TSX REPORT: IIHF explains Israel “restriction”; South Africa demotes Jewish cricket captain; IOC-USOPC-LA28 welcomes InBev sponsorship

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1. IIHF says Israel not suspended, NHL voices concern
2. South Africa demotes Jewish captain of Cricket U19s
3. AB InBev signs sponsorship with IOC, USOPC and LA28
4. Russian Olympic chief expects loss in IOC appeal
5. Another organizing committee in turmoil, in Taranto

● The International Ice Hockey Federation posted an explanation of its removal of Israel from the men’s Division III Word U-20 Championships on Friday, limiting the action to just the one tournament and promising to review its stance again. The National Hockey League had asked about the issue and former Czech star Bobby Holik, now an American citizen, said “This is just people finding ways to show their antisemitism.”

● Cricket South Africa demoted its men’s U-18 World Cup team member David Teeger – who is Jewish – as captain of the squad in fear of possible violence at the event, which it is hosting in five cities throughout the country. The South African government has filed a petition with the International Court of Justice alleging genocidal actions by Israel in response to the deadly invasion by Hamas on 7 October. Germany has interceded, as politics and sport are again intertwined.

● The International Olympic Committee announced a major sponsorship by AB Inbev for its Corona Cero beer through 2028 and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and LA28 announced a deal with Anheuser-Busch for Michelob ULTRA as their official beer, also through 2028.

● The head of the Russian Olympic Committee expects to lose its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the IOC’s suspension after its absorption of four sports organizations in Ukrainian territory.

● The organization of the 2026 Mediterranean Games in Taranto, Italy is in turmoil as organizing committee executives were thrown out, but now claim they personally own all of the plans made so far. It’s another regional games in trouble.

World Championship: Ice Hockey (U.S. women sweep to IIHF U-18 Worlds win) = Sailing (Rindom wins, U.S.’s Rose surprises in ILCA 6 Worlds) ●

Panorama: Alpine Skiing (2: Odermatt wins two, Sarrazin one in Wengen; Huetter, Goggia and Gut-Behrami win in Zauchensee) = Athletics (3: Ngetich crushes world 10 km mark in Spain; American Record for Kelati at Aramco Half; U.S. Marathon Trials worth $12-15 million to Orlando) = Badminton (two wins for China at Malaysia Open) = Biathlon (Norwegian gold rush in Ruhpolding) = Bobsled & Skeleton (German domination continues in St. Moritz) = Cycling (Gigante takes women’s Santos Tour Down Under) = Fencing (2: Italy sweeps men’s Foil medals in Paris; Heathcock surprises in Sabre for U.S.) = Figure Skating (Italy wins two, history for Henrickx at Europeans) = Football (Sofi Stadium apparently confirmed to host 2026 World Cup games) = Handball (world-record attendance to open Euro Champs) = Luge (Four golds for Austria at Innsbruck) = Nordic Combined (Norway sweeps four races at Obertsdorf) = Ski Jumping (2: Kobayashi wins gold in Wisla; Ito wins for home fans in Sapporo) = Snowboard (Karl and Dalmasso take PGS wins at Scuol) = Swimming (Douglass clips 12-year-old American Record at Tyr Pro Swim) ●

IIHF says Israel not suspended, NHL voices concern

In the face of severe blowback, the International Ice Hockey Federation posted on Friday a lengthy explanation of its Wednesday decision to remove the Israeli team from the men’s Division III World U-20 Championship in Sofia (BUL) from 22-28 January. The post included:

“The IIHF Council decided to restrict the Israeli National Team from participating in IIHF Championships on a temporary basis due to safety and security concerns it had for all Championship participants, specifically including the players and team staff from all participating teams. This decision currently affects the Israeli National Team’s participation in the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U-20 World Championship Division III Group B scheduled to start on 22 January 2024. This event has been originally planned to be held in Israel, but due to already existing safety and security concerns being moved to Bulgaria.

“The decision is not a sanction against the Israeli Federation and does not affect the Israeli Federation’s status as a full member in good standing with the IIHF.

“IIHF Council will meet in February to assess the safety situation associated with the March and April Championships in which Israel is scheduled to participate and will meet in March to assess the safety situation associated with the April Championship in which Israel is scheduled to participate. This will allow the IIHF Council the ability to deal with each Championship on a case-by-case-basis taking into consideration the facts unique to each location where a respective Championship is scheduled to take place.”

The Israeli women’s team is slated – but was prohibited under the IIHF’s blanket edict of 10 January – to play in the IIHF Women’s Division III-B World Championship in Kohtla-Jarve (EST) from 24-29 March 2024.

The new IIHF explanation included further details of its decision and was important in that:

● It narrowed the decision to the men’s U-20 Division III-B Worlds.

● The IIHF claimed that the nature of the multi-purpose site in Sofia does not allow for closure from the public and is in “a student area with a high population from the affected regions.”

The IIHF notice added:

“The IIHF stands behind the Israeli Federation and wants to secure the safety of all players participating in its championship including players from Israel. …

“The IIHF completely understands that this is a difficult decision and is being made to prioritize security and safety of all involved parties first.”

The detailed notice tried to calm the situation after shrill condemnations from Israeli officials and others, including the National Hockey League. It posted a statement on Saturday which included:

“The NHL has significant concerns with the announcement from the IIHF on Wednesday regarding the Israeli National Team’s eligibility for, and participation in, upcoming IIHF events. We expressed those concerns to the IIHF and have attempted to get a better understanding of both the scope and underlying rationale for the decision that was made. …

“We urge the IIHF to take whatever steps necessary to address its concerns as expeditiously as possible so that Israeli National Teams are not unfairly excluded from future events for which they are eligible and have qualified.”

Bobby Holik, a two-time NHL All-star center and a member of two Stanley Cup-winning teams with the New Jersey Devils of the NHL, was a Czech star who married an American women and began a U.S. citizen in 1996. He has coached and run hockey camps in Israel and told the New York Post the IIHF has bowed to anti-Semitism:

“This hockey situation presents a great opportunity for the [NHL] to make a stand and somehow confront the IIHF. To me, this is an extension of the Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS). It’s like, ‘Hey, we don’t want to be uncomfortable, we’ll just keep the Jews out of it.’

“This is just people finding ways to show their antisemitism. Nobody stands up. Nobody says anything. So they keep doing it. I could ask NHL and people in hockey to make a stand for Israel, but nobody wants to go that way. The NHL works closely, I believe, with the IIHF on Olympic Games and other things. I think they should somehow put a little heat on the IIHF.”

His comments came a day before the NHL statement was released on Saturday. Holik, 53, who lives in Wyoming, added relative to the IIHF’s ban:

“It is a security matter. Just work a little harder. Spend more money. There is no better thing to do than to invite Israeli teams where you have 16 or 17 year-old Israelis playing against others on the world stage to see that they are not genocidal people. They are people. I think that is the best way.

“Let’s give them the opportunity to mix with others in a safe environment. Trust me, if they are invited, the state of Israel would do everything possible to provide security so that the players are safe. I’ve been there. I cannot go into details, but our teams were always surrounded by security.”

South Africa demotes Jewish captain of Cricket U19s

A stunning statement was posted by Cricket South Africa on Friday, a week in advance of the start of the men’s 2024 U-19 Cricket World Cup:

“As is the case with all such events, CSA has been receiving regular security and risk updates regarding the World Cup. We have been advised that protests related to the war in Gaza can be anticipated at the venues for the tournament.

“We have also been advised that they are likely to focus on the position of the SA Under-19 (SA U19) captain, David Teeger, and that there is a risk that they could result in conflict or even violence, including between rival groups of protestors.

“CSA has a primary duty to safeguard the interests and safety of all those involved in the World Cup and must accordingly respect the expert advice of those responsible for the safety of participants and spectators.

“In all the circumstances, CSA has decided that David should be relieved of the captaincy for the tournament. This is in the best interests of all the players, the SA U19 team and David himself.

“David will remain an important and active member of the squad and we wish him and the team every success in the tournament. The newly appointed captain will be announced in due course.”

The British newspaper The Telegraph explained it this way:

“Cricket South Africa has stood down its captain, who is Jewish, for the upcoming Under-19 World Cup because of comments he made in support of Israeli soldiers in the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Palestine.”

Teeger praised Israeli soldiers responding to the 7 October invasion by Hamas at a Jewish Achiever Awards ceremony on 22 October. His comments were followed by an immediate complaint by the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance to the South African Sports Confederation and the South African Olympic Committee; a hearing found Teeger had done nothing wrong. Teeger said:

“It was therefore hurtful to read that my personal reflection on 22 October, 2023, of Israel’s response to the Hamas attack has been equated to supporting genocide or condoning hatred based on race, ethnicity or religion.

“Judging the conduct of the different sides during this war is a highly contested and complex matter with strongly held views on both sides. My personal and honestly held view is that Israel and its soldiers have not committed genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity. In addition, this view is held by many people and democratic governments around the world, like the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, India, Australia and many countries in the European Union.

“Thus, my statements were not in support of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity because in my view Israel is innocent of all these allegations. On the other hand, I accept, that many people and governments, including the South African government, hold an opposing view. Disagreeing in a respectful manner on a contested and emotionally charged matter is a fundamental pillar of our democracy and Constitution. I respect the right of others to disagree with my view on Israel.”

The decision to remove Teeger as captain was met with immediate rebuke, starting with Karen Milner, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies National Chair:

“There is no basis for this decision, other than the fact that Teeger is Jewish.

“This is not the first time that Jews have been excluded from sporting bodies in our history. The SAJBD will do everything in its power to fight against this vicious prejudice.”

The removal of Teeger’s captaincy is all the more amazing given that the tournament – which begins on 19 January in Bloemfontein and Potchefstroom – is being played in South Africa, in five cities, having taken over for Sri Lanka in November after a suspension by the International Cricket Council. Cricket was added to the program of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee last October.

However, it also comes during an expanding political firestorm over the Hamas invasion of Israel and Israel’s continuing response. South Africa filed a petition with the International Court of Justice in the Hague (NED) alleging genocide on the part of Israel, prompting not only a furious defense, but also an intervention by Germany as a third party.

German spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a Friday statement:

“In view of Germany’s history and the crime against humanity of the Shoah, the Federal Government sees itself as particularly committed to the Convention against Genocide. This convention is a central instrument of international law to implement ‘never again.’

“The German government decisively and expressly rejects the accusation of genocide brought against Israel before the International Court of Justice. The accusation has no basis in fact.”

By intervening as a third party which has not been involved in the conflict, the Germans will be able to present their own case to the court.

Let it never again be said that sport and politics are not intertwined.

AB InBev signs sponsorship with IOC, USOPC and LA28

A massive three-way sponsorship agreement was announced Friday in the beer category for Belgium-based AB Inbev, the parent of brands such as Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, Michelob and more than a dozen others, and the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the LA28 organizing committee:

“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced that AB InBev, the world’s leading brewer, will become a Worldwide Olympic Partner (TOP Partner) through to 2028. Corona Cero zero-alcohol beer will be the global beer sponsor of the Olympic Games, highlighting the IOC and AB InBev’s commitment to responsible consumption and building a better world.”

This is the first time that a brewer has joined the TOP sponsor group, first established as a worldwide sponsorship opportunity in 1995. Anheuser Busch was a key sponsor of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the new deal significantly includes the LA28 Games.

The announcements of the IOC and USOPC-LA28 sponsorships also noted key brand decisions:

● “AB InBev is committed to accelerating continued progress towards responsible alcohol consumption and moderation worldwide and will work to further that effort by featuring Corona Cero, its fast-growing zero-alcohol beer brand, as the leading global Worldwide Olympic Partner brand.”

● “AB InBev Chief Marketing Officer Marcel Marcondes said: ‘… we expect Corona Cero to accelerate no-alcohol beer growth and moderation for fans all over the world. In the United States, we will support the Olympics through the Olympic and Paralympic Games LA 2028 with Michelob ULTRA, a superior light beer that celebrates an active lifestyle.’”

The USOPC statement highlighted the Anheuser-Busch connection:

“Anheuser-Busch, America’s leading brewer, today announced that Michelob ULTRA has become the exclusive beer sponsor of Team USA for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024, Milan Cortina 2026, and Los Angeles 2028, and will be the Official Beer Sponsor of the LA28 Games.”

For those not familiar, Michelob ULTRA – a light beer – debuted in 2002 and is ranked as “the No. 2 beer in the industry by volume.”

The sponsorship is welcome news for LA28, which announced three commercial partnerships in 2023 – Eli Lilly & Co., Oakley Eyewear and Ralph Lauren as an “official outfitter” – but none since late July. Eli Lilly is designated as a “Sponsor,” along with “Founding Partners” Comcast, Delta and Salesforce, so the addition of Anheuser Busch brings the Partner and Sponsor total to five.

Observed: That the IOC has agreed for a worldwide sponsor in the beer category – but only for a zero-alcohol brew, Corona Cero – it’s worthwhile to ask if other elements of the alcoholic-beverage category might open. That does not seem immediately likely and the promotion of Corona Cero as the IOC’s official beer surely signals that spirits will not be tolerated in the TOP sponsorship group.

Russian Olympic chief expects loss in IOC appeal

The head of the Russian Olympic Committee said he expects to lose in their appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against its suspension by the International Olympic Committee:

“I have skeptical expectations. The basis of any arbitration tribunal is trust, but there is none.

“I assume that the decision will be made quickly, and this indicates bias. At the heart of the problems that exist today between the ROC and the IOC, there is a geopolitical orientation, pressure.”

Stanislav Pozdnyakov told the Russian news agency TASS that the appeal will be handled by a Swiss attorney and not by any Russian officials, furthermore, than the hearing – from the Russian side, anyway – will be handled by videoconference and no Russian officials will be going to Lausanne to appear in person.

The appeal is scheduled to be heard on 26 January. The IOC suspended the ROC on 12 October, after the absorption of the Ukraine sports organizations in a portion of eastern Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson – invaded by Russia in February of 2022.

Another organizing committee in turmoil, in Taranto

The 2026 Mediterranean Games are scheduled for Taranto (ITA) and according to the Rome daily, Il Fatto Quotidiano, are in trouble. Scheduled for June, the event will be the 20th edition of an event first held in 1951 and which had 3,298 athletes from 26 countries competing in 24 sports in 2022 in Oran (ALG).

Saturday’s story started with (computer translation from the original Italian):

“The former general director, banned from holding public office due to corruption charges, who wants to take away the projects. The old organizing committee practically suing the new one. The Taranto 2026 Mediterranean Games were already a full-blown disaster, with monstrous delays and controversies. The usual big event that turned into the classic Italian fool. Now they risk becoming a farce.”

The event had been granted €275 million for new venues (~$301.55 million U.S.) which will apparently not be ready and the original organizing committee was disbanded by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) last summer. But the former chief organizer Elio Sannicarlo, in concert with 12 other former organizing committee staff, have apparently claimed that they – and not the new organizers – own the planning done to date and that its use must be purchased from them.

Reporter Lorenzo Vendemiale noted, “It seems like an absurd claim and will probably be dismissed that way,” but the matter could end up in court and cause more delays. In the meantime, the calendar continues to shrink.

Observed: This is just the latest regional games in chaos, after the 2026 Commonwealth Games, abandoned by the Australian state of Victoria last summer and the 2027 Pan American Games, removed by Panam Sports on 3 January from Barranquilla (COL) after multiple missed contract deadlines.


● Ice Hockey ● The U.S. won its ninth gold at the IIHF Women’s U-18 World Championship in Zug (SUI), defeating the Czech Republic, 5-1.

After finishing group play with a 3-0 mark, the U.S. sailed past Germany, 4-0, in the quarters, then Finland by 4-2 in the semis and then won the final decisively on Sunday. Margaret Scannell (10:23) and Haley Box (11:37) scored in the first period, but Adela Sapovalivova got one back on a power play at 18:43 of the second period to tighten the game to 2-1.

But Kassidy Charmichael scored just 4:15 into the third for a 3-1 lead and Charmichael iced it with a power play goal at 13:05. Ava Thomas added an empty-netter for the Americans with 1:49 to play for the 5-1 final. The U.S. out-shot the Czechs, 39-20, with Layla Hemp stopping 19 shots in goal for the winners.

In all, the U.S. out-scored its opponents by 32-5. It was the sixth American win in the last nine editions of the tournament. The IIHF Directorate selected Sapovalivova (CZE) as the top forward, Chloe Primerano of Canada as the top defender and Czech Aneta Senkova as the top goalie.

Canada, which lost in the semifinals to the Czechs by 4-2, routed Finland for the bronze by 8-1.

● Sailing ● No doubt about the winner of the women’s ILCA6 (Laser Radial) World Championship in Buenos Aires (ARG), that finished last week: Tokyo Olympic champ Anne-Marie Rindom of Denmark.

She won four of the 11 races outright and was in the top 10 in four others to finish with a net of 58 points for her third Worlds gold – also in 2015 and 2022 – and her sixth career Worlds medal (3-0-3).

American Charlotte Rose, the 2019 Pan American Games silver medalist, won her first Worlds medal and catapulted herself into Olympic contention with a second-place finish, scoring 75 net points with eight top-ten finishes and two wins! Belgium’s Emma Plasschaert, the 2018 and 2021 World Champion in this class, finished third with 78 net points and eight races in the top 10. But she could not match Rose’s two wins and fell back to third.


● Alpine Skiing ● Swiss star Marco Odermatt, the reigning World Cup overall champion and France’s sudden-star Cyprien Sarrazin, dominated the speed skiing in front of big crowds of as many as 30,000 at Wengen (SUI).

Odermatt beat Sarrazin in Thursday’s Downhill, then Sarrazin – who came into this season with a career total of two World Cup medals, at age 29 – won the Friday Super-G, 1:47.75 to 1:48.33, over Odermatt, with Norwegian star Aleksander Aamodt Kilde third at 1:48.75.

The race was marred by a bad crash near the finish by two-time Combined World Champion Alexis Pinturault, who had to be airlifted from the site, delaying the race for about 25 minutes. He was reportedly to have ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

On Saturday, it was Odermatt beating Sarrazin for the second time in the second Downhill, 2:25.64 to 2:26.23, with Italy’s speed star Dominik Paris getting third (2:27.56). For Sarrazin, it was his fourth medal this season (2-2-0) after two medals all-time before. For Odermatt, it extended his World Cup lead and was his 31st career World Cup gold.

Kilde suffered a bad crash and injured his right leg near the finish of the Saturday Downhill and was also airlifted to a hospital.

Sunday was a Slalom, with Austria’s Manuel Feller – the 2017 Worlds runner-up – taking his third World Cup win in the fourth Slalom run this season! He had the third-fastest first run and second-fastest second run and that added up to a win in 1:50.28, just ahead of Norway’s Atle McGrath (1:50.38), the first-run leader. Fellow Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen took third in 1:50.49; Benjamin Ritchie was the top American, in 20th (1:52.49).

The women’s World Cup was in Zauchensee (AUT), with Austria’s Cornelia Huetter getting her fifth career World Cup gold in Friday’s Super-G in 1:13.17, barely edging Kajsa Vickoff Lie (NOR: 1:13.26) and Swiss star Lara Gut-Behrami (1:13.38). It’s Huetter’s third medal of the season (1-1-1).

Italy’s 2018 Olympic Downhill winner Sofia Goggia took Saturday’s Downhill in 1:46.47, ahead of home favorite Stephanie Venier (1:46.57) and fellow Austrian Mirjam Puchner, who tied for third with Nicol Delago (ITA: 1:46.81). It’s the second win of the season for Goggia, and her 24th career World Cup victory.

Sunday brought another Super-G, with Beijing Olympic champ Gut-Behrami (SUI) taking her third win of the season in 1:14.25, beating Huetter (1:15.20) and Puchner (1:15.21). Lauren Macuga was the top U.S. finisher, in 10th (1:15.53).

● Athletics ● Another road world record, as Kenya’s Agnes Ngetich destroyed the women’s 10 km road race mark with a startling 28:46 win at the Valencia Ibercaja 10K in Spain on Sunday.

Ngetich had won 29:26, then the third-fastest time in history at Lille (FRA) on 18 November last year, but hot pacemaking gave Ngetich and fellow Kenyans Emmaculate Anyango and Lilian Rengeruk a shot at the record. Ngetich passed 5 km in 14:13, equal to the world mark set by Kenyan Beatrice Chebet on 31 December in Barcelona, with Anyango just a second behind (24:14: third performance all-time) and Rengeruk at 14:25, the no. 7 performance in history.

Ngetich, 22, broke away from Anyango after 7 km and ran alone to the finish in 28:46, the first time a woman has run faster than 29:00 on road or track. She mauled the only record of 29:14 by Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) from 2022 and Anyango, in second, finished in 28:57 to move to no. 2 all-time. Rengeruk finished third in 29:32, now the no. 4 performer ever.

The men’s 10 km was also hot, with Uganda’s Jakob Kiplimo, the 2020 World Half Marathon champ, winning easily in 26:48 to move to no. 6 on the all-time list. Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew was second in 26:57, now no. 14 all-time, just ahead of Peter Njeru (KEN: 26:59).

At the Chevron Houston Marathon, Morocco’s Zouhair Talbi broke away after 35 km to win in a race record of 2:06:39, a lifetime best and an Olympic qualifying mark. He worked his way up through the pack and won by 21 seconds over Ayana Tsedat (ETH: 2:07:00). Adam Vadeboncoeur was the top American, in 2:18:04.

Ethiopian Jamal Yimer, twice fourth at the World Half Marathon Championship, won the Aramco Half in 60:42, edging Wesley Kiptoo (KEN: 60:43) and Milkesa Mengesha (ETH) and Abbabiya Simbassa of the both, both timed in 60:45.

Ethiopia’s Rahma Tusa broke away after 30 km in the women’s marathon and rolled to a 22-second win in the women’s marathon in 2:19:33, no. 4 in the world for 2023. Vicoty Chepngeno (KEN) was second in 2:19:55; the top American was Andrea Pomaranski in 14th (2:36:41).

The women’s Half was a treat, with Kenyan star Hellen Obiri setting a hot pace, but was unable to maintain it past 15 km, when Sutume Asefa flew by and stormed to the finish in 64:37, fastest in the world so far in 2024 and now no. 8 all-time. Obiri hung in for second in 66:07, trailed by Ethiopian Buze Diriba (66:24) and American Weini Kelati, making her debut at the distance.

Kelati’s fourth-place time was 66:25, an American Record, taking 14 seconds off the 66:39 mark by Keira D’Amato from 1 July 2023 at Gold Coast in Australia. Kelati won the USATF 10 km nationals in 2023 and was 21st in the Cross Country Worlds (10 km) in Bathurst last February. She was fourth on the track last year in the USATF 10,000 m, but may have found a home in the longer event.

Jason Siegel, the head of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission, told reporters on Friday that the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials coming 3 February could be worth from $12-15 million in economic impact for the area.

The City of Orlando is encouraging spectators to watch the race from four downtown areas; the runners will run a 2.2-mile loop in downtown and then run four laps of an 8 km course that will finish on Rosalind Avenue.

● Badminton ● China scored two wins at the Malaysia Open in Kuala Lumpur (MAS), both in Doubles, as top-seeded Wei Keng Liang and Chang Wang won the men’s final over India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, 9-21, 21-18, 21-17, and in the all-China women’s Doubles final, Sheng Shu Liu and Ning Tan swept aside Shu Xian Zhang and Yu Zheng by 21-18, 21-18.

Denmark’s Anders Antonsen took the men’s Singles title from seventh-seed Yu Qi Shi (CHN), 21-14, 21-14, and top-seed Se Young An (KOR) gave up the first set to Tokyo Olympic runner-up Tzu Ying Tai (TPE), but won by 10-21, 21-10, 21-18.

Japan’s second-seeded Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino won the Mixed Doubles in a 21-18, 21-15 sweep over Won Ho Kim (KOR) and Na Eun Jeong (KOR).

● Biathlon ● The French grip on the women’s IBU World Cup was finally slowed in Ruhpolding (GER), with Norwegian veteran Ingrid Tandrevold winning Saturday’s 7.5 km Sprint in 19:25.4 (0 penalties), ahead of Mona Brorsson (SWE: 19:43.6/0) and Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi (19.44.4/0). French stars had won five races in a row and Lou Jeanmonnot finished fourth in 19:50.2 (0). For Tandrevold, a four-time Worlds gold medalist on relays, it was her second win of the season and fifth medal.

Sunday’s women’s 10 km Pursuit went to Vittozzi, who won the season-opening event and got her second gold in 30:30.7 (1), ahead of Tandrevold (30:31.4/1) and fellow Norwegian Juni Arnekliev (30:39.8/0). Jeanmonnot was fourth again (31:01.8/2).

The men’s 10 km Sprint on Saturday was also a Norwegian victory for veteran Vetle Christiansen (22:27.2/0), beating Tommaso Giacomel (ITA: 22:44.1/1) and Norwegian star Tarjei Boe (22:47.3/0). American Campbell Wright had his best finish of the season in 12th (23:17.3/1).

Norway swept medals in Sunday’s 12.5 km Pursuit, with Johannes Dale-Skjevdal winning a tight finish over Christiansen, 30:38.0 (2) to 30:39.7 (3). Seasonal leader Johannes Thingnes Boe got his sixth medal in 12 races in third (30:40.2/2).

Norway won its fourth straight men’s 4×7.5 km World Cup relay this season in 1:09:49.6 (8), well ahead of Germany (1:10:34.6/7) and Italy (1:10.48.3/10). The French women took the 4×6 km relay in 1:08:44.5 (4), edging Sweden (1:08:53.2/3) and Germany (1:09:31.2 (3)

● Bobsled & Skeleton ● The first IBSF World Cup of 2024 was in St. Moritz (SUI), with a continuation of the German domination from the end of 2023.

Johannes Lochner, the 2023 Worlds gold medalist, teamed with Georg Fleishhauer to take the Two-Man race in 2:10.74, just 0.25 up on Olympic champ Francesco Friedrich and Alexander Schueller (2:10.99). Swiss Michael Vogt and Sandro Michel got the bronze in 2:11.29. The top American sled was in 13th, with Frank Del Duca and Adrian Adams (2:12.73).

Sunday’s Four-Man was the third win in five races this season for Lochner, winning both runs and totaling 2:08.89 to defeat twice Olympic champ Friedrich (GER: 2:08.99) and Latvia’s Emils Cipulis (2:09.29). The top American sled was with Del Duca, in 14th (2:10.72).

The women’s Monobob was another win for 2018 Olympic champ Lisa Buckwitz (GER), her third in four races this season, in 2:22.78, leading teammate Laura Nolte (2:22.91) and Australia’s Breeana Walker (2:22.93). American star Elana Meyers Taylor was fourth (2:23.25) and Kaysha Love – the only one other than Buckwitz to win this season – was ninth (2:24.01).

The Two-Woman title was won by Germans Nolte and Neele Schuten, who took over on the second run and won at 2:16.59, just ahead of first-run leader Buckwitz and Lauryn Siebert (2:16.67). Swiss Melanie Hauser and Mara Morell grabbed third in 2:16.97; Americans Love and Azaria Hill finished sixth (2:17.85) and Meyers Taylor and Emily Renna timed 2:18.04 for eighth.

In Skeleton, Italy’s Amedeo Bagnis, the 2023 Worlds runner-up, won the men’s division in 2:14.07, easing past Beijing Olympic champ Christopher Grotheer (GER: 2:14.59) and Worlds bronze medalist Seung-gi Jung (KOR: 2:13.96). Bagnis is the fourth different winner in four races this season.

Kimberley Bos (NED) took the women’s Skeleton in 2:18.61 for her second straight win, again edging Valentina Margaglio (ITA: 2:19.34), with America’s five-time Olympian Katie Uhlaender getting the second U.S. medal of the season in third (2:19.45). American Mystique Ro was eighth (2:19.97). It was Uhlaender’s first World Cup medal since February 2013!

● Cycling ● The 2024 season of the UCI Women’s World Tour began in Australia with the Santos Tour Down Under, decided on the final day with a win for Australian Sarah Gigante.

The first two stages, on Friday and Saturday, were mass-finish sprints, so while Denmark’s Cecile Uttrup Ludwig led going into Sunday’s final stage, it was the final climb to the finish at Willunga Hill that would decide everything.

There were 25 riders who started within 10 seconds of the lead, but Gigante broke free with 2.2 km left of the 93.4 km ride from Adelaide and won the stage by 16 seconds over Nienke Vinke (NED) in 2:30:38. That gave the 23-year-old Gigante her first major win on the Women’s World Tour in 7:57:33, 20 seconds ahead of Vinke, 33 seconds up on Australian Neve Bradbury and 37 seconds clear of fourth-placer Amanda Spratt (AUS).

Ruth Edwards was the top American, in 16th (+1:21).

● Fencing ● The FIE World Cup schedule resumed in Paris with men’s and women’s Foil, with China’s Qingyuan Chen winning the women’s final over Elena Tangherlini, by 15-13. Chen, the 2023 Asian champ, won her first FIE World Cup gold. Tangherlini, 25, earned her first major international medal.

Italy swept all four medals in the men’s Foil, with 2023 World Champion Tommaso Marini winning a 15-12 decision against 2018 World Champion Alessio Foconi. Teammates Guillaume Bianchi and Filippo Macchi won the bronze.

The U.S. team of Miles Chamley-Watson, Chase Emmer, Nick Itkin and Alex Massialas took the men’s team title, defeating Italy in the semis, 45-44 and Japan in the final, 45-39. Italy took the women’s gold with a 45-41 win over France, with Japan and Poland receiving the bronzes.

A Sabre Grand Prix was on in Tunis (TUN), and American Colin Heathcock, 18, won his first major international medal with a surprise gold via a 15-9 final win over home favorite Fares Ferjani (TUN). To get to the final, Heathcock defeated three-time Olympic Champion Aron Szilagyi of Hungary, 15-13!

Spain’s Lucia Martin-Portugues (ESP) scored her first Grand Prix gold at 33 with a 15-5 rout of Nisanur Erbil (TUR) in the women’s final.

● Figure Skating ● At the European Championships in Kaunas (LTU), the 2023 champions repeated in the Men’s Singles and Ice Dance, with Italy taking two titles.

France’s Adam Siao Him Fa defended his 2023 gold with a clear, 276.17 to 256.99 win over Estonia’s Aleksandr Selevko, with last year’s silver winner – Matteo Rizzo (ITA) – in third at 250.87. Siao Him Fa won both the Short Program and the Free Skate.

Italy’s defending Ice Dance champs, Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri won their second title in a row and their fourth career European medals (2-0-2) with wins in Rhythm Dance and Free Dance on the way to a 214.38 total. Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson were second in both segments and scored 210.82, with Alison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius (LTU) third at 203.37. In the last five Europeans, Guignard and Fabbri have finished 3-4-3-1-1.

In Pairs, a close competition saw Free Skate winners Lucrezia Beccari and Matteo Guarise take the title at 199.19, moving up from third after the Short Program. Georgia’s defending champs, Annastasiia Metelkina and Luka Berulava, led after the Short Program, but finished fifth in the Free Skate to earn silver (196.14) and 2023 runner-ups Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini took a second medal for Italy at 195.68 for bronze.

Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx, the Worlds 2022 silver winner and 2023 bronze medalist, won her first European title and Belgium’s first title since 1947, when Micheline Lannoy and Pierre Baugniet took the Pairs gold! Hendrickx won both the Short Program and Free Skate on the way to a 213.25 total to dethrone defending champ Anastasiia Gubanova (GEO), who scored 206.52. Belgium got a second medal from Nina Pinzarrone (202.29) in third.

● Football ● There will apparently be 2026 FIFA World Cup matches at SoFi Stadium after all. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass told reporters on Friday during a news conference on other matters:

“We have actually just secured the World Cup in our region.

“For a few months we weren’t exactly sure if we were going to get it but we are. And that’s going to come up very soon.”

It had been previously reported that no agreement had been reached on using SoFi Stadium, owing to cost issues, including widening of the field to meet FIFA requirements for a full-sized pitch of 105 x 68 m (345 x 223 feet).

● Handball ● The men’s European Handball Championship kicked off last week, with what was reported as a world indoor record attendance mark of 53,586 at the Merkur-Spiel Arena in Dusseldorf (GER) to see France beat North Macedonia, 39-29 and Germany pound Switzerland, 27-14.

Those are the only games to be played in Dusseldorf; the remainder of the tournament will be held at more conventional arenas, with the final matches at the 19,750-seat Lanxess Arena in Cologne.

● Luge ● The FIL World Cup circuit hit Innsbruck (AUT), which doubled as the European Championships, and another strong showing for home team Austria!

Reigning men’s World Champion Jonas Mueller took the men’s Singles, with the fastest times in each race, totaling 1:38.655, ahead of teammate Nico Gleirscher (1:38.981). German Max Langenhan, the 2023 Worlds runner-up, won the bronze in 1:39.083; Jonny Gustafson was the top American, in ninth (1:39.807). It was Mueller’s first win of the season.

Austria’s Beijing 2022 bronze medalists Thomas Steu and Wolfgang Kindl took the European title and their first win of the 2023-24 World Cup – after three silvers – in 1:18.690, edging Latvia’s Martins Bots and Roberts Plume (1:18.862). Germany’s three-time Olympic winners, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, finished third (1:18.986), with Americans Dana Kellogg and Frank Ike in eighth (1:19.389).

Austria’s Madeleine Egle won her third World Cup race of the season in the women’s Singles, finishing in 1:19.200 over two races, ahead of 2021 World Champion Julia Taubitz (GER: 1:19.224) and Germany’s reigning World Champion Anna Berreiter (1:19.439). Americans Ashley Farquharson, Emily Sweeney and Summer Britcher finished 4-6-7 in 1:19.477, 1:19.602 and 1:19.678.

Two-time World Champions Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal (GER) won the women’s Doubles for the third straight time, in 1:20.178, ahead of Italy’s Andrea Voetter and Marion Oberhofer (1:20.192) and American Chevonne Forgan and Sophia Kirkby (1:20.384), who won their second medal of the season.

Fellow Americans Maya Chan and Reannyn Weiler were sixth in 1:20.553.

Austria took the team relay for their fourth win in five events, in 2:52.190 (M. Egle, Steu/Kindl, Mueller, Selina Egle/Lara Kipp), edging Germany (2:52.376), Italy (2:52.651) and the U.S. (Farquharson, Kellogg/Ike, Gustafson, Forgan/Kirkby), fourth in 2:52.838.

● Nordic Combined ● Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber won the first five events of the FIS World Cup season, and resumed winning in the 2024 opener in Obertsdorf (GER). He moved from second after jumping on the 106 m hill by winning the 10 km race in 25:21.0. Austria’s Johannes Lamparter, the reigning World Cup champ, moved from fourth second in 25:22.0, just a second behind. Stefan Rettenegger (AUT) got third in 25:24.3.

Riiber completed a weekend sweep by winning the 7.5 km Compact race on Sunday, leading after the jump phase and crossing first in 18:43.9, ahead of Rettenegger (18:46.1) and Germany’s Manuel Faist (18:55.7). That gives Riiber seven wins in the nine events held this season.

Norway continued undefeated in the women’s World Cup on Saturday, with Mari Leinan Lund getting her first win of the season, finishing the 5 km race in 14:36.0, comfortably ahead of teammates Ida Marie Hagen (14:59.5) and World Champion Gyda Westvold Hansen (15:52.1).

Sunday’s 5 km Compact race saw the same three medalists, with Hagen winning in 14:33.9, followed by Westvold Hansen (14:56.7) and Leinan Lund (15:14.8). So, six races this season, and six Norwegian wins.

● Ski Jumping ● The first of three stages of the inaugural PolSKI tour opened in Wisla (POL) off the 134 m hill, with Japanese star Ryoyu Kobayashi getting his first win of the season.

Kobayashi won the prestigious Four Hills Tournament by finishing second in all four events, but stepped up on Sunday to move up from fifth after the first round to first overall, scoring 144.1 for a two-jump total of 269.4. That beat first-round leader – and seasonal leader – Stefan Kraft (AUT: 264.3) and Germany’s Andreas Wellinger (262.4). Kraft now has 10 medals in 13 events held this season.

The PolSKI Tour continues in Szczyrk on Tuesday and Wednesday and finishes in Zakopane next weekend.

The FIS Women’s World Cup tour was in Sapporo (JPN), for two competitions off the 134 m hill, with the first going to four-time Worlds silver medalist Eva Pinkelnig winning her second meet of the season, scoring 195.7 points. She finished second on both jumps to beat Jenny Rautionaho (FIN: 193.3) and Eirin Kvandal (NOR: 192.5). Raitionaho, 27, won her first-ever World Cup medal; her prior best was a fifth at Engelberg and Garmisch in December.

The home fans got a chance to cheer on Sunday, as five-time Worlds medal winner Yuki Ito got her second win of the season, winning both jumps and scoring 230.1. Germany’s two-time Olympic silver winner Katharina Schmid was second (224.0) and Slovenia’s Beijing 2022 team gold medalist Nika Kriznar third (218.2).

● Snowboard ● Beijing Olympic Parallel Giant Slalom champ Benjamin Karl of Austria got his second win of the season in the World Cup Parallel Slalom in Scuol (SUI), racing to the line ahead of Beijing runner-up Tim Mastnak (SLO) in the final. Three-time World Champion Andreas Prommegger (AUT) won the bronze over Italy’s Roland Fischnaller.

Lucia Dalmasso won the all-Italian final over Jasmin Coratti, grabbing her first career World Cup victory, at age 26. Japan’s Tsubaki Miki took the bronze, in front of Claudia Riegler (AUT).

● Swimming ● Kate Douglass, the women’s 200 m Medley Worlds gold medalist highlighted the final two days of the Tyr Pro Swim Knoxville with an American Record in the 200 m breaststroke.

Douglass crushed a good field that included 2022 World Champion Lilly King in 2:19.30, breaking triple Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Soni’s 2012 U.S. mark and zoomed up to no. 4 all-time, with the no. 5 performance! King was second at 2:24.34.

Freestyle superstar Katie Ledecky, who had already won the 1,500 m and 400 m Frees, took the 800 m Free by more than 12 seconds in 8:14.97, with Paige Madden second in 8:27.64. Austrian Freestyler Felix Auboeck also won three events, taking the 200-400-800 m triple; he won the 200 m Free in 1:46.70 on Friday and the 800 m Free on Saturday in 7:51.96. Olympic champ Bobby Finke finished third in 7:55.85.

Two-time Worlds 200 m Medley runner-up Carson Foster won both Medleys, taking the 400 m race over Finke in 4:13.04 to 4:18.61, and the 200 m final against Trenton Julian, 1:58.83 to 1:58.89. Shaine Casas, the 2022 Worlds 200 m Back bronze winner, doubled in the 100 m Butterfly (51.40 vs. 51.72 for Worlds 100 m Fly bronzer Dare Rose) and the 100 m Back in 54.53, beating 50 m Back World Champion Hunter Armstrong (53.97). Sprint star Michael Andrew took the men’s 50 m Free final in 21.87.

Canada’s four-time Worlds gold winner Summer McIntosh, 17, won the 200 m Free in 1:55.41 and the 200 m Medley in 2:07.16, just beating American Alex Walsh, the 2022 World Champion (2:07.63).

Worlds bronze medalist Katharine Berkoff won the 100 m Back in 59.06 over Claire Curzan (59.11), but Tokyo Olympic relay silver winner Curzan came from behind to win the 200 m Back in 2:07.38, ahead of Isabelle Stadden (2:08.42).

Canada’s Tess Ciepulcha won the women’s 400 m Medley over Ledecky, 4:41.54 to 4:44.82. Poland’s Kasia Wasick took the 50 m Free in 24.21, beating Americans Abbey Weitzeil (24.57), Douglass (24.67) and Rio 2016 100 m Free co-gold medalist Simone Manuel (24.82).

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