The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: Athens 1896 winner’s medal sells for $111,960; Infantino asks for match forfeits for racism; 95th World Cup win for Shiffrin!

FIFA chief Gianni Infantino (SUI): racism requires match forfeits!

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1. Auction: $111,960 for Athens 1896 medal, $1,282,911 total!
2. Paris booksellers appealing Olympic removals
3. Warm temps for Orlando Marathon Trials on 3 February
4. Russia: Paralympic participation issues, 5,000 aths at BRICS?
5. LA28 progress on community initiatives confirmed

● The RR Auction of Olympic memorabilia closed with $1.28 million in sales, led by a $111,960 sale of a winner’s medal (in silver) from the 1896 Athens Olympic Games.

● The continuing tussle between the Paris Police and the second-hand booksellers along the Seine continues, with the police lowering the number to be removed for the Olympic opening and the booksellers headed to court.

● Early forecasts for the 3 February U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando show daily highs in the 70s, but morning temperatures in the 60s, reasonable for running. But wind could be a factor and more detail is needed.

● The Russian Paralympic Committee continues to fend off challenges in qualifying, now saying that it will not accept cycling requirements to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, about 5,000 athletes from 60 countries are expected for the BRICS Games in June, Russia’s WADA dues have not been paid and a weightlifter is now a three-time doping loser.

● A City of Los Angeles report states that the LA28 organizers have kept to their schedule of working group consultations on hiring, procurement and sustainability, with final recommendations due in early 2025.

Spotlight: Football (Infantino asking for match forfeits for racist fan behavior) ●

Panorama: Winter Youth Olympic Games (Pietschmann wins first gold) = Pan American Games (Lima bids for 2019) = Alpine Skiing (3: Sarrazin wins two more Downhills; Vlhova injured at Jasna as Shiffrin wins 95th; Mayer arrested at Kitzburhel) = Archery (Dror surprises Wijler in Nimes) = Athletics (2: Kelati and Teare win USATF Cross Country; 6 m for KC Lightfoot) = Badminton (Shi and Tai star with wins at India Open) = Biathlon (Norway sweeps men’s event, another French women’s 1-2 in Italy) = Cricket (modest protest at South Africa U-19 World Cup) = Cross Country Skiing (Valnes, Svahn and Karlsson win in Oberhof) = Curling (Mouat and Homan grab Canadian Open titles) = Cycling (Williams takes Santos Tour Down Under) = Football (2: U.S. men lose to Slovenia, 1-0; Sam Mewis retires) = Freestyle Skiing (3: Canada’s Schmidt sweeps Ski Cross at Nakiska; Wallberg, Kingsbury and Anthony sweep Moguls; Gremaud beats Gu again in Slopestyle) = Hockey (2: Belgium and Germany win men’s and women’s Olympic qualifiers) = Ski Jumping (2: Kraft wins in PolSKI finale; teen Prevc takes Zao gold) = Ski Mountaineering (Bonnet wins twice in Arinsal World Cup) = Snowboard (2: James and Ono win Halfpipe openers; Ledecka sweeps Parallel Slaloms) = Speed Skating (Canada, Japan and U.S. dominate Four Continents) = Surfing (Olympic champ Moore retires, for now) = Swimming (Australian star Horton retires) ●

Auction: $111,960 for Athens 1896 medal, $1,282,911 total!

A winner’s medal from the Athens 1896 Olympic Games – the first of the modern era – sold for $111,960 at the 437-lot RR Auction that finished on Thursday.

The 1896 medal, in excellent condition, was made of silver, as gold medals were not introduced until the 1900 Games in Paris and for all events in 1904 in St. Louis. It had been expected to sell for $100,000, but exceeded that with the buyer’s premium (the amount paid to the auction house).

But that was not the only significant sale in a program that drew a total of $1,282,911, as 14 more items sold for $25,000 or more (with the buyer’s premium):

● $83,188: London 2012 gold medal in boxing
● $67,759: Tokyo 1964 gold medal in football
● $56,250: Lake Placid 1980 Winter torch
● $55,000: Athens 1896 bronze medal, in original box
● $46,926: Oslo 1952 Winter silver medal
● $46,279: Paris 1924 gold medal in original case
● $43,161: Berlin 1936 gold medal in swimming
● $37,500: Lillehammer 1994 Winter torch
● $34,534: London 1948 gold medal in original case
● $29,198: Tokyo 1964 Torch Relay safety lantern

● $26,575: Atlanta 1996 gold medal in baseball
● $25,944: Los Angeles 1932 gold medal
● $25,005: Innsbruck 1964 Winter gold medal in ice hockey
● $25,000: Mexico City 1968 medal set in presentation box

The London gold that went for $83,188 was for the gold win by Cuban star Roniel Iglesias, who won at Light Welterweight in London and again in Tokyo in 2021 at Welterweight. The Tokyo ‘64 gold – and the competitor’s badge – was from Hungarian defender Kalman Ihasz.

Another unusual sale was for the exceptionally rare participation medal from the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games, its original box, in copper, that sold for $24,065. In contrast, a similar medal from Paris 2024 went for $4,520.

There were some unusual collectibles on sale as well, with a group of 13 stuffed-toy mascots – including six of “Misha” from Moscow 1980 – going for $405, and special medals presented by the City of New York to returning U.S. Olympians from 1912 and 1920, that sold for $309 and $1,059, respectively.

Paris booksellers appealing Olympic removals

The tug-of-war over the removal – or not – of some of the open-air, second-hand book stalls along the Seine River in Paris during the 2024 Olympic Games continues with a compromise offered last week by the Paris Police and a decision by the booksellers to challenge the action in court.

Last week, the Paris Police agreed to remove 428 stalls instead of 604 planned as an accommodation, although it will reduce the areas available to watch the Olympic opening on the Seine. There are 932 boxes in all, with those targeted to be taken for a short period that “does not exceed a few days for removal and a few days for the rest,” with the City of Paris responsible for the actual operations.

On Friday, the Cultural Association of Booksellers of Paris voted to challenge the plan in court, as noted on a post on X (ex-Twitter):

“#AG decision taken unanimously #JO2024 : booksellers challenge the dismantling of their boxes in court”

The head of the booksellers group, Jerome Callais, indicated a willingness to accept the compromise, which was rejected by his association. The removal would take place from 14-17 July and replacement beginning 29 July, three days after the Games opening. There were open questions on compensation and damages

Callais believes the police will, in its court response, revert back to its preferred plan of removing 604 stalls along the original dates, which would not see the boxes returned until 5 August.

Warm temps for Orlando Marathon Trials on 3 February

The long-range weather forecasts for Orlando, Florida and the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on Saturday, 3 February are coming in, with reasonable conditions expected, but warming toward the finish.

Great concern was voiced about the original noon start time, but a compromise start at 10 a.m. was reached, with hopes for moderate conditions. The current forecasts: Low of 55 (F), high of 72, under cloudy skies, with a 25% chance of rain and light winds at 4 miles per hour. A little more severe, with a morning low of 59 F with clouds, rising to 75 F during the day, with 68% humidity and a 24% chance of rain. Winds are predicted at 10-15 miles per hour, which would impact the race. The evening low is projected at 60 F, with less wind and a 58% chance of rain.

Sunrise will be at 7:12 a.m.

The cooler the better, but these are far from oppressive conditions, especially with cloudy skies projected. While the U.S. has three qualifying positions clinched for the women’s race, allowing the top three finishers to be selected as the 2024 Olympic Team, U.S. men have two positions confirmed and better conditions would help to potentially get a third American under the automatic qualifying standard of 2:08:10. A third U.S. man could qualify on the basis of the World Athletics world rankings in the event, and rule changes by USA Track & Field allow it to select someone who does not finish in the top three in the Trials race if they are otherwise qualified to run in Paris.

Russia: Paralympic participation issues, 5,000 aths at BRICS?

Pavel Rozkhov, the head of the Russian Paralympic Committee, said that some federations have added demands for “neutrality” status beyond those of the International Paralympic Committee:

“The demands that the IPC places on us regarding the non-sporting part of participation in competitions are quite correct, but some federations allow certain excesses, in particular the International Cycling Federation.

“The conditions that they put forward regarding the condemnation of [Russia’s invasion of Ukraine] are unacceptable for us, and until the criteria are changed, we will not participate in qualifying competitions. In sports such as wheelchair tennis and table tennis, the requirements are acceptable, but it is important where the tournaments will be held, because difficulties may arise in European countries.”

He added that the uniform style for Russian participants as “neutrals” is being negotiated:

“We were given demands that there should be a neutral uniform. Before the New Year, we sent sketches of the uniform. In swimming, shooting, powerlifting and athletics, we have already received approval, the rest are reacting more slowly.

“We will have a turquoise uniform, but this is only for now for the qualifying tournaments.”

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said Friday that about 5,000 athletes from 60 countries are expected to participate in the BRICS Games in Kazan from 12-23 June, in 29 sports:

“[W]e provide equal opportunities for athletes from all countries to freely participate in the tournament without sanctions and restrictions under flag of their country and with the singing of the anthem of the winning country.”

(“BRICS” countries include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.)

The IOC has warned against the BRICS Games and the World Friendship Games in September as “clearly politically motivated sports events in Russia.” Matytsin expects that none of the athletes competing in Paris would be present for the BRICS Games.

The World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed that the Russian contribution of $1.267 million for 2023 has not been received. Money transfer issues out of Russia have been blamed, but the Russians have contested the amount of their dues, as the amount was calculated from their membership in the Council of Europe, which it left in March 2022, after it began its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia, already held non-compliant because of differences in its legal system vis-a-vis the World Anti-Doping Code, can also be considered non-compliant because of its failure to pay dues. WADA formed a working group to consider this issue last November.

Weightlifter Egor Ivanov became a three-time loser with another suspension from the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. He won a silver medal in the +105 kg class at the 2014 European Weightlifting Championships, then was disqualified for eight months in 2013. He then refused to take a doping test and was sanctioned for eight years in 2015 and now was hit again for three years and four months.

Now 29, the new sanction was from information recovered from the infamous Moscow Laboratory data recovered by the World Anti-Doping Agency in January 2019.

LA28 progress on community initiatives confirmed

The LA28 organizing committee for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games made an extensive set of promises in its Games Agreement with the City of Los Angeles, notably in the formation of working groups on sustainability and local hiring.

In a Friday report, the City’s Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Legislative Analyst confirmed that the organizing committee had met its obligations and is continuing its development of hiring and working plans.

There are three specific groups which LA28 is now working with:

● Community Business and Procurement Working Group (14 members)
● Local Hire Working Group (16 members)
● Sustainability Working Group (13 members)

The goals are to establish specific goals for hiring and procurement and adopt a “Sustainability Plan” for the 2028 Games.

Beyond the formal meetings of the working groups, LA28 noted that it has been working directly with labor unions, specifying that it has:

“Hosted regular meetings throughout the year with the LA County Federation of Labor and its affiliates including, SEIU Local 721; LA/OC Counties Building and Construction Trades Council; IBEW Local 11; and Teamsters Local 396.”

The target date for the groups to complete their recommendations is 31 March 2025. The City report that three more working groups are also engaged:

“[T]he City and LA28 are currently collaborating to further advance and develop the following planning groups: the 2028 Games Mobility Executives, Public Safety Cooperative, and Games Energy Council.”


● Football ● Another set of racist incidents has the FIFA President asking for match forfeits:

“The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield Wednesday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable. There is no place for racism or any form of discrimination, either in football or in society. The players affected by Saturday’s events have my full support.

“In addition to the three-step process [match stopped, match stopped again and match abandoned], we need to enforce automatic defeat for the team whose fans committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned, as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists.”

FIFA’s Gianni Infantino (SUI) made the remarks on Saturday, after AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan (FRA) – who is Black – left the field after racist yells from fans in Udine during the first half of Milan’s 3-2 win in Serie A on Saturday. He talked to the referee, then walked off the field, followed by his teammates, for a few moments, then returned. Maignan said later:

“They made monkey noises and it’s not the first time it’s happened to me. They must hand out very strong sanctions, because talking no longer does anything.

“We have to say that what they are doing is wrong. It is not the whole crowd, most fans want to cheer on their team and jeer you, that’s normal, but not this.”

Also on Saturday, Coventry midfielder Kasey Palmer (JAM) said he was verbally abused by fans in Sheffield during a 2-1 win in an EPL Championship league match. He wrote later on X (ex-Twitter): “Couple fans doing monkey chants don’t define a fan base — I appreciate all the love and support I’ve received.”


● Winter Youth Olympic Games ● The Winter YOG in the Gangwon Province in Korea opened on Friday evening, with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (GER) telling the athletes:

“Dear young athletes: this is your moment.

“You are following in the footsteps of sporting icons who made Olympic history right here at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

“Now it is your turn.

“Give it your best at your first Olympic competition. Make new friends. Live the Olympic values. Respect yourself. Respect your competitors. Respect the rules. Enjoy your Olympic experience!

“This is your time – to grow together – and to shine forever!”

The ceremony had 4,500 fans in attendance at the Gangneung Oval – plus teams and officials to fill the 8,000-seat facility – and 4,300 at the PyeongChang Dome. Freestyle skier Jeong-min Lee lit the Youth Olympic cauldron, while another cauldron was “digitally” lit by IOC’s sponsor Alibaba in the Gangneung Olympic Park.

The IOC noted the fourth Winter YOG in numbers:

“The Winter YOG are set to welcome 1,802 athletes from 78 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), taking part in 15 disciplines across 7 sports, as well as 1,734 team officials. … In total there will be 20,000 accredited people attending Gangwon 2024, including 627 media and 289 broadcast personnel, showing the strong interest in the event locally and globally.”

German Antonia Pietschmann won the first gold medal of the event, taking the women’s Singles in Luge over Alexandra Oberstolz of Italy. The Games will conclude on 1 February.

● Pan American Games ● Peruvian President Dina Boluarte confirmed Friday that she has sent a letter to Panam Sports, endorsing Lima’s bid for the 2027 Pan American Games, removed from Colombia on 3 January.

Boluarte said during a celebration in Lima, that the government is ready to “guarantee the financing of all costs related to the Pan American Games project.”

Asuncion (PAR) has already signaled its interest, and Lima successfully hosted the 2019 Pan Ams and can re-use those facilities. Letters of intent to Panam Sports on the 2027 event are due by the end of the month.

● Alpine Skiing ● France’s Cyprien Sarrazin continued his dream season at the FIS World Cup at Kitzbuehel (AUT), steaming to his third and fourth wins of the year in the Downhills on Friday and Saturday.

He had won one World Cup race before this season, but won no. 3 on Friday in 1:55.75, beating Florian Schieder (ITA: 1:55.80) and reigning World Cup champ and seasonal leader Marco Odermatt (SUI: 1:56.09). American Ryan Cochran-Siegle finished fourth in 1:56.01, 0.01 from the bronze medal.

Sarrazin kept up the pressure on Saturday, winning in 1:52.96, beating Odermatt (1:53.87) and Italy’s 22-time World Cup winner Dominik Paris (1:54.40). Cochran-Siegle was 16th.

Sunday’s Slalom saw Germany’s Linus Strasser get his first World Cup win in two years, coming from fourth on the second run to post a total of 1:40.36, enough to edge Kristoffer Jakobsen (SWE: 1:40.50) and Swiss Daniel Yule (1:40.56). It’s Strasser’s fourth career World Cup gold.

Tragedy at the women’s skiing in Jasna (SVK) as home hero Petra Vlhova, the Olympic Slalom champ from 2022, suffered a crash and a torn right knee ligament, ending her season after skiing out on her first run during Saturday’s Giant Slalom.

Vlhova was second overall in the seasonal World Cup standings, but will now be concentrating on her comeback at the end of the year.

The race was won by Sweden’s Olympic champ Sara Hector, who had the fastest times on both runs for a total time of 2:17.80. American star Mikaela Shiffrin, the overall World Cup leader, was second on both for silver (2:19.32), with the bronze going to Alice Robinson (NZL: 2:20.51). American A.J. Hurt finished seventh (2:22.40).

Sunday’s Slalom was another showcase for Shiffrin, who took her record 95th career World Cup win by taking an 0.52-second lead after the first run and finishing at 1:48.21 to best Croatia’s 19-year-old Zrinka Ljutic (1:48.35), who won her second career World Cup medal. Swede Anna Swenn Larsson was third (1:49.02); Paula Moltzan finished 18th in 1:51.60.

Retired Austrian star Matthias Mayer, 33, was arrested in Kitzbuehel on Thursday after “inappropriate behavior,” and was later released by Austrian authorities. The Austrian ski federation said in a statement, “Today we regret to note that Matthias Mayer has not yet overcome the health problems he has been struggling with for a long time.”

Mayer won the 2014 Olympic Downhill in Sochi and the Super-G in 2018 and 2022, plus a 2022 bronze in the Downhill; he retied in December 2022.

● Archery ● More than 1,100 archers stepped to the line for the Indoor World Series in Nimes (FRA), with surprises coming in the finals.

In the men’s Recurve gold-medal match, 18-year-old Roy Dror (ISR) surprised Tokyo Olympic Mixed Team silver winner Steve Wijler (NED), 6-4. Dror moved up after winning the U-21 title in Nimes in 2023.

Two-time Worlds medal winner Marcus D’Almeida (BRA) took the bronze, 7-3, over Britain’s Patrick Huston.

The women’s title went to Spain’s Elia Canales, the 2023 European Games runner-up, who won a shoot-off with German Charline Schwarz, 6-5, after a 10-9 win in the extra arrow. Michelle Kroppen, an Olympic Team bronze winner, took the bronze in Nimes with a 7-3 win over Victoria Sebastian (FRA).

● Athletics ● On a cold day, Weini Kelati followed up her American Record half marathon last week in Houston with a 32:58.6 win at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Mechanicsville, Virginia on Saturday.

It was her first national cross-country title and fourth career USATF national title, moving to the lead decisively after 4 km of the 10 km course and winning going away, with Emma Grace Hurley second in 33:35.9, Katie Camarena third in 33:40.3 and Allie Ostrander coming back to prominence in fourth in 33:52.5.

The top six men and women qualified for the U.S. team for the World Cross Country Championships on 30 March in Belgrade (SRB).

The men’s race was decided late, with nine in contention after 7 km, but triathlete Morgan Pearson – already qualified for Paris – and 1,500-5,000 m star Cooper Teare ahead of the field by the 8 km mark. Teare took over for the final kilometer and sailed to the win in 29:06.2, with Pearson dropping to fourth (29:15.5). Anthony Rotich came up for second (29:11.3) and Ahmed Muhamad got third (29:12.3). Defending champ Emmanuel Bor was firth in 29:26.5.

American Record man KC Lightfoot scored the first 6.00 m vault of the season (19-8 1/4) with a win at the indoor Alsup Open in Maryville, Missouri (USA). He made his first three heights on his first attempt, then 5.91 m (19-4 3/4) on his third try and 6.00 m also on his third.

● Badminton ● China placed four finalists in five divisions at the India Open in New Delhi, but no nation won more than once.

China got its lone win of the tournament in men’s Singles, as 2018 Worlds runner-up Yu Qi Shi (CHN) swept past Cheuk Yiu Lee (HKG), 23-21, 21-17. The Tokyo Olympic runner-up, Tzu Ying Tai (TPE), won the women’s title, defeating second-seeded Yu Fei Chen (CHN), 21-16, 21-12.

Koreans Min Hyuk Kang and Seung Jae Seo won the men’s Doubles over home favorites Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty (IND), 15-21, 21-11, 21-18, and Japan’s Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara swept Shu Xian Zhang and Yu Zheng (CHN), 21-12, 21-13.

Sixth-seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) won the Mixed Doubles over fifth-seeded Zhen Bang Jiang and Ya Xin Wei (CHN), 21-16, 21-16.

● Biathlon ● Norway continued its domination of the FIS men’s World Cup with the fourth win of the season for seasonal leader Johannes Thingnes Boe in Saturday’s 15 km Short Individual race in Antholz-Anterselva (ITA).

Boe dominated, beating older brother Tarjei Boe, 37:28.0 (0 penalties) to 39:04.1 (2), with German Johannes Kuehn (GER: 39:12.0/2) in third.

Sunday’s 15 km Mass Start was a Norwegian sweep, this time with Vetle Christiansen winning in 35:51.4 (1), ahead of Johannes Dale-Skjevdal (36:01.1/2) and Vebjoern Soerum (36:05.4/1). It’s Christiansen’s second win of the season and the ninth for Norway in 15 men’s races so far.

The women’s 12.5 km Short race was the first career World Cup win for Swiss Lena Hacki-Gross, finishing in 36:49.0 (0) to best French stars Julia Simon (37:09.2/2) and Lou Jeanmonnot (37:20.4/1).

France won its eighth race win of the season – out of 14 so far – with a second win for Simon in 34:2.5 (1), just ahead of teammate Jeanmonnot (34:51.4/0). It’s the third French 1-2 this season. Hacki-Gross got the bronze in 35:03.2 (1).

In the mixed relays, Germany won the Single Mixed Relay (6 km + 7.5 km) over Norway and Austria, and Norway took the mixed 4×6 km race over Italy and Sweden.

● Cricket ● The controversial ICC men’s U-19 World Cup opened Friday in South Africa without significant incident, but with a protest at the site of the South Africa vs. West Indies match at Potchefstroom.

The South African team opened with a 285-254 win over West Indies, led by Dewan Marais with 65 runs, Juan James with 47 and David Teeger with 44. Teeger – who is Jewish – had been the team captain, but was demoted by Cricket South Africa because he supports Israel’s response to the Hamas invasion of 7 October 2023, and the federation feared protests at South Africa’s matches. The match attendance was not large, but Teegar was applauded when he came up to bat.

There was a protest at Friday’s match of a few pro-Palestinian supporters carrying anti-Zionist signs, that swelled to more than a hundred for a prayer meeting at the site. The situation was peaceful and the match was not reported to be disturbed, with law and traffic enforcement on site.

South Africa will play England in its second match on Tuesday.

● Cross Country Skiing ● Norway’s Erik Valnes had a week to remember in Oberhof (GER), winning both the Sprint and the 20 km Mass Start, leading a Norwegian sweep in both events!

Valnes won his third event of the season in the Classical Sprint on Friday in 2:42.75, ahead of teammates Ansgar Evenson (2:43.15) and Even Northug (2:46.06), with American Ben Ogden in sixth (2:50.97).

In the 20 km Classical Mass Start, Valnes barely got to the line ahead of Martin Nyenget, 46:03.0 to 46:03.9, with Paal Golberg – the Worlds 50 km Classical winner in 2023 – third in 46:04.6. Valnes now has five career World Cup victories.

Sweden dominated the women’s racing, with a sweep of the Classical Sprint, led by Linn Svahn (3:04.05), followed by Frida Karlsson (3:04.38) and Jonna Sundling (3:06.11). It was Svahn’s fourth win of the season, three of which have come in the Sprint.

Karlsson, a 10-time World Championships medal winner, won her first World Cup race of the season in the 20 km Classical Mass Start in 51:33.6, just ahead of Katharina Hennig (GER: 51:35.9) and Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen (51:37.4). American Jessie Diggins, the seasonal leader, finished sixth in 51:43.1 and has a 1,579 to 1,300 lead on Svahn after 19 of 34 races.

In the relays, Norway won the men’s 4×7.5 km over Italy, while Sweden – with Svahn and Karlsson on the first two legs, took the women’s 4×7.5 km ahead of Germany and Finland.

● Curling ● The fourth stage of six in the Grand Slam of Curling was the Canadian Open in Red Deer, Alberta, with Scotland’s Bruce Mouat taking the men’s title with a 6-5 final win over Canadian Brendan Bottcher’s rink.

The 2022 Beijing Olympic silver winners, Mouat’s rink won their sixth Grand Slam of Curling title and ran out to a 4-2 lead after four ends and 6-3 after six and cruised home. It’s Mouat’s sixth career Grand Slam victory and first in the Canadian Open.

The women’s final matched Worlds winners in Canada’s Rachel Homan, the 2017 World Champion against Swiss Silvana Tirinzoni, skip of the four-time defending Worlds gold medalists.

This was a closely-matched battle, with Homan getting a single point in the second end and the Swiss tying it in the third. Homan edged ahead again in the fifth, 2-1, but Tirinzoni scored two in the sixth to grab a 3-2 lead. The Swiss added another score in the seventh (4-2), but Homan came back with a pair in the eighth to tie it at 4-4 and head to extras.

And Homan got the score in the ninth to win it, 5-4, and grab her 15th career Grand Slam victory and a third career Canadian Open title.

● Cycling ● The UCI World Tour season began with the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia, with a tight finish that went to the final stage on Saturday.

Australia’s Sam Welsford had the lead after the first of the six stages, winning the hilly opening race, but Italy’s Isaac del Toro grabbed the lead with a win in stage two and held it through stage four despite Welsford winning again in stages 3 and 4.

Britain’s Stephen Williams moved into a tie for the lead with countryman Oscar Onley after stage five – with Del Toro falling to fourth – so it came down to the final, 128.2 km ride from Unley to Mount Lofty, east of Adelaide.

The modest uphill finish was decided in a final sprint of four riders, with Williams taking the stage and the race title over Jhonaton Narvaez (ECU), Del Toro and Bart Lemmen (NED) in 3:05:26. Williams took the overall title by just 0:09 over Narvaez, 11 over Del Toro and 20 seconds ahead of Onley. It’s the first win for Williams, 27, in a World Tour multi-stage race.

● Football ● The U.S. men’s National Team lost to Slovenia in a Saturday friendly, 1-0, in San Antonio, Texas. Both teams used a lot of new players: 11 for the U.S. (seven starters) and 13 for Slovenia, and the only goal was from debutante striker Nejc Gradisar, who scored in the 26th minute from the left side of the box for the only score.

After a turnover by U.S. midfielder Bernard Kamungo, forward Danijel Sturm passed the ball ahead to Gradisar, who sent a shot past the charging U.S. keeper Patrick Schulte for the goal. The U.S. had chances, with 68% of possession and 15 shots to nine for the visitors, but could not beat keeper Igor Vekic.

U.S. midfield star Sam Mewis has retired. In a statement published by U.S. Soccer, she explained:

“Unfortunately, my knee can no longer tolerate the impact that elite soccer requires.

“Though this isn’t what I wanted, this is the only path forward for me. I want to thank everyone who has been on my team throughout this journey. Soccer has put so many wonderful things in my life, but the most wonderful thing has been the people. To all my family, friends, teammates, and fans, I truly feel that we did this together and I’m extremely grateful.”

Now 31, Mewis was a member of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup winners and scored twice during the tournament, and won an Olympic bronze with the U.S. in Tokyo in 2021. She was an NCAA champion with UCLA in 2013 and during her national team career, scored 24 goals in 83 appearances.

She will join the Men in Blazers Media Network as the editor of its new project, “The Women’s Game.’

● Freestyle Skiing ● The fourth stop on the FIS World Cup Ski Cross tour was in Nakiska (CAN) for racing on Saturday and Sunday, and the home team scoring wins right away.

In the men’s Saturday final, Canadian Olympian Reece Howden won his first race and second medal of the year, beating France’s Terence Tchiknavorian and 2021 World Champion Alex Fiva (SUI).

On Sunday, Swiss Jonas Lenherr got his sixth career World Cup win, crossing ahead of 2023 Worlds runner-up Florian Wilmsmann (GER) and Youri Duplessis Kergomard (FRA).

The first women’s race was another Canadian win for Hannah Schmidt, her second of the season, leading a 1-2 finish with 2014 Olympic champ Marielle Thompson, with two-time Olympic bronze winner Fanny Smith (SUI) in third.

Schmidt doubled her pleasure on Sunday, winning her third gold this season, over France’s Marielle Berger Sabbatel – her fifth medal this season – with fellow Canadian Brittany Phelan third.

The Moguls and Dual Moguls skiers were also in Canada, at Val St. Come, with Olympic men’s champs Walter Wallberg and Mikael Kingsbury taking home the men’s trophies.

Wallberg, who won the Beijing 2022 Moguls title, won Friday’s Moguls contest, scoring 84.92 points to 82.37 for Canada’s Elliot Vaillancourt and 77.70 for Filip Gravenfors (SWE). It’s Wallberg’s first Moguls win of the season.

The Dual Moguls went to the 2018 Olympic Moguls gold medalist Kingsbury, the greatest World Cup winner in the discipline, who took his 83rd career gold by beating Gravenfors in the final. Australia’s PyeongChang runner-up Matt Graham took the bronze over two-time Worlds silver winner Benjamin Cavet (FRA).

The question in the women’s races was whether anyone could stop Australia’s Jakara Anthony, the Beijing 2022 winner and winner of all four Moguls races this season (and two of three Dual Moguls events)?


Anthony won Friday’s Moguls by beating Beijing 2022 runner-up Jaelin Kauf of the U.S., 82.01 to 74.87, with Hinako Tomitaka (JPN) third with 74.19 points. Alli Macuga, Hannah Soar, Olivia Giaccio and Tess Johnson finished 4-5-6-7 for the U.S.

Anthony then beat Kauf in the Dual Moguls final to give her eight wins in nine events this season. Giaccio won the bronze over Rino Yanagimoto (JPN). Anthony, 25, now owns 16 career World Cup wins.

The second of five Slopestyle legs in the 2023-24 FIS World Cup was in Laax (SUI), with 2023 World Champion Birk Ruud (NOR) taking the win at 87.01 in the second round after leading everyone in round one at 85.76. American Mac Forehand got second for the second straight event, scoring 86.28 on his second-round effort. Canadian Max Moffatt (85.91) was third and Beijing Olympic champ Alex Hall of the U.S. was fourth (84.30).

The women’s competition was epic, with Beijing 2022 Slopestyle winner Mathilde Gremaud hitting an 86.00 on her first run and that was enough to hold off Beijing Big Air and Halfpipe winner (and Slopestyle runner-up) Eileen Gu (CHN: 78.13), with 19-year-old American transgender Jay Riccomini third at 60.46.

Gremaud has now won both events this season.

● Hockey ● The FIH Olympic qualifying tournaments for men concluded in Oman and Spain, with Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand and Spain qualifying for Paris.

In Muscat (OMA), Germany edged Great Britain in the final by 1-0 on a Martin Zwicker goal in the 56th minute. New Zealand won the crucial third-place game to also qualify for Paris with a 3-2 win over Pakistan.

In Valencia (ESP), Belgium and Spain were 1-1 until the final moments, with each scored a goal in the 58th and then Nelson Onana (BEL) scored off a penalty corner for the 3-2 winner. Ireland won the bronze with a 4-3 victory over South Korea.

The women’s qualifiers were held in Ranchi (IND) and Valencia, with Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Spain and the United States moving on to Paris.

The Ranchi final saw Germany score the first goals on the U.S. in the tournament and won, 2-0, on scores by Jette Fleschutz in the third minute and Sonja Zimmermann in the 20th. Japan beat India, 1-0, to get the bronze and also advance.

In Valencia, Belgium trailed Spain by 1-0 late in the match, but got goals from Louise Versavel and Charlotte Engelbert in the 56th minute to win, 2-1. Great Britain took a 2-0 lead on Ireland and won, 2-1, to qualify for Paris.

● Ski Jumping ● The final stop of the men’s POLSki Tour was in Zakopane, jumping off the 140 m hill on Sunday, with Austria’s three-time Worlds winner Stefan Kraft getting his seventh individual win of the season.

Kraft scored 332.3 to edge Andreas Wellinger (GER: 327.8) and Anze Lanisek (SLO: 327.3). Kraft now has a seasonal lead of 1,089 to 837 over Wellinger.

Saturday’s team competition was won by Austria, anchored by seasonal leader Kraft (1,146.6), over Slovenia (1,095.5) and Germany (1,062.8).

The final of two stops in Japan for the women’s World Cup tour was in Zao, jumping off the 102 m hill. Seasonal leader Nika Prevc (SLO) – still just 18 – won her fifth event of the year on Friday, scoring 235.2 to 223.1 for home favorite Yuki Ito (JPN). Canada’s Alexandria Toutitt was third (216.7) for her fourth medal of the season.

Sunday’s competition was canceled due to heavy weather. Slovenia won the team event on Saturday at 722.7, over Canada (709.7) and Austria (697.0).

● Ski Mountaineering ● Reigning World Champion Remi Bonnet (SUI) swept to victory at the ISMF World Cup at Arinsal (AND), taking both the Individual and the Vertical races.

Bonnet, 28, and a four-time career Worlds gold medalist, took the Individual on Saturday in 1:30:15.17, comfortably ahead of four-time Worlds medal winner Thibault Anselmet (FRA: 1:30:40.86) and teammate Xavier Gachet (FRA: 1:31:49.95).

Bonnet doubled on Sunday in the Vertical Race, winning in 26:07.47, trailed by 2019 World Champion Werner Marti (SUI: 26:57.80) and Anselmet (27:08.10). American Cameron Smith was seventh in 27:28.01.

France’s Emily Harrop won her 11th career World Cup gold in the women’s Individual race at 1:33:15.33, more than a minute-and-a-half ahead of Alba de Silvestro (ITA: 1:34:35.72) and more than three minutes up on Ceila Perillat-Pessey (FRA: 1:36:41.86).

De Silvestro came back to win the Vertical Race in 32:23.03, almost 10 seconds up on Harrop (32:32.60), followed by Marta Garcia (ESP: 32:49.83). It’s de Silvestro’s fourth career World Cup victory.

● Snowboard ● Three-time World Champion Scotty James (AUS) took his second win in three events in the FIS World Cup Halfpipe event in Laax (SUI) with his first-round effort at 94.00, head of teammate Valentino Guseli (92.25 in round two) and Ruka Hirano (JPN: 90.00). American Chase Blackwell got fourth at 88.00 in the second round.

Japan’s Mitsuki Ono, the 2023 Worlds bronze winner, got her first win of the season, outscoring 16-year-old American newcomer Bea Kim, 81.75-77.50, as Kim won her first career World Cup medal. Japanese teammate Ruki Tomita got the bronze at 60.50, with American Chloe Kim, the Olympic gold medalist, a surprise fourth at 23.50. It was Kim’s first World Cup appearance in two seasons, and she had trouble on both runs.

Also at Laax were the opening Slopestyle events of the FIS World Cup season, starting with the first-ever World Cup win for Canada’s Liam Brearley, scoring 89.93 to beat Japan’s Ryoma Kimata (85.31) and Canadian teammate Cameron Spalding (83.90), who got his second career World Cup medal.

The women’s Slopestyle title went to American Julia Marino, 26, who took her fourth straight World Cup dating back to last season at 83.08 in her second run. Annika Morgan (GER: 80.75) claimed second and Austrian star Anna Gasser, the two-time Olympic Big Air gold winner, got third at 75.93.

Marino now owns nine World Cup goals all-time, with six in Slopestyle and three in Big Air.

The Parallel skiing crowd was in a new venue, Pamporovo (BUL), for Slalom racing on Saturday and Sunday. The all-Italian men’s final on Saturday saw Daniele Bagozza edge Edwin Coratti in the final by 0.62, while home favorite Radoslav Yankov took the bronze over Sang-ho Lee (KOR), the 2018 Olympic Parallel Giant Slalom runner-up. It was Bagozza’s second win this season.

Lee won Sunday’s race, besting Austria’s reigning World Champion Andreas Prommegger by just 0.08! Fellow Austrian Fabian Obmann won the bronze over American Cody Winters, who did not finish.

The women’s Saturday winner was Czech star Ester Ledecka, the two-time Olympic Parallel Giant Slalom gold medalist. It was the first event of the year for Ledecka, 28, beating two-time Worlds Slalom medalist Ramona Theresia Hofmeister (GER), who did not finish. Japan’s Tsubaki Miki took the bronze.

Ledecka doubled up on Sunday, this time crossing first ahead of 2023 Worlds bronze winner Sabine Schoeffmann (AUT), while Miki took the bronze again, this time over Cheyenne Loch (GER). It’s Ledecka’s 23rd career World Cup win.

● Speed Skating ● The ISU Four Continents Championships were held at the ultra-fast Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah (USA), with Canada, Japan and the U.S. dominating the action as expected.

Japan’s Olympic women’s 1,000 m gold medalist Miho Takagi was the only two-event winner, taking the women’s 1,500 m in 1:52.37, ahead of Mia Manganello (USA: 1:55.11) and fellow American Greta Myers (1:55.86). Takagi took the 1,000 m in 1:12.35, this time beating American Kimi Goetz (1:12.65) with four-time World Champion Brittany Bowe of the U.S. fourth in 1:14.26.

Takagi also helped Japan to the Team Sprint title – for her third win – in 1:24.32, just ahead of the American trio of Sarah Warren, Olympic 500 m champ Erin Jackson and Bowe, second in 1:25.00.

Jackson won the women’s 500 m in 36.82, with Goetz second in 36.93. Canada’s Valerie Maltais defended her Four Continents title in the 3,000 m (4:01.71), ahead of teammate Isabelle Weidemann (4:02.67) and American Manganello (4:02.85). Olympic Mass Start runner-up Ivanie Blondin (CAN) won her specialty by daylight in 8:42.56, beating Giorgia Birkeland of the U.S. (8:44.65).

Maltais also led the Canadians to the Team Pursuit title in 2:54.02, easily ahead of Japan (2:57.54) and the U.S. (3:04.32).

Canada got multiple men’s wins, starting with 2021 World Champion Laurent Dubreuil in the 500 m in 34.19, defending his Four Continents title from 2023. Japan grabbed the other medals with Olympic bronze winner Wataru Morishige in second (34.23) and Tatsuya Shinhama third (34.28). Connor Howe a two-time Worlds Team Pursuit silver winner, took the men’s 1,500 m in 1:43.19, ahead of Emery Lehman of the U.S. (1:44.03). Canada also won the Team Sprint.

But the U.S. was also busy, with triple World Champion Jordan Stolz winning the 1,000 m in a lifetime best of 1:06.27 (now no. 4 all-time), ahead of Taiyo Nonomura (JPN: 1:06.88) and Shinhama (1:07.04). Casey Dawson won the 5,000 m in 6:14.14, beating Canada’s Graeme Fish (6:14.16) and 2018 Olympic 10,000 m gold winner Ted-Jan Bloemen (6:14.22). Olympic silver winner Jae-won Chung (KOR) won the Mass Start – the only one to break up the Canada-Japan-USA wins – in 8:16.33, with Shomu Sasaki (JPN: 8:16.43) second.

The U.S. squad of Ethan Cepuran, Lehman and Dawson won the Team Pursuit (3:36.80) by a whisker over the Canadians (3:36.84).

● Surfing ● Five-time World Champion and the Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore (USA) will step back from competition, and might retire. A Friday post on Instagram read:

“Surfing is a part of who I am, and it always will be. This is by no means the end. I’d like to think of this instead as an evolution, the start of the next chapter, a new beginning. – Riss”

Her agent told NBC Sports that she will compete in the World Surf League event in Hawaii at the Banzai Pipeline at the end of January and at the Olympic Games in Tahiti this summer, trying to defend her Tokyo Olympic gold from 2021.

Moore, 31, was born in Hawaii and spoke about starting a family, but possibly coming back to try for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She’s a five-time World Champion from 2011-13-15-19-21 and considered one of the best surfers ever.

● Swimming ●I dearly wanted to swim in Paris but the hunger wasn’t there.

“I always want to give my all and I am not someone who just wants to make up the numbers, so this is the right time to step away.”

That’s Australian star Mack Horton, 27, announcing his retirement on Sunday, ending a career that included the 2016 Olympic gold in the men’s 400 m Freestyle and six medals at the World Championships, including a 4×200 m Free relay gold in 2019 and 400 m Free silvers in 2017 and 2019.

Horton refused to stand on the podium with Chinese winner Yang Sun at the 2019 Worlds, after Sun had been suspended from doping in 2014 and Horton believed him to be doping.

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