TSX REPORT: Cortina sliding track build starts; new long jump take-off “zone” to be tested; IOC says no to Pacquiao for Paris

On the way out? A well-used long and triple jump board (Photo: Santeri Viinamaki via Wikipedia)

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1. Work begins on Cortina sliding track amid protests
2. Long jump take-off board to be replaced by “zone”
3. IOC stays the course, says no to 45-year-old Pacquiao
4. Western Australia spending A$1.35 million for 2024 athlete support
5. FIS and Swiss now arguing over 2027 Alpine Worlds guarantees

● Monday marked the start of the construction effort on the new sliding track in Cortina d’Ampezzo for the 2026 Winter Games. Protesters were ready, too, but the site had already been secured.

● World Athletics is trying upgrade the long jump by experimenting with the elimination of the take-off board and measuring from a take-off “zone” rather than from a set line. Only an experiment so far, but if successful, could be used starting in 2026.

● The International Olympic Committee told the Philippine Olympic Committee that no exceptions will be made to allow star boxer Manny Pacquiao to compete at Paris 2024. He’s 45, over the age limit of 40 and the Philippines does not qualify for a special added quota spot.

● The government of Western Australia, an enormous state with a modest population, just approved A$1.35 million in public money for direct athlete support and contributions to the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Committees. Individual payments to Olympians and Paralympians from the state will be A$5,000 apiece.

● The International Ski & Snowboard Federation has not finalized an agreement to hold the 2027 Alpine Worlds at Crans-Montana in Switzerland as no financial guarantees were provided. FIS is ready to move elsewhere, but the two sided said Monday there would be further discussions.

Panorama: Athletics (3: Ikeda scares world record in 20 km walk; Katir accepts two-year ban; Kamau gets four years for Testosterone) = Football (Mexico appeals FIFA fines for anti-gay chant) = Modern Pentathlon (UIPM says fencing changing, but doesn’t say how) = Shooting (Nicotra di San Giacomo elected ISSF Secretary General) = Snowboard (Foley’s suspension upheld in arbitration) = Taekwondo (U.S. and Turkish Worlds winners star at U.S. Open) = Weightlifting (IWF chief says anti-doping progress must continue) ●

Errata: One of the things that often comes with a shocking result is insufficient research time and that’s what happened after American Gus Schumacher’s stunner in the men’s 10 km Mass Start at the FIS Cross Country World Cup in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One report stated it was the first World Cup win ever for an American man, and another said it was the first since Bill Koch in 1973, 41 years ago. Turns out it’s the first since Noah Hoffman (15 km Pursuit) and Simi Hamilton (Sprint) won World Cup races in December 2013, a little more than 10 years ago. So now you know. ●

Work begins on Cortina sliding track amid protests

Monday marked the beginning of the race to build the bobsled, luge and skeleton track in Cortina d’Ampezzo (ITA), in time for pre-Olympic testing in March 2025 ahead of the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.

The saga of the replacement for the Eugenio Monti track from the 1956 Cortina Winter Games is well known, but the contract signed with Parma-based Impresa Pizzarotti to avoid moving the events out of Italy means there is no room for delay.

But environmental groups were readying protests in the construction area, including against the removal of several hundred trees. But as noted by the Rome daily Il Fatto Quotidiano:

“Pizzarotti, Simico and the Municipality were ahead of the game. On Sunday 18th they took steps to fence off the four and a half hectare area of the Ronco area, at the foot of the Tofane. No access for all and road signs prohibiting stopping or parking cars, under penalty of removal. There will be a large deployment of law enforcement waiting for the environmentalists .

“Yet the groups do not give up and announce a peaceful demonstration , without denying that creativity can be manifested in various ways, starting with chaining to the trunks of the 500 [trees] that will have to be felled to make way for the construction site.”

The story also noted that International Olympic Committee will have inspectors on-site on Tuesday (20th). In the meantime, just in case the project does not get completed in time, the Milan Cortina organizers confirmed that they are keeping discussions alive with possible “rescue” venues including Innsbruck (AUT), St. Moritz (SUI), Koenigssee (GER) and Lake Placid in the U.S., all of which said they could handle the events if desired.

Isn’t this exciting? Maybe not.

Long jump take-off board to be replaced by “zone”

Expanding the details on a concept already signaled by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe (GBR), World Athletics chief executive Jon Ridgeon (GBR) explained to the British podcast “Anything But Footy”:

“If you take the long jump, at the World Championships, a third of all the jumps were no-jumps. That doesn’t work. That’s a waste of time.

“So we are testing a take-off zone rather than a take-off board. We will measure from where the athlete takes off to where they land in the pit.

“That means every single jump counts. It adds to the jeopardy and drama in the competition. At the same time, we are working out ways we can get instant results so you don’t have to wait 20 to 30 seconds before the result pops up. We get it instantly.

“It’s about making what we have got already even more entertaining for the future.”

The technology for this certainly exists, with Ridgeon noting that it will have to be tested at multiple levels of competition, but could be used for elite athletes as soon as 2026, when World Athletics is going to create a three-day event to showcase the top stars in an as-yet undisclosed format.

“This is not about next year, but making sure we have got a sport that is fit for purpose for another 150 years.

“We will spend this year testing it in real life circumstances with very good athletes. If it doesn’t pass testing, we will never introduce it. We are not going to introduce things on a whim because one of us thinks it is a good idea.

“In terms of a global level, a lot of these ideas may not be even introduced until 2026. We really want to spend the next two years thoroughly working them through and then we will introduce them.”

Using just the 2023 World Championships in Budapest (HUN) for inspection, the situation Ridgeon describes is quite real for both the long jump and the triple jump finals:

Men/Long Jump: 60 attempts, 20 fouls
Men/Triple Jump: 60 attempts, 22 fouls

Women/Long Jump: 60 attempts, 20 fouls
Women/Triple Jump: 60 attempts, 15 fouls

Some attempts were not taken due to injury; these are not counted as fouls. But for the two events combined, for men and women, there were 240 attempts in the four finals last summer and 77 fouls, or 32.1%. One assumes this will also be implemented for the triple jump as well.

Now, how are Coe & Co. going to make the decathlon and heptathlon livelier?

IOC stays the course, says no to 45-year-old Pacquiao

The idea of retired Philippine superstar boxer Manny Pacquiao entering the Paris 2024 Olympic boxing tournament had been gently rejected by the International Olympic Committee last year, as the age limit of 40 in boxing had been noted.

But the request for a place for Pacquiao came up again from the Philippine Olympic Committee and was formally brushed aside by the IOC over the weekend.

Philippine Olympic officials asked for an exemption for Pacquiao, who retired in 2021, to be granted a “universality place” in the men’s Olympic tournament, a procedure to give athletes from countries which are not usually able to qualify an Olympic spot. As it did for the Tokyo 2020 Games, the IOC is running the 2024 Olympic boxing tournament itself as there is – at present – no IOC-recognized international federation for boxing.

In response to a request from Philippine Olympic Committee chief Abraham Tolentino, the IOC replied:

“Universality places are not allocated to [teams] with an average of more than eight athletes in individual sports/disciplines at the last two editions of the Olympic Games. This is the case for the Philippine Olympic Committee.”

Pacquiao won 12 professional world titles in eight weight classes – from Flyweight to Light Middleweight – during his brilliant career, but never participated in the Olympic Games.

Tolentino told Agence France Presse in a text message, “What a waste, it could have been a sure podium or first ever [boxing] gold for the country.”

Pacquiao said in a statement, “While I am very saddened and disappointed, I understand and accept the age-limit rules.”

Western Australia spending A$1.35 million for 2024 athlete support

Imagine a state that is 147% the size of Alaska, with a population of just 2.8 million, of which about 80% is concentrated into one metropolitan area. And it just approved giving its athletes about $883,000 to prepare to compete at the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games.

That’s what Western Australia announced on Sunday, with A$1.35 million allocated by the state government – this is public money – to athletes through three channels:

“● $333,250 via the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) for athlete qualification and performance optimisation initiatives involving athletes, coaches and support staff;

“● $270,000 for direct payments to WA athletes selected to the Australia team for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games to assist with costs; and

“● $750,000 to be distributed to the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Team Appeal, with $375,000 to go to the Australian Olympic Committee, and $375,000 to Paralympics Australia.”

This is about $882,704 U.S. at A$1 = $0.65 U.S. The athlete-direct payments will be of A$5,000 amounts and are only for actual Olympic or Paralympic team members and will be distributed by the Western Australia Institute for Sport.

Western Australia is an enormous expanse, taking up about a third of the total land mass of the continent, with 80% of the population in and around the state capital of Perth. Among those who will benefit: women’s pole vault co-World Champion Nina Kennedy, who will be a second-time recipient of this program:

“I was grateful to receive one of these grants for Tokyo 2020 and I know firsthand how appreciative Western Australia athletes are that this support is continuing. Grants of $5,000 will help to cover costs associated with travel to France, and helps Olympians and Paralympians focus on doing what we need to do – which is to perform to the best of our abilities.”

FIS and Swiss now arguing over 2027 Alpine Worlds guarantees

The late Don Ohlmeyer, who was highly respected as NBC’s sports division head and then chief of its West Coast division in the 1970s-80s-90s, once told then-Washington Post sports columnist Tony Kornheiser that “the answer to all of your questions is money.”

So is the latest tug-of-war over the 2027 FIS Alpine World Championships in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, where the Swiss national federation – Swiss-Ski – has not provided the financial guarantees to the Swiss-based International Ski & Snowboard Federation (FIS) as required, and the hosting agreement for the championships has not been executed.

FIS received a inquiry from the Zurich-based Neue Zurcher Zeitung and posted its answer on Friday, including:

● “All candidates for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2027 were required to give undertakings relating to financial guarantees, which are necessary to ensure that the parties to the contract are able to meet its contractual obligations. In its bid response, Swiss-Ski stated that financial guarantees had already been given by The Swiss Confederation, The Canton of Valais and The Association of Communes of Crans-Montana, a statement which FIS relied on.

● “Swiss-Ski has now stated to FIS that it is not possible for the Swiss Confederation, the Canton of Valais and the Association of Communes of Crans-Montana to give the required financial guarantees without referenda and has asked to be exempted from giving the financial guarantees.

● “Consequently, it is clear that the confirmation in the bid submission by Swiss-Ski that the financial guarantees by the Swiss Confederation, the Canton of Valais and the Association of Communes of Crans-Montana had already been given, was indeed entirely false.”

So, if the guarantees are not resolved, FIS will go elsewhere; Crans-Montana hosted the 1987 FIS Alpine Worlds.

Both the FIS and Swiss-Ski posted soothing messages on Monday with further discussions to follow; the Swiss note read:

“‘Swiss-Ski and the World Cup organizing committee are happy that the basis for an early solution and signing of the hosting agreement has been restored,’ says Diego Zuger, co-CEO of Swiss-Ski. ‘We will continue to fully meet our obligations and feel strengthened in our belief that we can bring the negotiations to a good conclusion.’”


● Athletics ● Japan’s Koki Ikeda, the silver medalist in the Tokyo 2021 Olympic and 2022 Worlds 20 km race walks, scared the world record with a 1:16:51 win at the national walk championships in Kobe (JPN) on Sunday.

Ikeda’s prior best was 1:17:25 for third at the 2019 Asian Championships, but moved to no. 3 all-time on Sunday and was close to the world mark of 1:16:36 by countryman Yusuke Suzuki at the 2015 Asian Championships. It’s the fastest race since Suzuki’s record.

Ryo Hamanishi also got a huge lifetime best in second, but was well back at 1:17:42, now no. 6 on the all-time Japan list.

Spanish distance star Mohamed Katir, the men’s 1,500 Worlds bronze winner in 2022 and 5,000 m runner-up in 2023, has been suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit for two years due to three “whereabouts” failures in a 12-month period:

“Katir admitted to three Whereabouts Failures in 12 months, beginning on 28 February 2023, specifically: a Filing Failure on 28 February 2023; a Missed Test/Filing Failure on 3 April 2023; and a Missed Test/Filing Failure on 10 October 2023. His two-year period of ineligibility will start from the date of his Provisional Suspension and will therefore run from 7 February 2024 until 6 February 2026.”

His results since 10 October 2023 are nullified, which do not include his Worlds medals. He would have been a contender in Paris in both the men’s 1,500 (3:28.76 best) and 5,000 m (12:45.01 best).

The Athletics Integrity Unit also announced a four-year ban on Kenyan distance runner Charles Karanja Kamau (13:16.91, 27:30.44, 60:22, 2:06:37) for using Testosterone, with the suspension dated from 21 May 2023.

● Football ● The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) filed an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against FIFA fines of CHF 100,000 for fans yelling what are considered anti-gay slurs at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. (CHF 1 = $1.13 U.S.)

FIFA slapped the Mexican federation with a CHF 50,000 fine for fan conduct at group-stage matches against Poland and Saudi Arabia, with an additional 50,000 levied for educational programs. FIFA has been trying to curb this behavior since 2014, with the FMF appealing on the basis that it cannot control fans in matches it does not organize.

● Modern Pentathlon ● The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) announced that new formats for the fencing segment for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles will be tried this spring, all based on a single-elimination format.

This will replace the ranking round and change the scoring program dramatically, but none of the three formats to be tested were disclosed.

● Shooting ● Italian Alessandro Nicotra di San Giacomo was elected by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Executive Committee as the federation’s new Secretary General on Monday.

Already a special advisor to the ISSF, he will report to President Luciano Rossi (ITA). He replaces Willi Grill (GER), who was dismissed in December.

● Snowboard ● Former longtime U.S. Snowboard team coach Peter Foley had his 10-year suspension by the U.S. Center for SafeSport upheld by an arbitrator last Thursday (15th). He was sanctioned following sexual abuse allegations from national team members.

Foley was the head coach of the Snowboard team since 1994, but was fired by U.S. Ski & Snowboard in March 2022 after multiple allegations surfaced – going back decades – and suspended by SafeSport in August 2023, with Foley filing an appeal. ESPN reported that his suspension for 10 years will be followed by a five-year probation period.

● Taekwondo ● Some of the sport’s big stars were in action at the U.S. Open Championships in Reno, Nevada, with American star Anastasia Zolotic and two Turkish World Champions taking top honors.

Tokyo Olympic champ Zolotic, still just 21, blasted through the women’s 67 kg field, winning two rounds to none in the round of 16, then the quarterfinals, won by walkover in her semi and then defeated Brazil’s Sandy Macedo, 2-1, in the final.

Turkey’s World women’s 49 kg gold medalist Merve Dincel moved up to the women’s 53 kg division to win over Camila Bezerra (BRA) in the final by two rounds to none, and Nafia Kus, the +73 kg Worlds winner defeated American Naomi Alade to win her class, 2-1.

Turkey’s 2023 Worlds bronze medalist Hatice Ilgun got to the final for a possible third women’s title at 57 kg, but was defeated by two-time Worlds medal winner, Kimia Alizadeh, now competing as a refugee from Iran, 2-1.

The U.S. got one men’s win, from Jonathan Healy at +87 kg, defeating Icaro Matins Soares (BRA) in the final, with Turkey’s Worlds bronze winner Emre Atesli taking one of the bronzes. Worlds 80 kg silver winner Carl Nickolas of the U.S. took the bronze in his class, with Geon-woo Seo (KOR) taking the title over Henrique Rodrigues (BRA).

● Weightlifting ● The sport won confirmation for its place at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but International Weightlifting Federation President Mohammed Jalood (IRQ) told the European Weightlifting Federation Congress on Sunday that its future is hardly secure.

He noted that there had been no doping positives among 719 athletes at the 2023 IWF Worlds in Saudi Arabia, “Then at Asian Games zero, World Junior Championships in Mexico zero, Grand Prix in Qatar zero.

“This shows that the culture in weightlifting is changing, we are going in the right direction. Let’s hope there are zero in Paris. We will all be happy if weightlifting’s presence is increased in the Olympic Games in future. If there is doping in Paris that will be difficult.”

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