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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Shiffrin clinches fifth World Cup title in Kvitfjell
2. U.S.’s Stolz stuns with triple gold at ISU Speed Skating Worlds
3. Africa sides with IOC on Russian and Belarusian participation
4. Kremlev doubles down as rival boxing federation forming
5. Seven torches and Berlin 1936 “Chain of Office” lead auction sale
American skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin secured her fifth career seasonal Alpine World Cup championships – the Crystal Globe – at Kvitfjell in Norway with three top-10 finishes this weekend. At 27, she ranks equal-third all-time; the record is eight. At the ISU Single Distance World Championships in the Netherlands, American teen Jordan Stolz made history by winning three individual events, the 500-1,000-1,500 m, beating multiple Olympic medalists along the way. Wow! The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa came out in favor of International Olympic Committee efforts to allow “neutral” Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at Paris 2024; that’s a long way from their boycott of the 1976 Montreal Games over a New Zealand rugby tour. International Boxing Association chief Umar Kremlev – a Russian – continues to insist that Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete without restrictions. In the meantime, the head of Boxing New Zealand indicated that a new association of national boxing federations may hold its own competitions for those boycotting the IBA’s events in view of its Russian and Belarusian policy and deteriorating relationship with the International Olympic Committee. A small auction of memorabilia that concluded Saturday saw sales of seven Olympic torches and a crazy “Chain of Office” made for IOC members at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
● World Championships: Freestyle Skiing & Snowboard = Nordic Skiing = Ski Mountaineering ●
● Panorama: Paris 2024 (France and Germany open facilities for Ukraine) = Anti-Doping (cat meds cause positive!) = Athletics (3: Thiam gets Pent world record at Euro Indoor; Kincaid and McColgan win The TEN; Gelmisa 2:05:22, Wanjiru 2:16:28 to win Tokyo Marathons) = Biathlon (Norway’s Boe and Roeiseland sweep World Cup) = Cycling (Pidcock and Vollering win Strade Bianche) = Fencing (Gallo and Battai wins Sabre World Cups) = Football (Canada and women’s team reach interim agreement) = Freestyle Skiing (Kotovskyi and Scott win Aerials) = Gymnastics (Voinea wins two at Apparatus World Cup) = Ice Hockey (U.S. star scorer Decker retires) = Judo (Japan wins four in Tashkent) = Rugby (Argentina and New Zealand win Sevens Series) = Swimming (McIntosh: two more world junior records at Tyr Pro Swim) = Triathlon (Brits Yee and Potter sweep season World Tri Series opener) ●
Shiffrin clinches fifth World Cup title in Kvitfjell
American skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin made more history with excellent finishes in Downhill and Super-G races that confirmed her fifth career overall World Cup title, a feat which only three others have done.
Shiffrin began the skiing at Kvitfjell (NOR) on Friday with a fourth in the Super-G, behind Cornelia Huetter (AUT: 1:26.83), Italy’s Elena Curtoni (1:26.84) and former World Cup champ Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI: 1:26.95). Shiffrin finished in 1:26.99, just 0.04 from a medal and just 0.16 from another win.
On Saturday, home favorite Kajsa Vickhoff Lie logged the first-ever win by a Norwegian woman in a World Cup Downhill, in 1:32.36, beating out Italian star Sofia Goggia (1:32.65) and Swiss Olympic Downhill champ Corinne Suter (1:32.77). Shiffrin tied for fifth (1:33.15), with teammate Breezy Johnson an impressive eighth (1:33.23).
Those places gave Shiffrin 1,792 points with seven races to go, ahead of Gut-Behrami (996) and Petra Vlhova (SVK: 975). It’s two in a row for Shiffrin after winning three straight in 2017-18-19. She joins Marc Giradelli (LUX: 1980-96) with five; only Annemarie Moser-Proell (AUT: 1969-80) with six, and Marcel Hirscher (AUT: 2007-19), with eight, have more.
Goggia’s runner-up finish also clinched her third straight season title in the women’s Downhill, and fourth in her career.
Sunday’s Super-G saw an Austrian sweep, with Nina Ortlieb, Stephanie Venier and Franziska Gritsch finishing in 1:29.25, 1:29.37 and 1:29.63. It’s the first podium sweep on the Alpine World Cup tour this season.
Shiffrin finished seventh in 1:30.23 and now has 1,828 points to 1,007 got Gut-Behrami. Next week: a Giant Slalom and Slalom – Shiffrin’s favorites – at Are (SWE).
U.S.’s Stolz stuns with triple gold at ISU Speed Skating Worlds
“He’s unbelievable. It’s like trying to beat Michael Jordan or something, I assume. I feel privileged to go against a skater this good. He’s doing things that we would have deemed impossible.”
He’s just 18, but now you can say – without doubt – that American speed skating prodigy Jordan Stolz is a star. No less than Canadian Olympic silver medalist Laurent Dubreuil just said so.
At the ISU World Single Distance Championships at the famed Thialf ice arena in Heerenveen (NED), Stolz completed a sweep of the 500 m World Junior and World Single Distance titles on Friday, skating 34.10 in the final pair to beat Dubreuil by a huge, 0.36 margin and Japan’s Olympic bronze medalist Wataru Morishige by 0.38 (34.48). It’s one of the best performances below 1,000 m altitude of all time.
On Saturday, Stolz stole the show again, winning the 1,000 m (he won the World Juniors in that event too) in 1:07.11, beating Beijing Olympic champ Thomas Krol (NED: 1:07.78), again a brilliant low-altitude mark. Britain’s Cornelius Kersten was a surprise third; American Cooper McLeod was 10th (1:08.82).
More of the same in the 1,500 m on Sunday, as Stolz took the lead in the next-to-last pair at 1:43.59, and two-time Olympic champ Kjeld Nuis (NED) could not match him, skating 1:43.82 in the final pair for second. Krol was third in 1:44.30.
It’s the first time any one skater has won three individual titles in the 22 editions of the World Single Distance Championships, first half in 1996. Said Stolz, “I guess I wrote some history.”
Olympic silver winner Patrick Roest (NED) won the men’s 5,000 m in 6:08.94, defeating Italy’s Olympic 10,000 m bronze winner Davide Ghiotto (6:11.12) and Olympic Mass Start champ Bart Swings (BEL: 6:13.06). Ethan Cepuran was the top American in 12th (6:26.09).
Giotto won Italy’s first-ever Worlds Single Distance gold in the 10,000 m, finishing in 12:41.35 to beat Sochi 2014 winner Jorrit Bergsma (NED: 12:55.64) and Canada’s Beijing Olympic victor Ted-Jan Bloemen (13:01.84).
Swings also won the Mass Start, as he did in Beijing, with 60 points to 40 for Bart Hoolwerf (NED) and 23 for Andrea Giovannini (ITA). Cepuran was 10th for the U.S.
Debreuil led Canada to the Team Sprint title over the Dutch, 1:19.26 to 1:19.67, but the Dutch won the Team Pursuit, 3:38.26 to 3:38.43 over Canada. Norway got the bronze in both; the U.S. was sixth in the Sprint and seventh in the Pursuit.
Canada’s Ivanie Blondin, the Beijing ‘22 Mass Start runner-up, was the individual star of the women’s Worlds, leading her team to golds in the Team Sprint and Team Pursuit and then a silver (again) in the Mass Start.
The U.S. was second in the Team Sprint, with McKenzie Browne, Kimi Goetz and Olympic 500 m champ Erin Jackson, and third in the Team Pursuit, with Giorgia Birkeland, veteran star Brittany Bowe and Mia Kilburg.
The Dutch won individual golds in the women’s 500 m, by Femke Kok (37.28), with teammate Jutta Leerdam third; Leerdam in the 1,000 m (1:13.03) ahead of teammate Antoinette Rijpma-de Jong (1:14.26) and in the Mass Start by Marijke Groenewoud (60), beating Blondin (40) and triple 2022 Olympic gold winner Irene Schouten (22).
For the U.S., Jackson was fifth (37.62) and Goetz eighth (37.89) in the 500 m; Goetz, Bowe and Jackson were 4-5-8 in the 1,000 m (1:14.48-1:14.68-1:15.63). Kilburg was fourth in the Mass Start.
Norway’s Ragne Wiklund won the women’s 3,000 m in 3:56.86, beating Schouten (3:57.40) and six-time World Champion Martina Sabilkova (CZE: 3:58.35). Kilburg was 14th (4:11.57). Olympic champ Schouten won the 5,000 m in 6:41.25, ahead of Wiklund (6:46.15) and Sabilkova (6:47.78).
The Dutch dominated the medal table with 17 (7-7-3), ahead of Canada (7: 3-3-1) and then the U.S. (3-1-1) and Norway (1-2-2) with five.
Africa sides with IOC on Russian and Belarusian participation
“The members came out unanimously in favor of the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in all international competitions.”
That’s from a Friday news release from the Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa (ANOCA), which also included:
“The President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, the Honorable Mustapha Berraf [ALG] reiterated this position by affirming that ANOCA aligns itself with the position of the International Olympic Committee and its President Dr. Thomas Bach.
“It will thus be a question of allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in complete neutrality without any sign of identity in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
“ANOCA has given its agreement to reaffirm that politics cannot put pressure on Sport and withdraw from it all its nobility values which revolve around peace, unity and Solidarity.”
The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) also pledged allegiance to the International Olympic Committee’s concept of exploring a pathway for “neutral” Russian and Belarusian athletes for Paris 2024:
“ASOIF is ready to collaborate with the IOC and National Olympic Committees on clarifying a workable definition of ‘neutral athletes’ as a necessary step to further explore the Russian and Belarusian athletes’ potential participation in the Olympic Games. This is a highly complex matter for the International Federations (IFs) in terms of their specificity and the particular qualification process. Different solutions may be required for different sports.”
ASOIF President Francesco Ricci Bitti (ITA), who chaired today’s meeting, insisted, “It is important to recall that decisions in sport matters must ultimately remain as the remit of sport organisations. Consultation is preferable to public resolutions if we seek to facilitate solutions. The autonomy and the role of sport organisations are vital to maintain the dialogue open in this difficult time.”
Observed: For long-time watchers of the Olympic Movement, the position of the African National Olympic Committees is remarkable. In 1976, 29 countries – 22 from Africa – boycotted or withdrew from the Games because a New Zealand rugby team had toured then-expelled South Africa – then under apartheid rule – earlier that year. The boycott came about because the IOC would not ban the New Zealand team, even though rugby was not then an Olympic sport. No talk about neutral athletes then.
It will be fascinating to see what a future African response to war might be if it is once again on their continent, instead of in far-away Europe.
Kremlev doubles down as rival boxing federation forming
“The IOC can give recommendations. Their Charter clearly says that it is impossible to punish the athlete, or to infringe on his rights.”
That’s International Boxing Association President Umar Kremlev (RUS), declaring last Friday that Russian and Belarusian boxers can compete, unimpeded, in IBA events, regardless of what the International Olympic Committee says. He told Reuters:
“We, as an international association, must protect each athlete. And we must understand that for athletes the most important thing is when the anthem plays and when their country’s flag is raised.”
In the meantime, Stuff.co.nz reported Boxing New Zealand President Steve Hartley stating that five or six of its athletes will compete in the upcoming Women’s World Championships in India starting on 14 March, but possibly in a neutral capacity:
“It comes down to athlete welfare. They’re going into a toxic environment, and do we want to put more pressure on their shoulders?
“We want to make sure they’re comfortable. Even though we don’t agree with them going we must support them because we’re so far down the rabbit hole.”
He said, however, that things are changing:
“I was on a Zoom meeting this morning [20 February] with 20 countries and none of them are going to go to IBA events from now on.
“We won’t be supporting our men’s boxers to go [to the IBA Worlds in Uzbekistan]. … There will be an alternative event anyway. Things are moving very quickly with the [Common Cause Alliance] and we’re organising other events in lieu of the IBA events.”
The Common Cause Alliance is a group of about 20 countries – including New Zealand – which has challenged Kremlev’s leadership, saying that the IBA’s directives will kill boxing’s place on the Olympic program, possibly for Paris in 2024. Hartley said the alternative event will be staged in the Netherlands, and noted:
“There is a lot happening, and it will happen very quickly after the [Women’s] World Champs.
“The big one is the IOC making an emphatic statement. They’ve got to make an emphatic statement very soon … they’ve encouraged us to do everything we’re doing and advised us, but they could help more.”
The IOC Executive Board is scheduled to meet on 28-30 March, with boxing’s future on the agenda. It is possible that the Common Cause Alliance could be the core of a possible new federation that the IOC would recognize to handle boxing on the Olympic program.
Seven torches and Berlin 1936 “Chain of Office” lead auction sale
More than a third of the lots available in the Judge Carlos Velarde estate auction sold, with Olympic torches drawing the most interest. Seven items sold for more than $10,000:
● $55,000: Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Winter torch
● $32,500: Berlin 1936 IOC Chain of Office
● $30,000: Melbourne 1956 Olympic torch
● $24,000: Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter torch
● $20,000: Innsbruck 1976 Olympic Winter torch
● $15,000: Rome 1960 Olympic fencing gold medal
● $11,000: Mexico City 1968 weightlifting silver medal
The Lake Placid torch is extremely rare and is highly prizes. Seven torches and two small, replica torches sold, but the Berlin ‘36 “Chain of Office” was easily the most unusual item.
Produced for the members of the International Olympic Committee by the Berlin 1936 organizing committee, it’s a gaudy, bronze chain of interlocking rings with a large plaque picturing the head of Zeus at the bottom and six smaller plaques on the sides picturing images from ancient Greek artifacts and coins then housed in a Berlin museum.
Worn only at the 1936 Games, it sold for the opening bid of $32,500. Wonder if the buyer will wear it? In public?
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Freestyle Skiing & Snowboard ● The first snow-sport World Championships ever to be held in Georgia concluded on Saturday at the FIS Freestyle & Snowboard Worlds in Bakuriani.
The U.S. scored two wins on the final weekend in Freestyle, starting with 18-year-old Hanna Faulhaber moving up from fourth at the 2021 Worlds Halfpipe to the top of the podium! She was third after the first round (89.75), then second after round two (93.75), the uncorked a winning third-round run of 95.75 for the win. She out-scored Britain’s 2021 bronze medalist Zoe Atkin (94.50 in round two) and Canada’s Beijing Olympic bronze winner Rachael Karker (92.25 in round one).
Troy Podmilsak, 18, was competing in his first Worlds and had only jumped in nine World Cup events in his life, winning one medal – a bronze – back in October 2022. But he was sensational in the men’s Big Air final, scoring 91.25 on his first run and 96.50 on his second to total 187.75, good enough for the gold medal. Austria’s Lukas Muellauer was second at 184.50 and Beijing 2022 Olympic winner Birk Ruud (NOR) was third (183.50).
The women’s Big Air winner was French star Tess Ledeux, winning her third Worlds gold (Slopestyle 2019, Big Air 2021) by 186.75-175.00 for surprise silver medalist Sandra Eie (NOR). Canada’s Megan Oldham (174.00) was third for her second medal of the championships; she was second in the Slopestyle final.
The men’s Halfpipe title went to Beijing Olympic ninth-placer Brendan Mackay (CAN) over Finland’s Jon Sallinen, 97.25 to 95.75, with American Alex Ferreira third – as he was in Beijing in 2022 – scoring 93.00. Dylan Ladd of the U.S. finished sixth (81.25), and teammates Tristan Feinberg (76.75) and two-time Olympic champ David Wise (70.00) were eighth and ninth.
In Snowboard, the SnowCross Team final had Britain’s Charlotte Bankes and Huw Nightingale as the winners over Jakob Dusek and Pia Zerkhold (AUT) in second and France in third. The U.S. duo of Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner, Olympic winners in Beijing, finished fourth.
The Snowboard Halfpipe final was a battle of teenagers, as Korea’s 16-year-old Cha-eun Lee final-round run of 93.50 was enough to beat Australia’s 17-year-old Valentino Guseli’s final run score of 93.00. Swiss Jan Scherrer was third (89.25); American Chase Josey was eighth (82.25).
The men’s Big Air gold went to another 71-year-old, Japan’s Taiga Hasegawa (177.25), beating Mons Roisland (NOR: 157.25) and Swiss Nicolas Huber (150.50).
The women’s winners were familiar veterans on the World Cup tour. China’s Xuetong Cai, 29, won her third Worlds gold in Halfpipe (90.50), well ahead of Elizabeth Hosking (CAN: 85.50) and Japan’s two-time World Junior champ Mitsuki Ono (83.00).
In the women’s Big Air, Austria’s two-time Olympic gold medalist Anna Gasser, 31, won her second Worlds golds in the event (also 2017), scoring 162.50 over Miyabi Onitsuka (JPN: 161.25, her fifth career Worlds medal) and Australia’s Tess Coady (153.25).
Austria topped the medal table with 13 (3-6-4), followed by the Swiss (10: 3-2-5) and the U.S. and Canada (both 3-3-3) with nine each. Fourteen different countries won golds and 19 won medals.
● Nordic Skiing ● The massive 43rd FIS Nordic Skiing World Championships concluded in Planica (SLO), with Norway dominating the medal table as expected.
In Cross Country Skiing, Sweden finished with four wins in the six women’s events, taking 1-3 in the 30 km Classical Mass Start on Saturday, with Ebba Andersson winning her second gold (also the 15 km Skiathlon) in 1:22:18.0. Norway’s Anne Kalva won her first individual medal of these Championships in second (1:23:11.0) and Frida Karlsson (SWE:1:23:12.2) was third. Rosie Brennan was the top U.S. finisher in fifth (1:23:15.8) and Hailey Swirbul was 18th (1:26:31.3).
The men’s 50 km Classical Mass Start was the fourth Norwegian 1-2 in the men’s events – that all of the individual competitions – with Pal Golberg winning his fourth medal of the Championships (3-1-0) in 2:01:30.2, just ahead of Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo (2:01:31.2) and Swede William Poromaa (2:01:31.4). Scott Patterson of the U.S. was 16th in 2:01:10.4 and David Norris was 22nd (2:05:49.1).
Norway won both of the relays, with the men taking the 4×10 km by almost a minute over Finland, 1:32.54.7 to 1:33:41.6, with Germany third (1:33:54.5). The U.S. was seventh (1:36:05.4). The Norwegian women won the 4×5 km relay by more than 20 seconds over Germany, 50:33.3 to 50:53.8. Sweden finished a distant third (51:02.0) and the U.S. was fifth (52:07.6), with Jessie Diggins turning in the third-fastest leg in the race (11:55.0).
Klaebo won five medals (3-2-0), Golberg had four and Simen Hegstad Krueger had three (3-0-0) for Norway. Sweden’s Andersson won four medals in the women’s races (2-0-2) and Karlsson also had four (0-2-2).
In Nordic Combined, Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber won his eighth career Worlds gold and earned golds in all four events in Planica by winning the Large Hill (138 m) + 10 km event. He led the jumping portion and started with a 36-second lead in the cross-country section, finishing in 23:42.6 to win by more than a minute over teammate Jens Oftebro (24:44.0) and Austria’s Johannes Lamparter (24:47.3). Ben Loomis was the top American, in 31st (29:09.7).
Norway won all five events in the Nordic Combined and six of the 15 medals. Germany and Austria each won four medals; that’s 14 of the 15. Japan won the other.
In Ski Jumping, the men’s Large Hill (138 m) final, 22-year-old Timi Zajc continued a very successful event for the home team on Friday, winning Slovenia’s first-ever Large Hill Worlds gold by scoring 287.5 to best Japan’s Beijing runner-up Ryoyu Kobayashi (276.8) and Poland’s two-time Worlds gold winner Dawid Kubacki (276.2). Erik Belshaw of the U.S. was 26th at 237.6.
On Saturday, Slovenia finished up with a gold in the men’s Large Hill Team event (1,178.9), with Zajc getting another gold, over Norway (1,166.0) and Austria (1,139.4). The U.S. was eighth at 975.4.
In the final medal table, Norway won 27 of the 72 total medals distributed (12-10-5) with Germany (3-6-3) and Sweden (4-3-5) getting 12 each. The U.S. had two medals, both from Diggins, with one on a relay with Julia Kern.
● Ski Mountaineering ● Stars Remi Bonnet of Switzerland and Axelle Gachet-Mollaret of France both won their second races of the 2023 ISMF World Championships in Boi Taull (ESP) in the Individual Race on Saturday.
Both had won the Vertical Race earlier and Bonnet won his fourth career Worlds gold in 1:19:20.7, well ahead of Italians Matteo Eydallin (1:21:11.9) and Robert Antonioli (1:21:49.5). Christopher Jones of the U.S. was 40th (1:40:39.2).
Gachet-Mollaret was an even more decisive winner, 1:16:05.9 to 1:19:13.6 for Alba de Silvestro (ITA), with Giulia Murada third (1:19:55.5). American Rea Kolbl was 18th (1:29:58.6).
In the men’s Team race, Antonioli and Eydallin (ITA) took the gold in 1:56:28.7, ahead of France (1:57:20.6) and the second Italian team (2:00:21.0). The top U.S. team was 17th in 2:29:54.5, with Jules Goguely and Jones.
The women’s Team event was a third gold for Gachet-Mollaret, and Emily Harrop, winners in 2:12:48.9, over Murada and de Silvesto (ITA: 2:15:53.4) and the second French team (2:17:48.8). The U.S. was seventh, with Emmiliese von Avis and Grace Staberg finishing in 2:59:54.1.
In the Mixed Team race, France’s Harrop and Thibault Anselmet won in 26:46.5, ahead of Murada and Nicolo Canclini (ITA: +10.3) and the second French team of Gachet-Mollaret and Robin Galindo (+12.3).
In the senior events, the French entries won four, Switzerland two and Italy and Spain one each. The French scored 11 medals to nine for Italy: that’s 20 of 27 total medals awarded.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Paris 2024 ● As the war against Ukraine continues, European sports ministers are committing to more aid for Ukraine. Last week, French Olympic Games Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera pledged €1 million for aid that will include a “Games preparation center” to aid in athlete training.
In Germany, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said last week that Ukrainian athletes would receive permission to use the country’s Olympic training centers – there are more than 16 – to prepare for the Paris Games.
● Anti-Doping ● Too weird not to be true. A statement from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency last week noted that “Katerina Nash, a Czech cycling athlete residing in Truckee, Calif., has returned an adverse analytical finding for a prohibited substance that was not specifically listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List, which she was exposed to through no fault of her own.”
What? Check this out:
“During USADA’s investigation into her case, Nash provided USADA with records of a prescription liquid pet medication containing capromorelin, an appetite stimulant. She was administering the medication orally to her dog each day during the final weeks of her pet’s life in an effort to maintain weight. Due to the difficulty of administering oral pet medication, Nash would frequently come into contact with the liquid medication via her hands, and the medication bottle did not warn users about the risk of contamination from transdermal exposure.”
The USADA lab work showed that the trace amounts of capromorelin in Nash’s samples exactly matched the pet medication scenario. So, no sanction was made. USADA chief Travis Tygart used the incident to ask for the World Anti-Doping Agency to eliminate the need for reporting such adverse findings, as now required:
“If there is no question that an athlete comes into contact with a prohibited substance from a completely innocent source and there is no effect on performance, USADA continues to advocate that there should not be a violation or a public announcement.”
● Alpine Skiing ● Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wrapped up the seasonal men’s World Cup Downhill title with a 1:31.60-1:32.21 win over James Crawford (CAN) in Aspen, Colorado on Saturday.
It’s Kilde’s sixth World Cup Downhill win of the season and his fifth career seasonal title in the discipline (including two in a row now).
Seasonal World Cup leader Marco Odermatt (SUI) was third (1:32.23), with Bryce Bennett the top American in 10th (1:32.64).
In Sunday’s Super-G, seasonal leader Odermatt took his ninth win of the season in 1:06.80, just 0.05 ahead of Andreas Sander (GER) and 0.34 up on Kilde (1:07.14). It’s Sander’s first-ever World Cup medal … at age 33! Ryan Cochran-Siegle was the top U.S. finisher in 14th (1:07.96).
● Athletics ● The European Indoor Championships took place in Istanbul (TUR), with the organizers donating €1 from every ticket purchased since 7 February for earthquake relief efforts. The meet was a good one, with three world-leading marks and a world indoor record:
● Men/Triple Jump: 17.60 m (57-9), Pedro Pablo Pichardo (POR)
● Women/Long Jump: 7.00 m (22-11 3/4), Jazmin Sawyers (GBR)
● Women/Pentathlon: 5,055, Nafi Thiam (BEL) ~ World Record
Thiam’s world mark came in just her eighth career indoor pentathlon, and include lifetime indoor bests in the 60 m hurdles, shot and 800 m. It’s her third European pentathlon title, to go along with two Olympic and two World Championships golds in the heptathlon. She was chased all the way to the end by Poland’s Adrianna Sulek, who scored 5,014 for the no. 2 performance ever; both surpassed Ukraine’s Nataliya Dobrynska’s 2012 mark of 5,013 for the World Indoors. American Anna Hall’s 5,004 from the U.S. Nationals is now no. 4 all-time.
The women’s long jump had been hot in qualifying, with Ivana Vuleta (SRB) reaching 6.98 m (22-10 3/4), but Sawyers became the 19th woman to jump 7 m indoors with her fifth-round effort that proved to be the winner. Larissa Iapichino (ITA) got a national record of 6.97 m (22-10 1/2) to grab silver, with Vuleta third at 6.91 m (22-8).
Pichardo’s mighty 17.60 m came in the third round and moves him to no. 21 all-time indoors.
The men’s 60 m had an Italian winner, but it was not Tokyo Olympic champ Lamont Marcell Jacobs, but teammate Samuele Ceccarelli in 6.48, with Jacobs second in 6.50 (no. 7). Ceccarelli ran 6.47 in his semi, good for no. 3 on the 2023 world list.
Norway’s 400 m hurdles superstar Karsten Warholm won the 400 m in 45.35, his no. 2 time of 2023, and said he plans to run more flat 400s this season. Countryman and fellow Olympic champ Jakob Ingebrigtsen defended his 2021 Euro Indoor 1,500 m title as expected, outdueling Britain’s Neil Gourley, 3:33.95 to 3:34.23. Ingebrigtsen than doubled back in the 3000 m, winning in 7:40.32 over Spain’s Adel Mechaal (7:41.75).
Swiss Jason Joseph won the 60 m hurdles in 7.41, no. 3 on the 2023 world list behind Americans Grant Holloway and Daniel Roberts.
Dutch high jumper Douwe Amels moved to no. 4 on the year list at 2.31 m (7-7) and four men cleared 5.80 m (19-0 1/4) in the vault, with Sondre Guttormsen (NOR) the winner on misses. World leader and Olympic champ Miltiadis Tentoglou won the long jump at 8.30 m (27-2 3/4).
Italy’s Zane Weir, fifth at Tokyo in 2021, won his first major title and zoomed to no. 2 on the 2023 list in winning the men’s shot at 22.06 m (72-4 1/4), over Tomas Stanek (CZE: 21.90 m/71-10 1/4), now no. 4 in 2023. Two-time World Decathlon champ Kevin Mayer (FRA) won the heptathlon at 6,348 to move to no.2 on the 2023 year list, with Norway’s Sander Aae Skotheim (6,318) moving to no. 3.
The women’s 60 m saw Swiss star Mujinga Kambundji, last year’s World Indoor Champion, win in 7.00, no. 3 in 2023 and her second-fastest indoor 60 ever. Dutch star Femke Bol won the 400 m as expected, in 49.85, the no. 7 performance in indoor history. There have been 10 indoor sub-50s in history and Bol has three of them.
World leader and defending champ Keely Hodgkinson (GBR) won the women’s 800 m in 1:58.66, well clear of Anita Horvat (SLO: 2:00.54). Britain’s Laura Muir won the 1,500 in 4:03.40 for her third Euro Indoor title in the event, a clear winner over Claudia Bobocea (ROU: 4:03.76), now no. 6 on the 2023 world list.
Finland’s Reetta Hurske showed she’s no fluke, equaling her seasonal best – no. 3 in the world for 2023 – in winning the 60 m hurdles in 7.79.
Ukrainian star Yaroslava Mahuchikh defended her 2021 Euro indoor high jump crown at 1.98 m (6-6). Finland’s Wilma Murto moved to no. 3 on the year list to win the vault at 4.80 m (15-9). Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo won her second European Indoor title – also in 2021 – at 19.76 m (64-10), now no. 3 on the 2023 year list.
World leads in both the men’s and women’s 10,000 m at The TEN in San Juan Capistrano, California on Saturday evening, with an American Record to boot!
Britain’s Eilish McColgan ran away from American Alicia Monson on the final lap of the women’s race to win in 30:00.87, now no. 12 all-time and no. 2 ever in European history. Monson continued a career year with an American Record of 30:03.82, a lifetime best by 56 seconds! She is no. 14 all-time and broke Molly Huddle’s mark of 30:13.17 from 2016.
Elly Henes and Natosha Rogers got lifetime bests in third and fourth at 30:48.26 and 30:48.69.
Woody Kincaid took the lead from Joe Klecker just before two laps to go and held on for as world-leading win in 27:06.37 to 27:07.57. Kincaid finished in 56.92 and moves to no. 5 (sixth-fastest performance) on the all-time U.S. list, while Klecker is now seventh (no. 8 performance).
Kenya’s Athanas Kioko was third in 27:23.84 and American Connor Mantz was fourth in 27:25.30.
The first of the World Marathon Majors, the Tokyo Marathon, was held on Sunday, with Kenya’s Rosemary Wanjiru moving to no. 6 all-time with a brilliant 2:16:28 victory.
Only four were in contention by 20 km, and Wanjiru and Tsehay Gemechu (ETH) were the only contenders left after 30 km. Wanjiru broke away after 35 km and sailed home with a 28-second win, in the seventh-fastest women’s marathon in history. Gemechu’s second-place time of 2:16:56 makes her only the eighth woman to break 2:17 in history.
Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekere was third in 2:19:11, with Americans Betsy Saina (ex-Kenya) fifth in 2:21:40 (now no. 9 all-time U.S.) and Lindsay Flanagan eighth in 2:26:08.
The men’s race saw a huge pack run hard through the first half, with a breakaway pack finally forming at 37 km. Canadian Cam Levins had the lead at 40 km, but was passed by four others and then Ethiopians Deso Gelmisa, Mohamed Esa and Tsegay Getachew raced ahead, with Gelmisa finally breaking free to get to the tape in 2:05:22, with Esa right behind and given the same time.
Getachew finished third in 2:05:25, then Kenya’s Titus Kipruto (2:05:32) and Levins (2:05:36), who set a national and North American record. The top eight were under 2:06.
● Biathlon ● The seventh of nine IBU World Cup stops was in Nove Mesto (CZE), with Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe’s domination unbroken.
Boe won 11 of 14 races prior to the World Championships break, won three of four individual races at the Worlds and won his seventh and eighth in a row with two victories, in the 10 km Sprint and 12.5 km Pursuit.
Norway went 1-2-3-4 in the Sprint, with Boe leading older brother Tarjei Boe to the finish line, 22:39.6 to 23:09.6 (no penalties for either). Vetle Christiansen was third (23:54.8/1); Sean Doherty was the top American in 18th (24:54.4/1).
In the Pursuit, it was Boe and Boe going 1-2 again, in 31:25.1 (2) and 31:59.7 (1), with Swede Martin Ponsiluoma third (32:36.1/5). Doherty was 24th in 34:38.6 (3).
Reigning World Cup women’s champion Marte Olsbu Roeiseland (NOR) hadn’t won a World Cup medal this season due to injury, but came back at the Worlds to win a bronze … and now won both races in Nove Mesto. In fact, the top three in both the women’s Sprint and 10 km Pursuit were identical: Roeiseland, teammate Ingrid Tandrevold second and France’s Anais Chevalier-Bouchet third! Roeiseland won by more than 20 seconds in the Sprint, but only by 2.2 in the Pursuit.
France won the Mixed 4×6 km relay over Sweden and Norway. Roeiseland and Christiansen won the Single Mixed Relay, with Switzerland and Latvia second and third. The U.S. was 16th, with Doherty and Joanne Reid.
● Cycling ● On the UCI World Tour, the famed Strade Bianche races in and around Siena (ITA) on Saturday saw some history as Britain’s star-on-the-rise Thomas Pidcock won the biggest race of his career, attacking decisively with 23 km to go in the hilly, 184 km race in 4:31:41. That was 20 seconds up on Valentin Madouas (FRA) and 22 seconds ahead of Belgium’s Tiesj Benoot.
No British rider had ever won a medal in this race before, and Pidcock, who won a Tour de France stage in 2022, is becoming a force.
The women’s Strade Bianche, 136 km in length, was the fourth win in the last five for a Dutch ride, this time for Demi Vollering, winning a sprint to the line with defending champ Lotte Kopecky (BEL). Both were timed in 3:50:35, 18 seconds up on American Kristin Faulkner (+0:18).
● Fencing ● The FIE World Cup was good to first-time winners, starting with the men’s Sabre in Padua (ITA), as home favorite Michele Gallo, 21, won his second career World Cup medal – and first gold – over Kazakhstan’s Artyam Sarkissyan, 15-9. Sarkissyan won his first career World Cup medal.
Hungary won the team event, 45-30, over Italy.
In the women’s Sabre World Cup in Athens (GRE), Hungary’s Sugar Battai, 19, won a tight battle with four-time World Champion Olga Kharlan (UKR), 15-14, to win her first career international medal! France defeated Korea, 45-29, in the team final.
● Football ● Canada Soccer announced an interim agreement with its sixth-ranked women’s national team over funding, retroactive to the 2022 season. The women’s team had threatened to strike prior to the SheBelieves Cup in the U.S., but was told that legal action would be taken against them.
The interim agreement was reported to be in line with the men’s team compensation on per-game incentives and results-based compensation. A long-term collective bargaining agreement is still to be completed, but this is a positive step with Canada’s looking forward to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer.
● Freestyle Skiing ● The FIS Freestyle World Cup continued in Engadin (SUI) with Aerials on Sunday, and a second win this season for Ukraine’s Dmytro Kotovskyi. He scored 136.76 to edge 2023 World Champion Noe Roth (SUI: 133.11) and 2021 Worlds runner-up Chris Lillis (USA: 128.00). Fellow American Quinn Dehlinger, the 2023 Worlds silver medalist, was fifth (93.21).
Worlds silver medalist Danielle Scott (AUS) won her third World Cup event of the season and maintained her World Cup lead in the women’s competition, scoring 98.70. She led an Australian 1-2 with Laura Peel second (94.65) and World Champion Fanyu Kong (CHN: 92.00) third. American Winter Vinecki was fourth (82.21).
● Gymnastics ● The second FIG Artistic Apparatus World Cup was in Doha (QAT), with six different winners on six apparatus for the men, but two wins for Romania’s Sabrina Voinea for the women.
Although he won once, two-time World Champion Carlos Yulo (PHI) was the men’s star with three medals (1-1-1). He won the Floor Exercise at 14.833 over Worlds runner-up Kazuki Minami (JPN: 14.200), finished second on Parallel Bars to Ukraine’s Worlds All-Around bronze Ilia Kovtun, 14.966 to 14.933, and won the bronze on Vault (14.883), behind Armenia’s 2022 Worlds gold medalist Artur Davtyan.
Kazakhstan’s Nariman Kurbanov scored an upset, 15.400-15.033, win over reigning Pommel Horse World Champion Rhys McClenaghan (IRE); China’s Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Yang Liu won on Rings, 15.366-15.033, over Turkey’s Adem Asil, the 2022 World Champion, and Yuya Kamoto (JPN) won on the Horizontal Bar, upsetting Tokyo Olympic runner-up Tin Srbic (CRO), 14.333 to 14.300.
Voinea won the women’s second day – Beam and Floor – scoring 13.766 and 13.600. On Friday, France’s 2022 Worlds bronze medalist Coline Devillard won on Vault (13.800), with 47-year-old Oksana Chusovitina (UZB) getting bronze for the second meet in a row (12.216). Ukraine’s Anna Lashchevska won on the Uneven Bars, scoring 13.500; she was also the silver winner on Saturday on the Beam.
After two Apparatus World Cups, only Davtyan (Vault) and Kovtun (Parallel Bars) won at both. Next up is the third leg, in Baku (AZE) next week.
● Ice Hockey ● Brianna Decker, 31, a key member of three U.S. Olympic women’s hockey squads and six-time World Champion, announced her retirement last Thursday.
Decker, a forward, scored 81 goals and 170 points in 147 games with the U.S. team, and was fourth in IIHF Women’s World Championship all-time scoring with 68 points.
She was the top scorer on the American Olympic squads in 2014 (silver) and 2018 (gold), but suffered a broken left leg in the opening match of the Beijing 2022 Games against Finland and had to sit out the remainder of the tournament, in which the U.S. won silver.
She is beginning a new career as a coach.
● Judo ● Japan and Uzbekistan dominated the IJF World Tour Tashkent (UZB) Grand Slam, winning seven of the 14 weight classes between them.
The Japanese won all four of their golds in the women’s division, by Momo Tamaoki (57 kg), 2022 World Champion Megumi Horikawa (63 kg), Rika Takayama (78 kg) and 2022 Worlds bronze medalist Wakaba Tomita (+78 kg). The three Uzbek wins were all by men: Murodjon Yuldoshev (73 kg), 2022 World Champion Davlat Bobonov (90 kg) and Alisher Yusupov (+100 kg).
Women’s 70 kg World Champion Barbara Matic (CRO) reached the women’s 70 kg finals, but was defeated by Austrian Michaela Polleras.
● Rugby ● Both the men’s and women’s Sevens Series were in action in Vancouver (CAN), with New Zealand and Australia meeting in the women’s final for the third time in five tournaments this season.
Both were 3-0 in group play, along with the U.S. In the playoffs, New Zealand edged Canada, 10-5, and then routed France, 36-7, to reach the final. Australia had little trouble with Fiji, 29-5, in the quarters and then squashed the U.S., 38-0, in the semis. In the final, the Black Ferns managed a 19-12 win over the Aussies to win their fourth tournament in a row and maintain their place atop the seasonal standings, 98-84, over Australia.
The U.S. rebounded and won the bronze-medal match over France, 19-7, and now stand third overall with 82 points with two tournaments left.
New Zealand and Argentina went 3-0 in men’s pool play, and Argentina moved into the final with playoff wins of 19-14 over Fiji and 14-7 against Ireland. In the upper bracket, it was Australia eliminating New Zealand, 17-7, in the quarters and then France winning the semi by 26-12 over Australia.
The Argentines would not be stopped and won the final by 33-21 over the French for their second tournament win of the season. Australia won the third-place game over Ireland, 20-5, so New Zealand remains on top of the standings at 120 points, followed by Argentina (108) and France (95).
● Swimming ● The Tyr Pro Swim Series in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida drew many of the U.S.’s stars for the 34-event program, with four swimmers taking home three or more wins.
Three of those four were women, with four-time Worlds gold medalist Regan Smith winning four events: the 50-100-200 m Backstrokes and the 100 m Butterfly. Ten-time World Championships gold medalist Lilly King swept the 50-100-200 m Breaststroke events and Abbey Weitzeil, the U.S.’s best sprinter so far this season, won the 50-100 m Frees and tied for the win in the 50 m Fly.
The U.S. World Championships trials aren’t until the end of June, so we’re still in the training phase of the season. That makes Freestyle superstar Katie Ledecky’s swims pretty interesting, as she won the 800 m Free and the 400 m Medley in good times, but also posted noteworthy times in the 100 m Free (2nd in 54.01) and just behind Canadian teen star Summer McIntosh in the 200 m Free (2nd in 1:54.96).
McIntosh, still just 16, showed she is still improving, winning the 200 m Free over Ledecky in a World Junior Record of 1:54.13 (no. 8 performer all-time), the 200 m Fly in a World Junior Record of 2:05.05 (no. 11 all-time) and the 200 m Medley.
American Katie Grimes, 17, the 2022 Worlds 1,500 m silver medalist, won the 400 m and 1,500 m Freestyles and came back for a silver in the 200 m Back and bronze in the 200 m Medley!
The men’s star was Tokyo Olympic 400 m winner Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia, who won the 400-800-1,500 m Freestyles. Two others won two events: American Michael Andrew in the 50 m Breast and a tie for the win in the 50 m Fly, and Trinidad & Tobago’s Dylan Carter in the 100 m Free and tying with Andrew in the 50 Fly.
Tokyo Olympic distance star Bobby Finke of the U.S. won the 400 m Medley, and was third in the 1,500 m behind Hafnaoui. The backstroke events were a display of American power as 2022 World Short-Course winner Justin Ress took the 50 m title; 2022 Worlds bronze medalist Hunter Armstrong won the 100 m event and 2022 World Champion Ryan Murphy won the 200 m Back.
● Triathlon ● The first leg of the World Triathlon Championship Series was in Abu Dhabi (UAE), with Britain’s Tokyo Olympic runner-up Alex Yee winning the men’s title with a strong finishing run.
The Sprint format (750 m swim, 20 km bike and 5 km run) started with France’s two-time World Champion Vincent Luis first out of the water. As many as 50 riders were together during the bike phase, then Luis and Yee found themselves 1-2 in the early stages of the run. As the pack shifted, Yee finally took off and finished in 52:53, with Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca six seconds behind and Brazil’s Manoel Messias third (53:06) and Luis fourth in 53:11. It’s Lee’s fifth World Triathlon Series victory.
The women’s race was twice as nice for Britain, with Beth Potter winning her first World Triathlon Series title, leading a 1-2 finish with teammate Sophie Coldwell in 57:56 and 58:14. The American pair of Taylor Spivey and Summer Rappaport finished 3-4 in 58:27 and 58:35. The two British stars had a 10-second lead at the start of the final lap and the 2022 Commonwealth Games third-placer, Potter, surged ahead in the final 500 m, ending with the second-fastest run of the day.
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