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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Roof cost of Milan ‘26 speed-skating track might mean move to Turin
2. Papa Massata Diack appeal verdict due 9 March
3. Tuesday talks on Russia return to UEFA competitions
4. Lake Placid Universiade closes, on to Turin 2025!
5. Iden and Duffy named Global Triathlon Athletes of the Year
The expanding cost of putting a roof on the outdoor speed skating oval in Baselga di Pine for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games has become too much for the International Olympic Committee to bear, even though they are not paying for it! The IOC has told the Italian organizers to find another venue, which could a temporary site, or possibly the 2006 rink in Turin, which itself will have to be renovated with the re-installation of ice-making equipment. In Paris, the appeal of Papa Massata Diack’s convictions for embezzlement and corruption in the IAAF (now World Athletics) was heard on Friday, with the prosecutors asking for confirmation of a prison term and a fine of €1 million; World Athletics is asking for €41.2 million in damages for sponsorship money it never received as Diack and his father, then-IAAF President Lamine Diack, siphoned it off for their own purposes. On Tuesday, the Russian Football Union will meet with UEFA in Switzerland to discuss a possible pathway back to international competitions, which the Russians hope can be expanded to include the IOC. The 31st Winter World University Games closed in Lake Placid with smiles all around, with Turin the next stop in 2025. The U.S. team set a record for its most medals ever in a Winter WUG with 19. At the first Global Triathlon Awards in France, Norway’s Gustav Iden and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy were honored as the Athletes of the Year for 2022.
Roof cost of Milan speed-skating track might mean move to Turin
Critics of the International Olympic Committee point to mammoth spending by host cities and their organizing committees for facilities which are not needed as proof the IOC is out of touch.
But the IOC has been singing a different tune and The Associated Press reported Sunday that the rise in cost for the Baselga di Pine outdoor track to have a roof constructed could end up moving the speed skating events to Turin, home of the 2006 Winter Games. The AP story included:
“Costs for the roof were initially slated at 50 million euros ($54 million), according to a project announced in November. But there were concerns that actual costs could rise by at least 50%.”
Italian Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malago, also the Board chair of the 2026 Milan Cortina organizing committee, said:
“The IOC said the investment was underestimated and not sustainable for the area and the IOC reserves the right to point the way in terms of executing the Games.
“I defended the original masterplan but there comes a time when you can no longer defend the undefendable. Everything that has happened since then, from COVID to the war (in Ukraine), has gone against us. Baselga is not a victim but rather one of the issues that arise systematically during the organization of an international event like the Olympics.”
The Baselga di Pine track opened in 1986 and has hosted the ISU World Junior Championships in 2019 and the European Speed Skating Championships in 2001.
A temporary facility is possible, but there is also the Torino Oval Lingotto, site of the 2006 Winter Games speed skating events, with a capacity of 8,500. However, the ice infrastructure was taken out of the Oval Lingotto and could cost about $16 million to be reinstalled.
Malago said a move to Turin was “not automatic. We will discuss all of the different possibilities.”
Ice-making facilities were removed from the Turin oval and it would cost an estimated 15 million euros ($16 million) to reinstall the system.
This is the second time the IOC has shown concern over construction costs for Milano Cortina 2026. It is still unhappy about the renovation costs of the historic Eugenio Monti sliding track for bob, luge and skeleton – used for the 1956 Winter Games – and has noted the presence of existing, World Cup-approved tracks in Innsbruck (AUT) and St. Moritz (SUI). However, the track is part of a regional sports and amusement re-development in the area and on that basis, is still expected to go forward.
Papa Massata Diack appeal verdict due 9 March
As usual, Papa Massata Diack of Senegal was not in the Paris courtroom where his appeal was heard on Friday concerning the September 2020 conviction for corruption and embezzlement involving the IAAF (now World Athletics).
Six defendants were convicted at that time: Lamine Diack (SEN), the former President of the IAAF (since deceased), former IAAF anti-doping head Gabriel Dolle (FRA; also deceased), Diack’s legal advisor Habib Cisse (SEN), Russian athletics officials Valentin Balakhnitchev and Alexei Melnikov (neither of whom appealed and never left Russia), and Papa Massata Diack.
Cisse was present and asked for his conviction to be overturned, but Papa Massata Diack remains in Senegal, refusing to acknowledge the French courts and – thus far – protected by the Senegalese government, which will not allow him to be extradited.
FrancsJeux.com reported that Diack’s defense team argued that all of his activities were approved by the IAAF officials in charge at the time, but the prosecutors charged once again that Diack – father and son – set up a doping cover-up and embezzlement system that, for example, took a €65.5 million ($71.2 million U.S. today) sponsorship from Russian bank VTB in 2011 and saw that the IAAF received only €13 million (~$14.1 million).
The younger Diack was accused of receiving €15 million; the World Athletics attorneys asked for €41.2 million in damages and the World Anti-Doping Agency has asked for €300,000. The verdict against Diack in 2020 was for five years in prison and a fine of €1 million and the French prosecutors asked for a re-confirmation of that sentence.
The Paris Court of Appeal indicated that its decision would come about 9 March.
Tuesday talks on Russia return to UEFA competitions
The Russian news agency TASS reported that a meeting between the Russian Football Union and the European football authority UEFA will take place on Tuesday at the UEFA offices in Nyon (SUI):
“On January 24, at UEFA’s office, a meeting is planned between the representatives of the RFU and UEFA where the potential possibilities of the return of Russian clubs and national teams to international tournaments will be discussed.
The RFU will be represented by Maxim Mitrofanov and Alexander Alayev.”
Mitrofanov is the RFU General Secretary and Alayev is the President of the Russian Premier League. RFU President Alexander Dyukov – also the Chair of the Russian energy giant Gazprom – said he wants to also invite representatives of FIFA and the International Olympic Committee to join the talks, looking for a defined pathway for Russian athletes in other sports to rejoin international competitions.
Russia has been barred from UEFA competitions as a consequence of the country’s invasion of Ukraine last February. There was discussion within the RFU about moving to compete in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), but its Executive Committee voted against it and wants to an agreement to compete again in UEFA events.
Lake Placid Universiade closes, on to Turin 2025!
“There can be no doubt: Lake Placid is the place of legends for winter sports. We are reminded of this, just walking into this building and seeing the reminders of the ‘Miracle on Ice.’ We knew this was and is a very special place. And we had the privilege to be part of it.
“Here, in winter, Lake Placid has brought unprecedented warmth to our Games. In a complicated world, full of conflict, this wonderful community has offered us an open heart. Let us not underestimate how lucky we are to have been able to enjoy these 11 days of joyous and peaceful celebration in sport.”
That’s the farewell message from FISU Acting President Leonz Eder (SUI) to the athletes, teams and spectators who enjoyed the 31st Winter World University Games in Lake Placid, New York that concluded on Sunday.
A total of 1,443 athletes from 46 countries attended, with a reported 516 of them winning medals! The U.S. had its best-ever showing at a Winter WUG with 17 medals (3-8-6), topping the 15 won in 1993.
Beyond the tie to the historic 1980 Olympic Winter Games through the use of the many of the same facilities, one of the two remaining speed skating track records still held by American star Eric Heiden – who won all five men’s events at that Games – was broken. Italy’s Riccardo Lorello won the men’s 5,000 m in 6:53.22, eclipsing Heiden’s mark of 7:02.29; silver medalist Daniele Di Stefano (ITA) was also under Heiden’s time, finishing in 6:55.20. Heiden still holds the Sheffield Oval mark of 14:28.13 – at the time a world record – for the men’s 10,000 m.
James McKenna, Chair of the Adirondack Sports Council, which oversaw the Games, said at the Closing Ceremony:
“New York State has shown to the world that international sporting events have the power to unite peoples and nations. Records were broken and friendships were made as the entire world watched. To all residents and businesses of Lake Placid and New York’s North Country for showing the world what wonderful hosts we are. It is impossible to relate all the comments and stories about the friendliness of our local communities and their willingness to help that have been shared.”
The traditional flag hand-over to the next Winter WUG host was made with Eder presenting the FISU flag to Stefano Lo Russo, the mayor of Turin (ITA), host of the 2025 FISU World University Games, and Lorenzo Lentini, the Italian University Sport Center delegate.
Iden and Duffy named Global Triathlon Athletes of the Year
The first-ever Global Triathlon Awards were held in Nice, France, with Gustav Iden (NOR) and Olympic champ Flora Duffy (BER) taking home the men’s and women’s awards.
Iden, eighth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic triathlon, was the 2022 Ironman World Champion. Duffy, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic champ, won her fourth World Triathlon title in 2022, following up on wins in 2016, 2017 and 2021. She also took the Commonwealth Games gold in 2022 in Birmingham, England.
Chelsea Soldero (USA) won the Rookie of the Year award for her victory at the 2022 Ironman World Championship in her first try, and France was recognized with an Extraordinary Award for its outstanding results during the season. “Lifetime Kudos” awards for special contributions to the sport were presented to Bob Babbitt, the co-founder of Competitor Magazine and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and Swiss Nicola Spirig Hug, the London 2012 women’s Olympic gold medalist, Rio 2016 runner-up and a five-time European Champion between 2009-18.
This was not simply a World Triathlon event, but brought the entire Tri community together, with World Triathlon, Super League Triathlon, the Professional Triathlete’s Organisation, France’s Department 06 and Ekoi all as partners. That’s a lesson some other sports could learn from.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ≡
● Handball ● The playoff situation has now been set at the IHF men’s World Championship in Poland and Sweden, with Norway defeating Germany, 28-26, to win Group III and defending champ Denmark beating Egypt, 30-25, to win Group IV.
The quarterfinals on 25 January – in Stockholm and Gdansk – will feature six-time champ France (6-0) vs. Germany (5-1) and Sweden (6-0) vs. Egypt (5-1) in the top of the bracket, and Norway (6-0) vs. Spain (5-1) and Denmark (6-0) vs. Hungary (4-2) in the bottom half; seven European qualifiers and one from Africa.
The U.S. men defeated Belgium, 24-22, in Malmo (SWE) in its final game in the second round-robin group and finished 1-4 in Group IV and 2-4 overall, with its first wins ever in a World Championship! Alexandre Chan Blanco, Aboubakar Fofana and Ian Hueter each had four goals to lead the American attack, and the U.S. finished 20th overall, out of 32 teams.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Athletics ● Shock in Australia as Olympic men’s 800 m fourth-placer Peter Bol, 28, the national 800 m record holder at 1:44.00 tested positive for the banned hormone Erythropoietin (EPO).
The doping positive came in an out-of-competition test by Athletics Australia last October, and he has asked for his second sample to be tested, which will happen in February. Bol said:
“To be clear, I have never in my life purchased, researched, possessed, administered or used synthetic EPO or any other prohibited substance. I voluntarily turned over my laptop, iPad and phone to Sport Integrity Australia to prove this.
“Above all, I remain hopeful that the process will exonerate me.”
Bol was the 2022 Commonwealth Games silver medalist in the 800 m and was seventh at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene.
● Shooting ● The final day of the ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Rabat (MAR) saw wins for the U.S. and Croatia.
The American women’s team of Julia Stallings, Aeriel Skinner and Rachel Tozier took the Team Trap event with a 6-0 victory over Kazakhstan in the final. The Croatian men, including 2012 Olympic champ Giovanni Cernogoraz (age 40), 2016 Olympic champ Josip Glasnovic (39) and 2013 Worlds silver medalist Anton Glasnovic (42), eased by Portugal, 7-1 in the men’s Team final.
The U.S. led the medal table with nine (5-2-2), ahead of Greece and Portugal, with three each.
● Ski Mountaineering ● The third World Cup of the 2022-23 season in Ski Mountaineering, to debut in the Olympic Winter Games in 2026 was the Comapedrosa Andorra held in Arsinal, with both Individual and Vertical races for men and women.
No doubt about the women’s Individual winner, two-time defending ISMF World Cup champ Axelle Gachet Mollaret (FRA), who won in 57:54, well ahead of countrywoman Celia Perillat-Pessey (58:24) and Spain’s Ana Alonso Rodriguez (58:47). France’s Thibault Anselmet, the 2022 overall World Cup runner-up, took the men’s race in 46:30, winning by 15 seconds over Remi Bonnet (SUI) and 48 seconds over Maximilien Drion du Chapois of Belgium.
Bonnet, the 2022 World Cup champ in the men’s Vertical race, moved up to the top of the podium in 11:34, ahead of Drion du Chapois (12:06) and Anselmet (12:09). France’s Gachet Mollaret completed a sweep in 14:30, in front of Austria’s Sarah Dreier (14:53, the 2022 World Cup runner-up) and Perillat-Pessy (15:01).
● Snowboard ● Now widely shared, two-time Olympic Halfpipe champ Chloe Kim helped a beginning snowboarder out of trouble at Mammoth Mountain in California a week ago Sunday.
The youngster was having trouble staying upright in windy conditions on a slope that was too advance for her, and Kim, 22, came to the rescue, showing her how to regain her feet and then finally just carrying her – piggyback – down to the end. She pointed out a lift that would take the beginner to an easier slope for her to continue learning to ride.
Pretty great; the video is just precious.
● Swimming ● USA Swimming named Bob Bowman and Carol Capitani as its men’s and women’s head coaches for the American team at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships this May in Fukuoka, Japan.
Bowman, forever known as the coach of superstar Michael Phelps, is the coach at Arizona State and has a recently-expanded stable of elite stars also training with him. He was the U.S. head coach at the 2007-09-13 FINA Worlds, the head coach of the 2016 U.S. Olympic men’s Team and on the U.S. Olympic staff in 2004-08-12-20.
Capitani is the women’s head coach at Texas and also has international experience as the women’s head coach of the 2013 Duel in the Pool and the 2017 World University Games. She was a member of the coaching staff for the 2022 FINA Worlds in Budapest.
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