TSX DAILY: Skiing superstar Hirscher retires at 30; sprinter Gatlin escapes injury at Zagreb & ESPN’s Foudy clarifies USWNT pay demands

Austria's World Champion skier Marcel Hirscher

≡ TSX DAILY ~ 5 September 2019 ≡

| 1. |  LEADING OFF: Marcel Hirscher, one of the greatest skiers in history, retires at 30 

Although widely rumored, no one was quite sure if Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, winner of eight consecutive Alpine World Cup seasonal titles, was going to retire before the start of the 2019-2020 season. The answer is yes.

He announced the end of his competitive career at a news conference in Salzburg on Wednesday, summing up his decision thus:

“You know me. I either go all in, putting 150% effort or nothing. I can be very satisfied with my career, I was very lucky to never get serious injuries in all these years, and I slowly realized that I was not willing to pay the high price that it takes to always be at the top in this sport. Additionally, I wanted to leave as champion and I feel this is the best moment to retire.”

Hirscher is only 30 but in his 12 years on the FIS Alpine World Cup tour, he came to dominate the seasonal points race like none before him. For many years, the World Cup Champion was a star in the speed events, like the Downhill. Hirscher is a technical skier, and his success in the Slalom and Giant Slalom – six seasonal titles in each – and the occasional Combined, made him unbeatable.

His eight World Cup titles are the most ever; no one else has more than five. His 67 World Cup race wins over 12 seasons is second only to Swede Ingemar Stenmark’s 86 from 1973-89 (17 seasons); he retired at age 33. Stenmark also holds the record for most World Cup medals with 155; Hirscher is no. 2 at 138.

More: Hirscher won three Olympic medals, including two golds at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games and 11 World Championships medals from 2013-19, including seven golds in the Slalom (3), Giant Slalom (1), Combined (1) and Team Event (2).

Hirscher was married in 2018 and celebrated the birth of a son last October. He leaves on his own terms and as a champion with an unbroken streak of success right to the end. More here.

| 2. | ATHLETICS: Gatlin fine after hamstring scare slowed him at Zagreb

Justin Gatlin should be back training within the week after tests were negative for a possible hamstring injury” was the lead in a Wednesday story from Reuters, explaining the odd race results for the reigning World Champion in the 100 meters.

Reporter Gene Cherry obtained details from Gatlin’s agent, former hurdles world-record holder Renaldo Nehemiah, that Gatlin felt “something grabbing” during Tuesday’s race at the Hanzekovic Memorial in Zagreb (CRO) and slowed, finishing fourth in 10.29. He was leading at the time, but didn’t want to risk injury with the IAAF World Championships coming on 28 September.

Gatlin (pictured) had finished poorly at the Diamond League final in Zurich, ending up in fourth place in 10.08 after being in the lead at 60 m. He had won a race in Bellinzona, Italy in 9.97 on Sunday, but then was fourth again in Zagreb on Tuesday.

Nehemiah said the Zagreb race was the last for Gatlin prior to the Worlds.

Both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Athletics Integrity Unit stated that they would not be challenging the withdrawal of a complaint by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency against sprinter Christian Coleman.

USADA had filed a complaint against Coleman for missing three “whereabouts” filings over a 12-month period, but after consulting with WADA, it withdrew the filing due to a technical interpretation of the doping regulations that placed only two of the failures during 12 months. Coleman is now free to compete in the IAAF World Championships in Doha.

| 3. | BASKETBALL: Four prelim groups now complete, 14 teams confirmed for World Cup round 2

The final games in the 2019 FIBA men’s World Cup were completed on Wednesday morning, with the top two in each group moving on to the second round:

● Group A: 1. Poland (3-0); 2. Venezuela (2-1); 3. China (1-2); 4. Ivory Coast (0-3)

● Group B: 1. Argentina (3-0); 2. Russia (2-1); 3. Nigeria (1-2); 4. South Korea (0-3)

● Group C: 1. Spain (3-0); 2. Puerto Rico (2-1); 3. Tunisia (1-2); 3. Iran (0-3)

● Group D: 1. Serbia (3-0); 2. Italy (2-1); 3. Angola (1-2); 4. Philippines (0-3).

In Group B, Argentina defeated Russia, 69-61 to decide the group and Serbia stomped Italy, 92-77, in Group D in the final game of that group. Guard Bogdan Bogdanovic had 31 points for Serbia and Dario Gallinari had 26 for Italy as the high scorers on Wednesday.

Coming on Thursday are the final games in the last four groups. The situation:

● Group E: 1. United States (2-0); Turkey and Czech Rep. play to advance

● Group F: 1. Brazil (2-0); Greece and New Zealand play to advance

● Group G: France and Dominican Republic both 2-0; play for group title

● Group H: Australia and Lithuania both 2-0; play for group title.

The U.S. will advance to one of the four second-round groups and play Brazil and the second-place team from Group F, either Greece (!) or New Zealand. The American team will play Japan on Thursday; Jayson Tatum will be out for a couple of days after a leg injury in the Turkey game, but he won’t be needed until the second round opens on the weekend. Look for scores here.

| 4. | CYCLING: Spain’s Iturria wins Stage 11, but Roglic remains in La Roja in Vuelta a Espana

For the first time in a week, the leader’s jersey – La Roja – did not change hands at the end of the daily stage of the 74th La Vuelta a Espana.

The undulating 180.0 km course from Saint Palais (FRA) to Urdax-Dantxarinea was won by Spain’s 27-year-old Mikel Iturria for his first-ever pro victory. He broke away from the field in a solo attack with about 25 km left and no one followed.

The chase pack got within six seconds at the finish, with Spanish rider Jonathan Lastra second and American Lawson Craddock third. The first 12 finishers were within 20 seconds, but then came a huge gap back to the rest of the race. Leader Primoz Roglic (SLO) finished 18:35 back of the leader, but so did all of the other contenders and so the race remains intact for another day:

1. 41:00:48 Primoz Roglic (SLO)
2. +1:52 Alejandro Valverde (ESP)
3. +2:11 Miguel Angel Lopez (COL)
4. +3:00 Nairo Quintana (COL)
5. +3:05 Tadej Pogacar (SLO)

Another hilly stage is on for Thursday, with a downhill finish and then the climbing starts again on Friday with an uphill finish to Los Machucos in the Pas Mountains of northern Spain. Complete results here.

| 5. | FOOTBALL: Eight countries still interested in FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023

FIFA announced that eight associations have confirmed their interest as bidders for the expanded 2023 Women’s World Cup and now have until 13 December to compile their bid documents and submit them to FIFA. The bidders:

● Argentina
● Australia
● Brazil
● Colombia
● Japan
● Korea (possibly in combination with North Korea)
● New Zealand
● South Africa

Interestingly, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Korea and South Africa – five of the eight – are former hosts of the FIFA World Cup and should be well familiar with the requirements. The selection is due to be made in 2020.

At halftime of ESPN’s broadcast of Tuesday’s Victory Tour win over Portugal, analyst (and former U.S. star) Julie Foudy said that the discussions over “equal pay” surrounding the lawsuit filed by the U.S. players against the U.S. Soccer Federation are actually over two separate areas of “equal pay.”

Foudy said that she felt the issues between the players and the USSF in areas that the USSF controlled would be settled prior to the case going to trial next May. However, she indicated that the players are asking for prize money – which is issued by FIFA, not the USSF – for winning the Women’s World Cup to be equal to that paid to the men’s 2018 winner, France.

That’s a $34 million bill, the difference between the $4 million paid by FIFA to the 2019 Women’s World Cup winners (U.S.) and the $38 million paid to the 2018 World Cup winners (France). Foudy stated that the players would likely lose that argument in court, since FIFA is not a party to the suit and the USSF has no control over FIFA’s payouts, but she says that’s what the players are asking for. She added that on the latter point, the chances of player success are not very good.

| 6. | COMING ATTRACTIONS: Another world archery title for Brady Ellison?

The final stage of the World Archery World Cup comes in Moscow (RUS) this week, with direct-elimination tournaments for the top eight archers of the season in Recurve and Compound events.

The men’s Recurve favorite has to be American Brady Ellison, whose career year includes the World Archery World Championship, a world record in the 72-arrow Ranking Round (702) and U.S. titles in the National Target Championships, U.S. Open and U.S. Field Archery Championships.

The U.S. also has shooters in the men’s Compound division, with current and former World Champions James Lutz and Braden Gellenthien and the red-hot Alexis Ruiz in the women’s division. More here.

Also on this week:

● The final leg of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is on in Snowshoe, West Virginia, with Swiss stars Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff trying to protect their seasonal points leads in the Cross Country division. American Kate Courtney is the only one who can overhaul Neff.

● The race for the UCI Women’s World Tour seasonal title may be on the line this week at the Boels Ladies Tour in the Netherlands, with Dutch star Annemiek van Vleuten (pictured) trying for her third win in a row in the six-stage event. More on both cycling previews here.

● The final FIS World Cup event at the Winter Games NZ is the Freestyle Skiing Halfpipe event in Cardrona this weekend. Defending Halfpipe seasonal champs Simon d’Artois and Cassie Sharpe of Canada are both entered, but so is two-time World Champion Aaron Blunck of the U.S. as part of a large U.S. delegation. Deeper previews here.

| 7. | DOPING: WADA Athlete Committee asks for worldwide “Ombudsperson” office

The Athlete Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency has been paying attention to the ongoing hearings and legislative discussion about the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

In a summary of its latest meeting, held last week in Lima, Peru, the group noted its support for the same kind of “athlete advocate” program requested by USOPC Athletes Advisory Council chair Han Xiao and included – at least in part – in the proposed Senate bill to reform the USOPC. The meeting summary shows:

“The WADA AC continues to support and progress the concept of an Ombudsperson Office at WADA for the purposes of supporting athletes with a channel through which to report issues, seek advice, ensure rules are applied as they should be and assist with navigating the increasingly complex world of anti-doping.”

That last phrase about the “increasingly complex world of anti-doping” is not to be underestimated, especially with case after case of positive tests caused by ingesting over-the-counter medications that include prohibited substances that are NOT disclosed in the list of ingredients.

| 8. | THE LAST WORD: Ready to bet on the IAAF Worlds in Doha? Head to Indiana!

Sports betting in Indiana opened on 1 September at three locations, with 11 more outlets set to start taking wagers this month. Among the sports listed are “Olympics” (including Olympic Trials events), sailing, soccer and track & field.

The track betting includes IAAF events – perfect for the forthcoming World Championships in Doha – and NCAA Division I events. In fact, college sports betting is allowed for baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and track.

What’s the line on Noah Lyles (pictured) to win the 200 m in Doha?