HIGHLIGHTS: Humphries & Gibbs win Bobsled world title for U.S.; world women’s records in Triple Jump and Half Marathon!

World Champions Lauren Gibbs (l) and Kaille Humphries of the U.S. (Photo: IBSF)

Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

ATHLETICS ● Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis continued to attack his own world record in the pole vault, but he was upstaged – for now – by Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas, the women’s World Champion in the triple jump.

Competing in the Villa de Madrid meet in Spain – the concluding meet of the 2020 World Indoor Tour – Rojas had the competition won at 15.29 m (50-2) from the fourth round, but then exploded in the final round to reach 15.43 m (50-7 1/2), a world indoor record and the no. 2 jump of all time! Only Ukraine’s Inessa Kravets and her world (outdoor) record of 15.50 m (50-10 1/4) from 1995 is longer.

In the meantime, Duplantis continued his assault on history. After clearing 6.18 m (20-3 1/4) in Glasgow (GBR) on 15 February, he won in Lievin (FRA) on Wednesday at 6.07 m (19-11) and missed at 6.19 m (20-3 3/4), and won at 6.01 m (19-8 1/2) on Sunday in Clermont-Ferrand (FRA), again missing three times at 6.19 m. World Champion Sam Kendricks of the U.S. finished second in Lievin (5.90 m/19-4 1/4) and third in Clermont-Ferrand (5.87 m/19-3).

On Friday, Chris Nilsen of the U.S., a senior at South Dakota, cleared a collegiate record of 5.93 m (19-5 1/2), taking one of Duplantis’s marks off of the record books.

Also in Lievin, American Sandi Morris won the women’s vault at 4.83 m (15-10) and tried unsuccessfully at a world mark of 5.03 m (16-6)!

At the same meet, American Ronnie Baker continued his successful sprint comeback with a 6.44 win over countryman Demek Kemp in the 60 m (6.50), the no. 2 mark in the world in 2020, behind only the altitude-aided 6.37 for Christian Coleman at the U.S. Nationals. Baker then won the Villa de Madrid sprint over Kemp again, 6.44-6.48.

On the roads, there was a massive world-record run in the women’s Half Marathon by Yeshaneh Ababel of Ethiopia to win in Ras Al Khaimah (UAE). Her final sprint won the race in 64:31 to shatter the 2017 world mark of 64:51 by Joycilene Jepkosgei of Kenya. The world-record holder in the Marathon, Brigid Kosgei (KEN), was second in 64:49, also under the old world mark.

ALPINE SKIING ● The men’s racing was in Naeba (JPN), with a Giant Slalom won on Saturday by Slovenia’s Filip Zubcic for his first World Cup gold, at age 27. Swiss Marco Odermatt finished second and American Tommy Ford won his second medal of the season in third. Now 30, Ford has won his first two World Cup medals ever in his 10th season on tour. The Sunday Slalom was canceled due to high winds.

The women were in Crans-Montana (SUI), with the local crowd wild for former World Cup winner Lara Gut-Berhami, who won the Downhill over teammate Corinne Suter on both Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, Italy’s Federica Brignone won her fourth race of the season, Sunday’s Alpine Combined, and took over the seasonal lead in the women’s World Cup.

She took over the lead from American Mikaela Shiffrin, mourning the loss of her father Jeffrey on 3 February, and who has not reappeared on tour since. Links to results are here.

BIATHLON ● Norway and France dominated the 2020 IBU World Championships, but the spectre of doping invaded the festivities at Antholz-Anterselva (ITA).

In the men’s events, France’s amazing Martin Fourcade won the 20 km Individual for the fourth time in his career and his 12th Worlds gold overall, finishing almost a minute ahead of Norwegian rival Johannes Thingnes Boe, 49:43.1-50:40.1. Fourcade then contributed a leg to the winning French 4×7.5 km relay team and now has 13 career Worlds titles. Boe came back to win the 15 km Mass Start race on Sunday ahead of two French stars, Quentin Fillon Maillet and Emilien Jacquelin (who won the Pursuit last week).

Russia’s Alexander Loginov won the 10 km Sprint on the first weekend, but Italian police raided the hotel where he and coach Alexander Kasperovich were staying on Saturday (22nd). Loginov’s computer and mobile phone were taken and the police said the search was conducted pursuant to an investigation related to the use or administration of doping materials. Loginov did compete in Saturday’s relay event, however.

The women’s first-weekend winners repeated, with Marte Olsbu Roiseland winning the 12.5 km Mass Start (to go with her Sprint win) and Italy’s Dorothea Wierer taking the 15 km Individual race (along with the Pursuit). Norway’s women won the relay, so Roiseland took three golds to Wierer’s two, and was third in both of Wierer’s individual races for a total of five medals in the five women’s events!

But she did more, as Roiseland was also on both winning Mixed relay teams for Norway (as was Boe), so she finished the Championships with five golds and seven medals in her seven events. Boe ended with three golds and three silvers for the top men’s total of six. Full results here.

BOBSLED & SKELETON ● The IBSF World Championships got going in Altenberg (GER), with the two-man and two-woman races completed on the first weekend. This was the first Worlds for Canadian-turned-American Kaillie Humphries and she and Lauren Gibbs dominated the women’s division.

The two had the fastest times in three of the four races and won the Worlds gold in a combined 3:45.49, edging surprise German silver medalists Kim Kalicki and Kira Lipperheide (+0.37). Reigning Olympic champ Mariama Jamanka (GER) finished fourth. It’s the third world title for Humphries (2012-13), but the first for Gibbs, who won silver in PyeongChang in 2018.

The heavy favorite for the two-man title – again – was Germany’s Francesco Friedrich and he came through (with Thorsten Margis) with a sixth Worlds gold, defeating teammate Johannes Lochner, 3:40.44-3:45.86, with Latvia’s Oskars Kibermanis third (3:42.23).

The Worlds continue this week with the four-man and Skeleton events. Full results here.

FENCING ● Spain’s Carlos Llavador scored an upset win in the men’s Foil World Cup in Cairo (EGY), defeating Italy’s 2011 World Champion, Andrea Cassara, in the final by 15-6. Llavador defeated American Alexander Massialas in the semis, 15-3, his 11th career World Cup medal. The U.S. men won the team title, 45-36, over Russia.

The men’s Sabre World Cup was held in Warsaw (POL), with Hungary’s 2012-16 Olympic champ Aron Szilagyi outlasting American Eli Dershwitz, 15-9 in the final. France won the team title over Korea.

The women’s Foil competition in Kazan (RUS) saw Italy’s Elisa Di Francesca defeat Yue Shi (CHN) in the final, 9-8. It was Di Francesca’s first World Cup win in 2 1/2 years and her eighth career gold and 25th career medal, and at age 37, shows no signs of slowing down. The Italians won the team title, defeating the U.S. in the final, 45-27. Full results here.

FREESTYLE SKIING ● The FIS SkiCross World Cup finished its 11th race of 12 this season in Sunny Valley (RUS), with Swiss Marc Bischofberger taking his first win of the season, over four-time winner Kevin Drury of Canada. Drury has clinched the seasonal title and has 768 points to 454 for Ryan Regez (SUI).

The women’s race went to Swiss Fanny Smith for her fourth victory of the season, but she is still in second place to Swede Sandra Naeslund, 855-796 with one race remaining. Full results here.

The sixth of seven Moguls events (not counting Dual Moguls) was held in Takawazo (JPN), with Canadian superstar Mikael Kingsbury winning his fourth event – he was second in the other two – ahead of countryman Laurent Dumais. Kingsbury leads the seasonal standings by 760-515 over chief rival Ikuma Horishima (JPN).

France’s Perrine Laffont won again in the women’s Moguls and has won all six events this season (and one of two in Dual Moguls). She has a 736-404 lead over Aussie Jakara Anthony and is the heavy favorite to win her third career Crystal Globe. The scheduled Dual Moguls event for Sunday was canceled; full results here.

The Aerials event in Minsk (BLR) was an American show, with Justin Schoenefeld winning his first career World Cup medal with a victory and Chris Lillis finishing third. Australia’s Laura Peel won the women’s Aerials, finishing ahead of China’s seasonal leader, Mengtao Xu, and Sicun Xu (CHN). Full results here.

GYMNASTICS ● American Jade Carey continued her mastery of the FIG Apparatus World Cup series, this time taking the Vault and Floor in the season opener in Melbourne, Australia. Ukraine’s Diana Varinska won the Uneven Bars and Urara Ashikawa won the Beam.

In the men’s events, Korea’s Sung-Hyun Ryu won the Floor Exercise title; American Stephen Nedoroscik won the Pommel Horse, Greek star Eleftherios Petrounias won on Rings, Jea-Hwan Shin of Korea won on Vault, Vladimir Poliashov (RUS) triumphed on Parallel Bars and Dutch star Epke Zonderland won as expected on the High Bar. Full results here.

At the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas, reigning national champion Sam Mikulak won the men’s All-Around at 86.800, ahead of rising star Shane Wiskus (84.550) and Brody Malone (83.950). In the individual finals, Gage Dyer won on Floor (ahead of Mikulak), Alec Yoder took the Pommel Horse title, Alex Diab won on Rings, Yul Moldauer won on Vault, Mikulak won the Parallel Bars and Colin van Wicklen took top honors in the High Bar (with Mikulak second). Full results here.

JUDO ● Japan dominated the Dusseldorf Grand Prix, winning eight of 14 categories, including seven recent World Champions: Naohisa Takato (60 kg: 2018), Hifumi Abe (66 kg: 2018), Shohei Ono (73 kg: 2019), Uta Abe (women’s 52 kg: 2018-19), Miku Tashiro (63 kg), Chizuru Arai (70 kg: 2018), Shori Hamada (70 kg: 2018) and Sarah Asahina (+78 kg: 2019).

One other reigning World Champion win gold: Georgia’s super-heavyweight star Guram Tushishvili, who defeated local favorite Johannes Frey (GER). Full results here.

NORDIC SKIING ● A very busy week in Cross Country Skiing, as the Ski Tour 2020 was held in Sweden and Norway all during the week. The six-event program began last week with two more distance wins for Norwegian superstar Therese Johaug in Ostersund (SWE) and continued with wins in Are (SWE: Freestyle Sprint), Meraker (NOR: 34 km Freestyle Mass Start) and Trondheim (NOR: 15 km Classical Pursuit). The only event of the six Johaug didn’t win was the Classical Sprint in Trondheim, taken by teammate Maiken Caspersen Falla. Norwegian domination was almost complete, winning all six events and 15 of the 18 available medals. Johaug now leads teammate Heidi Weng, 2,268-1,611, in the seasonal race.

The men’s Ski Tour saw Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov retain the overall World Cup lead, and he won the 34 km Mass Start in Meraker. Norwegian star Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo won both of the Sprint races and Emil Iversen took Sunday’s 30 km Classical Pursuit. Bolshunov’s lead over Klaebo is a healthy 1,948-1,531 after 30 of 39 events. Links to results here.

In the Nordic Combined World Cup, the two races in Trondheim (138 m hill + 10 km) produced two more wins for Norway’s Jarl Magnus Rieber, giving him 13 wins in the 15 races held so far. He’s clinched the seasonal title already, with teammate Jorgen Graabak (second in Saturday race) standing second, 1,460-981. Full results here.

Austria’s Stefan Kraft remained in the seasonal lead in the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup, taking a bronze and gold in the two events in Rasnov (ROU: 97 m hill). His principal challenger, German Karl Geiger, finished 1-2 on the weekend, but Kraft still leads, 1,433-1,315 with six events remaining on the season. Full results here.

The women’s jumping was in Ljubno (SLO: 94 m hill), with reigning World Cup champ Maren Lundby (NOR) winning her fourth event of the season and ending a four-meet win streak for Chiara Holzl (AUT). With seven events remaining, the race has tightened to 1,066-1,040 for Holzl, with Austria’s Eva Pinkelnig – second on Sunday – closing in at 939. Full results here.

SNOWBOARD ● The only World Cup competition of the weekend was in PyeongChang (KOR) for a Parallel Giant Slalom. Italy’s Roland Fischnaller claimed his third win of the season in Parallel events, finishing ahead of Russia’s Dmitry Loginov and Andrey Sobolev. That extended Fischnaller’s seasonal lead to 5,910-3,075 over German Stefan Baumeister, with five events left.

Swiss Julie Zogg won her third race of the season in the women’s Parallel Giant Slalom, beating Italy’s Nadya Ochner and Swiss teammate Ladina Jenny. However, Germany’s Ramona Hofmeister continues to lead the season standings, 4,300-2,470, over Jenny. Full results here.

TABLE TENNIS ● The Hungarian Open in Budapest was the second stop on the ITTF World Tour, with Japan taking three of the five divisions. No. 1 seed Tomokazu Harimoto won the men’s Singles over teammate Yukiya Uda, while top-seeded Mima Ito won the women’s title over I-Ching Cheng (TPE) and Miu Hirano and Kasumi Ishikawa won the women’s Doubles.

German veterans Benedikt Duda and Patrick Franziska took the men’s Doubles and Chun Ting Wong and Hoi Kem Doo won the Mixed Doubles for Hong Kong, defeating Franziska and Petrissa Solja. Full results here.