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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. RUSADA found Valieva at “no fault” in doping probe
2. Six more Moscow Lab Russian doping positives!
3. FIFA opens inquiry into Argentina’s conduct during final
4. Papa Massata Diack corruption appeal opens in Paris
5. Japan takes first medals at Winter Universiade in Lake Placid
The Russian decision on the Kamila Valieva doping situation from the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games was disclosed Friday by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which said the Disciplinary Committee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency found she was not at fault and penalized her only one day as a sanction. The matter is now turning to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with WADA expected to appeal, along with others. The Athletics Integrity Unit announced six more Russian doping positives, including a new positive from the London 2012 Games, all based on data from the infamous Moscow Laboratory database, in which data was manipulated as part of a state-sponsored scheme from 2011-15. FIFA announced a series of sanctions from the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and opened an inquiry into the antics of the winning Argentinian team following their victory over France in the final. In Paris, an appeal of a corruption conviction against Senegalese middleman Papa Massata Diack has begun; he was convicted of working in cooperation with his father, the late IAAF President, Lamine Diack, to cover up Russia doping positives and to secure bribes to influence the selection of Olympic host cities for 2016 and 2020. At the Winter World University Games in Lake Placid, New York, Japan won the first medals of the Games last Friday in the Mixed Classical Team Sprint in cross-country skiing.
RUSADA found Valieva at “no fault” in doping probe
“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been informed by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) that its disciplinary tribunal has now rendered a decision in the case of Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) figure skater, Kamila Valieva. The tribunal found that although the athlete had committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation, she bore ‘no fault or negligence’ for it. As such, the tribunal imposed no sanction except for the disqualification of her results on the date of the sample collection (25 December 2021).”
WADA posted its statement on Friday, publicly disclosing the finding of the independent Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which the Russians had said previously they would not announce publicly.
This is not a great surprise, since the RUSADA Disciplinary Committee is the same group that reversed her suspension by RUSADA’s administration and allowed her to compete at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games last February. The question is, what happens now.
WADA’s statement noted:
“The decision in this case comes in the wake of WADA’s announcement on 8 November 2022 that following an unacceptable delay by RUSADA in rendering a decision in this matter, the Agency had referred it directly to CAS. In that referral, WADA sought a four-year period of ineligibility for the athlete. Following a full review of the RUSADA decision, WADA will consider what its next steps will be so that the matter is dealt with as quickly as possible and without further undue delay.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport matter is still in its early stages, so there may not be much additional delay, although the parties will now wait for the acquisition of the full decision from the RUSADA Disciplinary Committee.
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart told USA Today that “WADA and the [International Skating Union] have to appeal this decision for the sake of the credibility of the anti-doping system and the rights of all athletes. The world can’t possibly accept this self-serving decision by RUSADA.”
They might not be the only ones. Veronika Loginova, the head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency told TASS:
“RUSADA has not yet received the full text of the decision of the Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee, namely its reasoning part. We will conduct a legal assessment of the rationale for the decision taken by the committee. After reviewing the reasoning part of the decision of the disciplinary committee in this case, RUSADA will consider the possibility of appealing it. We expect to receive the full text of the decision in soon and without any delay.”
Russian politicians were, of course, pleased. But State Duma member Svetlana Zhurova told TASS:
“These are intermediate decisions, everyone understands this, and, most likely, in the end everything will be decided in court. But, if earlier foreign lawyers could defend us, and this led to good results, now it will be more difficult – many of them have been banned from doing this.
“On the other hand, it is important that the Disciplinary Committee made just such a decision. The position is clear, and it is formulated on an evidence base. Further, most likely, WADA will consider this, and we understand that they will try to play this situation in their own way.”
The International Olympic Committee told TASS:
“The IOC welcomes WADA’s announcement to conduct a full review of RUSADA’s decision in order to consider further action and the possibility of resolving the case as soon as possible without further undue delay.
“Since this concerns a test that was conducted outside the Olympic Games, but which has an impact on the results in the team tournament and individual competitions at Beijing Winter Olympics, the IOC hopes that the case will be resolved as soon as possible. This is also in the interests of all participants, especially athletes who have not yet been able to receive their medals from the Games in 2022.
“Only the completion of the case will allow the International Skating Union to establish the final results of the team tournament and the IOC to decide on the distribution of medals.”
Six more Moscow Lab Russian doping positives!
The hits just keep on coming. Even after the International Testing Agency closed its books on doping re-analysis from the London 2012 Olympic Games, the independent Athletics Integrity Unit posted more 2012 doping sanctions on Friday, based on information from the manipulated (LIMS) database of the infamous Moscow Laboratory from 2011-15:
● “Russian athlete Yelena Churakova has been banned for 2 years from 11 January 2023 for the use of a Prohibited Substance/Method. DQ results from 20 June 2012 until 28 February 2013.”
This is London doping positive no. 74, the most of any Games in history. Churakova was a 2012 semifinalist in the women’s 400 m hurdles and had a lifetime best of 54.78 from that year. She was caught for doping six different times between 20 June and 1 August of that year, but the database showed no positives. Now 36, her personal best reverts to 54.79 from 2011; she last competed in 2015.
● “Russian athlete Yevgeniya Kolodko has been banned for 2 years from 11 January 2023 for the use of a Prohibited Substance/Method. DQ results from 4 July 2012 until 2 July 2016.”
Kolodko and doping were old friends, as she had previously been disqualified for doping and lost her bronze medal in the women’s shot (20.48 m/67-2 1/4). The new data showed two more positive samples for steroids during 12 days in July 2012, adding to her suspension. Now 32, she last competed in 2014, and her lifetime best reverts to 20.22 m (66-4 1/4) from 2012 and she loses her 2014 European Championships silver medal.
● “Russian athlete Yekaterina Strokova has been banned for 4 years from 11 January 2023 for the use of a Prohibited Substance/Method. DQ results from 20 June 2012 until 11 January 2023.”
A discus thrower, Strokova had four non-recorded positives from tests in 2012-13-14, but did not compete in London 2012. Now 33, she competed in 2022 and is now likely done. Her lifetime best reverts to 63.52 m (208-5) in early 2012 from 65.78 m (215-10) in 2014.
● “Russian athlete Anton Luboslavskiy has been banned for 4 years from 11 January 2023 for the use of a Prohibited Substance/Method. DQ results from 20 June 2012 until 11 January 2023.”
A 2008 Olympian as a men’s shot putter, he last competed in 2017 and his lifetime best remains 20.78 m (68-2 1/4) from 2012. Now 38, he tested positive for steroids in June and July of 2012, neither of which was recorded.
● “Russian athlete Anastasiya Kapachinskaya has been banned for the use of a Prohibited Substance/Method.”
The 2003 World Champion in the women’s 200 m, she’s a three-time loser now, having previously been sanctioned in 2004 and 2011. Now 43, she last competed in 2013; due to her prior penalties and loss of results, no sanctions were added.
● “Russian athlete Yevgeniya Polyakova has been banned for 4 years from 11 January 2023 for the use of a Prohibited Substance/Method. DQ results from 20 June 2012 until 11 January 2023.”
Now 39, she last competed in 2017 and was a 2008 Olympian, reaching the women’s 100 m semis and running on the winning women’s 4×100 m that was later disqualified for doping by others. She had a best of 11.09 from 2007.
Olympic statman Hilary Evans (GBR) tweeted:
“So with the news of the disqualification of hurdler Yelena Churakova from the 2012 Olympics, 46 Russian athletes have now been disqualified from an event at the those games.
“Although I should point that 4 of the disqualified owe their DQs to team mates doping rather than their own deeds”
FIFA opens inquiry into Argentina’s conduct during final
“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has opened proceedings against the Argentinian Football Association due to potential breaches of articles 11 (Offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play) and 12 (Misconduct of players and officials) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, as well as of article 44 of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Regulations in conjunction with the Media and Marketing Regulations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, during the Argentina v. France FIFA World Cup final.”
That from a FIFA statement posted last Friday, which summarized multiple actions by the federation from the recent FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The International Sports Journalists Association (AIPS) explained in a Saturday post:
“Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez made a lewd gesture with his goalkeeper of the tournament trophy after the match, before being filmed in the dressing room mocking France star Kylian Mbappe.
“Argentine players and officials also sang an offensive song about the media while celebrating at the mixed zone, one of the press areas, after their victory over France [at] Lusail Stadium in Doha.”
FIFA also handed out penalties to three member associations:
● Ecuadorian Football Association: A fine of CHF 20,000 and a “partial stadium closure” – the spectator areas behind the goals – for its next home match due to an offensive “chant” by Ecuador fans during the Ecuador-Qatar World Cup opener on 20 November 2022.
● Mexican Football Association: A fine of CHF 100,000 and one home match to be played without spectators due to anti-gay chants by Mexican fans during group matches with Poland (22 November) and Saudi Arabia (30 November). This is just the latest in a long line of sanctions due to the actions of Mexican fans.
● Football Association of Serbia: A fine of CHF 50,000 and a 25% stadium closure for its next home match due to chants by its fans during the Serbia vs. Switzerland group-stage match on 2 December.
An inquiry was also opened against Croatia for its aggressive actions against the referees following the end of the Croatia-Morocco third-place game.
Papa Massata Diack corruption appeal opens in Paris
Although Lamine Diack, the former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) died in 2021, the convictions for corruption, fraud and extortion for hiding Russian doping positives reached in Paris from 2020 included his son, Papa Massata Diack, who is very much alive and continuing to live in Senegal, far away from French jurisdiction.
Reuters reported on Friday that the Papa Massata Diack’s appeal of those convictions has started, with the younger Diack’s lawyers saying that he is under “legal supervision” in Senegal. Their request for a further postponement was rejected by the French court. Per Reuters:
“French prosecutors have argued Papa Massata was at the centre of a corruption probe that spanned Europe, Asia and the Americas, and that included the awarding of the 2020 Olympic Games to Tokyo and the 2016 Games to Rio de Janeiro.”
Lamine Diack was head of the IAAF from 1999 until being forced to resign due to the corruption allegations, in 2015, after which he was under house arrest in Paris until his trial finished in 2020. In failing health, he was allowed to return to Senegal and died there in December 2021 at age 88. Diack was a member of the International Olympic Committee from 1999-2013 and during that time was accused of buying votes on behalf of bid cities in the elections for the hosts of the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.
Japan takes first medals at Winter Universiade in Lake Placid
The 2023 Winter World University Games is underway in Lake Placid, New York, with weather delaying some of the first events on the schedule last Friday, but Japan claiming the first medal of the Games.
While the Alpine Super-G had to be postponed, the 8.1 km Mixed Classical Sprint Team event in cross-country skiing took place in snow and concluded at 10:57 a.m. Eastern time (Friday) with Ryo Hirose and Rin Sobue winning in 20:42.85, just ahead of Americans Finn Sweet and Ranae Anderson (20:51.87).
Event no. 2 was the men’s Snowboard Cross final at Gore Mountain, with Benjamin Gattaz (FRA) taking the gold over Jakub Zerava (CZE) and Leon Beckhaus (GER) at about 1:45 p.m. That was followed by the women’s final, with Swiss Sophie Hediger winning almost wire-to-wire over France’s Chloe Passerat and Kim Martinez over the 965 m course at 1:52 p.m.
The Winter WUG continues through the 12th, with 1,443 athletes from 46 countries competing in 85 events across 12 sports. The International Fair Play Committee is on site and will recognize acts of sportsmanship from Lake Placid during the Closing Ceremony; nomination information is here.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Handball ● Some history at the IHF men’s World Championship in Poland and Sweden, with the first-ever win by a U.S. men’s team at the Worlds in 26 tries.
Prior to its opening Group G match against Morocco, the U.S. men had been 0-25 in their six prior World Cup appearances – the last was in 2001 – and had been out-scored by a staggering 778-377 (31-15 average).
But against Morocco on Friday in Jonkoping (SWE), the game was 12-12 at half, but the U.S. built up a 25-22 lead with eight minutes left. But Morocco scored three straight to tie it and after Alexandre Chan Bianco scored his fifth goal with 1:51 left put the U.S. up, 27-26, Rezzouki Reida scored his second goal with 1:10 left to tie it again for Morocco. It was up to Aboubakar Fofana of the U.S. to get the game-winner with 43 seconds left – his sixth goal of the game – and when Morocco could not score, the Americans celebrated a historic victory.
The U.S. men were brought down to earth on Sunday, as they lost to Croatia, 40-22. They have one more in the group, against Egypt (2-0).
Group play continues to the 17th, with a second round-robin before the playoffs begin on 25 January.
● Hockey ● The 15th FIH men’s World Cup has started in Bhubaneswar (IND), with 16 teams in competition, led by defending champion Belgium. The top seeds are host India, Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Group play will continue through the 20th, with the playoffs beginning on the 22nd.
● Ice Hockey ● For the first time since 2018, the IIHF Women’s U18 World Championship did not feature a Canada vs. U.S. final. Instead, it was home favorites Sweden facing Canada for the title in Oestersund (SWE) on Sunday, with Canada winning its seventh title via a 10-0 rout.
The Canadian women won Group A with a 3-0 record, beating the U.S., 3-1, and defeating Sweden, 4-2. Canada’s semifinal was a tight, 3-2 overtime win against Finland, while the Swedes surprised the U.S., 2-1.
But in the final, the Canadians jumped on top, out-shooting Sweden by 14-3 in the first period and piling up a 5-0 lead. Forward Caitlin Kraemer opened the scoring with goals at 5:16 and 5:41 of the opening period and got a third at the 12-minute mark to make it 5-0 and the rout was on. She scored a fourth in the third period on a power play, as Canada out-shot the Swedes, 40-21. Canadian keeper Hannah Clark got the shutout.
The U.S. took the bronze medal with a 5-0 shutout of Finland, continuing its streak of having won a medal in every edition of this event (7-7-1).
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Alpine Skiing ● The first of three straight Super-G races on the FIS women’s World Cup tour was in St. Anton (AUT) on Saturday with Italy’s Federica Brignone getting her first win of the season – and 21st of her career, on a shortened course due to heavy snow – in 1:00.21. That was a clear winner over Swiss Joana Haehlin (1:00.75) and Beijing 2022 Olympic champ Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI: 1:00.87.
Sunday’s second Super-G was Gut-Behrami’s second win of the season and 36th of her career, with Brignone second, 1:17.26 to 1:17.41, and fellow Italian Marta Bassino third (1:17.45).
Seasonal leader Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. sat out, but is expected to be back in action on the 24th in Kronplatz (ITA), with two Giant Slaloms scheduled.
Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was dialed in on the course in Wengen (SUI), winning Friday’s Super-G and then Saturday’s Downhill for his fifth and sixth wins of the season. He finished 0.27 ahead of Swiss Stefan Rogentin, 1:47.84-1:48.11 in the Super-G with seasonal leader Marco Odermatt (SUI: 1:48.50) third, and then out-raced Odermatt in the Downhill in 1:43.14 (to 1:44.02). American Ryan Cochran-Siegle was sixth in the Super-G.
Sunday’s Slalom saw Norway win its fourth World Cup race in a row and 11th out of 20 this season with Henrik Kristoffersen logging his 30th career World Cup victory, 1:51.18 to 1:51.38 over Swiss Loic Meillard, with fellow Norwegian Lucas Braathen third (1:51.67).
● Athletics ● Sunday’s Chevron Houston Marathon winners were Kenyan Dominic Ondoro (2:10:36) by a second over Tsedat Ayana (ETH: 2:10:37) in the men’s race and Japan’s Hitomi Niiya in the women’s race, in 2:19:24.
Now let’s talk about the Half Marathon.
Another close men’s race saw Ethiopian Leul Gebresilassie – the London and Rotterdam Marathons runner-up in 2022 – edge Wesley Kiptoo (KEN) by 60:34 to 60:35 in a final sprint, but the women’s race had a record moment.
The women’s race was two impressive runaways. Ethiopian Hiwot Gebrekidan – the 2021 Berlin Marathon runner-up and Milan Marathon winner, listed as Hiwot Gebremaryam – ran away from the field almost from the gun, winning in 66:28. Her primary chaser after 15 km was American Emily Sisson, who finished well back, but in 66:52, shattering her American Record of 67:11 from 2022. Britain’s Jessica Warner-Judd was further back in third at 67:19. American Molly Huddle was fifth in 70:01.
Sisson, 31, was 10th at the Tokyo Olympic 10,000 m and scored American Records in the Marathon (2:18:29) and Half Marathon in 2022, and now owns four of the top six Half times in U.S. history.
Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw scared her own world mark of 29:14 – from 2022 – in the women’s 10 km road race with a 29:19 win at the Valencia 10K Ibercaja on Sunday in Spain. It’s the no. 2 performance in history; she won by 42 seconds.
Defending champions Nick Christie and Miranda Melville repeated their wins at the USA Track & Field 35 km Walk Championships on Sunday at Santee, California.
Christie won his third straight national title in 2:44:16, the no. seven performance in U.S. history (he has four of them) and won by 3:32 over Dan Nehnevaj (2:47:48), who moved to no. 6 on the all-time U.S. performer list.
Melville moved into the lead just past halfway and widened her lead over fellow walk star Maria Michta-Coffey to win in 2:57:22 to move to no. 2 on the all-time U.S. performer and performance lists. Michta-Coffey was a clear second in 2:58:39, a lifetime best at this new distance and the no. 3 performance in U.S. history. Stephanie Casey was third in 3:00.05, making her the no. 4 U.S. performer ever.
● Badminton ● The BWF World Tour $1.25 million Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur had all five leaders in the world rankings, and all five won!
Viktor Axelsen (DEN) defeated Kodai Naraoka (JPN), 21-6, 21-15 to win the men’s Singles, and Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) came from behind to defeat Se Young An (KOR), 12-21, 21-19, 21-11 in the women’s Singles.
Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto (INA) won the men’s Doubles over Wei Keng Liang and Chang Wang (CHN), 21-18, 18-21, 21-13, but China won the women’s Doubles behind Qing Chen Chen and Yi Fan Jia (CHN), over Ha Na Baek and Yu Lim Lee (KOR), 21-16, 21-10.
In the Mixed Doubles final, top-ranked Si Wei Zheng and Ya Qiong Huang (CHN) struggled past Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino (JPN), 21-19, 21-11.
● Biathlon ● Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe came into the fifth stop on the IBU World Cup tour in Ruhpolding (GER) having won seven of the last nine races, and no one could stop him in Wednesday’s 20 km Individual, as he skied away from countryman Vetle Christiansen, 48:48.4 (2 penalties) to 48:58.3 (1).
On Sunday, the 15 km Mass Start, Boe racked up three penalties, but still won in 36:12.0 to 36:31.3 for Christiansen (two penalties), as Norway went 1-2-3-4. That’s 9 of 11 for Boe now.
The women’s 15 km Individual on Thursday was a win for Lisa Vitozzi (ITA), her first since 2019-20 and her seventh career World Cup gold.. She beat France’s Lou Jeanmonnot, 40:05.9 (0) to 40:44.9 (0), with Julia Simon (FRA) winning a medal in her fifth straight race! (40:51.1/1).
The 12.5 km Mass Start finally saw a won for Simon, who had medaled in five straight races, but without a victory. She finished in 32:52.0 (3) to 32:54.6 for Vitozzi (1). France’s Anais Chevalier-Bouchet claimed the bronze in 32:58.7 (1).
● Bobsled & Skeleton ● Olympic women’s Monobob champ Kaillie Humphries scored her second win of the season in the first of two weeks of competitions at Altenberg (GER), beating Two-Woman Olympic winner Laura Nolte (GER), 1:57.92 to 1:58.47.
German Lisa Buckwitz, the 2018 Olympic gold medalist took the Two-Woman victory with Kira Lipperheide in 1:53.17 – their first win of the season – ahead of teammate Kim Kalicki (1:53.29) and Nolte (1:53.55), who tied for third with Humphries and Jasmine Jones.
Germany’s Johannes Lochner, the Beijing Two-Man and Four-Man silver winner, took his third straight World Cup win in the Two-Man, 1:49.20 to 1:49.63 over Britain’s Brad Hall, who won his third silver in five races this season. Olympic champ Francesco Friedrich was third (1:50.26).
In the Four-Man, it was Hall with his second win of the season in 1:48.22, ahead of Christoph Hader (GER: 1:48.31) and Lochner (1:48.48).
Britain scored a third win this season in the men’s Skeleton with Matt Weston getting his second victory in 1:52.44, over Olympic champ Christopher Grotheer (GER: 1:52.58) and teammate Axel Jungk (1:52.94). Four-time World Champion Tina Hermann (GER: 1:56.23) took her second win of the season, 1:56.23 to 1:57.27 over teammate Susanne Kreher, with European champ Kimberley Bos third (1:57.45).
● Curling ● The fourth of six events on the Grand Slam of Curling was the Canadian Open in Camrose, Alberta (CAN), with Beijing Olympic champ and six-time World Champion Niklas Edin (SWE) suffering a rare defeat in the men’s final.
Instead, it was three-time Grand Slam tournament winner Brendan Bottcher (CAN) – the winner of this tournament in 2019 – who got up by 3-2 after the third end and added points in the fourth and fifth and hung up for a 5-3 victory.
On the women’s final, it was Beijing Olympic silver medalist Satsuki Fujisawa (JPN) who took the early lead and never lost it, defeating 2022 Worlds bronze medalist Kerri Einarson (CAN), 5-3. Fujisawa’s rink went up 3-0 after two ends and got points in the fifth and seventh ends to clinch the title.
● Fencing ● The FIE World Cup circuit resumed in Paris with men’s and women’s Foil competitions and a fourth career World Cup victory for American star Alexander Massialas, the Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist.
Massialas defeated Hong Kong’s Ka Long Cheung, the Tokyo Olympic gold medalist, 15-13 in the semifinals and then took the gold with a 15-5 finals triumph over Italian Guillaume Bianchi, in his first World Cup final.
Italy won the team title, however, 45-42, with the U.S. squad of Massialas, Miles Chamley-Watson, Nick Itkin and Gerek Meinhardt.
In the women’s final, Alice Volpi, Italy’s 2018 World Champion, defeated American Lee Kiefer, the Tokyo Olympic champ, 15-13, in a thrilling final. It was Volpi’s seventh World Cup gold and 16th career medal. Kiefer won her 5th career World Cup silver and 19th career medal.
Italy defeated the U.S. in the women’s team final as well; Kiefer teamed with Jacqueline Dubrovich, Zander Rhodes and Stefani Deschner for the silver.
In the FIE Sabre Grand Prix in Tunis (TUN), Sandro Bazadze of Georgia was the men’s winner over Tokyo silver medalist Luigi Samele of Italy, 15-9, for his first career Grand Prix title. American Eli Dershwitz, the 2018 Worlds silver winner, was one of the two bronze medalists.
Greece’s 2022 Worlds bronze medalist Delpina Georgiadou won the women’s final, 15-10, over Lucia Martin-Portugues of Spain.
● Luge ● Stage five on the FIL World Cup tour was in Sigulda (LAT) for the second week in a row, with lots of medals for the home teams, but most of the wins for Germany.
Germany’s Max Langenhan won the men’s Singles from two-time Olympic champ Felix Loch (GER), 1:32.588 to 1:32.646, and three-time Olympic gold medalists Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won the men’s Doubles over Martins Bots and Roberts Plume, 1:24.022-1:24.084.
The women’s Singles winner was 2018 Olympic silver medalist Dajana Eitberger (GER), 1:22.999-1:23.093 over Elina Vitola (LAT), with 2021 World Champion Julia Taubitz (GER: 1:23.143) third. The women’s Doubles was the third win this season for Italy’s Andrea Votter and Marion Oberhofer, 1:26.281 to 1:26.782 ahead of Anda Upite and Sanija Ozolina (LAT).
● Ski Jumping ● The men’s World Cup tour resumed after the Four Hills Tournament in Zakopane (POL), jumping off a 140 m hill at night, with Norway’s Halvor Egner Granerud continuing his hot streak with his fourth win in the last five events.
Granerud scored 287.7 for the win over home favorite (and 2019 World Champion) Dawid Kubacki (286.6) and three-time World Champion Stefan Kraft (AUT: 278.5).
The women’s tour was in Japan for two competitions in Zao (102 m hill), with Canada’s Alexandria Loutitt, 19, getting her first medal and her first win (!), scoring 240.3 points. Austria took the other medals, with seasonal leader Eva Pinkelnig (231.8) and Chiara Kreuzer (228.6).
On Sunday, Pinkelnig won her fifth event of the season, 230.1 to 228.8 over German Selina Freitag; Norway’s Anna Odine Stroem was third (220.1).
● Snowboard ● The final competition in the FIS Big Air World Cup was in Kreischberg (AUT), with Japan sweeping the men’s podium and getting the women’s seasonal winner.
The men’s winner was Taiga Hasegawa, in a tight battle with teammates Ryoma Kimata and Kira Kimura, 186.00-182.50-181.75. The seasonal winner was Valentino Guseli of Italy, with 214 points, ahead of American Chris Corning (196).
The women’s winner was two-time Olympic champ Anna Gasser (AUT), who got her first win of the season, 179.75 to 176.50 over Olympic silver winner Zoi Sadowski Synnott, with Kokomo Murase (JPN: 174.50) third. The seasonal title, however, went to Japanese veteran Reira Iwabuchi, over Murase, 192-182, with Gasser third (180).
In Scuol (SUI), Poland’s Oskar Kwiatkowski won his first World Cup gold in the men’s Parallel Giant Slalom, defeating Mirko Felicetti (ITA) in the final, with veteran Andreas Prommegger (AUT) third.
Germany was 1-2 in the women’s Parallel Giant Slalom, with Carolin Langenhorst getting her first World Cup gold by beating 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Ramona Theresia Hofmeister in the final; Swiss star Julie Zogg was third.
● Swimming ● Four different women each won three events to highlight the Tyr Pro Swim Series in Knoxville, Tennessee that concluded on Saturday.
American Freestyle superstar Katie Ledecky was an easy – but impressive – winner in the 200 m, 400 m and 1,500 m events, winning in 1:55.47, 4:00.20 and 15:37.99, the latter the no. 14 performance in history … all of them hers.
Ledecky was second in the 400 m Medley, losing to 17-year-old Katie Grimes, 4:35.92 to 4:36.09. Grimes also won the 800 m Free (8:27.73) that Ledecky did not contest, and the 200 m Butterfly in 2:09.58.
Ireland’s Mona McSharry, who swims for Tennessee, took a triple victory in the 50-100-200 m Breast and Canada’s three-time Backstroke World Champion, Kylie Masse, won the 50-100-200 m Back events.
The big sprint winner was four-time Olympic relay medal winner Abbey Weitzeil of the U.S., taking the 50 m Free in 24.74 and the 50 m Fly in 26.50. Rio co-Olympic 10 m Free champ Simone Manuel returned to competition after a year odd and finished a creditable third in the 50 m Free (25.19) and 100 m Free (54.81).
The men’s events saw a great competition between Olympic 800–1,500 m Free gold medalist Bobby Finke of the U.S. and Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui, the Tokyo 400 m Freestyle winner. Hafnaoui won the 400 m Free in 3:47.71 with Finke third, and the 800 m Free in 7:53.10, with Finke second. Finke took the 1,500 m Free with a final-lap surge to overtake Hafnaoui, 15:06.53 to 15:07.07. Finke also won the 400 m Medley in 4:17.64, beating Tokyo Olympic silver winner Jay Litherland (4:17.97).
American Justin Ress, the 50 m Back World Champion, won that event in 24.49, over world-record holder Hunter Armstrong (24.70), but Armstrong won the 100 m Back in 52.68 over Rio 2016 Olympic champ Ryan Murphy (53.47). Bulgarian Lyubomir Epitropov, who also swims for Tennessee, won the 100 m (1:01.35) and 200 m (2:12.15) Breaststroke events.
The second installment of the Tyr Pro Swim Series comes 1-4 March in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
For our updated, 929-event International Sports Calendar for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!