The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: Another event with money trouble (in Britain); some progress on NHL players in 2026 Winter Games; ex-biathlon chief on trial!

American Cross Country Skiing star Jessica Diggins: a second FIS World Cup seasonal title!

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1. Money to derail ‘26 European Athletics Champs in Birmingham?
2. IIHF: NHL might be at Milan-Cortina; Russia decision in February
3. Trial of former IBU chief Besseberg to start this week
4. WADA confirms continuing inquiry in Spain’s anti-doping agency
5. L.A. Rec & Parks asks to accelerate LA28 funding

● Another big event – the 2026 European Athletics Championships – is in jeopardy over money in Birmingham, England. The event needs more money than originally granted by the regional authority and the city is essentially bankrupt over a huge equal-pay fine from a worker lawsuit. This follows on money-related implosions of the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria last year and the 2027 Pan Am Games, taken from Colombia last week. But the Colombians want the event back and are pursuing Panam Sports about it.

● International Ice Hockey Federation chief Luc Tardif of France is optimistic about NHL participation in the 2026 Winter Games in Italy as all sides are now ready to talk again about the conditions. The question of Russian and Belarusian participation in events will be discussed again next month.

● In Norway, the trial of former long-time International Biathlon Union chief Anders Besseberg for bribery and unfair advantage will begin next week, with Norwegian government wiretaps a crucial piece of evidence.

● The World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed that it is pursuing an inquiry with the Spanish national anti-doping agency (CELAD) over allegations of doping cover-ups and mismanagement, and said it has been doing so for some time.

● The LA28 Youth Sports Partnership with the City of Los Angeles got off to a slow start due to Covid-19 and difficulties in hiring staff, but a new request for 2024-25 shows the project accelerating with a $27.72 million request.

World Championship: Ice Hockey (U.S. wins sixth men’s World Juniors title) ●

Panorama: Olympic Games 2026 (Poland not ready to bid for ‘36) = Alpine Skiing (2: Vlhova wins Slalom in Kranjska Gora; Odermatt takes Giant Slalom in Adelboden) = Athletics (2: Ketema scores 2:16:07 debut win in Dubai; Ethiopia sweeps Xiamen Marathon) = Biathlon (France sweeps Oberhof women’s races) = Cross Country Skiing (2: Diggins finishes Tour de Ski as Laukli get first World Cup gold; six different winners at U.S. Nationals) = Luge (Austria and Germany split World Cup wins in Winterberg) = Modern Pentathlon (Bell and Gonzalez win USA Pent qualifier) = Ski Jumping (Kobayashi’s seconds take Four Hills title) = Table Tennis (China sweeps WTT men’s finals) ●

Money to derail ‘26 European Athletics Champs in Birmingham?

Another large-scale event could be removed from its announced venue due to money: the 2026 European Athletics Championships in Birmingham (GBR).

The city very successfully hosted the 2022 Commonwealth Games, stepping in for Durban (RSA), which was removed over inadequate funding. Now, Birmingham is in financial trouble, facing a £760 million liability (about $967.1 million U.S. today) over an equal-pay case and declaring “effective bankruptcy” last September.

The event, which hosts about 1,500 athletes from 48 countries and territories, has been held since 1934, but never in Great Britain, which ranks second all-time in terms of total medals won.

The Europeans was supposed to be held with a £13.7 million grant from the West Midlands Combined Authority last March, but is apparently £2.2 million short (£1 = $1.27 U.S.). The BBC reported that £3 million from a grassroots development program could be diverted to the championships, cutting deeply into the youth sports plan. The matter will be considered as a 12 January WMCA meeting, which could also ask the national government for replacement funds for the youth development effort.

Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, renovated for the Commonwealth Games, is the site and will be expanded again from its permanent 18,000 seats to about 32,000 as it had in 2022.

The drama over the 2026 European Championships funding continues the strain on high-profile events over costs, with the 2026 Commonwealth Games abandoned last year by the Australian state of Victoria over cost worries, and the Panam Sports continental association removing the 2027 Pan American Games from Barranquilla (COL) last week over contract issues, reportedly also over money.

This is now – officially – a trend, and one of considerable worry.

Ciro Solano, the head of the Colombian Olympic Committee, told Agence France Presse that the country will try and regain hosting rights for the 2027 Pan American Games:

“We are going to take action, we want to do everything amicably, we still have hope of recovering the Games.”

Solano admitted that the $4 million rights payment due to Panam Sports at the end of 2023 was not made, but feels that Colombia should be able to make things right and continue as host for 2027. He stated that the Panam Sports decision to revoke Barranquilla’s hosting is not final until voted on by the Panam Sports membership in February.

He also expressed concern that Paraguay had been lobbying to take the event from Colombia since August.

IIHF: NHL might be at Milan-Cortina; Russia decision in February

International Ice Hockey Federation President Luc Tardif (FRA) told reporters at the men’s World Junior Championship in Sweden that he is optimistic about the possibility of having NHL players participating at Milan Cortina 2026:

“You can see I’m smiling.

“For the first time we are now meeting with all interested parties – the NHL, the NHLPA, the IIHF, the IOC. And I think all the planets are aligned. I will meet with IOC president Thomas Bach [GER] in mid-January. I believe we’ll have an announcement before the end of February. And since we are hopeful for the next Olympics, we will try to arrange a commitment for the next two Olympics. There is a common goal to participate.”

NHL players last participated in the Winter Games in 2014 in Sochi (RUS), but skipped the 2018 PyeongChang Games and, due to Covid-19, the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

On the question of the re-entry of Russian and Belarusian teams, Tardif said it is up for discussion again:

“Every February and March we reconsider the situation about the geopolitics situation. That’s not a politics decision. It’s always for the security of our competitions and the security of our players, including Belarus and Russia.

“So that will be the question to our board on February 12 and 13. Is it possible to bring Russia and Belarus to the world championships in Denmark and Sweden, next world championship [in 2025]? And at the same time, we will talk about the participation of Belarus and Russia for the Olympic Games in 2026. The decision will be taken on February 12 and 13 considering that.”

The IOC’s recommended ban on Russian and Belarusian teams from February 2022 is still in force; Russia and Belarus last participated in the 2021 men’s Worlds.

Tardif emphasized Russian and Belarusian participation in IIHF events will depend “on the safety of the athletes and organizers and the IIHF’s ability to run a safe tournament.”

Trial of former IBU chief Besseberg to start this week

The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime – known as Okokrim – will present its case against former International Biathlon Union chief Anders Besseberg next week in a Buskerud County courtroom in Norway, seeking to prove that he received extra benefits, illegal under Norwegian law.

Besseberg was the elected President of the IBU from 1992 – when it split with the modern pentathlon federation – until 2018, when he resigned under allegations of corruption. He was charged with aggravated corruption in April 2023, including “accepting bribes in the form of watches, hunting trips and trophies, prostitutes and a leased car which he enjoyed the use of from 2011 to 2018 in Norway.”

An IBU investigation led by British lawyer Jonathan Taylor concluded in 2021, and he spoke with the Norwegian paper Verdens Gang about what the inquiry found out. Some of the information came from government wiretaps of Besseberg’s phone calls:

“On the phone, they had their guard down and spoke freely about what was going on and what their motivation was. We believe there is clear evidence of what was going on. Both were frustrated because the World Anti-Doping Agency went hard to expose Russian doping in biathlon. They almost tried to help the Russians fight back.”

“Did the leadership in the IBU do everything they could to get rid of doping? The answer is ‘No, they didn’t.’ For example, syringes with EPO were found. It was Besseberg who was in charge, he chose not to do anything. And there were several such examples. They were ‘soft’ in the anti-doping work. When Russian athletes were taken, they were usually athletes at a lower level.”

● “We found no evidence of concrete corruption, but we know that prostitutes were made available to him. And we know that expensive hunting trips were given. But can we say that it led to something else? No, we can’t. We can only present the facts. We know that he favored Russian interests beyond what is expected of a sports leader who believes that Russia was an important nation for the sport. He went much further than that. Why? That is for others to decide.”

Taylor also spoke of the situation within the IBU, a paralysis which is likely not unknown in multiple organizations:

“When some people get positions in international sports, they stay in nice hotels and are driven around in limousines. They feel important and like it. Then they don’t think that it is their job to look after the sport and make sure that nothing wrong happens. And when new people join the board, it’s incredibly difficult to put your foot down and say, ‘Stop, this is wrong.’”

And as for Russian doping in the sport, Taylor said the evidence “is completely overwhelming.”

Besseberg has denied the charges and his attorney says a different portrait of him will be painted at the trial.

For Taylor, however, the bottom line as regards the sport Besseberg was responsible to:

“Besseberg was not interested in the integrity of international biathlon. He didn’t want to anger Russia. Rather, he sacrificed the integrity of the sport.”

WADA confirms continuing inquiry in Spain’s anti-doping agency

WADA has been looking into this matter for some time now. We are well aware of deep-seated issues within Spanish anti-doping. I am disappointed with the level of cooperation we have received from CELAD as we seek to improve the system for Spanish athletes. The fact that there are positive cases that have not been handled in a timely fashion, despite regular follow up by WADA, is unacceptable.”

That’s World Anti-Doping Agency President Witold Banka (POL), reacting to a story on the Spanish site Relevo that cited not just irregularities in testing, but cover-up efforts for certain athletes to allow them to continue competing from within the Spanish national anti-doping agency, known as CELAD.

WADA issued a statement on Friday that included:

“[WADA] confirms that all cases have been repeatedly followed up through the results management process and some are still pending.

“Indeed, in addition to pursuing CELAD on apparently delayed pending cases, WADA took the highly unusual action in 2023, of taking away three Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) cases from it and handing them over to the relevant International Federations to deal with instead. In another two such ABP cases, WADA imposed strict deadlines on CELAD for the rendering of a decision.

“WADA can also confirm that for several months, as part of its compliance monitoring program, it has been aware of ongoing problems related to CELAD, including several issues to do with testing and results management. Related to that, WADA provided to CELAD a corrective action report that needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency, including with respect to a number of delayed cases. This matter is ongoing.”

The statement also noted WADA’s dissatisfaction with the implementation of a Spanish law that was supposed to create a compliant structure with the World Anti-Doping Code, deepening the crisis and opening Spain to sanctions, which could include a loss of flag and anthem privileges at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

In Spain, the CELAD scandal has roused the interest of prosecutors, with the Spanish High Council of Sports (CSD) passing on a complaint which noted “irregularities in the use of public funds and in the control and sanctioning of doping.”

The CSD asked CELAD director Jose Luis Terreros to resign, and if not, said it will work with the Interior Ministry to have him removed.

L.A. Rec & Parks asks to accelerate LA28 funding

The unique and highly-publicized Youth Sports Partnership program between the LA28 organizing committee and the City of Los Angeles’ Recreation and Parks Department, using $160 million in funds advanced by the International Olympic Committee, got off to a slow start.

That appears to be changing.

The agreement, signed in September 2020, offers funding designed to be used “to subsidize and offset funding for youth sports and fitness classes or programs at designated recreation centers and or through signature programs or other non-profit or specialized sport and fitness partners, as well as for marketing and for the implementation of a safe sport program.” LA28 agreed to funding on a consistent schedule of $6.4 million in 2020 and then $19.2 annually from 2020-21 through 2017-28. However, City Recreation and Parks hasn’t been able to use that much; its actual requests have totaled just $29.66 million through the 2022-23 fiscal year and $48.46 million through the 2023-24 fiscal year:

2020: $4.48 million ($4.48 million received)
2021-22: $7.65 million ($7.65 million received)
2022-23: $17.53 million ($13.22 million received)
2023-24: $18.80 million (none shown so far)

That’s against an LA28 commitment of $83.2 million for that period! And spending by the Recreation and Parks Department were short of the funding received in 2020 and in 2021-22. Now, however, the City appears ready to catch up.

In a 223-page submittal confirmed last week, it is asking for $14.82 million to balance its actual spending and requests through 2022-23. And then there is the funding request for 2024-25, for $27.72 million, which would bring the 5 1/2-year total to $67.89 million.

That would leave $92.11 million remaining in the LA28 funding commitment through the final three years of the deal (an average of $30.70 million annually!).

The new funding request for $27.72 million includes:

● $18.24 million for recreation leagues and classes at 88 sites;
● $1.61 million for swimming classes;
● $6.69 million for Signature programs in aquatics, fitness and adaptive sports;
● $1.17 million for SafeSport training, marketing and promotion.

The baseline participation level from the 2018-19 fiscal year was 148,274 individuals, with the 2024-25 goal at $211,859, a projected 43% increase.

The Youth Support Program got off to a slow start due to strict Covid-19 remedial measures in Los Angeles County, and a lack of instructors once restrictions were eased. But the City now appears poised to fully implement the program originally envisioned as LA28’s legacy, in place ahead of the Games.

The next stop for the plan is the L.A. City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


● Ice Hockey ● The U.S, men finished undefeated and won their sixth IIHF men’s World Junior Championship title in Gothenburg (SWE), in front of 11,512 spectators with a 6-2 victory homestanding Sweden.

The Swedes (5-2) piled up a 17-5 goals-against total in the group stage, with all five against in the 5-4 shoot-out loss to Finland. It gave up only two goals each in its quarterfinal and semifinal wins, but against the U.S., – which had outscored its opponents by 39-13 – it gave up three goals in the first 35 minutes.

Forward Gabe Perreault opened the scoring at 16:56 of the first period for the U.S. on a deflected shot in front of goal, with Sweden’s Otto Stenberg tying it just 2:13 into the second. The Americans then went up 3-1 with back-to-back goals from Isaac Howard at 9:24 (on a breakaway) and 14:19 of the second on a shot from the goal line, but the Sweden’s Jonathan Lekkerimaki got close at 3-2 on a power-play goal at 19:55 of the second.

Swedish hopes dimmed, however, as Zeev Buium scored for the U.S. just 1:19 into the final period and Ryan Leonard pushed the lead to 5-2 at 16:12 of the period on a steal-and-shot. A final goal – for the 6-2 final – came on an empty-netter from Rutger McGroarty at 16:50.

There was a late-game mix-up with eight penalties against five players for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct with 31 seconds to play, but no serious damage done.

In a wild third-place game, the Czech Republic defeated Finland, 8-5, with five goals in the final period to overcome a 3-5 deficit at the start of the third!

The Americans finished 7-0 and won its sixth title in this tournament, previously in 2004-10-13-17-21. Sweden, which won in 1981 and 2012, took the silver for the 12th time. Sweden’s Hugo Havelid was named Best Goaltender and teammate Axel Sandin Pellikka as Best Defender. The U.S.’s Cutter Gauthier won for Best Forward.

Gauthier and Jiri Kulich (CZE) tied with 12 points as the top scorer; Lekkerimaki led with seven goals, ahead of Kulich and American Gavin Brindley, with six each.


● Olympic Games 2036 ● Polish Minister of Sport Slawomir Nitras said in a Friday radio interview that the country is not ready to pursue a bid for the 2036 Olympic Games:

“It would be necessary to make a bid and participate in a competition with other countries. Poland is not ready for that today.”

● Alpine Skiing ● The FIS women’s World Cup resumed in Kranjska Gora (SLO) with a Giant Slalom and Slalom, and a Saturday win for Canadian Valerie Grenier.

Competing at the site where she scored her only prior World Cup gold, Grenier ranked fourth after the first run, trailing Beijing 2022 Olympic Slalom champ Petra Vlhova (SVK) by 0.35. But Grenier won the second run with a spectacular 53.61 clocking, 0.22 faster than everyone else and good enough for a 1:50.51 total that was a clear 0.37 seconds better than 2021 World Champion Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI) and Italy’s 2022 Olympic runner-up Federica Brignone (1:51.02). Vlhova ended up fourth (1:1.12) and U.S. star Mikaela Shiffrin was ninth (1:52.39). American teammate A.J. Hurt was 18th.

On Sunday, it was Vlhova who mastered difficult weather conditions and led the Slalom after the first run by 0.26 and held steady on the second run to win in 1:47.62, ahead of German Lena Duerr (1:48.34 and Hurt (1:48.49), who had the fastest second run in the field to jump up from 16th!

This was a breakthrough for Hurt, 23, who had previously finished in the top 10 in a World Cup race just once, in December in the Giant Slalom at Tremblant (CAN). Shiffrin did not finish the first run after straddling a gate. It was Vlhova’s 31st career World Cup win.

Swiss star Marco Odermatt, the reigning World Cup champ, scored his fourth win and fifth medal in the last six World Cup races in Saturday’s men’s Giant Slalom in front of home fans in Adelboden (SUI).

Really, no one was close as Odermatt led after the first run by 1.04 and with the second-fastest time on the second run, he won at 1:54.06, some 1.24 ahead of Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (1:55.32). Filip Zubcic (SLO) grabbed the bronze at 1:55.83, with River Radamus of the U.S. in fourth (1:55.95), with the quickest second run in the field. It was Odermatt’s 29th career World Cup gold.

Sunday saw the second win of the season for Austria’s 2017 Worlds Slalom runner-up Manuel Feller, who was fifth-fastest in the first run and sixth in the second run, but that was good enough to win in 1:52.62 over Atle Lie McGrath (NOR: 1:52.64) and Austrian teammate Dominik Raschner (1:52.85).

Radamus was again the top American, finishing 19th in 1:54.77.

● Athletics ● The famously flat Dubai Marathon produced another sensational time as Ethiopian Tigist Ketema debuted with a win in the women’s race in 2:16:07, making her the no. 8 performer in history!

Ketema, 25, has run 4:00.91 for 1,500 m in 2021, but blew past a good field with 5 km left and sailed home with the victory by more than two minutes on countrywomen Ruti Aga (2:18:09) and Dera Dida (2:19:29). Aga equaled her lifetime best, set last year.

Ethiopia also swept the men’s race, with Addisu Gobena winning in 2:05:01, beating Lemi Dumecha (2:05:20) and Dejane Megersa (2:05:42).

At the Xiamen Marathon in China, Ethiopia’s Asefa Kebebe outran Kenya’s Felix Kirwa over the last seven kilometers to win in 2:06:46 to 2:06:52. In the women’s race, Ethiopian Bekelech Gudeta won easily in a lifetime best of 2:22:54, with Morocco’s Fatima Gardadi second at 2:24:12.

● Biathlon ● France has taken possession of the IBU women’s World Cup, with wins in both individual races in Oberhof (GER). On Friday, it was the third straight World Cup gold for Justine Braisaz-Bouchet in the 7.5 km Sprint in 22:32.0 (2 penalties), clear of runner-up Franziska Preuss (GER: 22:47.4/0) and France’s Sophie Chauveau (22:47.6/1).

In Saturday’s 10 km Pursuit, Braisasz-Bouchet had to settle for second, but behind French teammate Julia Simon – the reigning World Champion in the event – who won by 18.9 seconds in 31:45.2 (2). Braisaz-Bouchet won a medal in her fifth straight race (and six of the last seven) in 32:04.1 (3), ahead of Ingrid Tandrevold (NOR: 32:29.6/2).

Simon’s win gave France its seventh win in the 10 races this season, with four for Braisasz-Bouchet, one for Simon and two for Lou Jeanmonnot.

Germany got its third win in the men’s World Cup with a 10 km Sprint victory for Benedikt Doll, the 2017 World Champion, in 24:12.2 (1), just beating five-time Worlds gold medalist Sturla Holm Laegreid (NOR: 24:14.0/1) and fellow Norwegian Endre Stroemsheim (24:17.6/1).

Stroemsheim, 26, got his first career World Cup win on Saturday in the 12.5 km Pursuit, in 33:04.2 (2), leading a Norwegian sweep with Laegreid second again (33:22.0/2) and Johannes Dale-Skjevdal third (33:40.6/1).

Norway won Sunday’s 4×7.5 km men’s relay in 1:17:34.2 (7), more than two minutes ahead of Germany (1:19:36.1/15) and Italy (1:20:24.7/16). The French (of course) took the women’s 4×6 km in 1:12:42.5 (12), ahead of Norway (1:12:51.8/10) and Sweden (1:13:16.0/8).

● Cross Country Skiing ● The 18th Tour de Ski concluded at Val di Fiemme (ITA), with Sweden making a run at leader Jessie Diggins of the U.S. in Saturday’s 15 km Classical Mass start.

Linn Svahn won her third Tour de Ski race in 53:49.7, just ahead of teammate Frida Karlsson (53:50.1) and German Katharina Henning (53:51.3). Diggins was eighth, but only 5.7 seconds back of the winner and entered Sunday’s 10 km Freestyle Mass Start some 43 seconds up on Jonna Sundling (SWE) and 44 seconds ahead of teammate Frida Karlsson.

But Sunday came up gold for Diggins and the U.S., with a sensational surprise: the first career World Cup win for 23-year-old American Sophia Laukli! She charged past Norway’s two-time World Cup champion Heidi Weng in the final 800 m and won in 38:16.5, to 38:33.6 for Weng and 38:54.2 for Delphine Claudel (FRA).

“I don’t know if I fully believe it,” she said afterwards. “I was really excited for today and after being third last year I was like ‘there’s not a lot of room for improvement but it would be super, super cool to win,’ so I didn’t want to have too high expectations but I really could not be happier for this.”

Diggins was sixth in 39:05.0 and celebrated her second Tour de Ski victory – also in 2021 – with a total time of 4:13:19.0, finishing 31.6 seconds up on Weng and 39.7 seconds ahead of Finn Kerttu Niskanen. U.S. teammate Rosie Brennan finished 12th in the final standings.

Norway’s Erik Valnes, who won the season’s first race for the men, took his third career World Cup gold in Saturday’s 15 km Classical, timing 50:50.6, ahead of Sweden’s William Poromaa (50:51.5) and 1.1 seconds up on Swiss Cyril Faehndrich (50:51.7). Tour de Ski leader Harald Amundsen was sixth, but cruised into Sunday’s race with a huge, 1:34 lead over Valnes.

In the 10 km Free finale, France’s Jules Lapierre, who like Laukli had won one World Cup medal in his career before Sunday, won in the 10 km Freestyle Mass Start in 33:00.7, just edging Friedrich Moch (GER: 33:03.1), who won his second career individual World Cup medal. France’s Hugo Lapalus took third (33:16.7), also his first-ever World Cup medal.

Amundsen was a clear winner in the men’s Tour de Ski, finishing at 3:41:21.9, with Moch coming up to second (+1:19.2) and Lapalus getting third (1:32.8). Valnes fell back to sixth (+2:17.7).

The U.S. National Championships were held at Soldier Hollow in Utah, six different winners in the six senior events.

Norway’s Andreas Kirkeng took the men’s 10 km race in 23:50.8, trailed by Joe Davies (USA) in 23:53.1. American John Street Hagenbuch won the men’s 20 km in 46:35.8, with Tom Mancini (FRA: 47:15.8) second. Luke Jager of the U.S. won the Sprint in 3:45.60, with Mancini second in 3:49.91.

Swede Tilde Baangman took the women’s 10 km in 27:13.3, ahead of Sydney Palmer-Leger (USA: 27:32.5), and Americans Haley Brewster (54:37.2) and Kendall Kramer (54:43.5) were 1-2 in the women’s 20 km. The women’s Sprint went to Karianne Dengerud (NOR: 4:37.14), ahead of Alayna Sonnesyn (USA: 4:37.64).

● Luge ● The fourth of nine stages in the 2023-24 FIL World Cup was in Winterberg (GER), with Austria and Germany splitting wins in the four events.

It was a familiar winner in the women’s Singles, as Austria’s two-time Olympic relay medalist Madeleine Egle won her second race of the season in 1:51.392, taking the first heat and logging the no. 2 time in the second run. That was just 0.029 better than Germany’s 2021 World Champion, Julia Taubitz (1:51.421), who won the second run. Another Austrian, Hannah Prock, took the bronze in 1:51.697; the top American was Ashley Farquharson in sixth (1:51.936), and Emily Sweeney was ninth (1:52.154).

The Austrian men’s Doubles team was Juri Gatt and Riccardo Schoepf scored an upset win in the men’s Doubles, finishing second in both runs to win in 1:26,145, ahead of triple Olympic champs Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt (GER: 1:26.211). The Germans were only seventh after the first run, but had the fastest time in the second round to jump to silver.

Germans Hannes Orlamuender and Paul Gubitz took third (1:26.236), with Americans Zachary Di Gregorio and Sean Hollander eighth in 1:26.657, and Dana Kellogg and Frank Ike in 10th (1:26.807).

In the women’s Doubles, Germany’s two-time defending World Champions Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal won their second straight World Cup race in 1:27.131, ahead of Italy’s Worlds bronze winners Andrea Voetter and Marion Oberhofer (1:27.155). Austria’s Selina Egle and Lara Kipp took third (1:27.175), with Americans Chevonne Forgan and Sophia Kirkby in fifth (1:27.474) and teammates Maya Chen and Reannyn Weller in sixth (1:27.534).

On Sunday, Germany’s Max Lagenhan won his third men’s Singles title in three tries, scoring the fastest runs in both rounds for a 1:43.695 total, ahead of Italy’s Dominik Fischnaller (1:43.871) and Kristers Aparjods (LAT: 1:43.877). Jonny Gustafson was the top American, in 10th, at 1:44.579.

The Germans won the Team Relay with Anna Berreiter, Wendl and Arlt, Lagenhan and Degenhardt and Rosenthal, in 3:11.425. Austria finished second, 0.043 back and the U.S. was third with Farquharson, Di Gregorio and Hollander, Gustafson and Forgan and Kirky, in 3:12.676.

● Modern Pentathlon ● At the USA Pentathlon Olympic and World Cup qualifier in San Antonio, Texas, Tristen Bell and Madison Gonzalez won the men’s and women’s division in a four-discipline competition which included fencing, swimming and the Laser Run, but skipped riding (although riding will be included at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games).

Bell, second at the 2023 U.S. Nationals, won the fencing and was second in swimming, then dominated the Laser Run in 11:16 to win with 1,201 points. Sam Ruddock (1,068) was second, with Caleb Allen third (1,061) and 20-year-old Kian O’Boyle fourth (1,053).

Gonzalez was the 2023 Nationals bronze winner, was third in fencing segment, but won the swimming comfortably and was a clear winner – by 38 seconds – in the Laser Run (13:18) to compile a 1,034 point total. Corinne Thompson, the Nationals fourth-placer last year, was second with 959 points; Jordan Towns finished third with 847.

● Ski Jumping ● This was amazing. The finish of the 72nd Four Hills Tournament was in Bischofshofen (AUT), off the 142 m hill, with Austria’s three-time World champion, Stefan Kraft, grabbing his sixth win of the season.

Kraft was second after the first jump, but passed Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi in the second round and scored 288.9 points to 287.6 for the Japanese star. Anze Lanisek (SLO), the 2021 World Champion, got the bronze at 281.8.

Kobayashi was the leader of the Four Hills coming in, and had won the event in 2019 (winning all four phases) and in 2022 (winning the first three). This time, be won none, but was second in all four events! That gave him 1,145.2 points, ahead of Germany’s Andreas Wellinger (1,120.7) and Kraft (1,112.7).

With his third Four Hills title, Kobayashi is one of only six men to do so. The record belongs to Finland’s Janne Ahonen with five, from 1999-2008; Kobayashi now joins three others with three each. At 27, he could yet move up!

● Table Tennis ● At the WTT Finals for men in Doha (QAT), China swept both titles, with second-seed Chuqin Wang defeating no. 1 Zhendong Fan in the final in straight sets: 11-8, 11-9, 14-12, 11-7. That reversed the results of the 2023 World Championships, where Fan had beaten Wang in the final and was Wang’s fourth win in 13 career tries against Fan.

It was another all-China final in the Doubles, but with an upset in the final. World no. 23 Licen Yuan and Peng Xiang swept aside fifth-ranked Gaoyuan Lin and Shidong Lin, by 11-8, 11-2 and 11-8.

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