Tokyo Stadium

Tokyo Olympic Stadium hosts final sporting event

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The 1964 Olympic Stadium held its final sporting event Sunday before it’s to be demolished in July, making way for a larger stadium for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics.

Japan beat Hong Kong 49-8 to qualify for its eighth straight Rugby World Cup in the final event in Tokyo’s 54,000-seat stadium that opened in 1958.

The Olympic Stadium was the stage for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and iconic track and field moments of the 1964 Games, including Bob Hayes winning the 100m eight years before he would win a Super Bowl as a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver.

Ethiopian Abebe Bikila completed his second straight Olympic marathon triumph inside the stadium, becoming the first man to win consecutive titles.

Later, in 1991, Carl Lewis and Mike Powell held one of the greatest head-to-head duels in track and field history at the World Championships in Tokyo, both breaking Bob Beamon‘s 23-year-old world record in the long jump.

Powell, who won Olympic silver behind Lewis twice, bettered his rival with a leap of 8.95 meters, a record that still stands.

The new 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, with a retractable roof work, is set to begin construction in October 2015. It’s plans have faced criticism after Tokyo won the vote to host the 2020 Olympics in September.

In response, builders agreed to downsize it in November by 25 percent, to 220,000 square meters, but not affecting the seating capacity. That cut the construction cost from $3 billion to reportedly between $1.3 billion and $1.8 billion, still more than initial estimates.

Other Japanese architects have been leading the uproar over the new stadium, so much so that they started a petition to keep the old stadium.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career