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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. World records: Crouser reaches 76-8 1/2; Bol storms to 49.26!
2. Unbelievable women’s finish highlights World Cross Country
3. World best for Price, American Record for Hobbs at USATF Indoor
4. Shiffrin ends Alpine Worlds with silver; Odermatt wins second gold
5. Does the Olympics have an impact on the NBA? Yes!
Shot put superstar Ryan Crouser of the U.S. stunned everyone – including himself – with a world record throw of 23.38 m (76-8 1/2) in a special competition at the high school all-star meet Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho on Saturday. He continues to go where no one has gone before in this event. At the Netherlands national championships on Sunday, Dutch star Femke Bol won the women’s 400 m in a world record of 49.26, breaking a 35-year-old mark! In Australia, the World Cross Country Championships saw favored Ethiopian star Letsenbet Gidey look like a sure winner in the women’s 10 km race until she collapsed in the final meters and was passed by Kenyan Beatrice Chebet for the win! Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo had no late-stage difficulties and won by nine seconds; Kenya won both the men’s and women’s team titles. At the USATF Indoor Nationals in Albuquerque, New Mexico, American Records were set in the women’s 60 m (Aleia Hobbs), weight (DeAnna Price) and pentathlon (Anna Hall) with Price setting a world best twice! World-leading marks were set in five events; women’s high jumper Vashti Cunningham won her seventh indoor national title. In France, the FIS Alpine Worlds concluded with American star Mikaela Shiffrin won a silver medal in the women’s Slalom, men’s World Cup seasonal leader Marco Odermatt of Switzerland won the Giant Slalom and Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen won the Slalom. For those who question whether the Olympic experience means anything to NBA players, ESPN senior writer Brian Windhorst said last week that the formation of NBA “super teams” begin with Team USA.
● World Championships: Biathlon = Freestyle Skiing & Snowboard ●
● Panorama: Commonwealth Games (Hamilton appears out for 2030) = Athletics (2: Coe says Russian re-entry starts with doping; Norman headed for 100 m) = Basketball (Griner signs with Mercury) = Bobsled & Skeleton (Humphries wins season Monobob title) = Cycling (BMX Freestyle World Cup) = Freestyle Skiing (Naeslund still unbeaten) = Football (2: Women’s World Cup play-in finals set; U.S. wins in SheBelieves Cup) = Gymnastics (Trampoline World Cup) = Judo (Tel Aviv Grand Slam) = Luge (German World Cup sweep) = Ski Jumping (more Pinkelnig medals) = Ski Mountaineering (World Cup) = Speed Skating (U.S.’s Stolz and Goetz win World Cup medals) ●
World records: Crouser reaches 76-8 1/2; Bol storms to 49.26!
Olympic and World Champion Ryan Crouser said earlier this year that he had been working on a tweak to his spin technique – the “Crouser Glide” – that added an extra step to allow him to generate more power.
Imagine what he will do when he perfects that.
On Saturday, in a special competition at the 43rd Simplot Games, an enormous high school all-star indoor meet held at the Holt Arena at Idaho State in Pocatello, Crouser stepped into the ring and – using no wind-up – blasted the shot out to 23.38 m or 76-8 1/2, a centimeter further than the 23.37 m (76-8 1/4) world record he reached at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2021.
Wow! Crouser skipped the USATF Nationals in Albuquerque to return to Pocatello, where he set the national high school indoor mark of 77-2 3/4 with the 12-lb. shot in 2011. Said Crouser after the world record:
“It reminded me of 2011, when I was a little bit shorter and a lot skinner. I was having flashbacks – there was a lot of noise.
“It’s fantastic to be back at such a fantastic meet. Professional meets don’t have an atmosphere like this. The high school athletes have such a passion for the sport, and Pocatello cares so much about the event. It’s an atmosphere that is unmatched anywhere in the world.”
Crouser’s grip on the event is astonishing. Only three other men have reached 23.00 m (75-5 1/2) in history, but there’s no comparison in the number of times:
● 9: Ryan Crouser (USA: 2021-23)
● 2: Randy Barnes (USA: 1990)
● 1: Ulf Timmermann (GDR: 1988)
● 1: Joe Kovacs (USA: 2022)
Crouser now owns six of the top 10 throws of all time. Saturday’s mark – assuming no hiccups in ratification – will be the absolute world record, as World Athletics allows indoor marks in events such as the shot, where there is little (if any) difference in conditions.
On Sunday, Dutch star Femke Bol broke an ancient world mark in the women’s 400 m, winning the Dutch indoor nations in Apeldoorn (NED) by more than a second (!) in 49.26!
That crushed Czech Jarmila Kratchvilova’s mark of 49.59 set in 1982 and is the fastest Bol has ever run, indoors or out; her outdoor best – from winning the 2022 European Championships – is 49.44. Second went to her training partner, Lieke Klaver in 50.34.
Bol’s 49.26 would rank her equal-22nd on the all-time outdoor list and is as fast as Allyson Felix ever ran; Bol is still just 22. She started her season with a world best for 500 m in 1:05.63 on Boston on 4 February, and now this. She said afterwards:
“I was hoping for a 49.5 here, but 49.26? I really have no words for this. It is my first world record at a real distance. Could it be even faster? This was almost a perfect race.”
Unbelievable women’s finish highlights World Cross Country
Held for the first time since 2019, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, Saturday’s World Athletics Cross Country Championships was held in hot conditions and under threat of heavy weather in Bathurst, Australia, but the races got in, and were impressive.
The women’s 10 km race started in 95-degree (F) heats and saw favored Ethiopian star Letsenbet Gidey – the world-record holder in the 5,000 m-10,000 m and Half Marathon – in control on the fifth and final lap. She looked like a sure winner, but less than 100 m from the finish, she was passed by Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet and collapsed on the course.
Chebet, the World Junior Cross Country champ in 2019 and Worlds 5,000 m silver medalist in 2022 in Eugene, sprinted to the line and won in 33:48, trailed by Tsigie Gebreselama (ETH: 33:56) and Agnes Ngetich (KEN: 34:00). Gidey was disqualified after an Ethiopian supporter ran onto the course and helped her up; she did trot across the line.
Kenyan and Ethiopian runners took the first nine places, and Kenya won the team title with 16 points to 25 for Ethiopia and 41 for Uganda. Either Kenya or Ethiopia have won the last 14 women’s Worlds team race. The U.S. finished fifth (103), with Ednah Kurgat the top finisher in 18th (35:36), followed by Weini Kelati in 21st (35:48).
The men’s 10 km race was more straightforward, although a storm came in and lowered the temps to 73 degrees (F), but with considerable wind. Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo, the 2019 Worlds Cross Country runner-up, took the lead on the fourth lap and was never headed, winning by nine seconds in 29:17 over Ethiopia’s Tokyo 10,000 m fourth-placer Berihu Aregawi (29:26), with 2019 World Cross Country Champion Joshua Cheptegei (UGA: 29:37) third and Kenya’s two-time World Cross champ Geoffrey Kamworor fourth (also 29:37).
Kenya won the team title with 22 points, to 33 for Ethiopia and 37 for defending champ Uganda. The U.S. was sixth, led by Sam Chelanga in 21st (31:04), then Emmanuel Bor (32nd: 31:37) and Andrew Colley (36th: 31:44). Kenya, the dominant force in this event, winning all but twice from 1986 to 2011, won for the first time in 12 years.
The men’s 8 km U20 race was won by Kenya’s Ishmael Kipkirui in 24:29 and Kenya won a tight team battle with Ethiopia, 22-23. The U.S. men were third (81), led by Emilio Young in 16th, Marco Langon in 19th and Max Sannes in 21st, the first U.S. junior men’s medal since 1982!
The women’s 6 km U20 event went to Ethiopia’s Senayet Getachew (20:53), which also won the team title with 15 points to 22 for Kenya. The U.S. women were third (54) – the first-ever women’s team medal in the Juniors race – with Ellia Shea (10th), Irene Riggs (12th), Karrie Baloga (19th) and Zariel Macchia (19th) all in the top 20.
Kenya won the 8 km Mixed Relay in 23:14, with Ethiopia second (23:21), Australia third (23:26) and the U.S. in fifth (24:32).
World best for Price, American Record for Hobbs at USATF Indoor
It turns out that Anna Hall’s American Record in the women’s pentathlon on Thursday was just the start of the record-setting at the USATF Indoor National Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico that ended Saturday. Friday saw a world best in the women’s Weight from DeAnna Price and the final day had a near-world record from women’s sprint star Aleia Hobbs in the 60 m among five events with world-leading marks:
● Men/Weight: 25.44 m (83-5), Daniel Haugh
● Women/60 m: 6.94, Aleia Hobbs ~ American Record
● Women/Long Jump: 6.99 m (22-11 1/2), Tara Davis Woodhall
● Women/Weight: 26.02 m (85-4 1/2), DeAnna Price ~ World Best
● Women/Pentathlon: 5,004, Anna Hall ~ American Record
Price appears to be fully recovered from a broken ankle in 2021, smashing the 25.60 m (84-0) world best by Americans Gwen Berry in 2017 and Jeaneah Stewart on 20 January this year on her third throw of 25.77 m (84-6 3/4). Then she exploded in the fifth round, getting out to 26.02 m (85 4 1/2) to claim the top two throws in history. Brooke Andersen, the 2022 World Champion in the hammer, finished second at 24.97 m (81-11 1/4).
Running in the thin air in Albuquerque, Hobbs continued her undefeated season, winning her heat in 7.02, then taking charge of the final by 20 m and winning by daylight in 6.94, just 0.02 from Russian Irina Privalova’s world marks, set in 1993 and 1995. Hobbs is now no. 2 all-time, with the equal-fourth performance (Privalova has all the others), and get an American Record, eclipsing Gail Devers’ 6.95 from 1993 and Marion Jones from 1998.
Haugh’s win in the weight moved him to no. 4 on the all-time list and no. 3 on the all-time U.S. list. Davis Woodhall’s long jump mark is her fourth-farthest-ever and moved her to equal-19th all-time indoors and the no. 4 American.
There were other shining marks, notably Vashti Cunningham’s 2.00 m (6-6 3/4) win in the women’s high jump, her best in two seasons and her fifth career meet at 2.00 m or higher. It was her seventh U.S. national indoor title.
In the men’s sprints, J.T. Smith won the 60 m in 6.53 to move to no. 8 on the 2023 world list, after Noah Lyles dropped out with a minor leg hurt. Justin Robinson and Noah Williams went 1-2 in the 400 m; Robinson ran 45.40 in the final and Williams won his heat in 45.42 for nos. 3-4 in the world this season. Bryce Hoppel had to come from behind to take the 800 m over Isaiah Harris, 1:45.92-1:46.42 to defend his 2022 national indoor title.
Josh Thompson appeared to win the men’s 1,500 around the last turn in 3:42.31, but was disqualified for a modest foul on Henry Wynne in the final 70 m, giving the win to Sam Prakel in 3:42.62, with Wynne second (3:42.90). Prakel won the 3,000 m the day before in 8:12.46. Freddie Crittenden and Robert Dunning came to the line together in the 60 m hurdles final, with Crittenden called the winner by 7.485 to 7.489 (7.49 officially), both now no. 4 in the world for 2023.
Shelby McEwen won the men’s high jump at 2.24 m (7-4 1/4) and Sam Kendricks, back from injury, won the men’s vault at 5.91 m (19-4 3/4) for his fourth national indoor title, moving to equal-2nd on the world list. Will Williams won the long jump (8.20 m/26-11) and Donald Scott took the triple jump at 16.96 m (55-7 3/4). Joe Kovacs came from behind to win his first USATF Indoor title at 21.55 m (70-8 1/2; no. 4 in the world for 2023) to squeeze by Jordan Geist (21.36 m/70-1).
One of the really stunning races on Saturday was the women’s 400 m final, where Hall – a day removed from nearly setting the world record in the pentathlon – got to the lead and won in 51.03, moving to no. 9 in the world for 2023. Amazing.
Unheralded Nia Akins won her first U.S. title in the women’s 800 m, sneaking through on the inside to win in 2:00.16 (no. 5 in 2023) ahead of surging Allie Wilson (2:00.33, no. 8). Nikki Hiltz won a tight finish in the 1,500 m from Sage Hurta-Klecker, 4:17.10 to 4:17.26, and Valerie Constien took the 3,000 m in 8:48.29.
Alaysha Johnson won her first U.S. crown, winning the 60 m hurdles in 7.83, just ahead of Tonea Marshall (7.85). It took Olympic and World Champion Katie Moon only five jumps to win the vault at 4.80 m (15-9), and Keturah Orji won her third American indoor title at 14.31 m (46-11 1/2). World Champion Chase Ealey took her third U.S. title in the shot at 19.87 m (65-2 1/4).
In all, there were 11 first-time U.S. champs in the meet. Prize money was available for the top five placers: $6,000-4,000-2,500-1,500-1,000.
Shiffrin ends Alpine Worlds with silver;
Odermatt wins second gold
Canada pulled yet another upset at the FIS Alpine World Championships in France and it cost American star Mikaela Shiffrin a gold medal in the women’s Slalom on Saturday.
Shiffrin, who has won more Slalom World Cup races than anyone in history, led after the first run in 52.54 on the course in Meribel, ahead of Switzerland’s two-time Worlds Combined gold medalist Wendy Holdener (52.73) and Canadian Laurence St-Germain (53.15), who had never won a medal in a World Cup race.
On the second run, German Lena Duerr had the lead at 1:43.84, with St-Germain up next and she did not let her opportunity got to waste. She whisked through the second-run course in 50.00, sixth-best on the day to that point and finished in 1:43.15. Holdener made an error and skied out, disqualified, leaving only Shiffrin.
The American star was not as sharp on the second run and finished in 51.18, only 29th best in the field and ended up at 1:43.72, with the silver medal. Duerr took the bronze.
Shiffrin ended the Worlds with a gold in the Giant Slalom and silvers in the Super-G and Slalom and a missed opportunity for gold in the Combined. Along the way, she dismissed her long-time coach, Mike Day, who left immediately rather than wait for the end of the season.
In all, Shiffrin now has 14 career World Championships medals (7-4-3), now no. 2 all-time and only one behind German Christl Cranz (12-3-0), who skied during the Nazi period from 1934-39.
St-Germain was Canada’s second Worlds winner, along with men’s Super-G champ James Crawford, who has never won a World Cup race in his career.
The men’s Giant Slalom last Friday had a familiar winner: seasonal leader Marco Odermatt (SUI), who previously won the Downhill. Second after the first run, Odermatt ranked fifth on the second run, but it lifted him to victory as first-run leader Marco Schwarz (AUT) had the 18th-fastest second run. Odermatt ended up at 2:34.08 to 2:34.40 for fellow Swiss Loic Meillard, with Schwarz – the Combined silver winner – holding on to third at 2:34.48.
River Radamus was the top American, in 12th (2:36.68), followed by Brian McLaughlin in 20th (2:38.64).
Sunday’s men’s Slalom finale at Courchevel had more twists and turns. Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, a 30-time winner on the World Cup tour and the 2021 bronze medalist in the Slalom, was in 16th place after the first run, but flew through the second with the fastest time on the course to win in 1:39.50, his second Worlds gold after the Giant Slalom in 2019. Former U.S. skier A.J. Ginnis, who changed his affiliation to Greece in 2021 after being left off the U.S. team, won the silver – the first Alpine Worlds medal for Greece – in 1:39.70, ahead of Alex Vinatzer (ITA: 1:39.88).
Luke Winters was the top American, in 30th (1:42.89).
Norway won the most medals overall, with nine (2-3-4), although the Swiss led in golds, with three, and seven medals overall (3-3-1), tied with Austria (0-3-4). The U.S. got three medals from Shiffrin and the Team Parallel gold for four total (2-2-0).
Does the Olympics have an impact on the NBA? Yes!
If you thought that the Olympics or FIBA World Cup has little to no impact on the NBA, think again.
During last Thursday’s ESPN talk show, “Pardon the Interruption”, host Tony Kornheiser asked ESPN NBA Senior Writer Brian Windhorst about why superstar Kevin Durant wanted to go to play with the Phoenix Suns. Said Windhorst:
“The genesis of all super teams, Tony, is pretty much Team USA.
“The relationship that Kevin Durant has with Devin Booker, which is something he was attracted to, especially as things fell apart in Brooklyn, was where this came from. Especially in Tokyo, when those guys got together a couple of years ago [at the Olympic Games].
“It wasn’t quite the [2020 NBA] Orlando bubble that they had. I mean, we had vaccines at that point, there was a little more confidence, but in Japan, they had a complete lockdown. I was there, and so those teams pretty much were in the hotel or the gym. And, definitely, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant bonded there. They were key members of that team.
“Durant was heroic in carrying that team to the gold medal. It was a real accomplishment. Booker came right out of the [NBA] Finals and to be able to pivot to that and get that gold medal; he played well later in the Olympics, and they kept in touch.
“And I believe they even worked out with each other last summer. And so, I think when Durant looked for something that was not Brooklyn, and also it helped that there was a brand new owner that, frankly, was willing to pay more than the old owner was in terms of trade value, it sort of aligned itself. And we’ll see whether this marriage … actually works this time, instead of the Kyrie [Irving] experience.”
Relationships count and gold-medal relationships appear to count for a lot.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Biathlon ● The IBU World Championships in Oberhof (GER) concluded on Sunday, with Sweden sweeping the Mass Start races and dealing Norwegian superstar Johannes Thingnes Boe his first individual loss in these championships.
Boe had won the Sprint, Pursuit and Individual races, but it was Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson – third in the Pursuit and Individual races – who won the 15 km men’s Mass Start in 36:42.8, with no penalties.
That was crucial, with teammate Martin Ponsiluoma (36:53.4/2) winning the silver and Boe third at 37:21.6, suffering from three penalties. The win was Samuelsson’s first Worlds gold, to go along with two career silvers and six bronzes!
The women’s 12.5 km Mass Start was the second win and fourth medal of the Championships for Swede Hanna Oeberg, who won in 36:48.0 despite two penalties. Ingrid Tandrevold (NOR) was second in 36:52.8 (1) for her first medal of the Worlds, with France’s Julia Simon getting her second in third (37:08.8/3).
In Saturday’s relays, France won the men’s 4×7.5 km race, finishing in 1:21:48.8, with Norway second in 1:22:27.6, with Boe making up almost 11 seconds on anchor, but not enough to challenge. Sweden finished third in 1:23:28.7; The U.S. team of Sean Doherty, Paul Schommer, Maxime Germain and Vincent Bonacci finished 12th (1:27:27.4).
The women’s 4×6 km relay was a win for Italy, anchored by Lisa Vittozzi in 1:14:39.7, a clear winner over Germany (1:15:04.4) and Sweden (1:15:35.4). The U.S. finished 15th in 1:22:35.7, with Deedra Irwin, Joanne Reid, Chloe Levins and Kelsey Dickinson.
Norway and Sweden dominated the event, winning 13 and 11 medals, respectively. The Norwegians finished with five golds, five silvers and three bronzes; Sweden went 3-3-5. France and Italy both won four medals as only six countries won a medal among the 12 events. The U.S. was shut out for the second straight Worlds.
Boe was amazing, winning seven medals in all (5-1-1); teammate Sturla Holm Laegreid won five (1-3-1) and Samuelsson, Oeberg and Vittozzi all won four each.
Both Ashley Caldwell and Chris Lillis were back from the Beijing Olympic gold medalists and added Quinn Dehlinger instead of Justin Schoenefeld, and won, 331.37 to 320.71 over China, repeating the finish in Beijing. Ukraine won the bronze at 255.56. Caldwell and Lillis were also on the 2021 Worlds bronze winners in this event.
In the Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom, it was Poland’s Oskar Kwiatkowski – who scored his first two World Cup wins just this season – who got to the finish line first in the final vs. Swiss Dario Caviezel. Austria’s Alexander Payer won the bronze over countryman – and Beijing Olympic champ Benjamin Karl.
The Worlds will continue through 5 March.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Commonwealth Games ● The concept of holding the centennial Commonwealth Games where it all began – Hamilton, Ontario, Canada – appears to be over.
The Hamilton100 bid group said last week that it was unable to secure Provincial funding commitments – apparently more than C$500 million – to host the event in 2030, a century after the British Empire Games were first held there in 1930.
Neil Lumsden, the Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, said in a statement, “To date, we still have not received key details that would outline the overall financial risk and municipal commitment to the project.”
Ontario’s lack of interest mirrors that of British Columbia, which sunk the Vancouver bid for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games last October by declining to provide financial support and guarantees.
● Athletics ● Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the World Cross Country Championships in Australia, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe (GBR) said that Russian re-admission to the sport starts with its performance on an agreed-to path to cure rampant doping abuses:
“The [World Athletics] Council will discuss the roadmap for reinstatement but specifically around the egregious attack on the integrity of our sport through doping. Only on the basis of that conversation, or that discussion, would we move on to the second discussion. …
“The Council last February made (a) judgment [on] the situation in Ukraine and the inability of Ukrainian athletes to be competing openly and fairly and with the kind of integrity that we demand in our competitions.
“It was decided by the Council it was inconceivable that Russia athletes can compete, so the Council will make a decision about whether that position that we decided upon in February still pertains. But, as far as I’m concerned, the principles still sit there.”
World 400 m Champion Michael Norman announced that he will switch his focus to the 100 m this season. He told NBC Sports:
“We’ve always had this idea that once I develop and accomplish the goals that I want to do in the 400 m, that the goal will be to drop down to the 100 m.
“I can comfortably say that I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve in the 400 m and I can start challenging myself and trying something new in attempting to medal and break records in the 100 m. …
“The plan for 2023 is more of a setup for 2024. Everything I’m doing now is setting good habits in preparation for the Olympics. So when it comes to Olympic year, I can just keep building.”
He’s already no slouch in the 100, having run the distance just four times from 2020 on and timing 9.86, 9.90w, 9.98 and 9.97 and winning two of the four. At just 25, he ranks equal-24th all-time in the 100 and equal-11th all-time U.S., all with 400 m training.
His 9.86 best would have ranked equal-sixth in the world for 2022, and equal-fourth best in the U.S. He’s a contender, but as he said in the interview, “In a world where things go absolutely terrible, then I will be defending my title in the 400 m, but if things go the way that I plan it to go, then I’ll be fighting for a new title.”
● Basketball ● True to her word, Brittney Griner was reported to have signed a one-year contract with the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, returning to the team she had played her entire, nine-year WNBA career with.
Griner was imprisoned by the Russian government for 10 months on “drug smuggling” charges from last February into December, when she was finally released on a prisoner swap with the U.S.
● Bobsled & Skeleton ● The final leg of the 2022-23 IBSF World Cup was in Sigulda (LAT), with American star Kaillie Humphries winning the Monobob race and the seasonal title!
Humphries, the Olympic Champion in this event, won a tight duel with Germany’s Kim Kalicki, 1:46.52 to 1:46.96, with a tie for third between Canada’s Cynthia Appiah and China’s Ying Qing (1:47.10). On the season, Humphries scored four wins and won a medal in seven of eight races to total 1,712 points to 1,590 for German Laura Nolte and 1,506 for Appiah. Nicole Vogt of the U.S. finished seventh (1,056).
In the Two-Woman final, Nolte won for the third time this season in 1:41.73, ahead of Kalicki (1:41.87) and Humphries and Kaysha Love (1:41.97). That finish cemented their seasonal places: 1. Nolte, 1,697; 2. Kalicki, 1,672; 3. Humphires, 1,634. American Nicole Vogt was eighth (888).
There were two races in the Two-Man event, as the Four-Man title was decided last week for German ace Francesco Friedrich (again). In the first race, Beijing silver medalist and 2023 World Champion Johannes Lochner (GER) won for the third straight World Cup, this time with Georg Fleischauer aboard, in 1:40.37 over Friedrich and Alexander Schueller (1:40.73), and Maximilian Illmann and Joshue Tasche completing the German sweep (1:40.75).
On Sunday, Lochner and Friedrich were 1-2 again, in 1:39.90 and 1:40.26. Swiss Michael Vogt for the bronze in 1:40.34. That was good enough to give Lochner the seasonal title with 1,742 points to 1,656 for Friedrich and 1,582 for Britain’s Brad Hall in third.
In the men’s Skeleton final, Britain’s World Champion Matt Weston won for the fourth time in a row in 1:40.39, over teammate Marcus Wyatt (1:40.75) and Chrsotpher Grotheer (GER: 1:41.02). Despite this, Grotheer won the seasonal title with two wins and five medals with 1.656 points to 1,605 for Weston and 1,531 for Wyatt. American Austin Florian was eighth overall with 1,200 points.
The women’s victory in Sigulda and the season title went to four-time World Champion Tina Hermann, who won the racing at 1:43.65, just ahead of PyeongChang 2018 runner-up Laura Deas (GBR: 1:43.70) and Kim Meylemans (BEL: 1:43.88). Hermann piled up 1,622 points for the seasonal crown, beating Kimberley Bos (NED: 1,562) and Canada’s Miraela Rahneva. American Kelly Curtis finished sixth overall with 1,184 points.
● Cycling ● The opener in the UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup was in Diriyah (SAU), with four medals out of six won by the U.S.!
In the men’s Park final, two-time World Champion Logan Martin (AUS) came out on top, followed by Americans Marcus Christopher and Brian Fox.
The women’s Park final was a U.S. 1-3, with Hannah Roberts – the three-time World Champion – winning and fellow American Perris Benegas, the 2018 World Champion, third. China’s Jaiqi Sun finished second.
● Football ● Ten teams are vying for the final three spots in the FIFA Women’s World Cup play-in tournament in New Zealand, with eight teams in action on the weekend, narrowing down to three play-in finals.
In Group A, Cameroon defeated Thailand, 2-0, on Saturday to advance to Wednesday’s final against Portugal. Gabrielle Onguene scored both goals, in the 79th and 81st minute to break the scoreless deadlock. The winner of the Cameroon-Portugal game will advance to the Women’s World Cup to play in Group E, which includes the U.S.
In Group B, Haiti dominated Senegal, 4-0, taking a 1-0 lead at half, and with Roselord Bagella scoring twice in the 64th and 66th to assure the win. The Haitians will play Chile on Wednesday.
In Group C, Paraguay outlasted Chinese Taipei, 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 tie after extra time. Panama shut out Papua New Guinea, 2-0, and will meet Paraguay on Thursday.
The second day of the SheBelieves Cup was on Sunday, with the American women facing Japan in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a struggle, but the U.S. came away a 1-0 winner.
Japan controlled much of the early possession and the Americans had trouble trying to break down the packed-in defense, although Lynn Williams forced Japanese keeper Ayaka Yamashita to punch a line drive off the crossbar in the 15th minute.
The game appeared headed to halftime at 0-0 when Mallory Swanson struck again for the U.S. A seeing-eye pass from Alex Morgan from midfield created a race for the ball between Swanson and defender Shiori Miyake, which Swanson won, and with Yamashita coming out to cut down the angle, Swanson sent a right-footed shot past her to the left side of goal and a 1-0 lead in the 45th minute. It was Swanson’s sixth goal of the year already.
The U.S. had 55% of possession in the first half, but managed only those two shots – Williams and Swanson – compared to six for Japan.
The second half was more of the same, with Japan controlling much of the possession, but unable to score. Midfielder Fuka Nagano hit the top of the crossbar with a dangerous ball in the 79th minute, just over the outstretched hand of U.S. keeper Casey Murphy. Two minutes later, midfielder Yui Hasegawa flicked a right-foot shot through two U.S. defenders that required Murphy to come up with a quick save in the middle of the box.
The U.S. mounted an occasional attack, but found little space against the organized Japanese defense, and Japan kept pressing in the final half-hour. Substitute Jun Endo hit a left-footed laser from the left side of goal in the 93rd that sent Murphy sprawling for the save, but that was the last good chance for Japan.
In its fourth game of the year, the U.S. has won by a combined score of 12-0. The Americans finished with 51% of possession and up, 15-5, on shots.
Brazil faced Canada in the second game, also a struggle, with the Canadians scoring the only first-half goal in the 31st minute on a header from defender Vanessa Giles off a cross from midfielder Jessie Fleming.
Canada scored the only goal in the second half, with substitute striker Evelyne Viens getting a 71st-minute goal on a right-footer in the box off a Cloe Lacasse pass, for the 2-0 final.
Canada had 51% of possession, but Brazil had 14 shots to 10. It didn’t help.
The final day of the tournament comes Wednesday in Frisco, Texas, with Canada (1-1) vs. Japan (0-2), and the U.S. (2-0) facing Brazil (1-1), needing only a draw to win the title.
● Freestyle Skiing ● The Ski Cross World Cup circuit was in Reiteralm (AUT), with the amazing Sandra Naeslund continuing her perfect season.
Naeslund, the 2022 Olympic champ and a two-time World Champion, won her eighth and ninth races of the 2022-23 tour, without a loss, on Thursday and Friday (16-17). She defeated Marielle Thompson (CAN) – the last skier to defeat her – and Daniel Maier (GER) in the first race and Sonja Gigler (AUT) and Joei Galli (ITA) in the second. Naeslund has now win 17 straight World Cup races over the last two seasons.
The men’s finals were won by Swede David Mobaerg – his second win of the season – and Jonas Lenherr (SUI). American Tyler Wallasch, 28, won the bronze on Friday, his first career World Cup medal!
● Gymnastics ● The first Trampoline World Cup – the AGF Trophy – of the season was in Baku (AZE), with Brazil’s Camilla Gomes winning the women’s title over Lea Labrousse (FRA), 54-860 to 53.970 in the final. Ava Hernando was seventh for the U.S. (50.560).
The men’s final had Danil Mussabayev (KAZ) winning with 59.240, over Jorge Martin (ESP: 58.530) and 2022 Worlds silver winner Allen Morante (FRA: 58.530) in third. Elijah Vogel of the U.S. finished fifth (56.660).
● Judo ● France and Canada topped the medal standings at the IJF World Tour Tel Aviv Grand Slam (ISR), with 398 athletes from 52 countries in attendance.
The French won both of the lightest-weight divisions, with Luka Mkheidze taking the men’s 60 kg class and Blandine Pont winning the women’s 48 kg division. Margaux Pinot won the women’s 70 kg class for their third gold in the tournament.
Canada, Israel and Georgia each won two classes, with Jessica Klimkait and Christa Deguchi meeting in the all-Canada final at 57 kg and 2021 World Champion Klimkait winning; Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard won the women’s 63 kg class.
The home crowd was wild for wins by 2019 World Champion Sagi Muki at 81 kg, and Raz Hershko in the women’s +78 kg. Georgia got wins from Vazha Margvelashvili in the men’s 66 kg class and Beka Gviniashvili at 90 kg.
● Luge ● The penultimate FIL World Cup of the season was in St. Moritz (SUI), with Germany continuing to dominate the podium: four events, four wins.
Max Langenhan, the 2023 Worlds silver medalist, won his fifth World Cup in a row in the men’s Singles in 2:13.596, ahead of two-time Olympic champ Felix Loch (GER: 2:13.607), with Latvia’s Kristers Aparjods getting his third medal of the season in third (2:13.915).
The men’s Doubles was once again a battle between triple Olympic champs Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt and five-time World Champions Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken. For the third World Cup in a row, it was Wendl and Arlt winning, 1:47.183 to 1:47.228. Latvia again for the bronze, with Martins Bots and Roberts Plume (1:47.424).
PyeongChang 2018 silver medalist Dajana Eitberger took the women’s Singles in 1:48.396, ahead of 2021 World Champion Julia Taubitz (1:48.406) and 2023 World Champion Anna Berreiter (1:48.467) for a German sweep.
German’s World Champions Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal won their second race in the last three World Cups, 1:49.577 to 1:49.579 – 2/1000ths! – over Worlds bronze winners Andrea Votter and Marion Oberhofer of Italy in the women’s Doubles. Latvia scored another bronze with Viktorija Ziedina and Selina Zvilna (1:50.703).
That’s eight medals for Germany and four for everyone else. The Germans won the Team Relay with Eitberger, Langenhan and Wendl and Arlt. The U.S. team of Emily Sweeney, Tucker West and Zachary Di Gregorio and Sean Hollander won the silver, 2:51.301 to 2:51.555.
The World Cup season concludes next week in Winterberg (GER).
● Ski Jumping ● Both the men’s and women’s tours were in Rasnov (ROU) for jumping off the 97 m hill, and good results for Germany.
In the men’s competition held on Saturday, two-time Olympic gold medalist Andreas Wellinger continued his hot streak with his second win in the last three events, scoring 240.4 to edge Ziga Jelar (SLO: 240.2) and Beijing 2022 bronze medalist Karl Geiger (GER: 237.9).
There were two women’s events, with Germany’s Katharina Althaus getting her fifth win of the season at 251.0, with seasonal leader Eva Pinkelnig second (AUT: 238.6) and Norway’s Erin Maria Kvandal third (233.3). Anna Odine Stoem of Norway won on Friday – her second win of the season – scoring 98.1 points in the single-round competition, with Pinkelnig second again (97.1) and teammate Julia Muehlbacher (95.7) third.
Pinkelnig, 34, continues her amazing season, now medaling in 17 of 21 events held so far!
● Ski Mountaineering ● The fifth ISMF World Cup stop was in Bolzano (ITA) for the Marmotta Trophy, with France dominating the women’s racing.
Axelle Gachet Mollaret, the four-time World Champion, led a 1-2 French finish in the women’s Individual race, winning in 1:39:13, well ahead of teammate (and 2022 World Cup runner-up) Emily Harrop (1:39:43). In the Sprint, Harrop led a sweep in 4:06, ahead of Lena Bonnel (4:13) and Celia Perillat-Pessey (4:13).
The men’s Individual race was a tight win for Italy’s two-time World Cup champ Matteo Eydallin (1:31:12.8) over countryman (and three-time World Cup winner) Robert Antonioli (1:31:17.7). Two-time World Cup champion Arno Lietha (SUI) won the Sprint in 3:09, beating Spain’s 2022 World Cup runner-up Oriol Cardona Coll (3:21).
Next up is the ISMF World Championships at the Spanish resort in Boi Taull in Catalonia from 28 February to 5 March.
● Speed Skating ● The ISU World Cup season concluded in Tomaszow Mazowiecki (POL), with another win for American teen Jordan Stolz.
Stolz won his second 1,500 m World Cup title of the season, winning in 1:45.44, ahead of Beijing Olympic champ Kjeld Nuis (NED: 1:46.16), and added silver medals in the 500 m (34.73 behind Japan’s Yuma Murakami: 34.69) and 1,000 m (1:08.64 behind Dutch skater Wesly Dijs: 1:08.52).
Norway’s Sander Eitrem won the men’s 5,000 m in 6:15.06, with American Casey Dawson seventh (6:29.11). Bart Hoolwerf (NED) won the Mass Start race in 8:19.32, with Ethan Cepuran of the U.S. fifth in 8:19.66.
Stolz finished fifth in the seasonal standings in the 500 m, third in the 1,000 m and third in the 1,500 m, and he’s just getting going.
The U.S. women won the Team Sprint with McKenzie Browne, Olympic champ Erin Jackson, and emerging star Kimi Goetz in 1:27.92, ahead of Canada (1:28.73). That was Goetz’s fourth event, after a silver in the 1,000 m, fourth in the 500 m and fifth in the 1,500 m.
The two-time European Champion Vanessa Herzog won the 500 m in 37.96, ahead of Korea’s Min-sun Kim (38.08), with Goetz fourth (38.14) and Jackson sixth (39.23). Olympic silver winner Jutta Leerdam won the 1,000 m in 1:14.94 with second at Goetz at 1:15.54 and three-time World Champion Brittany Bowe fourth in 1:15.82. Norway’s Ragne Wiklund won the 1,500 m (4:02.79), with Goetz fifth (1:57.98) and Bowe eighth (1:48.99), and Wiklund doubled back in the 3,000 m (4:02.79). Japan’s Momoka Horikawa won the Mass Start in 8:58.39, with American Mia Kilburg fifth (9:03.65).
In the seasonal standings, Jackson finished third and Goetz fifth in the 500 m; Goetz was third in the 1,000 m and ninth at 1,500 m. Kilburg was fourth in the Mass Start.
For our updated, 929-event International Sports Calendar for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!