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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Shiffrin second at Flachau, still at 82 World Cup wins
2. French government report echoes familiar Paris 2024 worries
3. All evening finals for track & field at Paris 2024
4. Modern Pent federation to roll out new obstacle format for juniors
5. Ledecky, Murphy, Manuel, Finke and more in Tyr Pro Swim
U.S. skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin was close, but finished second in the Slalom in Flachau, Austria on Tuesday, missing out on an 83rd women’s World Cup victory. She’s still tied with fellow American Lindsey Vonn at the halfway point of the season at 82. The French Court of Auditors told the national Parliament that worries continue over Paris 2024 security staffing, transport infrastructure and the budget, especially as 36.5% of the contingency fund has already been used. The track & field schedule for Paris 2024 has been released, with all evening finals this time, but no major changes in format. It is possible that hurdles superstar Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone could compete in the 400 m and 400 m hurdles with not more than one race per day, and there is even a path to four gold medals for her! The Modern Pentathlon federation announced the first competitions to include obstacle-course racing, but only for the U17, U19 and Junior World Championships in 2023, with no prior trial events scheduled so far. The courses will be 60-70 m in length, with eight obstacles included, although what they will be has not been announced yet. Lots of big swimming stars are lined up for the first major U.S. event of 2023, the Tyr Pro Swim Series in Knoxville, Tennessee. Of special interest will be the return of Rio 2016 co-women’s 100 m Freestyle gold medalist Simone Manuel, who skipped competition in 2022 altogether.
Shiffrin second at Flachau, still at 82 World Cup wins
Alpine skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin will have to wait a little longer to break the tie between her and fellow American Lindsey Vonn for the most career women’s World Cup wins (at 82), as Shiffrin finished second in the night Slalom at Flachau (AUT) on Tuesday.
Beijing 2022 Olympic Slalom gold medalist Petra Vlhova had the fastest first run at 55.90, with Shiffrin close behind at 56.07. Germany’s Lena Duerr authored the best second run at 55.94, with Vlhova close behind at 56.04 for a two-run total of 1:51.95.
Shiffrin tied with teammate Paula Moltzan for the fourth-fastest second run (56.31) and ended up at 1:52.38, just 0.43 behind. Duerr won the bronze at 1:52.80 and Moltzan was fifth at 1:54.10.
The women’s World Cup circuit now focuses on speed racing prior to the break for the FIS Alpine World Championships that starts on 6 February. Next up:
● 14-15 Jan.: Downhill & Super-G at St. Anton (AUT)
● 20-22 Jan.: Super-G (2) & Downhill at Cortina d’Ampezzo (ITA)
● 24 Jan.: Giant Slalom at Kronplatz (ITA)
● 28-29 Jan.: Giant Slalom & Slalom at Spindleruv Mlyn (CZE)
Shiffrin is no slouch in the speed events, with three career Downhill wins and five Super-G victories in her career, including a Super-G win this season at St. Moritz (SUI) on 18 December. She won a Super-G at Cortina in 2019.
Now at the halfway point of the season – 19 races out of 38 – Shiffrin has a 1,195-796 lead over Vlhova in the race for the overall World Cup title, with Shiffrin the defending champion and trying for a fifth career title.
French government report echoes familiar Paris 2024 worries
The French Court of Auditors presented a report to the Parliament on Tuesday, with 15 recommendations concerning the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, repeating concerns it has noted for some time.
Former French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, told reporters: “We’re asking that the global security plan is finalised in the first trimester of 2023 so the reinforcement by internal security forces can be planned. We also recommend that the transport plan be finalised site by site.”
The report insisted on attention to “stabilizing private security needs and establishing alternative measures to remedy its probable shortcomings,” a concern long expressed. Moscovici added, “It’s doable but what the Court wants to say is that it is high time to get into the operational phase. It’s not too late but it’s tense.”
And on transport, the report pointed out: “Several infrastructure operations [in the Ile-de-France region] … present major risks due to already tight schedules with no real room for maneuver. If they were not completed for the Games, the result would be an unsustainable tension on the heavily used lines, with the associated risks of incidents and congestion for daily users.”
On the organizing committee front, the report worried:
“At the beginning of November 2022, only eleven of the 80 planned user agreements had been signed. … These successive delays now expose the committee to a proven risk, due to the resulting chain consequences on the preparation of the Games and, in particular, for the conclusion of the negotiations on the outsourced model of delivery of the Games.”
And concern continues on spending, with the Paris 2024 organizers under pressure from inflation and supply-chain issues. The report noted “substantial uncertainties about the final balance of the [Paris 2024] budget” and warned about having spent €115 million from the contingency of €315 million (36.5%); essentially “deferring savings measures likely to be taken later.”
All evening finals for track & field at Paris 2024
The track & field schedule for Paris 2024 was released on Monday, with a change from recent Games in that all of the in-stadium finals will take place in the evenings.
Thanks to a more favorable time zone for European and American broadcasters, no more morning-session finals to allow prime-time viewing on those continents. Instead, finals at the Stade de France will be held in session starting between 6:05 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. local time, or 12:05 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.
The road events will all be held in the mornings, with the walks at 7:30 in the morning and marathons on the last two days (10-11 August) at 8 a.m.
World Athletics noted in the schedule release:
● “Athletes looking to double up in the 100m & 200m, 800m & 1500m, 1500m & 5000m, or 5000m & 10,000m will be able to do so, without having to compete in more than one discipline on any given day.”
● “As announced last year, a repechage round in all individual track events from 200m to 1500m in distance, including the hurdles events, will be introduced at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. In the new repechage format, athletes who do not qualify by place in round one heats of the 200m to 1500m will have a second chance to qualify for the semifinals by participating in repechage heats.”
The schedule maintains the usual rhythm of events, with the 100 m finals on day two (women) and day three (men), with the 200 m heats starting the day after. The Mixed 4×400 m is on days 1-2, with the 4×100 m and men’s and women’s 4×400 m on the final days. The distance races have the men’s 10,000 m and women’s 5,000 m early, the Steeplechase finals in the middle and the women’s 10,000 m and men’s 5,000 m at the end of the program.
The decathlon will be on the first two stadium days (Friday and Saturday) and the heptathlon on the final Thursday and Friday of the Games.
The morning sessions generally run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.
An interesting possibility for women’s 400 m hurdles superstar Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone of the U.S. is available as well: she could run both the 400 m and 400 m hurdles and not have more than one race per day. The events run concurrently, with the 400 m hurdles rounds on the 4th-6th-8th and the 400 m flat rounds on the 5th-7th-9th. The final of the 4×400 m relay is on the 10th; might she be interested – or be allowed – to run in the Mixed 4×400 m final on the 3rd, in a possible attempt for four golds in a single Games?
Modern Pent federation to roll out new obstacle format for juniors
The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) announced its first competitions to include the UIPM Congress-approved obstacle course events to replace riding, to take place later in 2023:
● 12-16 Jul.: World U17 Championships in Alexandria (EGY)
● 26-30 Jul.: World U19 Championships in Istanbul (TUR)
● 12-17 Sep.: World Junior Championships in Druskininkai (LTU)
Oddly, no events prior to these junior-level championships have been announced for young pentathletes to get acclimated to the new event. There are no obstacle-included competitions at all for senior athletes, who will be qualifying for Paris 2024, in which riding will continue to be included.
Modern pentathlon is not on the initial sports program for Los Angeles 2028 and the federation is hoping that a change from riding to obstacle will make the sport more appealing. It has had the lowest interest and impact of any sport on the program, according to the International Olympic Committee’s data report from prior Games.
The announcement also clarified the order of events: Fencing first, followed by Obstacle, Swimming and Laser Run. Competition guidelines were also produced, with actual competition rules not expected to be approved until 2024. Riding had been the third event, after fencing and swimming, another change in the event format.
The guidelines specify obstacle courses of 60-70 m in length, with eight obstacles; six to be fixed in the rules and two to be selected by the local organizers from a list of approved options (yet to be published). Failure of a second try at an obstacle means disqualification.
The points table shows scoring for times of 20.0 seconds (340 points) up to 190 seconds (3:10.0) and above, worth zero.
Ledecky, Murphy, Manuel, Finke and more in Tyr Pro Swim
The first major U.S. swim meet of 2023 starts on Wednesday with the first Tyr Pro Swim Series event in Knoxville, Tennessee, with a number of big-name stars on the entry lists.
Perhaps most interesting is Simone Manuel, 26, the Rio 2016 co-gold medalist in the 100 m Free, who dropped out of competition after a disappointing 2021 in which she failed to make the U.S. team in the 100 m Free, but did in the 50 m Free. Overtraining syndrome was the apparent cause and Manuel moved to Arizona to train with Arizona State coach Bob Bowman and this will be her first time in competition since. She’s entered in the 50-100 m Frees, plus the 50 m Backstroke and 100 m Butterfly.
Then there is Freestyle distance superstar Katie Ledecky, who has produced some amazing January times in past seasons, entered in the 200-400-1,500 m Frees and the 400 m Medley.
Regan Smith, the 2019 200 m Back World Champion and 2022 100 m Back Worlds winner is also training at Arizona State, and will skip those events in favor of a huge program: 100-200-400 m Frees, 50 m Back, 100 m Fly and 200 m Medley.
Bobby Finke, the Tokyo Olympic 800-1,500 m gold medalist, will contest the 400-800-1,500 m frees and the 400 m Medley, and will face surprise Tokyo Olympic 400 m Free winner Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia in the Freestyle events. Backstroke star Ryan Murphy, fresh off World 25 m Champs wins in the 50-100-200 m Backstrokes, is in the 100-200 m Back events.
The meet will not be shown live on television; U.S. Swimming will have a live stream of finals on Wednesday and Saturday, and NBC’s Peacock streaming service will show Thursday and Friday finals. CNBC will have a highlights package on Saturday (14th) at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern and NBC will show highlights at 3 p.m. on Sunday (15th).
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Deaflympics ● No result is – apparently – ever really final.
At the 2005 Deaflympics in Melbourne (AUS), Russians Rushan Dayanov and Stanislav Ivanov won the men’s beach volleyball title. But in September, an anonymous letter sent to the International Committee for Sports for the Deaf insisted that Dayanov can actually hear and the pair should be retroactively disqualified.
Ivanov is the current head of the All-Russian society of the Deaf and there is speculation that the move is really aimed at Ivanov, in order to deprive him of his 2005 beach gold. The accusation was made on the All-Russian Television for the Deaf by former (2013-18) ICSD President Valery Rukhledev (RUS), both of whom are now being sued for slander by Dayanov.
At stake is more than a gold medal from 18 years ago; in another demonstration of the importance which Russia has always placed on international sports success, Dayanov receives a pension from the Russian government for the victory in Melbourne, which would be taken away if the accusation was true.
● Modern Pentathlon ● Sad news from Hackettstown, New Jersey, of the death of Jeanne (Picariello) Murphy, 70, on Sunday morning from a hit-and-run driver who was later arrested.
A retired U.S. Army colonel, she was married to Centenary University President Bruce Murphy and the school noted in an announcement:
“During her 30-year career in the military, Mrs. Murphy served with distinction in many leadership roles. She was a member of the United States Olympic Committee Board of Directors and chaired the USOC Multi-Sport Organizations Council for 10 years. For the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, she was designated Chef de Mission for the U.S. Paralympic Team. A former competitive runner and swimmer, Mrs. Murphy was the first woman ever selected to the U.S. Modern Pentathlon Team in 1975.”
Picariello Murphy was a member of the U.S. national team from 1975-78 and was a U.S. Army nurse for 10 years. She later served as chief of health promotion for the U.S. Southern Command in Panama and spearheaded Army health, wellness and support programs in Germany, Virginia, in the Pentagon and at the Army War College. During and after the Gulf War, she worked with combat troops in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. In 2005, she worked with the American Red Cross in Gulfport, Mississippi, during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
A tragedy for a true pioneer.
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