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Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:
● Alpine Skiing ● With the World Championships starting soon in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, the World Cup circuit finished early, with racing on Friday and Saturday.
The men’s tour was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER), with Italian star Dominik Paris taking the Friday Downhill ahead of 2017 World Downhill champ Beat Feuz (SUI: +0.37) and 0.40 ahead of Austria’s Matthais Mayer. American Travis Ganong was seventh (+1.10).
Saturday’s Super-G was an Austrian 1-2, with Vincent Kriechmayr winning his second race of the season – both in the Super-G – ahead of Mayer, 1:12.68-1:1285, with Swiss Marco Odermatt third. Ganong was 12th. Mayer has to be considered a hot medal favorite, as he has won a medal in each of the last five speed races – Downhill and Super-G – on the World Cup tour.
The women’s tour finished its pre-Worlds schedule on 1 February. The World Championships start on 8 February.
● Athletics ● The third American Track League meet was on Sunday at the Tyson Center at the University of Arkansas, with world leads from Marquis Dendy (USA) in the men’s long jump at 8.21 m (26-11 1/4) and Sandi Morris in the women’s vault (4.88 m/16-0).
American Ronnie Baker blasted to an impressive 60 m win in 6.53, edging world leader Trayvon Bromell (USA: 6.58) and Andrew Hudson (USA: 6.61).
In the men’s mile, Algeria’s Takieddine Hedeilli held on to edge New Zealand’s Nick Willis, 3:56.79-3:56.82, but the story was in third with Hobbs Kessler. The senior from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, paced himself beautifully and finished in 3:57.66, a new national high school indoor best, shattering his lifetime best and taking 0.15 off of Drew Hunter’s mark of 3:57.81 from 2016. He’s the third American prep to run sub-4:00, along with Hunter and Alan Webb (2001). Combining indoor and outdoors, it’s the no. 4 performance by a U.S. prep in the mile ever.
Said Kessler on the ESPN broadcast, “I did not expect that. All those guys are in a league above me. I just waited and waited and waited and then I had juice at the end.” He’s committed to Northern Arizona.
After surviving a recall and a possible false start, Jamaica’s Olympic champ Omar MacLeod won the 60 m hurdles in 7.53, moving him to no. 3 on the year list. Michael Cherry of the U.S. won the 400 m in 45.24, no. 2 in the world this season.
Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare won the women’s 60 m in 7.10, emerging in the final meters; it’s the second-fastest mark in the world this year. She came back to run 23.01 to win the first section of the 200 m, but Jenna Prandini (USA) won the second section (and the race overall) in 22.55, followed by Quanera Hayes (USA: 22.70); the three of them are now 2-3-5 on the 2021 world indoor list.
U.S. high jump star Vashti Cunningham set a new indoor best of 2.00 m (6-6 3/4) – equaling her best ever – clearing on her second attempt, becoming the fourth American to clear 2.00 m or more indoors. The bar was raised to 2.03 m (6-8) for a try at the American Record, but she missed three times.
American vault star Morris won the event at 4.83 m (15-10), despite coming right down on the bar … but it stayed on! Olivia Gruver made 4.78 m (15-8 1/4) for second. Morris moved up to 4.88 m (16-0) and brushed the bar again on her third try, but it stayed on for another world lead. She tried a world-record 5.07 m (16-7 1/2), but missed three times.
New world leaders keep coming, with two at the ISTAF Indoor meet in Berlin (GER) on Friday (5th) for American Christina Clemons in the women’s 60 m hurdles (7.83) and Germany’s World Champion in the women’s long jump, Malaika Mihambo, at 6.77 m (22-2 1/2). On Saturday, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega won the men’s 1,500 m in 3:34.62 in Metz (FRA) for the fastest time this year, just ahead of countryman Bethwel Birgen (3:34.67) and Britain’s Elliott Giles (3:34.61). Dutch star Femke Bol won the women’s 400 m in 50.81, a national record. Also of note, American Javianne Oliver won the women’s 60 m in Metz in 7.10 to move to no. 2 on the 2021 world indoor list.
A pole vault-only meet in Rouen (FRA) on Saturday produced world leaders for both men and women. World-record holder Mondo Duplantis (SWE) won at 6.03 m (19-9 1/4), ahead of Chris Nilsen of the U.S. and France’s Renaud Lavillenie, both t 5.93 m (19-5 1/2) and reigning World Champion Sam Kendricks (USA), who cleared 5.83 m (19-1 1/2). Britain’s Holly Bradshaw won the women’s vault at 4.85 m (15-11), surpassed on Sunday by Morris.
On Sunday, the PSD Indoor meet in Dortmund (GER) had women’s world leaders in the 1,500 m by Caterina Granz (GER: 4:10.33) and in the long jump by Swede Khaddi Sagnia at 6.82 m (22-4 1/2).
The first stop on the World Athletics Continental Tour outdoors was in Christchurch, New Zealand, with a fabulous shot put duel between two Kiwi stars: 2017 World Champion Tomas Walsh and Jacko Gill.
Gill, a former World Youth Champion, World Junior Champion and an Olympic finalist in 2016, exploded on his first throw, reaching 21.52 m (70-7 1/4) for a lifetime best that held up for the rest of the event. Walsh reached 21.46 m (70-5) in round three, but that was his best of the day. Gill added a 21.44 m (70-4 1/4) throw later for his fourth-best throw ever.
In the women’s shot, four-time World Champion Valerie Adams (NZL) won at 18.41 m (60-4 3/4).
At Offenburg, Germany, javelin star Johannes Vetter got the spear out to 87.27 m (286-4).
● Bobsled & Skeleton ● The IBSF World Championships are underway in Altenberg (GER) with the two-person sleds racing this weekend and then continuing with the four-man and Skeleton races this week.
When Canada’s two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries quit the Canadian federation in 2018 and asked to be released to drive for the U.S., the expectation was that medals would follow her.
Humphries won a second straight world title for the U.S., repeating her 2012 and 2013 back-to-back titles for Canada, this time with Lolo Jones aboard, the latter’s first World Championship gold since winning the IAAF World Indoor titles in the 60 m hurdles in 2008 and 2010. Humphries’ total of four world titles is the most ever in women’s bobsled.
Humphries and Jones posted the fastest times on the first and second runs, slipped to third on the third run and then were fastest again on the final run to win in 3:48.26. That was 0.35 seconds faster than Germans Kim Kalicki and Ann-Christin Strack (3:48.61) and their teammates Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi (3:49.27). Former World Champion Elana Meyers Taylor, driving with Sylvia Hoffman aboard, was fourth-fastest after the first run, but managed 6th, 8th and 8th-fastest times on the last three to finish fifth (3:50.14).
“We’re not the youngest spring chickens out there right now, but Lolo and I have faith in each other,” said Humphries, 35. “We believed in each other.
“It’s such a huge relief. This was a giant team effort. To be able to cross the finish line and see that number one and know everything worked according to plan is the biggest relief ever. There’s a huge wave of happiness and elation that comes over you. It’s super cool to share this with Lolo and with Team USA.”
Said Jones, 38: “I didn’t think I would be emotional. I don’t know if the snow was hitting me at the braking stretch or if I was crying, but I think I was crying.”
“I’m the first hurdler to win back-to-back golds in indoor, so I know the pressure that Kaillie was under. I credit Kaillie for being the vet she is, holding it together, staying composed, and executing. She just really killed it.”
Out of 17 World Championships for the two-women sleds, the U.S. has won at least one medal in 14, and gold in three of the last four and four of the last six.
The two-man race was yet another coronation for German superstar Francesco Friedrich, who won his seventh world title in a row – extending his own record for consecutive wins – but his first with Alexander Schueller aboard as brakeman. They had the fastest time on all four runs and won with a combined time of 3:39.78, a staggering 2.03 seconds better than teammates Johannes Lochner and Eric Franke, and 2.23 seconds up on countrymen Hans Peter Hannighofer and Christian Roeder.
Lochner’s silver was his fifth Worlds medal, with now four silvers and one bronze. The German sweep was historic: the first ever in the history of the 2-man sled event at the Worlds, which started back in 1931! Friedrich led a first-ever sweep in the 4-man sled last year and the Germans will try again later this week.
● Freestyle Skiing ● World Cup action reached the U.S. this weekend with competition in Moguls and Aerials in Deer Valley, Utah, with Canadian star Mikael Kingsbury continuing his domination of the events.
In Friday’s Moguls, Kingsbury claimed his 64th career World Cup gold (extending his own record for wins) with a 88.10-85.25 victory over France’s Benjamin Cavet, with Matt Graham (AUS: 84.44) third. Saturday’s Dual Moguls found the same three on the podium, with Kingsbury defeating Graham in the final by 20-15, while Cavet settled for the bronze medal over Kosuke Sugimoto (JPN), 27-8.
France’s Perrine Laffont, the 2018 Olympic Moguls champ, won her third Moguls competition without a loss this season on Friday, scoring 83.23, ahead of Anri Kawamura (JPN: 80.94) and teammate Kisara Sumiyoshi (79.55). American youngster Kai Owens was fourth (77.35).
Saturday’s Dual Moguls was an American sweep, with Owens, 16, winning her first-ever World Cup medal (and victory) by defeating Hannah Soar in the final, 22-13. Tess Johnson of the U.S. won the bronze medal by29-6 over Yuliya Galysheva (KAZ), with Laffont fifth after losing to Johnson in the quarterfinals.
The Aerials competitions on Saturday produced first-time winners this season, with Swiss Noe Roth ending Russian Maxim Burov’s streak of five straight wins. Roth scored 126.70 to edge American Justin Schoenefeld (123.08) and Pirmin Werner (SUI: 114.93); Burov did not compete.
Australian Danielle Scott, 30, won the women’s Aerials, scoring 90.59 for her second career World Cup victory, ahead of Americans Winter Vinecki (87.77) and 17-year-old Kaila Kuhn (74.82).
● Luge ● The 2020-21 FIL World Cup wrapped up in St. Moritz (SUI) this weekend, with some surprise winners.
Austria’s Nico Gleirscher, who had won one World Cup medal during the season, took the final men’s Singles race, clocking a combined 2:15.852 to edge Max Langenham (GER: 2:15.912) and seasonal champion Felix Loch (GER: 2:15.926). Loch finished with 1,095 points for his seventh career title, third-best all-time. Fellow German Johannes Ludwig was second overall (716) and Russian Semen Pavlichenko (673) was third.
The Doubles victory in St. Moritz went to the unheralded Latvian pair of Martins Blots and Roberts Plume (1:48.274), ahead of teammates Andris and Juris Sics (1:48.338) and Italy’s Ludwig Rieder and Patrick Rastner (1:48.461). The season title went to the ultra-consistent Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller (AUT), who ended a eight-year German hold on the Doubles crown. They finished with 942 points, followed by Sics & Sics (834) and former champs Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken (830).
Thanks to a heavy snowfall and fog on the course, the women’s Singles produced another shocker, as Latvia’s Elina Ieva Vitola – huh? – won ahead of six-time winner Julia Taubitz (GER), 1:53.618-1:53.870. Swiss Natalie Maag was third for her first medal of the season in 1:53.897. Seasonal leader Natalie Geisenberger finished 13th (1:55.150) and failed to medal for the only time this season. But her 995 points won her the overall title, ahead of teammates Taubitz (976) and Dajana Eitberger (698).
● Nordic Skiing ● A busy weekend of sprinting in Cross Country at Ulricehamn, Sweden and great results for the home team.
The men’s Freestyle Sprint was won by Swede Oskar Svensson, his second Sprint victory this season, just 0.14 seconds ahead of Russian Gleb Retivykh and 0.31 in front of Federico Pellegrino (ITA).
The women’s Freestyle Sprint was the fifth win in seven races this season for Sweden, this time for Maja Dahlqvist, in 3:20.59. She won by a right 0.30 seconds over teammate Johanna Hagstroem and 0.39 seconds over American Jessie Diggins. The amazing Diggins has now piled up 1,234 points for a big lead over Russia Yulia Stupak (904) and U.S. teammate Rosie Brennan (879).
In Nordic Combined, two competitions were held in Klingenthal (GER), on a 140 m hill and 10 km race. Saturday was the third win of the season for Vinzenz Geiger (GER), who won by 3.5 seconds in 24:59.6 over fellow Germans Fabian Riessle and Eric Frenzel (+3.6).
Geiger doubled up on Sunday, winning in 23:28.0, 4.1 seconds ahead of Akito Watabe (JPN) and 4.6 up on Austrian Lukas Greiderer. Seasonal leader Jarl Magnus Riiber (NOR) skipped the weekend, but maintains a 940-754 lead over Geiger after 13 of 17 events.
The Ski Jumping World Cup was also in Klingenthal, with seasonal leader Halvor Egner Granerud (NOR) scoring his ninth win of this season on Saturday by 284.2-271.6 over Polish star Kamil Stoch and Bor Pavlovcic (SLO: 270.8). Granerud won again on Sunday, totaling 288.5 on his two jumps vs. 287.8 for Pavlovcic – who won his first World Cup medals on the weekend – and 285.7 for German Markus Eisenbichler.
The women’s World Cup was in Hinzenbach (AUT), jumping off a 90 m hill, with Slovenia’s Nika Kriznar, 20, taking her first individual World Cup gold by 237.4-236.6 over teammate Ema Klinec, with Norway’s Eirin Maria Kvandal third (226.6).
Kriznar scored again on Saturday, but with a silver medal as Japan’s Sara Takanashi scored her 58th career World Cup win, 238.4-238.0, with Norway again claiming the bronze with Silje Opseth (232.4). Sunday was the same: Takanashi, Kriznar and Opseth in that order, scoring 234.1-231.0-223.5. As a result, the seasonal race is oh-so-close: Marita Kramer (AUT) leads at 460, but with Kriznar at 451 and four-time winner Takanashi at 426.
● Snowboard ● A Parallel Giant Slalom and Parallel Slalom at Lake Bannoye (RUS) was the only action this weekend. Russians dominated the men’s Giant Slalom, with reigning World Champion Dmitry Loginov defeating countryman Igor Sluev by 2.10 seconds in the men’s final. The all-Italian bronze-medal final saw Mirko Felicetti finish 0.25 seconds ahead of veteran Edwin Coratti.
Loginov doubled up in Sunday’s Parallel Slalom, winning over fellow Russian Stepan Naumov, who did not finish in the final. Andrey Sobolev made it a Russian sweep with a 0.12 win against Swiss star Dario Caviezel.
The women’s Giant Slalom was a German 1-2, as Ramona Theresia Hofmeister slid home with her fifth medal in six World Cup races this season, beating Cheyenne Loch by 0.54 seconds in the final. Austria’s Sabine Schoeffmann edged Selina Joerg (GER) by 0.26 in the third-place race.
Swiss vet Julie Zogg scored her first win (and second medal) of the season in the Parallel Slalom, winning by 5.50 seconds in the final over Loch. Tomoka Takeuchi (JPN) took the bronze as Schoeffmann did not finish in the third-place race.
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