Thomas Bach

Thomas Bach hopes mixed-gender events in Nanjing impact Olympics (video)

1 Comment

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach sat down with Lewis Johnson in Nanjing to discuss the Youth Olympics, their potential impact on the Olympics and Rio de Janeiro’s preparation for the Games in 2016.

The Nanjing Youth Olympics marked the third edition of an idea coined by Bach’s predecessor, Jacques Rogge. The first Youth Olympics were held in Singapore in 2010, followed by the first Youth Winter Olympics in Austria in 2012.

“[Rogge] thought we have to do something for the younger athletes to make them familiar with the Olympic values, Olympic environment at an earlier stage than at the Olympic Games and to inspire more kids around the world to play sports,” Bach said.

Bach said he hoped that all of the mixed-gender events in Nanjing would serve as a test for men and women competing on the same teams in more sports at the Olympics.

Currently, badminton, equestrian and tennis have mixed-gender events in the Olympics. Figure skating, with pairs and ice dancing, has long been mixed gender. The Winter Games added mixed biathlon and luge relays for 2014.

“This is one of my darling subjects,” Bach said. “They are a great opportunity to develop women’s sports in smaller countries.”

Bach also expressed confidence in preparations for the Rio Olympics in two years.

“We see now things getting off the ground,” Bach said. “I’m sure Brazil will make it, because they know that they have no time to lose. But they see now the progress. They have confidence from having organized a good World Cup, and I’m sure in two years from now, we will enjoy an Olympic festival in Brazil.”

NBCSN coverage of the Youth Olympics continues Wednesday (7-8 p.m. ET) and concludes Thursday with the Closing Ceremony (6:30-8).

Youth Olympics broadcast schedule

Mikaela Shiffrin wins Aspen World Cup slalom

Leave a comment

With a slalom win today in Aspen, Colo., Mikaela Shiffrin broke some of the barriers she had been chasing.

“I don’t know if the stars will ever align like that again,” Shiffrin said in a media conference after being told she won with the biggest margin of victory in the history of women’s slalom since 1968: 3.07 seconds. “I don’t think [my competitors] are going to let me get away with three seconds ever again.”

En route to her fourth consecutive slalom World Cup title – which would tie the record for the most with Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider from 1992-95 – she became the first female skier to win four World Cup slalom races in a row since Austria’s Marlies Schild did it in the 2011-12 season.

In addition, Shiffrin became the first female skier from the U.S. to win a slalom World Cup race in Aspen. And she’s now tied with France’s Perrine Pelen for sixth overall with total slalom World Cup victories.

“I was pissed after I made that ridiculous mistake yesterday,” Shiffrin said to media, referencing yesterday’s giant slalom crash. Both her and Lindsey Vonn crashed and did not finish in Aspen’s giant slalom. “I tried to use that anger today.”

Shiffrin called the mistake a “brainfart” and Vonn dismissed it because “giant slalom isn’t [her] strongest event.”

But, Shiffrin added that she already has her mind set on tomorrow, where she races slalom again, on NBC at 3 p.m. ET. The complete of the Olympic sports schedule is here.

“I just as quickly have to go back and settle in,” she said. “Tomorrow is a new race. I have to find a different motivation and try to take the same mentality and keep fighting.”

Slovakia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova was second behind Shiffrin, followed by Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter.

By finishing behind Shiffrin in Aspen, Zuzulova extends her slalom World Cup podium finish streak to four.

Hansdotter has the second-most second place World Cup slalom finishes at 13 total, including today’s race. Only Pernilla Wiberg, of Sweden, has more with a total of 14.

MORE: Shiffrin, Vonn discuss friendship and rivalry

Fencing great Valentina Vezzali fails to qualify for Rio 2016

Mario Monti, Valentina Vezzali
Leave a comment

TURIN, Italy (AP) – Six-time Olympic champion fencer Valentina Vezzali has failed to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.

The 41-year-old Vezzali was eliminated in the second round of the foil event at the Trofeo Inalpi meet Saturday, while Italian teammate Arianna Errigo reached the semifinals and gained the necessary points to qualify.

Vezzali won at least one gold at the last five Olympics in either individual or team foil. She has a total of nine Olympic medals and 25 at world championships.

Her second son was born in 2013, the year in which she also became a member of Italy’s parliament.

Vezzali told the Gazzetta dello Sport this week that “I had another son and it was really difficult to come back. … I don’t think I have anything else to prove.”

MORE: Hanyu, Miyahara win NHK; Wagner into Grand Prix Final