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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Olympic Council of Asia confirms Russia’s Asian Games invite
2. Ukraine’s Zelensky rips IOC hypocrisy, invites Bach to front lines
3. Shiffrin stars at Spindleruv Mlyn, wins 85th World Cup race
4. U.S. to host Copa America for second time in 2024
5. U.S. Soccer re-shuffle continues as Stewart, McBride leave
The International Olympic Committee’s call for a possible pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes, under specified conditions, was echoed by the Olympic Council of Asia, which has offered to play host to them in qualifying events for Paris 2024, and other regional confederations. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lashed out at the IOC in a Friday address, promising a “marathon of honesty” against “any attempts to bring representatives of the terrorist state into world sports,” with the country possibly to boycott Paris if Russian or Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete. American skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin won her 85th career World Cup race on Saturday in a Slalom in the Czech Republic, but ended up second on Sunday, leaving her one short of tying the all-time World Cup wins record. A cooperation agreement between the South American football confederation CONMEBOL and the North and Central American and Caribbean group CONCACAF will see the Copa America organized in the U.S. in 2024 with six CONCACAF teams added to the 10 South American squads. Four South American women’s teams will be added to create a 12-team CONCACAF W Gold Cup in 2024. The U.S. Soccer Federation already has an interim men’s National Team coach, but is now also looking for a new Sporting Director and General Manager as both Earnie Stewart and Brian McBride are leaving, in unrelated developments.
Olympic Council of Asia confirms Russia’s Asian Games invite
“The OCA believes in the unifying power of sport and that all athletes, regardless of their nationality or the passport they hold, should be able to compete in sports competitions. The OCA has offered to give eligible Russian and Belarusian athletes the opportunity to take part in competitions in Asia, including the Asian Games.
“The OCA remains on standby as the IOC continues to explore with International Federations the pathway for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes’ participation in competition under strict conditions.”
Following the International Olympic Committee’s Wednesday announcement of the exploration of a conditional pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete internationally, the Olympic Council of Asia confirmed its invitation for those athletes to compete there, away from European qualifiers which would include Ukraine.
Three other continental associations – the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, European Olympic Committees and PanAm Sports – fell right in line with the IOC, as did the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).
Among the summer International Federations, only three – the International Gymnastics Federation, International Judo Federation and International Weightlifting Federation – confirmed support of the IOC’s position on their Web sites on Thursday or Friday.
The Chinese Olympic Committee, heavily involved in the organization of the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou in September, also parroted the IOC’s position:
“The Chinese Olympic Committee claims that athletes from all over the world should enjoy equal rights to participate in international competitions. Whether they participate or not should be determined based on their sports performance, without interference from political and war factors.”
In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo (Socialist Party) told France2 television, “I think that it’s a sporting moment and we shouldn’t deprive athletes of the competition. But I think and what I’m arguing for, as is a large part of the sporting world, is that there isn’t a delegation under the Russian banner.
“I hope the war in Ukraine will be behind us by the time we host the Paris Games.”
Ukraine’s Zelensky rips IOC for hypocrisy,
invites Bach to front lines
“Today we are starting a marathon of honesty, which will be aimed at clearing the leadership of international Olympic structures of hypocrisy and any attempts to bring representatives of the terrorist state into world sports.”
That was the opening of Friday remarks by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, condemning the International Olympic Committee’s search for a pathway to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to qualify for, and compete in, the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Also:
“One cannot but be disappointed by the statements of the current President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach. I spoke with him several times. And I never heard how he is going to protect sports from war propaganda if he returns Russian athletes to international competitions.
“There is no such thing as neutrality when a war like this is going on. And we know how often tyrannies try to use sports for their ideological interests. It is obvious that any neutral flag of Russian athletes is stained with blood.
“I do not want to get into what exactly motivated Mr. Bach to promote such an initiative. But we will do everything so that the world will protect sports from political and any other influence of the terrorist state, which is simply inevitable if Russian athletes participate in competitions. And especially – at the Paris Olympics.
“Ukrainian athletes are forced to defend the lives of their loved ones and the freedom of our people from Russian aggression. Russian strikes took the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian men and women who could have brought their talents to world sports.
“Russia must stop aggression and terror, and only after that it will be possible to talk about Russian participation in the context of the Olympic movement. Olympic principles and war are fundamentally opposed to each other.”
“And, by the way, I invite Mr. Bach to Bakhmut. So that he could see with his own eyes that neutrality does not exist.”
The BBC quoted Ukraine Sports Minister – and head of the country’s National Olympic Committee – Vadym Huttsait from his Facebook page, “If we are not heard, I do not rule out the possibility that we will boycott and refuse participation in the Olympics. … As long as there is a war in Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be in international competitions.”
Kyodo News reported that Zelensky has written to multiple international federations, asking them to state their position on Russian and Belarusian participation, and their conditions.
Britain’s Culture Secretary, Michelle Donelan, said last week:
“I want to be clear that this position from the IOC is a world away from the reality of war being felt by the Ukrainian people – and IOC President Bach’s own words less than a year ago where he strongly condemned Russia for breaking the Olympic Truce and urged it to ‘give peace a chance’
“We will strongly condemn any action taken that allows President Putin to legitimise his illegal war in Ukraine – a position the IOC previously shared.”
Olympedia.org co-founder Dr. Bill Mallon tweeted that Ukrainian figure skater Dmytro Sharpar, a 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games Pairs contestant, was killed in Kharkiv on 23 January, the first Olympic-related casualty of the Russian invasion.
Shiffrin stars at Spindleruv Mlyn, wins 85th World Cup race
American skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin wasted no time getting after her 85th career World Cup win with a victory in the first of two Slaloms at Spindleruv Mlyn (CZE) on Saturday, taking charge on the first run and winning the second run to total 1:33.85.
Shiffrin beat Lena Duerr (GER: 1:34.45) and Wendy Holdener (SUI: 1:35.16) to the line, with teammate Paula Moltzan (1:35.74) fifth. It was her 52nd World Cup Slalom win, extending her own record.
On Sunday she had the opportunity to tie Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark for the most World Cup wins ever at 86, and started perfectly, posting the fastest first run in 44.66, with Duerr second at 45.33. But Shiffrin had some trouble on the second run, ending up only 14th-fastest and dropping to second as Duerr got her second career World Cup win, 1:30.91 to 1:30.97, with 19-year-old Zrinka Ljutic (CRO) third – for her first World Cup medal – in 1:31.40. Moltzan was eighth (1:32.67).
Shiffrin has now won 11 races this season, the fourth time she’s won 10 or more, also in 2017 (11), 2018 (12) and 2019 (17), when she also won the overall World Cup title. She now leads the 2022-23 standings by 1,697 to 966 over Petra Vlhova (SVK), and also wrapped up her seventh Slalom seasonal title, the most ever.
The Alpine World Championships come next, with the World Cup to resume on 25 February with a Downhill in Crans-Montana (SUI) to begin the last 11 races of the season.
U.S. to host Copa America for second time in 2024
In a positive move for the U.S. men’s team in advance of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the South American confederation CONMEBOL announced that the 2024 Copa America – its highly-regarded regional championship – will be played in the United States for the second time, in 2024.
It’s part of a new collaboration with CONCACAF, the North and Central American and Caribbean confederation, revealed on Friday, to include:
● Copa America 2024: The 10 CONMEBOL teams will be joined by six CONCACAF teams, with the event to be co-organized by the two groups. The tournament was successfully held in the U.S. in 2016, with the American team coming in fourth, equaling its best finish in four participations.
Ecuador had been scheduled to host the 2024 Copa America, but could not due to internal security concerns.
● CONCACAF W Gold Cup 2024: Four CONMEBOL teams – Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay – will join eight CONCACAF teams for a 12-team, first-time tournament. The tournament will also be played in the U.S.
CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez (PAR) said: “We are determined to renew and expand our joint initiatives and projects. We want this passion to translate into more and better competitions and for football and its values to grow and strengthen throughout the hemisphere.”
This is a second major CONMEBOL cooperation initiative, after its 2021 agreement with UEFA developed after the implosion of the proposed European Super League.
For the U.S. men’s team in specific, inclusion in the 2024 Copa America is a major opportunity to play some meaningful games, since it is automatically qualified as a host of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and will not have to qualify through the regular CONCACAF process.
U.S. Soccer re-shuffle continues as Stewart, McBride leave
The U.S. men’s National Team is playing with an interim coach, Anthony Hudson, as Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired at the end of 2022. Now the two people he reported to – U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Earnie Stewart and General Manager Brian McBride – have left the organization.
U.S. Soccer announced the departures on Thursday, with Stewart leaving after four and a half years with the federation to work with famed Dutch club PSV Eindhoven. A star striker for the U.S. during his playing days, he had been given a contract extension by the USSF, but was released from it.
McBride, also a National Team star forward with 30 goals scored for the U.S., had been the men’s National Team General Manager for three years. He had informed the federation that he would leave in January prior to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last November.
U.S. Soccer has hired the New York-based Sportsology Group to lead the search for a new Sporting Director, with the existing staff to report to USSF chief executive J.T. Batson. As for the men’s coaching situation, the announcement noted, “[t]he next U.S. Men’s National Team head coach will be hired by the new Sporting Director,” with Sportsology also developing a candidate list which can include Berhalter.
Hudson will remain the men’s coach until a new one is named. In essence, the USSF is beginning the march to the 2026 FIFA World Cup with a clean start.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Bobsled & Skeleton ● The IBSF World Championships began in St. Moritz (SUI), with the first British win in men’s Skeleton in 15 seasons as Matt Weston – great during the World Cup season – won his first World title at 4:28.71, ahead of surprise silver winner Amedeo Bagnis (ITA: 4:30.50) and Korean Seung-ji Jung (4:31.17).
Where Weston had won five World Cup medals this season and Jung, three, Bagnis had won none and had a best finish of eighth this season. But he had the second-fastest time on two of the four runs and was a clear silver medalist. Austin Florian was the top American in 19th (4:35.08).
A German was a likely winner of the women’s Skeleton, but Stephanie Kreher was hardly a consensus pick to win. Kreher had two seconds and a third in the World Cup, but finished 1-3-3-2 in the four runs to total 4:33.57, just 0.01 ahead (!) of Kimberley Bos (NED: 4:33.58) and 0.84 up in Mirela Rahneva (CAN). Hallie Clark was the top U.S. finisher in 10th (4:36.35). It was sixth Worlds win in a row by a German woman.
The Mixed Team gold went to Germans Kreher and Christopher Grotheer, over Weston and Laura Deas (GBR), 2:24.91 to 2:25.04; the top U.S. sled of Clark and Andrew Blaser was eighth (2:26.66).
As they had done during the World Cup season, German Laura Nolte and Olympic champ Kaillie Humphries battled in the women’s Monobob, with Nolte just 0.27 seconds ahead after two runs. On Sunday, Nolte won the third run and although fourth in the final race, had enough of a lead to hold off Humphries, 4:44.85 to 4:45.25. German Lisa Buckwitz won the bronze (4:45.57). Humphries now has 14 Worlds medals in her career (5-4-5) with one more event to go!
The Two-Man competition had been won by a German sled seven straight times, and Beijing runner-up Johannes Lochner (with Georg Fleischhauser) and Olympic winner Francesco Friedrich (with Alexander Schueller) were 1-2 after two runs, just 0.32 apart. That’s how they finished, with Lochner winning the third run and finishing in 4:21.84 to 4:22.33 for Friedrich. Michael Vogt and Sandro Michel (SUI) finished third (4:22.34); the top U.S. sled was 18th with Geoffrey Gadbois and Martin Christofferson.
The Worlds continue with the men’s Four and women’s Two this week.
● Handball ● Two of the favorites, defending champion Denmark and five-time winner France reached the final of the IHF men’s World Championship in Stockholm (SWE), with the Danes breaking open a tight game in the second half for a 34-29 victory and a third-straight world title.
Both teams survived tough semi-finals, with Denmark edging Spain, 26-23 and France beating Sweden, 31-26, before 19,128 at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm. In the final, it was only 16-15 for Denmark at halftime, and 25-24 with 14:02 left. But the Danes kept scoring, with three Rasmas Lauge Schmidt goals leading to a 31-27 lead and he scored once more for the 34-29 final. Lauge Schmidt ended with 10 goals and Simon Pytlick had nine for the winners. Nedim Remili had six to lead France, with the final played before 23,050!
Denmark’s Mathias Gidsel ended as the top scorer in the tournament with 60 goals, followed by Chile’s Erwin Feuchtmann (54).
The Danes’ three-peat in the first in IHF Worlds history; five others had won two straight. Denmark continued its streak of success: not just three titles in a row, but five finals in the last seven IHF Worlds and the semifinals or better in seven of the last nine.
Spain won the bronze with a 39-36 win over Sweden, its second consecutive third-place finish and fourth medal in the last eight Worlds.
● Hockey ● Two teams with gold-medal history faced off in the final of the FIH men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar (IND), with Germany winning its third World Cup in the last six in a shoot-out with defending champ Belgium.
The teams had played to a 2-2 tie in a group match and took a precarious ride to get to the final. The Belgians beat New Zealand, 2-0, in the quarters, but needed a 3-2 shoot-out win over the Netherlands in the semi to advance (after a 2-2 tie). Germany needed penalties (4-2) to get past England after a 2-2 tie in the quarters and then beat Australia by 4-3 in the semi.
In the final, Belgium went up 2-0 within 11 minutes on goals by Florent van Aubel and Tanguy Cosyns, but Niklas Wellen cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 29th. Then the Germans scored twice to take the lead, with Gonzalo Peillat (41st) and Mats Grambusch (48th) scoring, and looking like possible winners in regulation. Belgium’s Tom Boon got a very late score off a penalty corner in the 59th minute to send the game to a shoot-out.
After five rounds, the shoot-out was tied at three, with Wellen and van Aubel then scoring for a 4-4 tie. Thies Prinz made his second penalty shot for a 5-4 lead and when Cosyns couldn’t convert, Germany celebrated the win.
Germany won back-to-back World Cups in 2002 and 2006, then lost in the 2010 final, but returned to the winner’s circle in 2023. Belgium won its 2018 World Cup title in a shoot-out with the Dutch, but lost on penalties this time.
The Netherlands won the bronze with a 3-1 win over Australia.
Australia’s Jeremy Hayward was the tournament’s top scorer with nine goals; Wellen was recognized as the Player of the Tournament.
● Luge ● The 51st FIL World Championships were in Oberhof (GER) with lots to cheer about for the home team, which won eight out of nine events!
Germany swept all four women’s events, with Anna Berreiter leading a sweep in the Singles, 1:23.991-1:24.049-1:24.107 over 2021 World Champion Julia Taubitz and 2018 Olympic runner-up Dajana Eitberger. The top American was Summer Britcher in 12th (1:24.784).
Eitberger led another sweep in the women’s Sprint, winning in 26.204, with Taubitz second (26.205 – by 1 1/000th!) and Berreiter third (26.232); Brittney Arndt of the U.S. was eighth (26.379).
The second-ever women’s Doubles championship was won by defending champions Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal (1:17.619), ahead of Austria’s Selina Egle and Lara Kipp (1:17.745) and Italians Andrea Voetter and Marion Oberhofer (1:17.806). The top American finish was sixth for Chevonne Forgan and Sophia Kirkby (1:18.472).
Degenhardt and Rosenthal also won the Doubles Sprint – the first ever at the Worlds – in 31.205, over Egle and Kipp (31.221) and Voetter and Oberhofer (31.228). Forgan and Kirkby were sixth again (31.522).
The men’s Singles was the only event not won by a German slider; instead it was Austria’s Jonas Mueller – the 2020 Worlds silver medalist – winning in 1:25.478 to 1:25.582 for Max Langenhan (GER), with David Gleirscher (AUT: 1:25.599) third. Tucker West of the U.S. was 13th (1:26.463).
The Singles Sprint was the second win in the event for three-time Olympic champ Felix Loch of Germany – previously in 2016 – in 33.544 ahead of Mueller (33.617) and Langenhan (GER: 33.666). West was the best American finisher, in 12th (33.958).
Germany’s star Doubles teams of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt went 1-2 in 1:23.517 and 1:23.668, with Yannick Mueller and Armin Frauscher third (1:23.709). The American pair of Zachary Di Gregorio and Sean Hollander finished seventh at 1:24.312. It was the fifth straight World title for Eggert and Benecken and fourth silver in the last five Worlds for three-time winners Wendl and Arlt.
The Doubles Sprint also went to Eggert and Benecken – their Worlds gold in the event – over Wendl and Arlt in 26.248 and 26.284. Mueller and Frauscher were third (26.317) and Di Gregorio and Hollander finished 10th (26.646).
The Team Relay was a tight win for the German quartet of Berreiter, Langenhan, Eggert and Benecken, 2:22.266 to 2:22.289 for Austria, with Latvia third (2:22.666) and the U.S. fifth, with Britcher, West, Di Gregorio and Hollander (2:23.229).
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Alpine Skiing ● The men’s World Cup tour was in Cortina d’Ampezzo for two Giant Slaloms, with reigning World Cup champ – and seasonal leader – Marco Odermatt sweeping the weekend.
On Saturday, Odermatt won a tight battle with Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, 1:25.57 to 1:25.92, with Mattia Casse (ITA: 1:26.06) third, his third career World Cup medal. Then Odermatt dominated on Sunday, winning in 1:25.13 over Dominik Paris (ITA: 1:25.89) and Daniel Hemetsberger (AUT: 1:26.16) for his eighth win of the season.
Odermatt now leads the seasonal standings, 1,386-1,073, over Kilde and is the leader in both the Super-G and Giant Slalom.
● Athletics ● The indoor season heated up big time starting on the weekend, with Britain’s women’s 800 m Olympic silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson, still just 20, setting a world best for 600 m in Manchester (GBR) at 1:23.41, 0.03 faster than the 1:23.44 from 2004 by Russian Olga Kotlyarova.
At the John Thomas Terrier Classic at Boston University, two American Records were set on Friday, as Tokyo Olympian Yared Nuguse won the men’s 3,000 m in 7:28.24, over Sam Atkin (GBR: 7:31.97) and shattering Galen Rupp’s 2013 mark of 7:30.16. Nuguse is now no. 9 on the all-time world indoor list.
Grant Fisher’s American Indoor 5,000 m record of 12:53.73 – set in 2022 – didn’t last the night, as Woody Kincaid, another Tokyo Olympian, won in a sensational 12:51.61, moving to no. 4 all-time in the event. It appeared that Joe Klecker was on his way to the win, with a 10 m lead with two laps to go, but Kincaid turned on the afterburners on the final lap and sped by for the victory and the record. Klecker was second in 12:54.99 – a lifetime best by more than nine seconds – now no. 3 all-time U.S. and no. 7 on the all-time world list.
Although not a record, U.S. sprint star Aleia Hobbs, sixth at the 2022 Worlds women’s 100 m, moved to equal-ninth all-time and become the 13th woman to eclipse seven seconds with a 6.98 win at 60 m in the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She’s now no. 3 in U.S. history as well.
● Badminton ● At the Indonesia Masters in Jakarta, China scored two wins, but so did the home team!
Indonesian fans celebrated wins from Jonatan Christie in the men’s Singles, winning the all-Indonesia battle with Chico Dwi Wardoyo, 21-15, 21-13, and in the men’s Doubles, as Leo Carnando and Daniel Marthin sailed past Ji Ting He and Hao Dong Zhou (CHN), 21-17, 21-16.
China’s wins came in the women’s Doubles, with Sheng Shu Liu and Shu Xian Zhang edging Japan’s Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota, 22-20, 21-19, and in Mixed Doubles in an all-Chinese final, as Yan Zhe Feng and Dong Ping Huang defeated Zhen Bang Jiang and Ya Xin Wei, 21-15, 16-21, 21-19.
In the women’s Singles final, Se Young An (KOR) won a tense battle from Rio 2016 gold medalist Carolina Marin (ESP), 18-21, 21-18, 21-13.
● Beach Volleyball ● The Beach Pro Tour Finals were in Doha (QAT), concluding the first season of what used to be known as the FIVB World Tour, with a historic win for Americans Sara Hughes and Kelly Cheng (nee Claes).
The pair reunited last October after playing apart for four years; they were twice NCAA Beach champions at USC, and found new vitality that created a late-season rush with Beach Pro Tour wins in Australia in November and December. In Doha, they battled through a series of tight matches, then won impressively in the final against Brazilian stars Duda Lisboa and Ana Patricia Ramos, 21-18, 21-16, for the tour title.
It’s the first time American women have won the world beach title since Misty May and Kerri Walsh way back in 2002!
Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon (NED) won the bronze medal with a 21-18, 21-10 win over Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho (AUS).
The men’s title went to Anders Mol and Christian Sorum (NOR) for the third time – previously in 2018 and 2021 – with a 21-18, 21-18 sweep of Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak (POL). Mol (25) and Sorum (27) added to their Olympic golds in 2020 (2021) and the 2022 World Championship, making them one of the most dominant pairs in the sport’s history, with more years ahead.
Paolo Nicolai and Samuele Cottafava (ITA) took the bronze over former World Champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen (NED), 22-20, 19-21, 16-14.
● Cross Country Skiing ● The ninth stop on the FIS World Cup tour was in Les Rousses (FRA) with a first-time winner this season in Harald Oestberg Amundsen (NOR) in the men’s 10 km Freestyle on Friday, in 21:26.5, ahead of countryman Sjur Roethe (21:38.4) and Sweden’s William Poromaa (21:44.4). It was Amundsen’s first career World Cup gold, at age 24.
In the 1.3 km Freestyle Sprint, it was France’s Richard Jouve winning his second World Cup race of the season in 2:39.14, over seasonal leader Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo (2:39.23) and fellow Norwegian Pal Golberg (2:40.05).
Klaebo won his 12th race of the season in Sunday’s 20 km Classical Mass Start in 49:29.1, barely edging Finn Iivo Niskanen (49:30.3) and William Poromaa (SWE: 49:30.4). He has a 1,706-1,584 lead over Golberg in the seasonal standings with nine races left.
Sweden’s Ebba Andersson, the 2021 Worlds bronze medalist at 10 km, won Friday’s women’s 10 km Freestyle in 24:08.8, beating Delphine Claudel (FRA: 24:22.2) and American Jessie Diggins (24:29.3), who won her fourth medal of the season (2-1-1). In the Freestyle Sprint, Kristine Skistad, 24, of Norway won her first career World Cup medal – a victory – in 3:01.97, just ahead of Swedes Emma Ribom (3:02.67) and Maja Dahlqvist (3:03.75). Julia Kern of the U.S. was fifth in 3:05.42.
Andersson won again on Sunday in the 20 km Classical Mass Start in 55:37.2, well ahead of Kerttu Niskanen – Iivo’s older sister – in 55:59.3 and Astrid Slind (NOR: 56:57.6). Diggins finished ninth in 57:57.1.
● Cycling ● Who is Marius Mayrhofer?
The 22-year-old German won his first career UCI World Tour race on Sunday in the eighth Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race in Geelong (AUS), winning the final mass sprint in 4:15:11, ahead of Hugo Page (FRA), Simon Clarke (AUS) and 22 others given the same time. Mayrhofer’s all-out sprint in the final 100 m brought him his career-best result.
In the sixth Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race for women on Saturday, the 140.8 km circuit that started and finished in Geelong (AUS) was won by perhaps another, new Dutch star in Loes Adegeest, 26, who won a final sprint against Australian star Amanda Spratt, the 2016 champion.
Both timed 3:52:47, with fellow Dutch rider Nina Buijsman third, four seconds back. Krista Doebel-Hickok was the top American, in ninth (also +0:04).
● Fencing ● The Epee elite were in Doha (QAT) for Grand Prix competition, with 2019 World Champion and Tokyo silver medalist Gergely Siklosi (HUN) getting his first career Grand Prix gold with a 15-10 win over Belgium’s Neisser Loyola, the 2022 Worlds bronze medalist.
The women’s gold went to Brazil’s 2019 World Champion, Nathalie Moellhausen, who defeated Marie-Florence Candassamy (FRA), 15-8, in the final. Candassamy won her first Grand Prix silver after three prior bronzes.
● Figure Skating ● The U.S. Figure Skating National Championships were on in San Jose, with the youth movement much in evidence thanks to teenagers Isabeau Levito and Ilya Malinin.
Levito, 15, the World Junior Champion in 2022, was third in her first senior-level Nationals in 2022 and moved up to the top of the podium, winning both the Short Program and Free Skate to total 223.33 points, well ahead of two-time national champ Bradie Tennell, 24, making a nice comeback from nagging foot injuries (213.12), and Amber Glenn (207.44).
Malinin, 18, nicknamed the “Quad King” for his jumping ability and being the first to complete a Quad Axel in international competition, won the Short Program at 110.36, ahead of two-time Olympian Jason Brown (age 28; 100.25). In the Free Skate, Malinin finished second to 21-year-old Andrew Torgashev, 177.78-177.38, but took the title at 287.74, ahead of Brown (277.31) and Torgashev (256.56). Malinin’s program included four quads – with one fall – but was enough to win.
Like Levito, Malinin moved up to the top of the podium just a year after a second-place finish at the 2022 Nationals and has a bright future ahead of him. Brown earned a top-three finish for the seventh time in the last 10 years, while Torgashev earned his first U.S. Nationals medal.
In Pairs, World Champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier had a huge lead after the Short Program and won their second U.S. title together with a final total of 227.97, to 196.86 for Emily Chan and Spencer Howe, and 184.01 for Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea. For Knierim individually, this was her fifth U.S. title and third for Frazier, both having medaled with other partners. Chan and Howe, fourth last season, moved up to silver this time.
Three-time Worlds medal winners Madison Chock and Evan Bates won a U.S. Nationals medal for the 11th straight year (!) and their fourth U.S. title with a dominant performance in Ice Dance. Chock and Bates scored 229.75 to finish ahead of Caroline Green and Michael Parsons (207.46) – moving up from fourth the last two seasons – and Christina Carrera and Anthony Ponomarenko (198.45). Chock and Bates have now finished first or second in five straight American national championships.
● Football ● The U.S. men’s National Team finished its January camp program with a friendly against Colombia before a big crowd of 27,000 in Carson, California that finished 0-0.
Interim U.S. coach Anthony Hudson employed a more experienced lineup, with six players with 10 appearances or more and only two debutantes. The first half had a lot of movement and speed, but no goals, as Colombia had 54% of possession and a 9-3 edge on shots, but the U.S. actually had the better chances to score.
The second half was slower, with plenty of fouls and fewer strong chances, although a free kick from defender Kellyn Acosta right at the 90-minute mark almost connected with a run from substitute striker Brandon Vazquez at the right side of the Colombian goal. Colombia ended with 55% of possession and a 12-5 edge on shots, but did not place U.S. keeper Sean Johnson in serious danger.
The U.S. is now 3-13-5 all-time against Colombia, with its last win in 2005.
● Freestyle Skiing ● The Moguls stars were in Val Saint-Come (CAN), with home superstar Mikael Kingsbury getting his second win of the season – and 75th career World Cup gold – on Saturday, scoring 85.37 to 81.69 for Beijing 2022 gold medalist Walter Wallberg (SWE) and 81.36 for Japan’s bronze winner, Ikuma Horishima.
The men’s Dual Moguls on Sunday saw Wallberg get his first-ever World Cup victory, beating Kingsbury in the final. Fellow Swede Filip Gravenfors, 18, took the bronze for his second career World Cup medal.
Japan scored its first win of the season in women’s Moguls, as 18-year-old Anri Kawamura ended the three-event win streak of Olympic champ Jakara Anthony (AUS), 82.25 to 81.88. American Jaelin Kauf, the Beijing 2022 silver winner, was third at 78.34. It’s Kawamura’s fifth career World Cup gold!
On Sunday, Kawamura completed her sweep of the weekend, winning the final from three-time World Champion Perrine Laffont (FRA), with Britain’s Makayla Gerken Schofield taking the bronze for her first career World Cup medal.
● Judo ● The Grand Prix Portugal in Almada drew a huge field of 544 judoka, with Korea taking four golds to lead the medal table.
The victories came from Joon-hwan Lee (81 kg) and Min-jong Kim (+100 kg) in the men’s classes and Mimi Huh (57 kg) and Hayun Kim (+78 kg) for the women.
Two-time Worlds medal winner Barbara Timo was one of two gold medalists for Portugal, as she won the women’s 63 kg class; Patricia Sampaio won the women’s 78 kg division. Uzbekistan also had two men’s class victors in Mukhriddin Tilovov (66 kg) and Obidkhon Nomonov (73 kg).
● Nordic Combined ● The 10th Seefeld Triple was on in Germany, with jumping off the 109 m hill and 7.5 km, 10 km and 12.5 km races to follow.
Seasonal leader Jarl Magnus Riiber (NOR) was shut out of the medals on the weekend, with countryman Jens Oftebro taking the 7.5 km final in 18:33.7 with Austria’s Johannes Lamparter second (18.41.8) and Julian Schmid (GER: 18:47.8) third and Riiber fourth. In the 10 km final, it was 2021 World Champion Lamparter with his fourth win of the season in 25:19.2, ahead of Beijing Olympic champ Vinzenz Geiger (GER: 25:39.2) and Simon (25:41.9).
And Lamparter took Sunday’s win over 12.5 km in 30:26.4, to 30:42.9 for Schmid and 30:43.8 for Oftebro. Lamparter took the seasonal lead, with 895 points to 794 for Schmid and 764 for Oftebro, as Riiber fell back to fourth.
The women’s competition had two events, both of 5 km after the jumping, with Norwegian star Gyda Westvold Hansen continuing her perfect season with her seventh win in a row (in seven events!) and 14th in the last 15 World Cups, across two seasons. Neither was close, with Westvold Hansen winning, 14:47.3 to 15:13,0 over Natalie Armbruster (GER) on Friday and 14:58.6 to 15:34.5 ahead of Annika Sieff (ITA) on Saturday, with Armbruster third (15:34.6).
● Rugby Sevens ● The fifth HSBC Sevens Series tournament for men and fourth for women was in Sydney (AUS), with an emphatic double win for New Zealand.
In the men’s event, the All Blacks were 2-1 in pool play, but then won their quarterfinal, 12-0, over Samoa, 36-5 over France in their semi and 38-0 in the final against South Africa! Fiji defeated France, 29-5, in the third-place match. Wow!
New Zealand leads the men’s seasonal standings with 85 points, following finishes of 3-2-2-1 in their last five tournaments. South Africa is second at 76, followed by Samoa and France (68).
The New Zealand women – the Black Ferns – were even more dominant, winning all three pool matches and then storming through the playoffs by scores of 33-0 over Japan, 41-0 over Ireland and 35-0 in the final against France! Yikes!
The U.S. women lost to France in their semi, then won the third-place match, 12-5, over Ireland.
In four tournaments this season, the Black Ferns have finished 2-1-1-1 and lead with 78 points to 66 for Australia and the U.S.
● Ski Jumping ● The men moved to the giant, ski-flying hill at Kulm Mitterndorf in Austria – 235 m – for two events, with seasonal leader Halvor Egner Granerud (NOR) getting his sixth win of the season, 440.7 to 431.9 for three-time World Champion Stefan Kraft (AUT) and 425.4 for Domen Prevc (SLO).
Granerud doubles up on Sunday, winning with 455.5 points to 451.4 for Timi Zajc (SLO) and 446.4 for Kraft. It’s Granerud’s seventh win this season, out of 18 competitions held so far.
The women’s jumping was off the 111 m hill in Hinterzarten (GER), with home favorite and two-time Olympic silver winner Katharina Althaus taking the first event, 258.8 to 237.6 over Ema Klinec (SLO).
Norway’s Anna Stroem won on Sunday, scoring 254.7 for her second career World Cup win – both this season – with Klinec second (249.5) and seasonal leader Eva Pinkelnig (AUT: 244.7) third.
● Snowboard ● The last Parallel events prior to the World Championships in February were at Blue Mountain in Canada, with Giant Slaloms on Thursday and Friday. Austria’s Benjamin Karl, the Beijing 2022 gold medalist, got his first win of the season, beating Sang-ho Lee (KOR) and Pole Oskar Kwiatkowski in the first race. Kwiatkowski moved up to gold on Friday, ahead of Austrian Alexander Payer – who took the seasonal lead with the silver – and Italy’s 2015 World Champion Ronald Fischnaller on Saturday.
Swiss Ladina Jenny, the 2019 Worlds bronze winner, got her first win of the season in Thursday’s race, beating Lucia Dalmasso (ITA) and Sabine Schoeffmann (AUT) to the line. Germany’s 2021 Worlds silver winner Ramona Theresia Hofmeister won the second race over Swiss star Julie Zogg and Austria’s Daniela Ulbing.
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