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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Paris 2024 settles judging tower issues, confirms Teahupo’o for surfing
2. WADA fines OCA on North Korea; Russia still non-compliant
3. Paris booksellers decry removal test of famed Seine River boxes
4. Latvia warms to use of Sigulda track for Sweden 2030 bid
5. Switzerland’s Eder elected as full-term FISU President
● The Paris 2024 organizing committee and the Tahitian government announced an agreement on the judging and scoring tower to be built for the 2024 Olympic Games, ending a long dispute. The original plan will be scaled back to essentially replace the existing wooden tower used for World Surf League event with an aluminum structure.
● The World Anti-Doping Agency announced a $500,000 fine against the Olympic Council of Asia for allowing the North Korean flag to appear at the Asian Games this year, in violation of WADA sanctions. And Russia is no closer to being considered compliant, with new issues being raised. And what about Russia’s “Friendship Games” in 2024? Trouble.
● A test removal of bookseller boxes from along the Seine River in Paris was successful and the city’s police will now consider which and how many of these boxes need to be removed for security purposes for the 2024 Olympic opening ceremony on the river. The booksellers, are, in a word, livid.
● Reports from Latvia indicate that the Sigulda sliding track for bob, luge and skeleton would be available for the Sweden bid for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games, since there is no such track in Sweden now. The IOC’s review process for the 2030 bids will begin this week.
● The International University Sports Federation (FISU) elected Swiss Leonz Eder as its new President, after Eder had served as Acting President in place of Russian Oleg Matytsin. The longtime Secretary General, Eric Saintrond, announced he will retire in 2025.
● World Championships: Football (France and Germany undefeated at FIFA men’s U-17 World Cup, while U.S. advances to knock-out round) ●
● Panorama: IOC (Miller receives de Coubertin medal) = Alpine Skiing (2: Feller leads Austrian men’s Slalom sweep; Zermatt-Cervinia women’s races canceled) = Archery (Wiljer, Horackova win GT Indoor Open) = Athletics (5: North Carolina State wins again, Oklahoma State takes men’s NCAA X-C title; Ngetich runs women-only world 10 km record; Kiplimo ties world 15 km road record; walks star Schwazer loses doping appeal; Jamaica’s Taylor suspended for avoiding testing) = Badminton (China puts five in finals, wins three at Japan Masters) = Bobsled & Skeleton (Germany sweeps bob & skeleton season opener) = Figure Skating (2: Japan’s Miura and Sakamoto take Grand Prix Espoo titles; Russian skaters now giving gifts to media!) = Football (2: U.S. and Panama in good shape in CONCACAF Nations League quarters; Poland Israel U-21s observe moment of silence for 7 October victims) = Speed Skating (U.S.’s Jackson dominates women’s sprints at Beijing World Cup) = Taekwondo (Iran, Korea, Brazil take World Cup Team Championships) = Tennis (Djokovic wins record seventh ATP Finals) ●
● Schedule: This is Thanksgiving Week in the U.S., so The Sports Examiner will appear on Wednesday and Friday. Happy holidays! ●
Paris 2024 settles judging tower issues, confirms Teahupo’o for surfing
The smoldering anger in Tahiti over the plans to build a 46-foot-tall aluminum tower for judging and scoring of the Paris 2024 surfing competitions appears to have been mollified by a downsizing of the project announced on Friday.
A 26-paragraph news release detailed the agreement between the Paris organizers and the Tahiti government to ditch the original project and essentially replace the existing wooden tower. The key areas of agreement:
● “The study of the different options concluded that it was not possible to certify the current wooden tower, even following renovation. The existing foundations could not be used in their current state. The wooden tower was created 20 years ago on the exceptional Teahupo’o site, and it has been of great value during competitions. … It is out of the question to expose anyone (workers, athletes, judges, journalists, etc.) to risks that could compromise their safety. “
● “[F]rom a legacy standpoint, the World Surf League has been using a Judges’ Tower for over 20 years. The construction of a tower compliant so safety standards is therefore necessary to enable competitions to take place at Teahupo’o in the long term.”
● “[T]he project for a new tower that is less imposing and substantially reduced in size and weight was judged to be the best option. This presents the advantage of being able to reduce the depth of drilling for the foundations of the tower and allow the use of a barge with a shallower draught during the construction phase.”
So, instead of the 46-foot tower with an undersea pipe for drinking and wastewater, a “leaner, smaller tower” will be built, more or less a direct replacement of the old wooden tower, but made with aluminum. The floor area will be reduced from 2,153 sq. ft. to 1,615 sq. ft., same as the old tower, reducing the weight from 30,865 lbs. to 19,842, the weight of the old tower and removing the undersea water transfer pipe.
In this way, the drilling and installations on the coral at the site will be minimized and studied showed that a new tower will be less invasive to built than to renovate the existing facility. The new tower will be certified for 10 years use.
The issue was a potential embarrassment for the Paris 2024 organizers and some discussion about moving the competition to a less desirable, but also less ecologically challenging area in Tahiti had taken place. But replacing the wooden tower with an updated, much more stable version appears to be a workable solution for the Games, for the government and for future competitions of the World Surf League and others.
WADA fines OCA on North Korea; Russia still non-compliant
A major breach of protocol via-s-vis World Anti-Doping Agency sanctions took place at the recent Asian Games in Hangzhou (CHN), where North Korea sent a large team for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, and was able to use its flag and other symbols without incident.
WADA has held the North Korean doping control system as non-compliant and the sanctions specifically dictate that its flag and national symbols were not to be used. So, on Friday, the WADA Foundation Board confirmed a new sanction against the Olympic Council of Asia, the actual owners of the Asian Games:
“The OCA will be required to pay a fine in the amount of USD 500,000.”
If the fine is not paid within 12 months, it will be doubled and OCA representatives will be ineligible to participate on WADA committees or boards.
The WADA Board also still has the Russian Anti-Doping Agency on its mind, as its national anti-doping legislation does not conform to the World Anti-Doping Code:
“WADA is monitoring the progress being made by RUSADA as it seeks to satisfy the conditions of reinstatement as laid out by the CAS decision. In the meantime, RUSADA remains non-compliant with the Code.
“Separately, a fresh critical non-conformity was identified related to inconsistencies between the federal Russian sports legislation and the Code. At its meeting on 22 September 2023, the ExCo accepted the CRC’s recommendation to impose on RUSADA new consequences and reinstatement conditions. On that date, WADA sent RUSADA a formal notice specifying the relevant consequences and reinstatement conditions. RUSADA subsequently disputed WADA’s allegation of non-compliance, as well as the consequences and reinstatement conditions. Accordingly, WADA has recently filed a formal notice of dispute with CAS.”
WADA General Counsel Ross Wenzel (GBR) also explained that there are added complications:
“One of the points [of restoration] says that RUSADA must be independent, but in order to make sure of this, an independent compliance commission must conduct an in-person audit by visiting the country. In the current geopolitical situation, an in-person visit is fraught with difficulties.”
WADA also raised issues with the 2024 World Friendship Games to be organized by Russia and held in Moscow, Yekaterinburg and possibly also in Belarus. As the Russian Anti-Doping Agency remains non-compliant, WADA Director General Olivier Niggli (SUI) noted:
“WADA has significant reservations about this [event] from an anti-doping perspective. We have no information about what kind of anti-doping program, if any, will be in place during that event or which body will be implementing such a program given RUSADA is still non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Under the Code an international event such as this should not be awarded to a country whose National Anti-Doping Organization is non-compliant so in that context, how can athletes have any confidence that they would be competing in a safe and fair environment?”
There are other national anti-doping agencies with Code problems, specifically in Tunisia, and “critical requirements” that are not being met by the anti-doping agencies in Nigeria and Venezuela. The sanctions are, once again, loss of flag privileges and a ban on hosting major competitions. The flag ban applies to Paris 2024. WADA also created “watchlist” conditions for The Bahamas and Cambodia, giving each four months to correct another disconnect between the Code and the national legal system.
Good news: the WADA budget was increased again at $54.49 million, continuing to rise as it undertakes more and more investigations and activities.
Observed: The North Korea situation is alarming, and the $500,000 fine is a yawner for the Olympic Council of Asia, which includes Gulf nations such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia as members, as well as China, India and Japan. Such a sanction will not scare host countries such as China – in which the 2023 Asian Games was held – from allowing further such demonstrations of WADA’s weakness if it suits their own political needs. As the WADA statement noted, “Despite repeated reminders from WADA before and during the Games, the OCA refused to comply.”
This is worrisome.
Paris booksellers decry removal test of famed Seine River boxes
The long-running battle between the Paris police and the famed Paris booksellers along the sides of the Seine River added a chapter on Friday as a test removal of four book stall “boxes” was made by a crane, which lifted them safely 10 feet in the air.
For Paris Deputy Mayor Pierre Rabadan, this was a key development:
“Today we are sure we can move – that is to say remove and then put back – boxes in good conditions in a reasonable time.”
The Paris police would like to remove 600 of the 900 seller’s boxes during the Olympic Opening Ceremony on the Seine next July for fear of being used for explosives, but have run into stiff opposition from the booksellers and some politicians.
Police chief Laurent Nunez said Friday that the boxes would “only be removed when strictly necessary, notably for security reasons. I am aware of the importance of bouquinistes as an attraction of the capital.”
Michel Bouetard, general secretary of the Cultural Association of Booksellers of Paris, was outraged:
“All this for a four-hour ceremony! The Olympic Games have achieved what the wars [World Wars I and II] have not been able to do: to make us disappear.”
Other booksellers were concerned that the boxes will not be returned for some time, if at all, and the question of the need to remove them has been raised by some politicians. The final decision on how many need to be moved and on what schedule is still to be finally determined.
Latvia warms to use of Sigulda track for Sweden 2030 bid
The expected approval of the world-class Sigulda track in Latvia for use in the Sweden 2030 Olympic Winter Games bid is in process, according to reports in Latvian media.
GamesBids.com noted comments from Sigulda County Council Chair Liga Sausina on Latvian Public Broadcasting:
“Already for 2026, as a candidate to become the venue for the Olympic Games, a plan was developed for the construction of a new residential block, the so-called Olympic Village, which in the future will provide space for both the development of the housing stock and the opening of a new preschool educational institution. Likewise, the adjacent road infrastructure development is already planned.”
The Stockholm bid for the 2026 Winter Games lost to Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo, but the Swedes are in the mix for 2030, with a spread-out bid that would include Sigulda since Sweden does not have a World Cup-class track for bobsled, luge and skeleton in the country. The International Olympic Committee’s desire to keep construction to a minimum for future Games therefore drives the need to look elsewhere, in this case across the Baltic Sea.
The terms under which the Sigulda track would be used were not revealed, but the track will require some upgrades, perhaps as much as €58 million (about $63.4 million U.S.), plus security and other expenses. A final approval will be required from the Latvian national government.
The Latvian approval is important as the 2030 bids from Sweden, Switzerland and France are expected to be discussed on Tuesday (21st) with the IOC’s Future Host Commission for the Winter Games. A recommendation for “targeted dialogue” could be made in advance of the IOC Executive Board meetings beginning on 29 November.
Switzerland’s Eder elected as full-term FISU President
Russian Oleg Matytsin was elected as President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. But after becoming the Russian Sports Minister in January 2020, his FISU position became untenable in view of the sanctions imposed on Russia by the World Anti-Doping Agency, as shortened by the Court on Arbitration for Sport.
So he stepped back from his FISU role in March 2021, with First Vice President Leonz Eder of Switzerland becoming the Acting President. But when the WADA sanctions were completed at the end of 2022, Russia was now in the midst of its invasion of Ukraine and Matytsin continued on the sidelines.
Now, Eder has come the FISU President in his own right, after the 38th General Assembly of 115 national federations unanimously confirmed him on Saturday for a full term from 2023-27.
Brazil’s Luciano Cabral was elected as First Vice President, confirming him in a role he had been serving on an acting basis. The U.S.’s Delise O’Meally, Secretary General of the U.S. International University Sports Foundation and the Vice President-International Relations for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee was re-elected as an Executive Board member.
The FISU board includes no one from Russia or Belarus.
FISU chief executive Eric Saintrond (BEL) also announced that he would retire in early 2025, after serving as Secretary General since November of 2007, notably helping to engineer the federation’s headquarters move from Brussels to Lausanne and nearly tripling the staff workforce.
The federation’s showcase event, the World University Games, is in good shape with hosts already selected for Torino 2025 (ITA: winter) and Rhine-Ruhr 2025 (GER: summer), followed by Chungcheong 2027 (KOR: summer) and North Carolina 2029 (USA: summer).
Observed: Despite the Russian issues, Eder maintained excellent continuity within FISU and the delayed Universiade in Chengdu (CHN) came off successfully in 2023. Now on his own, the continuing question of relevance will be raised, even with hosts sets through the end of the decade.
Because of its structure – using national university-sport federations – FISU has never been able to invite actual college teams to compete at the World University Games, although the US-IUSF has been able to field some teams with all-American rosters.
Imagine a University Games in North Carolina in which Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and others could take on Britain’s Oxford, Canada’s McGill University, China’s Fudan or The Sorbonne from France? A change in the rules would be needed, to allow teams in a specific country to included non-citizens of that country on the team, but it would increase the brand value of the University Games enormously, and create more synergies with national collegiate organizations, such as the NCAA in the U.S.
It’s a big step, but one which has enormous potential for FISU as it looks to the future.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Football ● The group stage has concluded at the FIFA men’s U-17 World Cup in Indonesia, with the Round of 16 elimination matches set to begin on Monday (20th). The group winners and runners-up:
● A: Morocco (2-1-0 W-L-T), Ecuador (1-0-2)
● B: Spain (2-0-1), Mali (2-1-0)
● C: England (2-1-0), Brazil (2-1-0)
● D: Argentina (2-1-0), Senegal (2-1-0)
● E: France (3-0-0), United States (2-1-0)
● F: Germany (3-0-0), Mexico (1-1-1)
Only France and Germany finished with perfect records; the French beat the U.S. on Saturday, 30, to clinch Group E. The match was 1-0 for France until late goals in the 82nd and 86th minutes made the final, 3-0.
In the elimination rounds, the upper bracket looks like this:
● France vs. Senegal and England vs. Uzbekistan
● Mali vs. Mexico and Morocco vs. Iran
The lower bracket:
● Ecuador vs. Brazil and Argentina vs. Venezuela
● Spain vs. Japan and Germany vs. United States
The quarters will be played on 24-25 November, the semis on 28 November and the championship match on 2 December.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● International Olympic Committee ● David Miller, the long-time British sports correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph, Daily Express and The Times, was awarded the IOC’s Pierre de Coubertin Medal for his service to the Olympic Movement as a journalist.
Miller, 88, received the award in London from retired IOC member Craig Reedie (GBR); IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) said in a statement, “Your writing ultimately served a higher purpose than to simply inform people of the latest scores and results. With your expert knowledge of the Olympic Movement, you always instinctively grasped the central idea of the Olympic mission: to unite the entire world in peaceful competition.”
“When becoming a journalist, as would-be Olympian when member of the British 1956 Melbourne football training squad, and retiring from competitive sport at 22, my motivation was inspired by those such as national heroes, kindly present today, David Hemery, record-breaking Olympic 400 hurdles champion at Mexico ’68, and David Bedford, a 10,000 metres world record-breaker. They exemplified competitors who strove to integrate both competitor participation and administrative competence, in all sports, at a time of widespread disunity, for the benefit of competitors helplessly divided in the 19th and 20th centuries by the contrived conflict between amateurs and professionals: a calculated class divide supported by the IOC until its belated abolition in 1987.
“The principles of Hemery, Bedford and others motivated my focus over six decades as successive correspondent with national newspapers on issues rather than events: on a level playing-field for competitors with adequate financial backing only belatedly achieved by the 21st century – rather than my mere event coverage of 25 Summer and Winter Olympics, 14 FIFA World Cup finals and dozens of world championships in more than 20 sports across more than a hundred countries.
“My search for fair play was as much racial as class-conscious, with long-standing assistance together with iconic performers such as Mal Whitfield, Kip Keino, Arthur Ashe and Daley Thompson, they prominent in parallel with those with whom my commentaries collaborated, such as Nelson Mandela, Zhengliang He of China and Andrew Young from Atlanta, a key Luther King collaborator.”
● Alpine Skiing ● After cancellations due to weather at Soelden and Zermatt-Cervinia, the men’s alpine season finally got going with the Slalom at Gurgl (AUT).
And the home team was rewarded with a sweep, possibly thanks to a protest by an environmental group that disturbed the second run with five racers remaining.
Austria’s Manuel Feller, the 2017 Worlds Slalom silver winner, took the lead on the first run by almost a second over Clement Noel (FRA), 53.22 to 54.16, with Austria’s Fabio Gstrein third (54.21).
On the second run, climate activists sprayed orange powder on the snow; they were removed, but the racing was stopped for eight minutes. The delay did not impact Austrian Marco Schwarz, the 2021 World Slalom champ, who raced from fifth to first on his second run, but the top four had trouble, placing 21st, 25th and 18th on the second run with one disqualified.
But even with the 18th-best second run, Feller won at 1:47.23 to 1:47.46 for Schwarz and 1:48.28 for Michael Matt for the Austrian sweep.
After a break next week, the men’s racing will be in the U.S., with Downhills and a Super-G at Beaver Creek in Colorado on 1-3 December.
Rough weather called off the women’s Downhill on the new Zermatt-to-Cervinia “Gran Becca” course, with high winds making the run too dangerous on both Saturday and Sunday. This was the second straight week that the conditions on this new course were too difficult. FIS Race Director Peter Gerdol (SLO) explained:
“We hoped that after 11:00 (CET) the weather or the wind would be less strong and acceptable. At the end we checked the course, particularly in the last one or two hours and the wind (had) decreased a little bit, but still not enough to have a safe race and, as we always say, the safety of the racers is the first priority and that’s why we had to cancel today. …
“There is a commitment to continue this but of course we will need to, in the next weeks or months to sit together, all the stakeholders, the organising committee, the two ski federations and FIS of course, and make all the proper analysis to what happened and then the decision is for the future.”
● Archery ● Dutch star Steve Wijler won his second straight World Archery Indoor World Series (18 m) victory at the GT Open at Strassen (LUX).
Already the winner of the Lausanne Excellence Challenge, Wijler – the 2017 Worlds bronze medalist – shut down Britain’s Tom Hall in the final, 6-0. Countryman Willem Bakker won the bronze medal with a 6-4 win over Jerome Bidault, the Lausanne runner-up.
In the women’s final, Czech Marie Horackova won with a 7-1 finals triumph over Denisa Barankova (SVK), the Lausanne Excellence Challenge winner. American Casey Kaufhold won the bronze in a 6-5 (10-9) shoot-out versus Randi Degn (DEN).
● Athletics ● One dynasty continued and one was stopped at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Earlysville, Virginia on Saturday.
Florida junior Parker Valby, runner-up last year and in great form all season, ran away with the individual race, leading by nine seconds after 2 km of the 6 km race and won going away in 18:55.2. That was more than 10 seconds up on Alabama frosh Doris Lemngole (KEN: 19:05.7) and Notre Dame senior Olivia Markezich (19:10.0). Defending champ Katelyn Tuohy of North Carolina State, apparently ill, still finished fifth (19:23.0) and led the Wolfpack charge to a third straight NCAA team title. But it was close.
North Carolina State finished 5-18-21-31-48 in the team scoring for 123, but men’s superpower North Arizona was right in the hunt, led by Canadian senior Gracelyn Larkin in 13th place (11th for team scoring purposes). The Lumberjacks had five in the top 44 – 11-13-15-41-44 – but that’s 124 points and they had to settle for second. Oklahoma State was third (156), with Notre Dame (237) fourth.
It’s the third straight title for N.C. State, but by far the closest.
The men’s team title was expected to be close, but it wasn’t. Northern Arizona came in having won three in a row and six of seven, but beat Oklahoma State on a tiebreaker a year ago. And the Cowboys had plenty of pedigree, having won in 2009-10-12.
As the teams dueled, Stanford’s Ky Robinson (AUS), 10th last year but the NCAA 5,000-10,000 m champ on the track in 2023 – was in the lead by the 8 km mark of the 10 km course. But he was passed by New Mexico frosh Habtom Samuel (ERI), with Harvard junior Graham Banks following closely, and then Banks pushed ahead with about 400 m to go and was a clear winner in 28:38.7 to 28:40.7 for Samuel. Robinson was third in 28:55.7 and then came Oklahoma State frosh Dennis Kiprotich (KEN) in fourth in 28:59.7, ahead of Northern Arizona’s Drew Bosley and Nico Young.
But the Cowboys put five in the top 15 (4-8-10-12-15) for 49 points to 71 for the Lumberjacks (5-6-18-20-22), with BYU third at 196 and Arkansas at 211. Banks moved up from sixth in 2022 and is the first Ivy Leaguer to win the NCAA X-C title.
Kenya’s Alice Ngetich thought she set a women’s-only world 10 km road record of 29:24 at the Brasov Running Festival in Romania on 10 September, but the mark was wiped out as the course was found to be short. Ngetich said she would come back in 2024 and try for the record again.
She won the Lille 10 km race on Saturday in 29:24, a women’s-only race world record and the third-fastest time in history, behind only Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) and her 29:14 in February 2022 and 29:19 in January 2023.
Ngetich, sixth at the Worlds 10,000 m this summer, won by 10 seconds over countrywoman Emmaculate Anyango (29:34).
Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo, the 2020 World Half Marathon champ, equaled the world road record for 15 km, winning the NN Zevenheuvelenloop in Nijmegen (NED) in 41:05 on Sunday. He won by 1:39 over countryman Rogers Kibet (42:44) and equaled the mark by Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei from 2018.
The long-running doping case against 2008 Olympic 50 km Walk gold medalist Alex Schwazer (ITA) appears to be over.
Schwazer said Friday that his appeal of an eight-year suspension for doping was turned down by the World Anti-Doping Agency, saying during an Italian reality TV show, “I’m really sorry, because I remain convinced that this decision is fundamentally wrong. It was not taken in a neutral way.”
Schwazer served a three-year, nine-month suspension for doping for erythropoietin (EPO) from July 2012 to April 2016, then was hit with an eight-year suspension for a second doping charge – for steroids – less than three months later in 2016. He has always maintained his innocence, but now will have to serve out his sanction, which will prevent him being able to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Jamaican sprinter Christopher Taylor, who won a Worlds men’s 4×400 m silver in 2022 and was sixth in the Olympic 400 m final for Tokyo 2020, has been suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit for 30 months from 16 November 2022 to 15 May 2025 for failing to comply with a doping sample collection procedure.
Taylor, now 24, has a best of 44.63 from 2022 and competed in the men’s 400 m at Tokyo and in Eugene at the 2022 World Championships.
● Badminton ● Pretty good performance for China at the BWF World Tour Japan Masters in Kumamoto (JPN), with finalists in all five events and three wins, all in Doubles!
And all three Doubles had all-China finals:
● Men: Ji Ting He and Xiang Yu Ren beat Yu Chen Liu and Xian Yi Ou, 21-14, 15-21, 21-15.
● Women: Shu Xian Zhang and Yu Zheng overcame Sheng Shu Liu and Ning Tan, 12-21, 21-12, 21-17.
● Mixed: Top-seeded Si Wei Zheng and Ya Qiong Huang beat third-seeds Yan Zhe Feng and Dong Ping Huang (CHN), 25-23, 21-9.
China’s Yu Qi Shi lost the men’s Singles final to top-seeded Viktor Axelsen, 22-20, 21-17, and Indonesia’s Gregoria Tunjung (INA), the no. 6 seed, upset third-seed Yu Fei Chen in the women’s final, 21-12, 21-12.
● Bobsled & Skeleton ● The 2023-24 IBSF World Cup opened in Yanqing (CHN), site of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic events, with Germany’s star back at the top of the podium.
Only the two-man and four-man events were held, with 2023 World Champion Johannes Lochner taking his 12th career two-man title in 1:58.64, with Georg Fleischhauer aboard, ahead of Olympic champ Francesco Friedrich (GER, with Alexander Schueller: 1:59.26), and Swiss Michael Vogt and Sandro Michel third (1:59.54).
Two races were held in the four-man, with Lochner sweeping both. He won on Saturday in 1:57.04, just ahead of Friedrich (1:57.31), with China’s Kaizhi Sun driving (1:57.44). On Sunday, it was Lochner winning in 1:56.61, winning over Italy’s Patrick Baumgartner (1:56.92) and Friedrich (1:56.93).
The women’s sleds did not race; they will join at the next stop, at La Plagne (FRA) on 9-10 December.
The men’s and women’s Skeleton racers were in Yanqing, with another German sweep. Christopher Grotheer, the Beijing Olympic gold medalist, won in 2:01.20, followed by China’s Wenhao Chen (2:01.63) and Wengang Yan (2:01.68). Four-time World Champion Tina Hermann took the women’s racing at 2:01.81, followed by China’s Zhao Dan (2:03.83) and Canada’s Worlds bronze medalist, Mirela Rahneva (2:03.99).
● Figure Skating ● Japan continued its march through the ISU Grand Prix in the men’s and women’s Singles, winning their fourth and fifth golds of the season at the Grand Prix Espoo in Finland.
World Champion Kaori Sakamoto won her second Grand Prix gold of the season with a dominant win in the women’s Singles, scoring 205.21 to 190.21 for teammate Rion Sumiyoshi. Sakamoto won both the Short Program and the Free Skate, with the most surprising performance coming from American Amber Glenn.
Only 11th after the Short Program, Glenn – 12th at the 2023 Worlds – flew up to second in the Free Skate with a lifetime best score of 133.78, and rose to take the bronze medal! Teammate Starr Andrews finished 10th at 155.42.
Kao Miura, 18, won his first Grand Prix gold – after three silvers – at 274.56, winning the Short Program and finishing second in the Free Skate. Teammate Shun Sato won the Free Skate and almost closed the gap from the Short Program, finishing second at 273.34. Americans Liam Kapeikis and Jimmy Ma were ninth (196.94) and 11th (191.26).
Reigning Ice Dance World Champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. won their second Grand Prix title of the season and sixth of their career, barely holding off Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen of Canada, 209.46 to 206.32. Chock and Bates won both the Short Program and the Free Skate, but it was close. Two more American pairs finished 4-5: Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko (188.76) and Emilea Zingas and Vadym Kolesnik (183.78).
Germany’s Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin won the Pairs, moving up from third after the Rhythm Dance by winning the Free Dance. Their score of 192.72 earned them their first Grand Prix gold, ahead of Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii (ITA: 188.60). Americans Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea were sixth at 152.16.
One more leg in the Grand Prix “regular season” in Osaka (JPN) for the NHK Trophy and then the Grand Prix Final on 7-10 December in Beijing (CHN).
In Russia, a new tradition of sorts has popped up: modest gifts for news media from the skaters!
According to the Russian news agency TASS:
“Recently, figure skaters have increasingly begun to pamper media representatives with small gifts. For example, at the Russian Grand Prix stage in Kazan, the winner of the tournament, Sofya Muravyova, gave all the journalists miniature hearts, hand-sewn by her mother. At the stage in Samara, Andrey Mozalev treated the journalists to chocolates, and the winner of the Samara stage, Ksenia Sinitsyna, gave the journalists ice cream.”
No, this is not a made-up story.
● Football ● The first legs of home-and-home match-ups in the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinals have been completed, with the U.S. and Panama in the best positions to advance to the semis. Results:
● U.S. 3, Trinidad & Tobago 0
● Panama 3, Costa Rica 0
● Honduras 2, Mexico 0
● Canada 2, Jamaica 1
The second legs will be played on Monday and Tuesday, with the U.S. at Trinidad & Tobago, and Panama hosting Costa Rica.
On Tuesday, Canada will host Jamaica and Mexico will be at home to face Honduras again. The quarterfinal winners will also advance to the 2024 Copa America.
The semis and finals will be played in March 2024.
Playing in a UEFA qualifying match, the U-21 teams from Israel and Poland stood in silence for the first minute of their game in Lodz (POL) on Friday, observing a moment of tribute for the victims of the 7 October attacks on Israel by Hamas.
UEFA had been requested to authorize a moment of silence, but did not do so, and the teams did so themselves. Poland won the game, 2-1.
● Speed Skating ● Four double winners highlighted the ISU World Cup II in Beijing (CHN), including U.S. sprint star Erin Jackson.
The Beijing 2022 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 500 m, Jackson won both sprints, beating teammate Kimi Goetz in the first race by 37.91 to 37.92, then dominating the second event in 37.54, with Min-sun Kim (KOR) second in 37.85; Goetz was fourth in 38.02.
In the men’s 500 m, Japan’s Wataru Morishige, the Beijing 2022 bronze medalist, swept both races, winning in 34.72 in the opening event, ahead of teammate Yuma Murakami (34.82), then stormed to a second win in 34.69, with 2021 World Champion Laurent Debreuil (CAN) second in 34.81 and Murakami third in 34.82.
The middle distance also had double winners, as Beijing 2022 Olympic 1,000 m champ Miho Takagi won the 1,500 m first in 1:55.52, with Goetz taking bronze (1:57.33) and former World Champion Brittany Bowe of the U.S. 10th (1:57.71). Takagi came back to win the 1,000 m over Goetz, 1:14.44 to 1:14.45, with Bowe sixth (1:15.95).
Dutch star Kjeld Nuis, a double winner in PyeongChang in 2018, took the 1,500 m in 1:44.80 over teammate (and six-time Worlds gold winner) Patrick Roest, who timed 1:45.86. Nuis won the 1,000 m on Sunday in 1:08.11, beating Norway’s 2018 Olympic 500 m gold winner Havard Lorentzen (1:08.99), finally back from injuries.
Roest came back to get the 5,000 m win in 6:11.40, finishing well ahead of Worlds 10,000 m champ Davide Ghiotto (ITA: 6:14.25). Italy’s Andrea Giovannini, the Worlds bronze medalist, took the Mass Start final in 7:39.52, ahead of Daniele Di Stefano (ITA: 7:39.91) and Olympic champ Bart Swings (BEL: 7:39.97).
The U.S. trio of Austin Kleba, Cooper Mcleod and Zach Stoppelmmoor scored a surprise win on the Team Sprint in 1:20.27, ahead of China (1:20.72).
The women’s distances saw Norway’s Ragne Wiklund, the reigning World Champion at 3,000 m, take that race in 4:03.41 over the ageless – and 21-time World Champion – Martina Sabilkova (CZE: 4:04.86); American Mia Kilburg-Manganello was 12th in 4:12.95. In the Mass Start, two-time World Champion Marijke Groenewoud (NED) won easily in 8:24.81, with Canada’s two-time World Champion Ivanie Blondin second (8:37.59) and Kilburg-Manganello fourth in 8:38.07.
Everyone is off for a week and the tour resumes on Stavanger (NOR) from 1-3 December.
● Taekwondo ● Iran, Korea and Brazil triumphed in the World Cup Team Championships Series titles in Goyang (KOR).
The defending champion Iranian men defeated Korea in the quarters, 2-1, then managed a 2-0 win over Korea and faced surprising Australia in the final, prevailing by 2-0. The Korean women beat China by 2-1 in their semi and then fought off Morocco, 2-0, in the final.
Brazil won in the Mixed Team final, 2-0, over Morocco.
● Tennis ● Superstar Novak Djokovic (SRB) suffered a shock loss to Italy’s Jannik Skinner in pool play at the ATP Finals in Turin (ITA), but fought back to get to the semis and then defeated Skinner, 6-3, 6-3, in the final for his record seventh ATP Finals title. Djokovic also clinched the year-end no. 1 ranking for the eighth time, another record.
In the Doubles final, defending champs Rajeev Ram (USA) and Joe Salisbury (GBR) came in seeded only sixth, but finished undefeated and beat Marcel Granollers (ESP) and Horacio Zeballos (ARG), 6–3, 6–4 for the championship.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!