Russia Explosion

Russia suicide bombings will not affect Sochi Olympic security

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Security at the Sochi Olympics will not be increased due to two suicide bombings the last two days in Volgograd, Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov said Monday.

“All necessary measures are envisioned at the Olympic Games in Sochi,” Zhukov said, according to ITAR-TASS news agency. “No other security measures will be taken due to the terrorist act in Volgograd because everything is done.”

More than 30 people have been killed in explosions Sunday and Monday in Volgograd, a city of more than one million people about 400 miles northeast of Sochi.

A suicide bomber killed 14 on a bus in Volgograd on Monday. Authorities believe it was the work of the same group responsible for a bomb set off at a railway station Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

In October, another suicide bombing took place on a bus in Volgograd. In July, a Chechen rebel leader called for militant attacks on the Sochi Olympics.

Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered extra security nationwide after the attack Monday.

“I have personally written to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to express our condolences to the Russian people,” said International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach in a statement Monday. “I am certain that everything will be done to ensure the security of the athletes and all the participants of the Olympic Games.”

The U.S. government offered full support.

“We would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators and other participants,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

The Sochi Olympics will include new security measures such as a “spectator pass” in addition to normal tickets. Spectator passes “require providing passport details and contacts that will allow the authorities to screen all visitors and check their identities upon arrival,” according to the AP.

Also, special troops, drones and speed boats will keep a close eye on the area in and around Sochi during the Games, which begin Feb. 6.

One of Russia’s most celebrated athletes, two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, calls Volgograd home.

“It is hard for me to talk now,” Isinbayeva told ITAR-TASS, according to Agence France-Presse. “None of my family or loved ones suffered. But I feel terrible, simply terrible.”

Soccer star Carli Lloyd and coach Jill Ellis nominated for FIFA honors

Jill Ellis, Carli Lloyd
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FIFA announced today that Carli Lloyd, the midfielder on the U.S. women’s national soccer team whose hat trick in the World Cup final helped the US win gold, was nominated for the Women’s World Player of the Year award.

The woman who coached the USWNT to a 5-2 World Cup victory over Japan, Jill Ellis, was nominated in the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football category.

Nominated alongside Lloyd are Japan’s Aya Miyama, a member of the silver-medal winning team at the London Olympics, and Germany’s Celia Sasic, a bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Both Lloyd and Miyama are expected to represent their countries again at the 2016 Rio Olympics, while Sasic retired after the 2015 World Cup.

Only two American women have been named the FIFA World Player of the Year–Abby Wambach in 2012 (when Lloyd was also a semifinalist) and Mia Hamm in both 2001 and 2002.

Lloyd is already racking up a long list of honors in 2015. In addition to earning the Golden Ball Award at the World Cup, she’s nominated by Sports Illustrated for Sportsman of the Year and will be honored on December 2nd by the March of Dimes as their Sportswoman of the Year.

Ellis has been USWNT head coach since May 2014, but has a long Olympic history with the team. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics she was a scout, and then was assistant coach to Pia Sundhage at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She also served as the interim coach at the end of 2012 after Sundhage left to coach for Sweden, and again when Tom Sermanni was fired in April 2014. She is expected to be the head coach at the 2016 Games.

The other nominees for FIFA World Coach of the Year are England’s Mark Sampson and Japan’s Norio Sasak.

The awards are voted on by team captains, coaches and the media, and will be announced on January 11th. The Ballon d’Or winner will also be announced. The three finalists for the top honor on the men’s side are Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.


Best photos from USPA National Skydiving Championships

USPA National Skydiving Championships
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More than 500 skydivers competed at the United States Parachute Association (USPA) National Skydiving Championships, the largest annual skydiving competition in the world.

The best jumps from the USPA National Skydiving Championships will air tonight on Universal HD at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Skydiving is not an Olympic sport, but several skydivers have made cameos at the Olympics.

Dozens of free-falling parachutists formed the five Olympic rings in the sky during the Opening Ceremony of the 1988 Games.

Then at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, stunt doubles playing Queen Elizabeth II and actor Daniel Craig leapt from a helicopter and parachuted into the Olympic Stadium (VIDEO).

Below are images via the USPA, captured by David Cherry and Martin Lemay:

USPA National Skydiving Championships

USPA National Skydiving Championships

USPA National Skydiving Championships

USPA National Skydiving Championships

USPA National Skydiving Championships