti-Doping Agency announced a new “mission to Moscow” to retrieve the Moscow Lab data key to its continuing investigation of Russia’s 2011-15 state-run doping scandal. But what will happen to Russia now, if in fact the data is retrieved? A key WADA committee is scheduled to meet on 14-15 January to consider the next steps.
Thursday: The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency came in for some criticism for testing and issuing a public warning against a 90-year-old American cyclist who set a world age-group record at the U.S. Masters Championships last year. But there is reason to be satisfied that the USADA is doing its job.
Tuesday: Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova finally beat U.S. star Mikaela Shiffrin in a Slalom race, in Flachau (AUT). It was the seventh race in 18 days in four countries for Shiffrin, who has now built a possibly insurmountable 1,294-848 lead over Vlhova in the overall World Cup standings. Said Shiffrin, “I’m dead, I’m done,” Shiffrin said. “We have a short bit of time for some rest and some training before Kronplatz (ITA: 15 January), and that’s really good, because if we had to race tomorrow. I don’t think I could do it.”
Thursday: The 26th IHF men’s World Championships got started, with 2019 marking the first time that two nations have hosted the event. Germany and Denmark are the hosts, but the oddsmakers say Denmark and France are the favorites.
Tuesday: Who says Snowboard is for the kids? Austria’s Claudia Riegler, 45, won the World Cup Parallel Slalom event in Bad Gastein. She’s the 2015 World Champion in the event, proving age is only a number!
Thursday: The first leg in the 2019 Tyr Pro Swim Series is underway in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Katie Ledecky scored two win on the first day, in the 200 m Freestyle and 400 m Medley … but she says she has no intention of swimming the Medley in Tokyo in 2020.
A look ahead to events this weekend in Alpine Skiing ~ Badminton ~ Biathlon ~ Bobsled & Skeleton ~ Cross Country Skiing ~ Curling ~ Fencing ~ Freestyle Skiing ~ Handball ~ Luge ~ Nordic Combined ~ Ski Jumping, and Snowboard.
Highlights to look forward to next week, with previews in the coming days on TheSportsExaminer.com:
● Alpine Skiing: Lindsey Vonn returns to the slopes for two Downhills and a super-G (weather permitting) in Cortina d’Ampezzo (ITA).
● Cycling: The start of the 2019 UCI World Tour, with the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia, beginning next Tuesday.
● Figure Skating: The U.S. National Championships start on the 19th, in Detroit, Michigan.
● Football: The U.S. women’s national team, ranked no. 1 in the world, takes on no. 3 France in a friendly in Le Havre.
And a look at how the International Olympic Committee says it sees the future of the Olympic Games, in our Lane One commentary, coming on Monday.