HIGHLIGHTS: Kandie blows up world Half Marathon mark; Crouser out to 74-1 indoors; Loch comes from 17th to 1st in Luge World Cup!

World Half Marathon record for Kenya's Kibiwott Kandie in Valencia (Photo: World Athletics)

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Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

Alpine Skiing ● Croatia’s Filip Zubcic made a sensational second run in Saturday’s Giant Slalom in Santa Caterina (ITA) and despite heavy snowfall, moved from sixth to first and took his second career World Cup win.

Zan Kranjec (SLO) looked like a possible winner after leading the race following the first run, but faded to 11th-fastest on the second run and ended up with the silver. Swiss Marco Odermatt finished third, placing second on the first run, but eighth in the second round. American Tommy Ford skied well and finished sixth; Ted Ligety was 19th.

The second race, scheduled for Sunday, was postponed to Monday to due even heavier snow.

The women’s World Cup circuit was supposed to be in St. Moritz (SUI) for two Super-G races, but was canceled due to heavy snows and wind.

Athletics ● Lots of hot running in Valencia, Spain, with a new world mark in the men’s Half Marathon.

Kenyan Kibiwott Kandie, 24, crushed countryman Geoffrey Kamworor’s 2019 mark of 58:01 with a startling 57:32, the first of four men who finished under 58 minutes: Jacob Kiplimo (UGA: 57:37), Rhonex Kipruto (KEN: 57:49) and Alexander Mutiso (KEN: 57:59).

Six runners were clear of the field by 10 km, then it wasn’t until 18 km when Kandie pushed the pace and only Kiplimo could stay close. Kiplimo took the lead with 900 m to go, but Kandie surged ahead for the final time with 500 m left and reversed the order from the World Half Marathon Championships, when Kiplimo won and Kandie was second.

“I can’t believe it, I have beaten Kamworor’s world record by half a minute,” said the winner.

Kipruto’s third-place 57:49 is the fastest ever debut in the event.

The women’s race marked the Half Marathon debut of Ethiopian star Ginzebe Dibaba – the world-record holder in the 1,500 m – who won in style in 1:05:18, easily ahead of Kenyans Sheila Chepkirui (1:05:39) and Senbere Teferi (1:05:51). Dibaba now ranks equal-13th fastest on the all-time list.

American Emily Sisson finished fifth in 1:07:26, the second-fastest performance in American history, just one second behind Molly Huddle’s 1:07:25 run in Houston in 2018!

There was more brilliant running in Valencia on Sunday with marathons for men and women, both won in blistering times by Kenyans Evans Chebet and Peres Jepchirchir.

Already the 2020 World Champion in the Half Marathon, Jepchirchir ran away from the women’s field in 2:17:16, moving her to no. 5 all-time in the event. She broke free in the second half of the race, distancing herself from Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN: 2:18:40, no. 15 all-time) and Helaria Johannes (NAM: 2:19:52).

Jepchirchir ran 1:09:01 for the first half of the race, but finished in 1:08:15 on the friendlier half of the route.

The men’s race went to Kenyan Chebet, who screamed to a lifetime best of 2:03:00, edging fellow Kenyan Lawrence Cherono (2:03:04) and Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese (2:03:16), with Amos Kipruto (KEN: 2:03:30) also under 2:04:00.

The amazing mark moves Chebet to no. 6 all-time, with the seventh-fastest marathon ever; old best was 2:05:00 from 2019. Cherono is now no. 7 on the all-time performers list with the no. 9 performance in history.

Chebet was one of 11 in the lead pack at the halfway mark, but only four were left by 30 km. The winner made his move with about 3 km remaining, with enough at the end to separate from Cherono as Kipruto and Legese faded.

Said Chebet: “The experience has been great as I improved my PB by two minutes on a fantastic circuit. Anyway, my main goal was to be among the top three Kenyans thinking of the Tokyo Olympics selection.”

In Fukuoka, Japan, Yuya Yoshida won the famed Fukuoka Marathon in 2:07:05, a lifetime best and now the ninth-fastest Japanese marathoner ever. He was well ahead of Shohei Otsuka (2:07:38, lifetime best) and Natsuki Terada (2:08:03 lifetime best).

In the latest edition of athletes-only meets at (more or less) undisclosed locations, dozens of U.S. distance stars gathered at the Junipero Serra High School track in San Juan Capistrano, California for “The Track Meet,” aimed at Olympic qualifying standards.

None of the men’s 5,000 m races produced qualifying times, with the fastest races won by Matthew Centrowitz (13:32.92) and Luis Grijalva (GUA: 13:16.75).

The faster men’s 10,000 m race provided four qualifiers, led by Eric Jenkins, the winner in a lifetime best of 27:22.06, a huge improvement over his 27:48.02 best from 2016 and now ninth on the all-time U.S. list. Also under the 27:28.00 qualifying mark were Patrick Tiernan (AUS: 27:22.55), Edward Cheserek (KEN: 27:23.58), and Sam Atkin (GBR: 27:26.58).

Among the women, Shelby Houlihan won the fastest section of the 5,000 m in 15:02.55, ahead of Elise Cranny (15:04.88), both of whom achieved the standard of 15:10.00. The top eight finishers in the 10,000 m all finished under the 31:25:00 standard, led by Rachel Schneider’s debut in the event in 31:09.79, moving her to no. 8 on the all-time U.S. list.

Weini Kelati (ERI) was second in 31:10.08, followed by Alicia Monson (31:10.84, now no. 10 al-time U.S.), Sharon Lokedi (KEN: 31:11.07), Natosha Rogers (31:12.28), Kellyn Taylor (31:15.65), Danielle Shanahan (31:22.86) and Stephanie Bruce (31:24.47).

In Manhattan, Kansas, the University of Arkansas’ volunteer assistant coach Ryan Crouser (USA) continued to re-write the record books, reaching 22.58 m (74-1) in the indoor shot put on Saturday.

That’s the no. 3 performance all-time indoors, behind only the 22.66 m (74-4 1/4) world record by Randy Barnes (USA) in 1989 and Crouser’s own 22.60 m (74-1 3/4) win at the U.S. Nationals in Albuquerque, New Mexico this year on 15 February.

As always, Crouser was consistent: 21.71 m (71-2 3/4), 21.91 m (71-10 3/4). 21.78 m (71-5 1/2), 21.96 m (72-0 3/4), then 22.58 m (74-1) and finally 21.97 m (72-1). He now has four career indoor meets at 22.00 m (72-2 1/4) or better, tied with Ryan Whiting (USA) behind only East German Ulf Timmermann between 1985-89.

Biathlon ● The second week of the World Cup races in Kontiolahti (FIN) were family affairs, with Tarjei Boe (NOR) winning the 10 km Sprint while younger brother (and World Cup champ) Johannes Thingnes Boe was third and German Arnd Peiffer second.

The younger Boe repeated his bronze-medal performance in the 12.5 km Pursuit, behind Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson and France’s Fabien Claude.

The sisters Hanna Oberg and Elvira Oberg were also 1-3 in the women’s 7.5 km Sprint, with France’s Anais Chevalier-Bouchet second. In the 10 km Pursuit, Norway scored a 1-2 finish with Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, followed by Hanna Oeberg in third.

The circuit continues this week Hochfilzen (AUT).

Freestyle Skiing ● The Aerials and Moguls seasons opened in Ruka (FIN), with a Russian sweep on Friday in the men’s Aerials and a great showdown in the women’s Moguls.

Maxim Burov won his sixth World Cup gold to lead the first-ever Russian sweep in a World Cup Aerials event, scoring 126.24 in the finals to edge teammates Pavel Krotov (120.36) and older brother Ilia Burov (118.10). American Justin Schoenefeld was fifth (110.41).

Australia’s Laura Peel – the reigning World Cup champion – took the women’s Aerials, scoring 83.87 points to edge two first-time World Cup medalists, German Emma Weiss (80.95) and Russian Anastasiia Prytkova (71.53). American Winter Vinecki (62.04) was sixth.

Japanese veteran Ikuma Horishima won the men’s Moguls – his eighth World Cup gold – at 80.86, in front of Marco Tade (SUI: 78.93) and Ludvig Fjallstrom (SWE: 76.09). American Dylan Walczyk (75.26) was fourth.

The women’s Moguls was a great competition between 2018 Olympic winner Perrine Laffont (FRA) and two-time World Championships medal winner Jaelin Kauf of the U.S. The two were less than a point apart in qualifying, but Laffont managed a 79.18 score in the finals, enough to win as Kauf ended up with 75.74 and Anastasiia Smirnova (RUS) was third at 74.27. Hannah Soar and Kai Owens of the U.S. finished fifth and sixth.

Judo ● The Pan American Open in Lima, Peru concluded late Sunday, with a modest field of 47 athletes from six countries. The U.S. scored wins from Adonis Diaz (-60 kg) and L.A. Smith in the +100 kg class for the men, and Katelyn Jarrell (-52 kg) and Mariah Holguin (-57 kg) for the women.

Luge ● Germany’s Felix Loch continued to dominate the FIL World Cup circuit, this time in Altenberg (GER), with an amazing come-from-behind victory on his second run.

Strong winds played havoc with the track conditions and Loch, starting near the end of the first round, could manage only 17th. But that put him in the middle of the second round and he improved considerably, with what ended up as the third-fastest run and catapulted him to the win by 0.303 over countryman Max Langenhan (16th and 6th in his two runs) and Kristers Aparjods (LAT: 13th and 8th). The first-run leader was Russian Roman Repilov, who then fell to 17th in the second run and ended up fifth.

Loch has now won all three races this season, looking for a seventh seasonal World Cup title.

Austrians Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller continued their win streak this season, winning their third Doubles race without a loss. They were second-fastest in both races and won by just 0.008 – eight/1000ths – over perennial stars Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken (GER) and 0.019 over Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt (GER).

Russian Tatyana Ivanova won the women’s races, edging superstar Natalie Geisenberger (GER) by 0.113 and countrywoman Ekaterina Katnikova by 0.200. Ivanova had the second-fastest time in both races and her consistency was the difference. Seasonal leader Julia Taubitz (GER) was fifth.

Italy won the team relay ahead of Germany and Latvia.

Nordic Skiing ● The Cross Country sprint and Skiathlon races in Lillehammer (NOR) were canceled, as was the Nordic Combined program and the women’s Ski Jumping.

The men’s jumping tour was in action in Nizhny Tagil in Russia, jumping off the 134 m hill in night events on Saturday and Sunday. Norway’s emerging star Halvor Egner Granerud won both to extend his win streak this season to three in a row and take the overall points lead for the season.

He scored 270.0 on Saturday for his second-ever World Cup win, ahead of Daniel Huber (AUT: 255.7) and Norwegian teammate Robert Johansson (254.1). On Sunday, Granerud won with 241.5 points, just edging Johansson (240.7) and teammate Marius Lindvik (240.6) for a Norwegian sweep!

Weightlifting ● The in-person USA Weightlifting National Championships, scheduled for 3-6 December, was canceled and an online competition is being held instead.

It’s still going on; results are posted here as completed. Thus far, four-time World Junior Champion Clarence Cummings won the men’s 73 kg class at 330 kg combined (727 pounds) and 2019 World Championships medalist Mattie Rogers won the women’s 64 kg class at 222 kg (~489 lbs.) combined.

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