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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Shiffrin sets 87th World Cup for career record (at 27)
2. FIE vote to re-admit Russia and Belarus hailed and criticized
3. Britain’s Culture Secretary asks IOC sponsors to help keep Russia out
4. Canadian Soccer posts its contract offer to national teams!
5. Ex-Fox Int’l Channels CEO convicted of football rights bribes
American skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin set the record for most career FIS Alpine World Cup wins with her 87th in Are, Sweden, on Saturday, passing Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark. The International Fencing Federation (FIE) voted in a special Congress to re-admit Russian and Belarusian athletes, under undefined “strict neutrality” conditions and whatever the International Olympic Committee Executive Board says at the end of the month. Lucy Frazer, the British Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has written to multiple Olympic sponsors, asking them to pressure the IOC to keep Russia and Belarus out of international competitions. Canada Soccer posted a story on its Web site which summarized the contract demands of its Women’s National Team, and its offer to them for interim funding and for long-term funding. Striker Janine Beckie said she felt “disrespected” by the public disclosure, done just prior to an appearance by women’s team members before the Canadian Parliament. The former head of Fox International Channels and an Uruguayan firm were convicted of bribery in purchasing rights to major CONCACAF and South American football championship and World Cup qualifying match rights, the latest in the U.S. Justice Department’s multi-year efforts against corruption in the sport.
● World Championships: Short Track (Dutch women dominate) ●
● Panorama: Alpine Skiing (Odermatt clinches World Cup title) = Athletics (2: 10 world leaders at NCAA Indoors; Hill wins USATF Masters 60) = Badminton (Korea wins two at German Open) = Baseball (Ohtani keys Japan at World Baseball Classic) = Biathlon (Wierer sweeps in Oestersund) = Cross Country Skiing (Krueger and Haga win Oslo 50 km, Diggins third!) = Cycling (2: Slovenian stars Pogacar and Roglic win Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico) = Fencing (Westend Grand Prix) = Freestyle Skiing (Mobaerg and Smith take Ski Cross golds) = Gymnastics (Yulo shines at Apparatus World Cup) = Modern Pentathlon (Elgendy and Gulyas star in World Cup) = Shooting (U.S. closes with Team Trap win) = Ski Jumping (Raw Air tour starts in Oslo) = Snowboard (Bankes sweeps two at Sierra Nevada) = Swimming (McKeown world record in 200 Back) ●
Shiffrin sets 87th World Cup for career record (at 27)
She did it!
Completing a two-day sweep of the women’s World Cup races in Are (SWE), American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin won the Slalom on Saturday for her 87th career World Cup win, taking over the most-wins record from Swede Ingemar Stenmark (86 from 1974-89).
As with the Giant Slalom on Friday, Shiffrin was in charge from the start, leading after the first run, 50.93 to 51.62 over Swede Anna Larsson and then as Larsson faded on the second run, winning by a huge – for alpine skiing – 0.92-second margin over Swiss star Wendy Holdener, 1:41.77 to 1:42.69. Larsson finished third in 1:42.72 and American Paula Moltzan was fourth in 1:43.31.
Shiffrin, still just 27, got the record in just 12 years on the World Cup tour and broke it in the same place she got her first win – Are – in 2012: Are. Her wins by season:
● 2012-13: 4
● 2013-14: 5
● 2014-15: 6
● 2015-16: 5
● 2016-17: 11
● 2017-18: 12
● 2018-19: 17
● 2019-20: 6
● 2020-21: 3
● 2021-22: 5
● 2022-23: 13
She has now clinched her fifth overall World Cup title (record is eight) and her seventh seasonal Slalom title and second Giant Slalom title. The Federation Internationale de Ski & Snowboard (FIS) noted she has won 87 of her 245 World Cup career starts, a sensational 35.5% winning percentage, and won 137 total medals (55.9%). She said after Saturday’s race:
“What an unbelievable day. I am so proud of the skiing I did both runs today. I am so proud of the team this whole season, every step of the way being strong and focused and positive and having the right goals and helping me manage my own focus and the distractions as well, it’s been incredible.
“It’s pretty hard to describe and not over yet which is even more ridiculous.
“I still had the same feeling on the start of this run that I have every race. I shouldn’t feel pressure but somehow I feel something in my heartbeat, that’s the anticipation we want to feel as ski racers and I have it and it’s stronger than ever. I am just getting started.”
Her record-setting is not over, of course. She now owns 136 career World Cup medals, with Stenmark’s total of 155 within sight next season. Shiffrin is also tied for the most-ever Giant Slalom wins at 20 with Swiss Vreni Schneider (1984-95).
She will complete the season at the World Cup Final in Soldeu (ROU), with the Downhill and Super-G on 15-16 March and the Slalom and Giant Slalom on 18-19 March.
FIE vote to re-admit Russia and Belarus hailed and criticized
Friday’s vote to re-admit Russian and Belarusian athletes to international fencing competitions in an online Extraordinary Congress of the Federation Internationale de Escrime (FIE) has drawn the expected reactions from different parts of the world:
● Canadian Fencing posted Friday, in pertinent part:
“We are extremely disappointed in the result of this vote and want to reiterate our support to our fencing friends of Ukraine.
“In the coming weeks we will consult our high performance athletes and coaches to determine how we can best support any athlete or team that decides to refuse to fence against an athlete or team from Russia or Belarus. We understand that this will be a difficult decision for any athlete to make with Olympic qualification at stake, and will work with our athletes to ensure that they are supported.”
● The German Fencing Federation’s post was more detailed, including a comment from President Claudia Bokel, a former IOC member (2008-16) as a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission (DeepL.com translation):
“‘This result is on the one hand based on geopolitics, we have seen that the assembly of the NOCs of Africa and Asia have already agreed to participate, on the other hand based on the question of whether there should continue to be a general ban on all athletes,’ Bokel further clarified the situation. …
“The German Fencing Federation will now face further problems with the consequences of this decision when organizing international competitions in Germany. The German Fencing Federation is now awaiting an inquiry from the International Fencing Federation as to whether entry of Russian and Belarusian fencers to Germany can be guaranteed, as otherwise there would probably be a threat of withdrawal of international fencing competitions in Germany.”
● The Ukrainian Fencing Federation issued a statement which included:
“We are deeply shocked and outraged by this decision and we immediately convene a meeting of the Presidium to decide our response to the decision of the FIE and its possible appeal.”
The Russians, of course, were happy.
Two-time Olympic Sabre champ Sofya Velikaya, 37, told the Russian news agency TASS:
“I am very happy with the decision, I believed that this should happen, and I want to thank colleagues from different countries who voted for our return. Sport should provide equal rights and conditions, and common sense finally prevailed. Despite the fact that this is the most wonderful news lately, we understand the upcoming difficulties.”
Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said:
“The International Fencing Federation rightly allowed Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in international competitions under the auspices of the FIE. This is an important decision that speaks of the tendency of international federations to conduct constructive work on the eve of the qualifying season in the Olympic cycle.”
Russian Fencing Federation chief Ilgar Mammadov, was more circumspect, noting that the International Olympic Committee Executive Board may have more to say about it at the end of the month:
“I always say that until you get on a plane, you don’t fly to the Olympic Games. I am grateful to my colleagues from national foreign federations for those who supported us both openly and behind the scenes and helped. Serious work was done, this is the work of a great team of people. Nothing changes with us – the Russian championship is in April. We are getting ready, we are training,”
Turin 2006 Olympic 500 m speed skating gold medalist Svetlana Zhurova, now a State Duma member, was also cautious (DeepL.com translation):
“I think we have to wait to see what those 46 countries who voted against will do; will there be boycotts, will they take the admission decision for granted. In Latvia they suggested to deprive tennis players who play in tournaments with Russians of state financing, will there be a similar decision for fencers now? We must check the reactions of all countries and then think about it ourselves. Now there are a lot more people who are categorically against playing in neutral status, we must wait to see how our society reacts to the adoption of such a proposal.”
And Dmitry Svishchev, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture and Sports, is waiting to see Russian athletes actually compete:
“We see a positive movement from the international federation in relation to our athletes. But until we see specific examples of the admission of athletes, it’s too early to rejoice. We have already seen statements about the desire to admit Russians from the same IOC, after which there was silence to a certain extent. In this regard, we need to continue working on domestic competitions, look at the opportunity to compete in Asian tournaments and where Russian athletes are given the opportunity to compete.
“But the signal of the International Fencing Federation is clear to us, they could not create competitive competitions in the absence of Russian athletes. I am sure that other international federations will face the same problems.”
Britain’s Culture Secretary asks IOC sponsors
to help keep Russia out
“I have written to the worldwide sponsors of the Olympic Games, including Coca-Cola, Samsung and Visa, calling on them to join 35 like-minded nations and press the IOC for a continued ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in international sporting competitions.
“As we’ve seen this week, Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine is continuing. We’ve had what is believed to be the biggest missile strike on cities across Ukraine in some time. We must continue to ensure that Russia and Belarus cannot use sport for their propaganda purposes.”
That’s from Lucy Frazer, the British Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, tweeting on Saturday a new front in the effort to keep Russian and Belarusian athletes out of international competitions and out of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Portions of a letter sent by Frazer to the companies was shared in a story in The Guardian on Friday, including:
“We know sport and politics in Russia and Belarus are heavily intertwined, and we are determined that the regimes in Russia and Belarus must not be allowed to use sport for their propaganda purposes.
“As long as our concerns and the substantial lack of clarity and concrete detail on a workable ‘neutrality’ model are not addressed, we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back into competition.
“Noting the IOC’s stated position that no final decisions have been made, we have strongly urged the IOC to address the questions identified by all countries and reconsider its proposal accordingly.”
The IOC Executive Board is scheduled to meet on 28-30 March in Lausanne.
Canadian Soccer posts its contract offer to national teams!
In a fascinating strategic, negotiating and political move, just days after Canada Soccer and the Canadian Women’s National Team announced an interim funding agreement that will keep the women playing toward this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, the federation posted the details of its collective bargaining offer to both the men’s and women’s teams.
Per the federation:
“Here is the reality: If accepted by the Player Associations, the collective bargaining agreements will pay both National Teams the same amount for playing a 90-minute match and both National Teams will share equally in competition prize money. Additionally, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team will become the second-highest paid women’s national team among FIFA’s 211 Member Associations.”
The concept of the agreement follows the U.S. Soccer Federation deal with its men’s and women’s player associations to pool the money won by both at the FIFA World Cup and split it equally. Beyond this, the proposed agreement as described would pay (in Canadian dollars; C$1 = $0.72 U.S.):
“● $3,500 per match per player, plus win bonuses up to $5,500 per player depending on the rank of the opposing side.
“● An equal amount ($1.15 million) to each National Team for their qualification to their respective FIFA World Cup.”
The post further notes that the interim agreement will play the women’s team for 2022 “on the same financial terms as the Men’s National Team.” The post also gives the payments for the men’s and women’s teams from 2012 to 2019:
● “From 2012-2019 total staffing and program spending on all Men’s Teams was $37,423,185 compared to $37,073,407 on all Women’s Teams over the same eight-year period.
● “From 2012-2019 total player compensation from Canada Soccer for the Men’s Senior Team (MNT) was $2.92 million. For the same eight-year period player compensation from Canada Soccer for the Women’s Senior Team (WNT) was $2.96 million.”
The post also listed “all nine of the demands made by the Women’s National Team,” dealing with budgets for World Cup preparations, sharing the budget of the men’s team, “compensation for friends and family travel,” and single occupancy rooms for future training camps, and a chef at the Women’s World Cup this summer.
The posting came shortly before some of the Women’s National Team players were to appear before the Canadian Parliament. Striker Janine Beckie was outraged, telling the lawmakers:
“We feel quite disrespected by the way they went about their business this afternoon. We believe what was talked about in good-faith bargaining between our players association and [Canada Soccer] should have stayed between the players association and the Canadian soccer association.
“And there were terms and numbers and pieces within their statement today that has not even been communicated to us. So that was a bit of a shock to us.”
A Canada Soccer spokesperson said, “Throughout this process, our priority has been to negotiate privately, through our respective legal counsel, and finding the most responsible way to a resolution. We did that for months.
“Unfortunately in recent weeks, information was shared and circulated with media that failed to include full and important context.”
Ex-Fox Int’l Channels CEO convicted of football rights bribes
“Former 21st-Century Fox Executive Hernan Lopez and Argentine sports marketing company Full Play Group S.A., were convicted today by a federal jury in Brooklyn on all counts of a superseding indictment charging them with wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies for their participation in schemes to bribe executives of soccer’s highest governing bodies—FIFA, CONMEBOL, and, in Full Play’s case, CONCACAF—for the media and broadcasting rights to lucrative soccer tournaments. …
“When sentenced, Lopez faces up to 40 years in prison and millions of dollars in penalties to be determined by Judge [Pamela] Chen. Full Play faces millions of dollars in financial penalties. Co-defendant Carlos Martinez was acquitted on both counts.”
The U.S. Department of Justice detailed the convictions in a Thursday announcement, explaining the Lopez – the former head of Fox International Channels, now 52 – and Buenos Aires-based Fair Play:
“Full Play, a sports marketing company incorporated in Uruguay, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and owned by father-and-son defendants Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis, participated in numerous schemes to pay bribes to officials of CONMEBOL and CONCACAF in exchange for media and marketing rights to various soccer events, including World Cup qualifier and friendly matches, the Copa Libertadores, and multiple editions of the Copa América, a national team tournament administered by CONMEBOL. Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, charged in the first indictment in the case unsealed on May 27, 2015, remain fugitives.
“Lopez, a formerly high-ranking executive of Fox subsidiaries responsible for developing and carrying out Fox’s sports broadcasting businesses in Latin America, joined Full Play and other co-conspirators in a scheme involving the annual payment of millions of dollars in bribes to officials of CONMEBOL in exchange for the lucrative broadcasting rights to the Copa Libertadores, the region’s most popular club tournament, among other events. Lopez also relied on loyalty secured through the payment of bribes to certain CONMEBOL officials to advance the business interests of Fox, including to obtain confidential bidding information for the rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments in the United States, rights that Fox successfully obtained.”
According to the Justice Department, the inquiry into football corruption has yielded substantial returns:
“Criminal charges have been brought against more than 50 defendants from more than 20 countries, resulting to date in guilty pleas by more than 30 individual and corporate defendants and trial convictions of 3 individuals and 1 corporation. In addition, 2 corporations have resolved via deferred prosecution agreements and 3 corporations have resolved via non-prosecution agreements.”
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Short Track ● The ISU World Championships in Seoul (KOR) could have reasonable been predicted as a Korean showcase after they won five events and nine medals at Montreal in 2022. But it didn’t work out that way.
Instead, it was the Dutch women who dominated, winning all four events and the Mixed Relay on the way to eight medals (5-1-2) to six for the hosts (2-3-1). Canada also won six (0-1-5); the U.S. was shut out and has not won a Worlds medal since 2014.
In the women’s 500 m, Xandra Velzeboer defended her 2022 World title, leading a Dutch sweep, 41.977-42.450-42.567, ahead of Suzanne Schulting and Selma Poutsma. American Corinne Stoddard was fifth in 43.386.
Velzeboer came back to win the 1,000 m in 1:29.361, beating Olympic champ Schulting in the process, with Korea’s defending champion Min-jeong Choi eventually taking silver after Schulting was disqualified.
Schulting, the 2021 World Champion at 1,500 m, won her second title in the event, beating defending (and three-time) champ Choi, 2:31.949 to 2:41.448. Canada’s Kim Boutin won her fourth Worlds medal in the event in third, and her second bronze (0-2-2). Americans Kristen Santos-Griswold and Stoddard were sixth and seventh (2:31.933 and 2:32.042). Schulting, Velzeboer, Poutsma and Yara van Kerkhof won the 3,000 m Relay in 4:09.56, with Korea second and Canada third.
Korea’s Ji-won Park did his part, winning the men’s 1,500 m, finishing in 2:17.792 to 2:17.898 for Pietro Sighel (ITA), his first Worlds medal at the distance. Sighel then won his first career Worlds gold, taking the 500 m sprint from Beijing 2022 bronze medalist Steve Dubois (CAN), 41.166-41.223. Jens van’t Wout was third (41.243).
On Sunday, Park came back to win the 1,000 m in 1:27.741, beating Jens van’t Wout (BEL: 1:27.974) and Dubois (1:28.069).
Teun Boer, Schulting, van’t Wout and Velzeboer won the 2,000 m Mixed Relay in 2:41.646, with China and Italy winning the silver and bronze.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Alpine Skiing ● The next-to-last stop on the men’s FIS Alpine World Cup circuit for 2022-23 was in Kranjska Gora (SLO), for two Giant Slalom events that settled the seasonal title.
Seasonal World Cup leader Marco Odermatt (SUI) won his 10th race of the season on Saturday in 2:16.65, ahead of France’s Alexis Pintuarult (2:16.88) and Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen (2:17.02). River Radamus was the top American in 15th (2:19.29).
On Sunday, Odermatt won his third straight World Cup race and clinched both the overall World Cup title – his second straight – and the Giant Slalom title (also his second in a row). He finished in 2:20.91 after leading the first run by 0.28; Norway’s Kristoffersen moved from third to second on the second run (2:21.23) and France’s Pinturault (2:21.61) won his third medal of the season.
Odermatt has also won the seasonal Super-G title and could end up second in the Downhill final standings after the World Cup Final races in Romania this week.
● Athletics ● The final major indoor meet of 2023 was the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with the sprinting and jumping events benefitting from the 5,312 feet of altitude, leading to world-leading marks (two ties) in nine events:
● Men/200 m: 20.12, Matthew Boling (USA/Georgia)
● Men/400 m: 44.75 (=), Elija Godwin (USA/Georgia)
● Men/Heptathlon: 6,639, Kyle Garland (USA/Georgia)
● Women/60 m: 6.94 (=), Julian Alfred (LCA/Texas)
● Women/200 m: 22.11, Favour Ofili (NGR/LSU)
● Women/200 m: 22.01, Alfred
● Women/60 m Hurdles: 7.72, Ackera Nugent (JAM/Arkansas)
● Women/4×400 m: 3:21.75, Arkansas ~ World Best
● Women/Long Jump: 7.03 m (23-0 3/4), Jasmine Todd (USA/Florida)
● Women/Triple Jump: 15.12 m (49-7 1/4), Todd ~ American Record
Also worth noting was the men’s vault win for Norway’s Sondre Guttormsen, at a national record 6.00 m (19-8 1/2), the 15th man to clear 6 m indoors, and no. 2 in 2023.
Alfred’s 6.94 moved her to equal-second all-time with American Aleia Hobbs, who also ran at Albuquerque at the U.S. Nationals. Alfred’s 22.01 200 m win also moves her to no. 2 all-time; Ofili is now no. 5.
In the women’s 400 m, Britton Wilson moved to no. 2 all-time and set an American Record of 49.48 for Arkansas. She crushed the prior U.S. record of 50.15 set earlier this year by Talitha Diggs (who finished third in 50.49).
Wilson then added a spectacular 49.20 anchor on Arkansas’ historic women’s 4×400 m win in 3:21.75, the fastest time in history! However, it won’t be a world record – that’s 3:23.37 for Russia from 2006 – because of multiple nationalities on the team: Amber Anning (GBR), 51.47; Joanne Reid (JAM), 50.52; Rosey Effiong (USA), 50.57; and Wilson (USA), 49.20. Wow!
Moore’s American Record triple jump win places her no. 5 on the all-time indoor list.
Texas Tech’s Terrence Jones (BAH) won the men’s 60 m in 6.46, equaling his season’s best and no. 2 on the 2023 year list. In the 200 m, Alabama’s Tarsis Orogot (UGA) won section two in 2020, earning second overall; he and Udodi Onwuzurike (NGR/Stanford) ran 20.17 in the heats to move to equal-third on the year list. Florida’s Ryan Willie (USA) won section two in the men’s 400 m in 44.93, now no. 2 for 2023.
Arkansas senior Carey McLeod (JAM) won the long jump at 8.40 m (27-6 3/4), with Cameron Crump (USA/Mississippi State) second at 8.39 m (27-6 1/2) and Jeremiah David (USA/Florida State) third at 8.37 m (27-5 1/2) to stand 2-3-4 on the 2023 list. Jaydon Hibbert (JAM/Arkansas) won the triple jump at 17.54 m (57-6 1/2), a collegiate indoor record and now no. 3 for the year. Garland’s 6,639 hep moves him to no. 2 all-time, just six points short of Ashton Eaton’s 6,645 world record from 2012!
Arkansas won both the men’s and women’s team titles, with the men outdistancing Georgia and Florida, 63-40-34, and the women winning, 64-60 over Texas, with Florida third at 45.
At the USA Track & Field Masters Indoor Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, Miami Dolphins star receiver Tyreek Hill, 29, won the men’s 25-29 60 meters in 6.70, easily the fastest time in the meet.
He won the final by 0.57 seconds over Dainen Bass (7.27), with the next-fastest time coming in the men’s 30-34 final by Chukwumereije Otuonye, who won in 6.95. Hill’s time ranks him equal-257th on the 2023 year list; his all-time indoor best is 6.64 from 2014. He has outdoor bests of 10.19 (2012) and 20.14 (2012).
● Badminton ● The BWF World Tour resumed after a month’s break, with Koreans shining at the German Open in Mulheim, advancing to the final in four of five events, and winning two.
Both were in doubles, with Sol Gyu Choi and Won Ho Kim (KOR) defeated countrymen Min Hyuk Kang and Seung Jae Seo, 21-19, 18-21, 21-19 in the men’s final and Ha Na Baek and So Hee Lee (KOR) taking the women’s final from Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida (JPN), 21-19, 21-15.
Hong Kong’s Ka Long Angus Ng won his second BWF World Tour title with a 20-22, 21-18 and 21-18 victory against Shi Feng Li (CHN) in men’s Singles and Japan’s top-seeded Akane Yamaguchi swept aside Se Young An (KOR), 21-11, 21-14.
China’s Yan Zhe Feng and Dong Ping Huang won the Mixed Doubles, 21-4, 21-15, over Won Ho Kim and Na Eun Jeong (KOR).
● Baseball ● The first pool has been completed in Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic, with the Tokyo pool close behind, with Cuba and Japan emerging as pool winners.
The Cubans overcame the loss of their first two games to the Netherlands and Italy and ended up winning Pool A after a 13-4 win over Panama and 7-1 over Chinese Taipei in Taichung. Their 2-2 record was the same for all five teams in the pool and the tiebreakers – head-to-head record and runs against quotients – put them at the top. Italy followed and the Dutch and Panama ended up 3-4 and eliminated, as was Chinese Taipei.
Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani continued to shine for Japan, which finished its group at 4-0, winning its games by 8-1 over China, 13-4 over South Korea, 10-2 over the Czechs and 7-1 against Australia. Ohtani was 2-4 (2 RBI) in the first game, then 2-3 (1 RBI) vs. Korea, 1-3 (1 RBI) vs. Czechia and 1-2 (4 RBI) with a three-run homer against Australia: that’s 6-12 with eight runs batted in!
Australia (3-1) clinched the other playoff spot from Pool B (their first ever) with an 8-3 win over the Czechs (1-3) on Monday. Korea (1-2) will finish the Tokyo group against China (0-3) later on Monday.
The U.S.-based groups started on Saturday, with the American team winning, 6-2, over Great Britain in Phoenix in Pool C, while Colombia had to go 10 innings to beat Mexico, 5-4. Canada routed the British, 18-8 on Sunday, and Mexico came back to shred the U.S., 11-5.
First baseman Joey Meneses slugged a first-inning, two-run homer off U.S. starter Nick Martinez and then a three-run shot in the fourth against Brady Singer to pile up a 7-1 lead. Left fielder Randy Arozarena and designated hitter Rowdy Tellez each had three hits and Mexico scored four in the eighth to level their record at 1-1. The U.S. (1-1) plays Canada (1-0) on Monday.
In Pool D in Miami, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Israel all won their openers, then Venezuela right fielder Anthony Santander hit a three-run homer in the first and catcher Salvador Perez hit another in the second and piled up a 7-0 lead on Puerto Rico on Sunday evening. The Puerto Ricans closed to 9-6, but couldn’t get any closer, giving Venezuela a 2-0 record and a head start on the quarters. Perez went 4-4. Nicaragua (0-1) will play the Dominican Republic (0-1) and Israel (1-0) will face Puerto Rico (1-1) on Monday.
Quarterfinals will begin on Wednesday (15th) in Tokyo for Pools A-B, and on Friday (17th) in Miami for Pools C-D.
● Biathlon ● The penultimate stop on the IBU World Cup tour was in Oestersund (SWE), where someone other than Norwegian star Johannes Thingnes Boe won for the first time since December.
Boe, on the verge of his fourth World Cup title, did not compete in Thursday’s 20 km Individual race, won by German Benedikt Doll, the 2017 Sprint World Champion, for his fourth career World Cup gold. With no misses on the range, he finished in 48:32.4, ahead of Tammaso Giacomel (ITA: 49:52.5/1) and Vetle Christiansen (NOR: 49:54.9/1). American Sean Doherty was 14th in 51:55.0 (2).
On Sunday, Christiansen won his fourth medal of the season, and got his first win in the 15 km Mass Start in 35:17.0 (0), trailed by teammate Johannes Dale (35:26.1/1) and France’s Eric Perrot (35:29.3/1). Doherty was 26th (37:29.0/3).
The women’s 15 km Individual race was the second win of the season (15th career) for Italy’s four-time Worlds gold winner Dorothea Wierer, leading an Italian 1-2 with Lisa Vittozzi second, 41:19.6 (0) to 41:45.1 (0). Beijing Olympic champ Denise Herrmann-Wick took third (42:58.4/1); Joanne Reid was the top U.S. finisher in 42nd (46:33.1/1).
Wierer swept on in Sunday’s 12.5 km Mass Start, winning in 31:58.5, followed by France’s Lou Jeanmonnot (32:04.8/0) and seasonal leader Julia Simon (32:09.6/1).
● Cross Country Skiing ● The famed, annual 50 km Freestyle Mass Start race at Oslo’s Holmenkollen was a Norwegian sweep in 2023, with two-time World Champion Simen Hegstad Krueger leading the way in 1:55:01.5, followed by 2019 50 km World Champion Hans Christer Holund ( 1:55.07.2) and Martin Nyenget (1:55:14.1).
In fact, the top 10 placers were all Norwegian! The top U.S. finishers were David Norris (17th: 1:58:03.5) and Scott Patterson (18th: 1:58:03.9).
Sunday’s women’s race was a comeback win for Norway’s Ragnhild Gloersen Haga, 32, the PyeongChang 2018 10 km Individual gold medalist, who won the 50 km Free in a final sprint in 2:13:36.1, followed by countrywoman Astrid Slind (2:13:36,4) and then the amazing Jessie Diggins of the U.S., in 2:13:36.6.
It was the first women’s World Cup 50 km race and with the third-place finish, Diggins moved up to second in the seasonal standings, 1,635 to 1,548 behind Norway’s Tiril Weng, with six races left in the season. Diggins won the seasonal title in 2020-21 and was second last season.
● Cycling ● Slovenian star (and two-time Tour de France winner) Tadej Pogacar, took control of the 81st Paris-Nice race and would not let go, forging a 12-second lead going into Sunday’s final, hilly stage that ended with a descent down the Col d’Eze into Nice.
Pogacar won the uphill-finishing fourth stage by a second over France’s David Gaudu, then won the major climbing stage of the race on Saturday, finishing up the Col de Couillole in another duel with Gaudu, winning by two seconds in 3:56:08 over 142.9 km.
He left no doubt on Sunday, attacking with 18 km left and winning the final stage by 33 seconds in 2:51:02 over Vingegaard and Gaudu. The final standings showed Pogacar winning by 53 seconds in 24:01:38 with Gaudu second and Vingegaard (+1:39) third. American Neilson Powless was sixth (+3:17) and Matteo Jorgenson was eighth (+3:19).
Meanwhile, at Italy’s 58th edition of the Tirreno-Adriatico, Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic, the three-time winner of the Vuelta a Espana, won three consecutive stages to take an 18-second lead into Sunday’s final stage ending in San Benedetto del Tronto.
Roglic took the hilly fourth stage in a sprint over Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), then won the uphill finish to Sassotetto in stage five in another sprint and sprinted home in stage six to Osimo, beating Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR) and Joao Almeida (POR) to the line.
Almeida entered Sunday 18 seconds back and Geoghegan Hart some 23 seconds behind, on a 154 km ride that started with five climbs and then a flat last half. That meant a huge sprint for the finish, won by Jesper Philipsen (BEL) in 3:32:36, with Dylan Groenewegen second, but no change in the overall standings.
Roglic (28:38:57), Almeida (+0:18) and Geoghegan Hart (+0:23) finished as they started; it’s Roglic’s second win in this race (also in 2019), but his best performance since his La Vuelta win in 2021.
● Fencing ● The Westend Grand Prix for Epee in Budapest (HUN) was the feature of this week’s schedule, with some fresh faces on the podium.
Italy’s Gabriele Cimini won the men’s competition with a 15-13 final score over Yonatan Cohen of Israel. Gaelan Billa (FRA) and Valerio Cuomo (ITA) shared the bronze. It’s Cimini’s first win in a Grand Prix or World Cup, and the first international medal ever for Cohen, 19.
Poland’s Renata Knapik-Miazga won the women’s gold, defeating Anna Kun (HUN), in the final, 11-10. Marie-Florence Candassamy (FRA) and Nelli Differt (EST) were the bronze medalists. It’s the first-ever Grand Prix medal for Knapik-Miazga; she had won four World Cup bronzes from 2010-20. Kun also claimed her first Grand Prix medal and her best finish ever in a major international competition.
● Freestyle Skiing ● The next-to-last Ski Cross World Cup was in Veysonnaz (SUI) on Sunday, after Saturday’s qualifying had to be canceled due to heavy snow.
For the first time this season, Sweden’s all-conquering Sandra Naeslund didn’t win, due to a knee injury that kept her out. So, six-time Worlds medalist Fanny Smith got the gold, followed by Jade Grillet Aubert (FRA) and Tiana Gairns (CAN); Aubert won her first medal this season and Garins won her first career World Cup medal.
In the men’s final, Swede David Mobaerg claimed his third win of the season (fourth career), getting to the line ahead of Japan’s Ryo Sugai (second silver of the season) and Canada’s Reece Howden, the seasonal leader. The World Cup tour will conclude next week.
● Gymnastics ● The third of four FIG Artistic Apparatus World Cups was in Baku (AZE), for the annual AGF Trophy meet.
Ukraine’s 2021 Worlds All-Around bronze medalist, Ilia Kovtun, the Parallel Bars winner in the first two events, won two medals on Saturday, but both were silvers. He was runner-up to Milan Karimi (KAZ) on Floor, 14.200 to 13.033, with American Riley Loos third (13.733).
Then Kovtun finished second on Parallel Bars to Floor (2019) and Vault (2021) World Champion Carlos Yulo (PHI), 15.400 to 14.366, with American Curran Phillips finishing fifth (14.500). Kovtun won all four Parallel Bars Apparatus World Cup in 2022, so his six-meet win streak was ended.
Home favorite Nikita Simonov (AZE) won on Rings, 14.633 to 14.500 over Mahdi Ahmad Kohani (IRI); Loos was eighth at 14.000.
On Sunday, Yulo won his second gold, this time on the Vault at 14.933, slightly better than Britain’s Harry Hepworth (14.816). Kazakhstan’s Nariman Kurbanov won on Pommel Horse for the second World Cup in a row (15.300), ahead of Ireland’s 2022 World Champion Rhys McClenaghan (13.933). On the Horizontal Bar, Israel’s Alexander Myakinin, the 2020 European bronze medalist, was the winner at 14.200, over Kazuki Matsumi (JPN: 14.033) and Croatia’s Tokyo 2020 silver winner, Tin Srbic (13.666). Phillips was fifth (13.133).
The women’s events included a third straight World Cup medal for 47-year-old Oksana Chusovitina (UZB) in the Vault, scoring 13.433 behind winner (and 2022 Worlds bronze medalist) Coline Devillard (FRA). China’s Qiyuan Qiu won the Uneven Bars at 14.700 over Giorgia Villa (ITA: 14.600).
Italy’s Villa won on Beam ahead of Marine Boyer (FRA), 13.966-13.866, but Boyer took the win on Floor, 12.833 to 12.800 for Arianna Belardelli (ITA).
● Modern Pentathlon ● The UIPM World Cup opener was in Cairo (EGY), with home star Ahmed Elgendy getting the men’s win in the final event.
Teammate Mohanad Shaban started the Laser Run with a 25-second lead on Hungary’s Csaba Bohm, with Elgendy third. But the battle for gold came down to Elgendy and Bohm, with the Egyptian star – the Tokyo silver medalist – coming through for a tight, 1,516 to 1,514 win. Elgendy finished in 10:07.90 after winning the swimming, but 12th in fencing and 10th in riding. Bohm finished in 10:12.90, third-fastest in the field, but not enough to win. Czech Martin Vlach had the fastest Laser Run (10:01.60) to move up to third.
Hungary’s Michelle Gulyas, the 2022 Worlds runner-up, also started behind on the Laser Run, but ended as a decisive winner. France’s Elodie Clouvel, the Rio 2016 silver medalist, had a 16-second lead going in, but Gulyas promptly took over and ended with the fourth-fastest time in the final event (11:52.80) while Clouvel faded to 13th (12:13.20), but held onto second. Gulyas finished at 1,403 points to 1,398 for Clouvel, and 1,392 for Salma Abdelmaksoud of Egypt.
The Mixed Relay saw Gintare Venckauskaite and Titas Puronas (LTU) start 25 seconds back in the Laser Run, but moved from fourth to first, passing Mexico, Egypt and Korea. Puronas left the final shooting stage first and managed to win (1,373 total), with Mexico’s Mariana Arceo and Manuel Padilla getting silver (1,364) and Haeun Jang and Soengjin Kim (KOR: 1,361) taking the bronze. The U.S. pair of Phaelen French and Tyler Evans finished eighth (1,023).
● Nordic Combined ● After sweeping the two individual events at the FIS World Championships, Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber kept the party going at the next-to-last World Cup of the season in Oslo.
On Saturday, he won the 134 m jumping and 10 km race in 23:40.4, ahead of Germany’s Julian Schmid (25:36.9) and seasonal leader Johannes Lamparter (AUT: 25:38.3). American Niclas Malacinski was 28th in 28:44.2.
Sunday’s 138 m/10 km event was another Riiber victory – his sixth of the season – in 22:45.7, with Germany’s Vinzenz Geiger second (24:18.4) and Schmid third (24:23.2). Lamparter was sixth, and Malacinski finished 35th (27:13.5).
The women’s 106 m/5 km competition turned out like all the others this season, with a win for Norway’s Gyda Westvold Hansen, in 13:42.3, trailed by teammate Ida Marie Hagen (14:29.1) and Japan’s Anju Nakamura (14:36.7). American Annika Malacinski (sister of Niclas) was 20th in 17:37.9.
Hansen won all 10 World Cup events and took the seasonal title with a perfect score of 1,000 points, to 589 for Nathalie Armbruster (GER) and 542 for Hagen. Wow.
● Shooting ● The ISSF World Cup for Shotgun in Doha (QAT) concluded with the Trap events.
Turkey’s Oguzhan Tuzun, 40, took the men’s title with a 33-30 win in the final over 2019 World Champion Matthew John Coward-Holley (GBR), with India’s Prithviraj Tondaiman third (20). It’s Tuzun’s fifth career World Cup victory, stretching back to 2004!
Australian Penny Smith, sixth at Tokyo in 2021, won her third individual World Cup gold, beating Slovak star Zuzana Rehak Stefecekova, 39, the Tokyo Olympic gold winner, 1-0 in a shoot-off, after a 28-28 tie. American Alicia Gough won the bronze (20).
The U.S. finished off the tournament with a 6-0 win in the Mixed Trap final, as William Hinton and Gough hit 27-30 targets to shut out Kuwait. The U.S. finished on top of the medal standings with six, including three golds, plus two silvers and a bronze.
● Ski Jumping ● The sixth Raw Air Tournament is on, starting in Oslo and then continuing to Lillehammer and Vikersund in Norway with 12 events across 10 days. The men’s finals in Oslo began with Slovenia’s three-time Worlds medal winner Anze Lanisek taking his fifth career World Cup win at 260.2 points, ahead of three-time World Champion Stefan Kraft (AUT: 254.4) and German Karl Geiger (253.5), the 2023 Worlds bronze medalist.
Kraft won on Sunday, scoring 266.1 to 257.8 for Lanisek and 257.7 for Poland’s Dawid Kubacki. The show moves to Lillehammer on Monday.
The women’s 134 m final on Saturday was the second win of the year for Austrian Chiara Kreuzer (260.1), beating Ema Klinec (SLO: 254.6) and Norway’s Anna Stroem (253.1).
Klinec got the win on Sunday – her first of the season, after seven silvers – scoring 238.2 to best Kreuzer (232.2) and Stroem (231.6).
● Snowboard ● The SnowCross season continued in Sierra Nevada (ESP), with home favorite Lucas Eguibar taking the first men’s final on Saturday, beating Italy’s Worlds bronze medalist Omar Visintin and teammate Lorenzo Sommariva to the line.
Swiss Kalle Koblet logged his first career World Cup win on Sunday, over Eguibar and Loan Bozzolo (ITA), who got his second career World Cup medal.
The women’s Saturday final saw Britain’s 2021 World Champion Charlotte Bankes get to the finish line first, ahead of France’s Beijing 2022 runner-up (and seasonal leader) Chloe Trespeuch and American star (and six-time World Champion) Lindsey Jacobellis, now 37. It’s the first World Cup medal of the season for Jacobellis, following up on her Worlds bronze earlier in the month.
Bankes and Trespeuch went 1-2 again on Sunday, this time with Manon Petit-Lenoir third, her first medal since December. Bankes now has the seasonal lead with three events remaining.
● Swimming ● At the New South Wales State Championships in Sydney (AUS), Olympic hero Kaylee McKeown set a world record in the women’s 200 m Backstroke, winning in 2:03.14.
That’s 0.21 faster than American Regan Smith’s swim (2:03.35) at the 2019 Worlds in Gwangju (KOR), and the first time ever that an Australian has held this record. McKeown, 21, won the 100 and 200 m Backstrokes in Tokyo and the 200 m Back at the 2022 World Championships.
She also won the 100 m Back in 57.84, the no. 10 performance in history; she’s the world-record holder already at 57.45 (2021). McKeown (4) and Smith (6) together own the top-10 times in history.
Sprinter Shayna Jack won the women’s 100 m Free in a world-leading 53.12, then won the 50 m Free in a world-leading 24.26, with Tokyo Olympic winner Emma McKeon second at 24.69 (fourth in 2023). McKeon won the women’s 100 m Fly in 57.07, no. 2 on the world list this year. Olympic and World Champion Ariarne Titmus won the women’s 400 m Free in 4:01.94, no. 4 in the world for 2023.
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