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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Russian trampoline chief: not going to Olympics
2. No movement from Panam Sports on Colombia request
3. Shiffrin golden in Flachau despite Kilde concerns
4. Two-time Olympic medalist swimmer Hali Flickinger retires
5. Lake Placid 1980 torch at $33,809 so far at RR Auction
● The head of the Russian Trampoline Federation said his athletes won’t go to Paris – if qualified – under the current regulations of the International Olympic Committee. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister said the emphasis now is on developing events in Russia for its athletes, a project which the IOC and others have already criticized.
● Despite a request from the Colombian President, Panam Sports shows no interest in revisiting its removal of the 2027 Pan American Games from Baranquilla. Bids are due by the end of the month, with Asuncion in Paraguay and Lima, Peru, apparently at the top of the list.
● Despite rushing to a Swiss hospital to be with her injured partner, Norwegian star Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, American skiing icon Mikaela Shiffrin won her 94th World Cup gold in the night Slalom in Flachau, Austria on Tuesday.
● There was no formal announcement, just an Instagram post that mentioned in passing that two-time Olympic medal winner Hali Flickinger of the U.S. has retired and is selling real estate in the Phoenix, Arizona area!
● A major auction of 437 Olympic memorabilia items by Boston-based RR Auction will conclude on Thursday, with a rare torch from the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games attracting the most attention so far at more than $33,000.
● Panorama: Alpine Skiing (FIS rips Lehmann for World Cup schedule critique) = Athletics (Birmingham’s Euro 2026 funding increased) = Snowboard (Bormolini and Hofmeister best in Bad Gastein Parallel Slalom) ●
Russian trampoline chief: not going to Olympics
While the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) announced that 14 Belarusian athletes were approved as “neutrals” for international competitions (plus 16 officials) in the Artistic, Rhythmic and Trampoline disciplines, Nikolai Makarov, President of the Russian Trampoline Federation told the Russian news agency TASS:
“None of our athletes are going to go to the Olympic Games under the conditions that the IOC put forward to us.
“As for our athletes receiving neutral status, we are considering this possibility, but have not yet decided on this issue. Therefore, athletes from Russia are not yet among the participants in the qualifying stages of the World Cup, although we are conducting certain negotiations.”
In the last Trampoline World Championships in which the Russian Gymnastics Federation was allowed to compete – in 2019 – Russian led the total medal count with nine, winning five events. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Russian entries finished fifth and sixth in the men’s Trampoline final and seventh in the women’s.
Olympic qualification in Trampoline is possible through the FIG World Cup series in 2024, with events scheduled in Baku (AZE) from 23-25 February, at Alkmaar (NED) on 13-14 March, and in Cottbus (GER), from 22-24 March.
In the meantime, Russia continues planning for its own events. Asked about the possibility of a future Olympic Games in Russia, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko telling reporters on Tuesday:
“Russia has always supported the Olympic Movement, now, unfortunately, it is very sick. We hope it will recover, and we will return to this issue. For now, on the instructions of the [Russian] President, we are developing new formats that do not depend on the desires of international sports officials.”
Russia has scheduled a BRICS Games in Kazan for 12-23 June 2024, and a World Friendship Games in Yekaterinburg and Moscow for 15-29 September. (“BRICS” = Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa)
The International Olympic Committee has already railed against these events, and last December’s Olympic Summit specifically pushed back:
“[T]he Russian government, following a decree from the President of the Russian Federation, intends to organise clearly politically motivated sports events in Russia. …
“Furthermore, the Summit was informed that athletes would be very concerned about being forced into participation in such politically motivated sports events, thereby becoming part of a political propaganda campaign.
“The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and the Winter Olympic Federations (WOF) reaffirmed their recommendations to IFs not to be involved in any way in such politically motivated sports events. They confirmed that every IF should refuse to consider the inclusion of such events in its international sports calendar and should not acknowledge the results achieved by athletes at these events.
“The President of [Association of National Olympic Committees] and representatives of Continental Associations of NOCs declared that their organisations would in no way support the participation of athletes in such events.”
No movement from Panam Sports on Colombia request
On 3 January, Panam Sports announced that the 2027 Pan American Games had been removed from Barranquilla, Colombia due to “countless breaches of current contracts,” including a failure to pay a $4 million installment of the Pan American Games hosting fee by the end of 2023.
Added emergency meetings of the Panam Sports Executive Committee were held over the next week, with a letter sent to the 41 member National Olympic Committees on 5 January, calling for letters of interest (with government support) by the end of the month to take over the 2027 Pan American Games.
Despite the request of Colombian President Gustavo Petro to meet with Panam Sports head Neven Ilic (CHI) and a statement that the $8 million owed by the Colombian government – the $4 million at the end of the year and $4 million due on 31 January 2024 – can be paid quickly, whispers from the latest meetings indicate that no change is forthcoming and Barranquilla is out.
In fact, Ilic, who is also an International Olympic Committee member, is expected to attend the IOC’s Winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon (KOR), beginning Friday and continuing to 1 February. Nine countries from the Panam Sports region are sending 239 athletes to compete.
A strong bid for the 2027 Pan American Games is expected from Asuncion (PAR), as well as from Lima (PER), which successfully hosted the 2019 Pan Ams and Parapan Ams. There are also possible bids from Sao Paulo in Brazil – which hosted the event in 1963 and has shown interest in the 2031 Pan Ams – and from Guadalajara in Mexico, the 2011 host.
Shiffrin golden in Flachau despite Kilde concerns
It hasn’t been an easy week for U.S. skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin, but she did not let it get in the way of a significant win in Tuesday night’s FIS Alpine World Cup Slalom in Flachau (AUT).
Shiffrin’s schedule was scrambled with the injury to Norwegian star and partner Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, a calf injury and cuts on his face during a crash in Wengen (SUI) last Saturday and had to be airlifted to a Bern hospital. Shiffrin was at the hospital, then headed back to the Women’s World Cup tour in Austria.
Shiffrin herself had been ill and skipped the prior week’s speed races in Zauchensee (AUT).
On Tuesday, Shiffrin completed the first run in second place, trailing Beijing 2022 Olympic champ Petra Vlhova (SVK), 53.01-53.08. But the American star took the lead on the second run, posting a 56.27 time, meaning that Vlhova had to finish in 56.34 to tie, or faster to win. But the Slovakian star posted a 56.61 second run, seventh-best in the field, and Shiffrin had a 1:49:35 to 1:49.62 win. Swede Sara Hector was third (1:50.46) for her first career World Cup Slalom medal.
The amazing Shiffrin, 28, sets records every time she wins, and now has 94 career World Cup golds, the most in history, with 57 in the Slalom, also the most of any skier ever. It’s also her fifth win in Flachau.
She also has 148 career World Cup medals, closing in on the most ever, now just seven behind the record of 155 by Swede Ingemar Stenmark, who competed from 1973-89. Said Shiffrin after the win:
“I’m really proud of this evening and very thankful for my whole team. These last days have been very challenging. They’ve been so supportive and helped me go see Aleks.
“This is really emotional now. The last three days I feel like I lived a lifetime.”
Two-time Olympic medalist swimmer Hali Flickinger retires
There was no announcement and no news conference. But SwimSwam.com reported on an Instagram post by two-time Olympic medal winner Hali Flickinger of the U.S. that included:
“I moved out here [to Phoenix] in 2019 and ended up never leaving!! Let me explain…
“The reason we moved was to continue my athletic career thinking I would only be here for a few years until heading back to the east coast where I am originally from. Well that didn’t happen!
“We came out in August and I fell in LOVE with Arizona. I belong wherever the sun is shining and the temperatures are warm!!
“In 3 weeks I bought a house, have since completed my athletic career, and now living here full time with no plans of leaving!!
“Never in a million years did I think we would decide to stay in AZ and continue to built our lives in a state we moved to knowing NOTHING about.
“We moved here with no family so thought for sure it was just a short pit stop but we have no plans on leaving! In fact our families love it so much that they most likely will eventually move be out here too!
“Life is strange sometimes and opens doors you don’t recognize till you are in them! Moving to Arizona was a magical change for us and we can’t imagine our lives any other way!! AZ is home.”
Originally from Pennsylvania, Flickinger, 29, ranked ninth in the world in 2023 in the 200 m Butterfly (2:06.80) and was a two-time Olympian in 2016 and 2020, winning bronze medals in Tokyo in the 200 m Fly and 400 m Medley. She was clearly a candidate for a third U.S. team in 2024, and moved to Arizona to work with legendary coach Bob Bowman at Arizona State. But life apparently got in the way.
She won four World Championships medals, including two 4×200 m Freestyle golds in 2017 and 2022 and silvers in the 200 m Fly in 2019 and 2022.
A finance major at Georgia, where she was on three NCAA champion teams, she married fellow Bulldogs swimmer Martin Grodzki (GER) in 2019. As she noted in her post, she is now selling real estate in the Phoenix area and onto the next chapter in her life. She finishes with bests of 2:05.65 in the 200 m Fly (no. 3 all-time U.S.) and 4:33.96 in the Medley, no. 8 in U.S. history.
Lake Placid 1980 torch at $33,809 so far at RR Auction
A marvelous, 437-item auction of Olympic memorabilia is heading towards the close, with Olympic torches and medals the items of interest so far for Boston-based RR Auction.
Its opening auction of 2024 will close on Thursday (18th), with opening bids due on items by 6 p.m. Eastern time. Granted that auctions always get heated just before closing, the top bids in the auction as of 6 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday included:
● $33,809: 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic torch
● $23,582: 1896 Athens winner’s medal (silver)
● $19,489: 1936 Berlin gold medal
● $17,270: 1964 Tokyo gold medal and athlete badge
● $12,559: 1896 Athens second-place medal (bronze)
To have two excellent editions of 1896 Athens medals is impressive; silver medals were awarded to the winners and bronze to the runner-ups. The 1896 Athens bronze includes the original case in amazingly good condition; the custom of gold, silver and bronze medals did not appear until the 1904 Games in St. Louis.
The Lake Placid 1980 Winter torch is especially rare as only 140 were produced, and only 52 torchbearers participated in the relay.
For those looking to acquire a set of medals – gold, silver and bronze – from a Games, American swimmer Steve Genter’s trio of medals from Munich 1972 is available and had a modest high bid of $8,985 as of Tuesday evening. Genter won gold in the men’s 4×200 m Free relay, a silver behind Mark Spitz in the 200 m Free and the bronze in the controversial 400 m Free.
With the 2024 Paris Games coming this summer, 16 items from the 1924 Paris Games are available, starting with a gold medal, with a high bid so far of $7,321. A silver medal has drawn a top bid of $2,148.
In the memorabilia area, two items have done especially well so far: a 1908 London “Comite D’Honeur” badge now at $5,790 and a 1964 Tokyo badge for IOC President Avery Brundage (USA), at $5,087 so far. All will be finalized on Thursday.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Alpine Skiing ● After major crashes by stars Alexis Pinturault (FRA) and Kilde at the four days of racing at Wengen last week, Swiss-Ski chief Urs Lehmann criticized the heavy men’s Alpine World Cup calendar.
This was significantly due to the weather cancellations of six of the first seven races of the year, in Solden (AUT), the Zermatt-to-Cervinia Downhill and all three races at Beaver Creek, Colorado. One of the Wengen Downhills was a Beaver Creek make-up.
However, FIS was irritated with Lehmann’s comments and posted a message on Tuesday that condemned his actions, especially as a FIS Council member:
“The comments have harmed the reputation of the FIS Council, and are disrespectful to our Race Directors and to the whole FIS team who are working hard at the races to offer the best possible conditions for the athletes and their teams.
“The strength of the ski and snowboard family is that together we are greater than the sum of our parts. Together we can make sure that our sport develops. When that spirit of togetherness is regularly undermined by one-upmanship or power games, we all suffer. Our sport suffers.
“That is why FIS will always defend itself against such accusations.”
Lehmann lost to Swede Johan Eliasch for the FIS Presidency in 2022 in a four-way contest.
● Athletics ● Doubts about the 2026 European Athletics Championships in Birmingham (GBR) over finances have likely been resolved, with a grant of £600,000 from the West Midlands Combined Authority to the Birmingham City Council and, ultimately, to the organizing committee. (£1 = $1.26 U.S. today)
The WMCA contributed £13.7 million in March 2030 to support the event and now another £600,000. Further, the British government will add support of up to £680,000 to close the funding gap and ensure the event is held as planned.
● Snowboard ● Germany’s Ramona Theresia Hofmeister got back on the winning track after a rare loss with a victory in Tuesday’s Parallel Slalom World Cup in Bad Gastein (AUT).
The two-time Worlds Parallel Slalom medalist took the final by 0.18 seconds from Austrian home favorite – and Worlds bronze medalist – Sabine Schoeffmann in the final for her fourth win in the five races held so far this season, Italy’s Jasmine Coratti won her second medal of the season with the bronze as Julie Zogg (SUI) fell in the third-place final.
The men’s race went to Italian Maurizio Bormolini, who won his second World Cup gold of the season and defended his 2023 win here, this time over Austrian Arvid Auner. Fellow Austrian Fabian Obmann won his first medal of the season with the bronze over countryman and three-time Worlds Parallel Slalom gold medalist Benjamin Karl, who fell.
For our new, 920-event International Sports Calendar for 2024 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!