HIGHLIGHTS: Djokovic saga ends; D’Amato takes U.S. marathon record; Meyers Taylor wins two-woman and Monobob season titles

Double IBSF World Cup champ Elana Meyers Taylor of the U.S. (Photo: Sandro Halank via Wikipedia)

Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

● Tennis: Australian Open ● Three Australian Federal Court judges ruled Sunday that Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic, 34, must leave Australia after his visa was canceled by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke for a second time.

Djokovic was reported to have left Australia on Sunday and will not play in the Australian Open tennis tournament that starts on Monday. Djokovic, ranked no. 1 in the world, is the winner of nine Australian Open men’s Singles titles, including the last three (2019-20-21) and 20 major titles in all.

The furor over Djokovic began when he received a visa for the tournament via a medical exemption for having had the coronavirus already, and was not unvaccinated. He arrived on 5 January, but had his visa canceled almost immediately as Australia maintains strict border control against Covid-19 and requires vaccinations. He was held in a detention hotel until the 10th, when his visa was reinstated for technical errors by the government. But Hawke used his authority “health, safety and good order grounds” to cancel Djokovic’s visa for a second time on the 14th and the court upheld Hawke’s decision.

● Alpine Skiing ● Picking up a replacement race, the men’s program in Wengen (SUI) included a Super-G, two Downhills and a Giant Slalom, featuring a win by the home favorite and seasonal leader Marco Odermatt (SUI) and seasonal no. 2 Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR).

Odermatt got his fifth win of the season in the Super-G on Thursday, beating Kilde, 1:29.00-1:29.23, with Austrian star Matthias Mayer third (1:29.58). Kilde returned the favor on Friday, winning the Downhill by 1:42.42-1:42.61 over Odermatt, with Switzerland’s 2017 World Downhill champ Beat Feuz third (1:42.72).

The current World Champion in the Downhill, Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr, got his first win of the season in Saturday’s Downhill, timing 2:26.09 to win over Feuz (2:26.43) and Dominik Paris (ITA: 2:26.53), with Odermatt fourth. Sunday’s Slalom was the second career win for Norway’s Lucas Braathen (1:41.48), ahead of Swiss Daniel Yule (1:41.70) and Giuliano Razzoli (ITA: 1:41.77).

The women’s World Cup stop was in Zauchensee (AUT), for a Downhill and Super-G. Two-time World Champion Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI) got her first World Cup win of the season in the Downhill in 1:45.78, just 0.10 ahead of Germany’s Kira Weidle (1:45.88) and Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT: 1:46.22).

Sunday’s Super-G saw Federica Brignone (ITA) get her second win of the season in 1:10.84, beating Corinne Suter (SUI: 1:10.88) by just 0.04, with Ariane Raedler (AUT: 1:11.01) third.

American racers Mikaela Shiffrin (more training) and Breezy Johnson (slight knee injury) skipped this week’s races, but plan to race again prior to the Beijing Winter Games.

● Athletics ● Keira D’Amato smashed her lifetime best by more than three minutes and won the Chevron Houston Marathon in an American Record 2:19:12, bettering Deena Kastor’s mark of 2:19:36 from way back in 2006 in London (GBR).

D’Amato, 37, had a prior best of 2:22:56 from December of 2020, but became only the second American woman to break 2:20. She planned the record assault from the start and ran away from the field, with Alice Wright (GBR) second in 2:29:08.

Kenya’s Vicoty Chepngeno won the Half Marathon in 1:05:03 – fastest ever on American soil – followed by American Sara Hall in 1:07:15, improving the American Record from 1:07:25 by Molly Huddle in 2018.

The men’s races were won by Kenya’s James Ngandu at 2:11:03 for the marathon (his debut) and Ethiopia’s Milkesa Mengesha, who won the half in 1:00:24.

● Badminton ● Thailand and host India scored two wins each at the India Open in New Delhi.

The hosts cheered Lakshya Sen (IND) to a 24-22, 21-17 win over Kean Yew Loh (SGP) in the men’s Singles, as well as Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty (IND) in the men’s Doubles, defeating Mohammed Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan (INA), 21-16, 26-24.

The all-Thai women’s Singles final had Busanan Ongbamrungphan (THA) winning over Supanida Katethong (THA), 22-20, 19-21, 21-13. Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakam Aimsaard (THA) took the women’s Doubles title with a 21-13, 21-5 win over Russians Anastasiia Akchurina and Olga Morozova.

The Mixed Doubles title went to Yong Kai Terry Hee and Wei Han Tan (SGP), with a 21-15, 21-18 victory over Tang Jie Chen and Yen Wei Peck (MAS).

● Biathlon ● The sixth of 10 stops on the IBU World Cup circuit was in Ruhpolding (GER) this weekend for Sprint and Pursuit races, with France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet staying on a hot streak.

Fillon Maillet, the overall seasonal leader, won his second straight World Cup race in the 10 km Sprint, in 23:23.7, a decisive 7.2 seconds up on Germany’s Benedikt Doll and 32.1 seconds ahead of Anton Smolski (BLR). It was Fillon Maillet’s fourth win in the last seven World Cup races and his sixth medal of the season.

He then won Sunday’s 12.5 km Pursuit in 31:30.6, some 8.8 seconds up on Russian star Alexander Loginov and 13.1 seconds ahead of Anton Smolski (BLR). Fillon Maillet’s seasonal lead is now 581-484 over Swede Sebastian Samuelsson.

Sweden’s Elvira Oeberg is also on a tear, winning the women’s 7.5 km Sprint in 19:45.2, an impressive 21.6 seconds up on seasonal leader Marte Olsbu Roeiseland (NOR) and 29.7 seconds ahead of Italy’s three-time World Championships gold medalist Dorothea Wierer. For Oeberg, still just 22, it was her third win on the circuit in the last five races!

The 10.0 km Pursuit on Sunday saw Roeiseland get her sixth win of the season in 30:55.0, well ahead of the Oeberg sisters: Elvira in second (+20.8 seconds) and Hanna in third (+32.4).

● Bobsled & Skeleton ● The final races of the 2021-22 IBSF World Cup came in St. Morirz (SUI), with Germany’s Francesco Friedrich closing out his fourth consecutive season as the winner of the seasonal Two-Man and Four-Man titles.

In the Two-Man finale, Friedrich – with Thorsten Margis aboard – won his seventh race out of eight this season in 2:11.76, ahead of Canadian star Justin Kripps (2:11.95) and German teammate Johannes Lochner (2:12.12). Friedrich finished the season with 1,703 points, winning over Kripps (1,530) and Russian Rostislav Gaitiukevich (1,521).

In the Four-Man, Friedrich came in having won all seven races this season, but was upset by Latvia’s Oskars Kibermanis, 2:09.38 to 2:09.54. Wow! Gaitiukevich drove in third (2:09.66). Friedrich won the seasonal title with 1,785 points to 1,530 for Kripps.

The Two-Woman sledding saw the second all-German sweep of the season, with Kim Kalicki getting her second win (2:15.50), over defending Olympic gold medalist Mariama Jamanka (2:15.54) and Laura Nolte (2:15.57). Americans Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor went 4-5 in 2:15.59 and 2:16.14, but Meyers Taylor won the seasonal title with 1,505 points to 1,486 for Nolte and 1,472 for Kalicki; Humphries was fifth.

The Women’s Monobob World Series concluded with a Friday race in Winterberg and the final race in St. Moritz. Nigeria’s Simidele Adeagbo won in Winterberg in 2:01.00, beating Georgeta Popescu (ROU: 2:01.52). In St. Moritz, it was an American 1-2 with Humphries and Meyers Taylor finishing in 2:22.27 and 2:22.31, with Canada’s Cynthia Appiah third in 2:23.22.

Meyers Taylor finished with 1,110 points to win the Monobob season’s series, including four wins and a silver; Humphries and Appiah were 2-3 at 1,052 and 1,012.

The Skeleton World Cup finales in St. Moritz confirmed 2010-14 Olympic silver medalist Martins Dukurs is going to be a contender for gold in Beijing. Six-time World Champion Dukurs won for the third time this season in 2:14.39, ahead of Germany’s Alexander Gassner (2:14.84) and Christopher Grotheer (2:14.90). It’s Dukurs’ 10th World Cup seasonal title with 1,623 points over Axel Jungk (GER: 1,551).

The women’s victory went to Jaclyn Narracott (AUS: 2:17.56), her first this season, with Kimberley Bos (NED) taking her sixth medal in eight races (2:17.62) and Mirela Rahneva third (CAN: 2:18.22). Bos won the seasonal title with 1,600 points to 1,481 for Austria’s Janine Flock.

● Cross Country Skiing ● The Covid pandemic canceled the planned FIS World Cup competitions in Les Rousses (FRA) and next week’s events in Planica (SLO). The series will resume after the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

● Fencing ● A busy weekend, highlighted by the Sabre Grand Prix in Tbilisi (GEO), with home favorite Sandro Bazadze winning a surprise gold in the men’s final over Russia’s two-time World Championships bronze-medal winner Kamil Ibragimov.

Bazadze, 28, had won two career Grand Prix medals – both bronzes – coming into the tournament, but prevailed in the final by a convincing 15-8. France’s Bolade Apithy and Korean star Junghwan Kim shared the bronze.

France’s Caroline Queroli, 23, got her first Grand Prix gold in the women’s final against Greece’s Theodora Gkountoura, 15-12. For Queroli, it was her second career Grand Prix medal: the first was a bronze way back in 2017! Italy’s Rossella Gregorio and Russia star Yana Egorian, the Rio 2016 Olympic champ, shared the bronze.

The Men’s Foil World Cup in Paris (FRA) was a win for Hong Kong’s Tokyo Olympic champ Ka Long Cheung, who defeated Italy’s Eduardo Luperi in the final by 15-12. American Chase Emmer and Italy’s 2018 World Champion Alessio Foconi shared the bronze medal.

Italy’s 2018 World Champion Alice Volpi was the winner in the Women’s Foil World Cup in Poznan (POL), defeating Canadian Eleanor Harvey, 15-10. Qingyuan Chen (CHN) and Martina Favaretto (ITA) were third.

● Figure Skating ● Russia dominated the ISU European Championships in Tallinn (EST), sweeping the medals in the Women’s and Pairs division, winning the Men’s title and taking gold and silver in Ice Dance.

The star was Kamila Valieva, 15, clearly the Olympic favorite, who extended her record for the highest score ever in a Short Program with 90.45 and then won the Free Skate (168.61) with the third-best score ever and ended the event at 259.06, the no. 3 score in the current scoring system.

Valieva won ahead of 2021 World Champion, 17-year-old Anna Shcherbakova (237.42) and Alexandra Trusova (234.36). Those three were more than 26 points ahead of the field.

Mark Kondratiuk, 18, won the Men’s title in his first European Championships, scoring 286.56 to 274.48 for Italy’s Daniel Grassl and 272.08 for Deniss Vasiljevs (LAT).

Russian Pairs went 1-2-3, with Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov scoring 239.82 to win over Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (236.43) and Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii (227.23).

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov won their second European title, scoring 217.96 points to 213.20 for Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin. Italians Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri was third with 207.97.

● Freestyle Skiing ● Lots of action in Canada, the U.S. and France on the final weekend before Olympic entries are due.

The Ski Cross racers were in Nakiska (CAN) for racing on Thursday and Friday, with David Mobaerg (SWE) defeating Kevin Drury (CAN) and Tobias Mueller (GER) in the first men’s race and Kristofor Mahler (CAN) winning on Friday over Florian Wilmsmann (GER) and Ryan Regez (SUI).

Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund continued sawing through the World Cup schedule, winning her sixth and seventh races of the season (out of eight total), ahead of Fanny Smith (SUI) and Daniela Maier on Friday and Marielle Thompson (CAN) and Smith on Saturday. Smith’s season is almost as remarkable as Naeslund’s: second in five races in a row and in six of the eight races this season and a medal-winner in seven of the right. Wow!

The Moguls events in Deer Valley (USA) were once again a match-up between Canadian superstar Mikael Kingsbury and Japan’s Ikuma Horishima, who went 1-2 and 2-1 on Thursday and Friday. Kingsbury defeated Horishima, 83.28-81.98 in the first event, with Kosuke Sugimoto (JPN) third with 79.02 points. It was Kingsbury’s 71st World Cup win, extending his own record.

Horishima got his third win of the season in the second competition, scoring 84.04 to 82.84 for Kingsbury, with Swede Walter Wallberg third (79.62). Those three are the clear medal favorites for Beijing.

The women’s Moguls wins went to the two dominant performers of the season: France’s reigning Olympic Champion Perrine Laffont and Japan’s Anri Kawamura. Laffont won with 80.20, with Kawamura at 80.03 and Australia’s Jakara Anthony third (79.84). Americans Olivia Giaccio and Elizabeth Lemley were 4-5.

Kawamura, 17, came back to win with 80.89 points on Friday, ahead of Anthony (80.38) with Laffont third (80.02). Americans Giaccio, Lemley, Kai Owens and Hannah Soar went 3-4-5-6.

The third Slopestyle event of the 2021-22 schedule was in Font Romeu (FRA) on Sunday, with 2021 World Champion Andri Ragettli (SUI) winning the men’s competition, 86.36-82.71-81.71 over Ben Barclay (NZL) and Canada’s Edouard Therriault.

France’s Tess Ledeux, the 2017 World Slopestyle Champion, won the women’s Slopestyle event with 86.46 points, ahead of 20-year-old American Marin Hamill (73.56; her first World Cup medal!) and Lara Wolf (AUT: 66.16). American Grace Henderson was fourth (65.25).

● Luge ● The penultimate stop on the FIL World Cup tour for 2021-22 was in Oberhof (GER), with Germany’s Johannes Ludwig taking his fifth win of the season and extending his seasonal lead.

Ludwig led a German sweep in 1:25.069, ahead of Max Langenhan (1:25.373) and 2010-14 Olympic champion Felix Loch (1:25.385).

The Doubles win went to four-time World Champions Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken (GER) in 1:22.651, followed by 2014-18 Olympic champs Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt (GER: 1:22.967) and Italy’s Emanuel Rieder and Simon Kainzwaldner (1:23.102). It’s the fourth win of the season for Eggert and Benecken.

The women’s racing was another win for Madeleine Egle (AUT), the break-through star of the season. This was her fifth win, this time in 1:24.074, ahead of seasonal leader Julia Taubitz (GER: 1:24.094) and teammate Anna Berreiter (1:24.339).

The World Cup season will conclude next week in St. Moritz (SUI).

● Nordic Combined ● Stop no. 6 on the FIS World Cup circuit was in Klingenthal (GER), with 2021 World Large Hill Championship gold medalist Johannes Lamparter (AUT) getting his second win of the season on Saturday off the 140 m hill and the 10 km cross-country race.

He finished in 25:18.5, just 0.3 seconds better than Kristjan Ilves (EST) and 0.7 up on Japan’s Ryota Yamamoto.

Almost the same result on Sunday, with Lamparter winning in 25:01.6, and Ilves second (25:10.0), and Franz-Josef Reidl (AUT: 25:10.3) fourth.

Seasonal leader Jarl Magnus Riiber (NOR) again skipped the competitions, dealing with a back injury.

● Shooting ● The first ISSF Grand Prix of 2022 was held in Ruse (SLO), for Air Pistol and Air Rifle.

In the 10 Air Pistol men’s final, Ruslan Luven (AZE) won over Pavel Schejbal (CZE) by 16-12, scoring better on four of the six shots. Double Tokyo gold medalist Vitalina Batsarashkina (RUS) won the women’s final by 16-2, defeating Hungary’s Veronika Major.

In the team events, Russia won the men’s and women’s titles and Greece won the Mixed Team final, over Russia.

Miran Maricic (CRO) defeated Rio bronze medalist Vladimir Maslennikov (RUS) in the 10 m Air Rifle final, 17-13. Andrea Arsovic (SRB) won the women’s Air Rifle final by 17-13 over Hungary’s Eszter Meszaros.

Russia was in all three team finals, winning the men’s final, but second to Poland in the women’s final and to Hungary in the Mixed Team event.

● Ski Jumping ● Just a single men’s individual competition this week, on Sunday at Zakopane (POL) off a 140 m hill, with Norway’s Marius Lindvik taking his second consecutive World Cup win at 294.6 points. That was 10.0 better than German Karl Geiger, who won his seventh medal of the season in second, with Anze Lanisek (SLO) third with 283.7 points.

In the team event held on Saturday, Slovenia was a clear winner, with 1,101.7 points, ahead of Germany (1,034.7) and Japan (1,034.1).

● Snowboard ● A major final test in both Halfpipe and Slopestyle was held in Laax (SUI) on Saturday (15th), with strong results for Japan and the U.S.

In the Halfpipe events, Ayumu Hirano (JPN) won his second straight World Cip win, scoring 93.25 on his first run, ahead of Jan Scherrer (SUI: 90.00) and reigning Olympic champ Shaun White of the U.S. (84.00, in only his fourth World Cup event since 2018!). American Joshua Bowman was fourth (81.75). As this was the last of the three Halfpipe events for the season, Hirano won with 250 points, ahead of Ruka Hirano (JPN: 206) and Scherrer (160).

PyeongChang Olympic champ Chloe Kim (USA) won the women’s Halfpipe, confirming her favorite’s role in Beijing, scoring 90.25 to out-score Mitsuki Ono (JPN: 89.00) and Queralt Castellet (ESP: 80.00). China’s Xuetong Cai won the seasonal title with 216 points, ahead of Sena Tomita (JPN: 190) and Ono (175).

In Slopestyle, Americans went 1-3 in the men’s division, Sean Fitzsimons (80.91) for gold and Jake Canter (74.76) for the bronze, with Staale Sandbech (NOR: 80.43). American Brock Crouch was fourth (73.88).

Worlds Slopestyle bronze medalist Tess Coady (AUS) got her first win of the season, ahead of 2018 Olympic champ Anna Gasser (AUT), 86.18-78.56, with Annika Morgan (GER: 76.61) third.

In the Parallel Giant Slaloms on Friday (14th) in Simonhohe (AUT), German Stefan Baumeister won his second race of the season, getting to the line first against Tim Mastnak (SLO). Italian Roland Fischnaller won the bronze-medal race.

Poland’s Aleksandra Krol won her first World Cup race in the women’s division, defeating Julia Dujmovits (AUT) in the final. Melanie Hochrieter (GER) and Sofiya Nadyrshina (RUS) tied for the bronze.

Coming next week: the world indoor tours for Archery and Athletics both start!

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