AP

Rio Olympic velodrome damaged by fire

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The track and roof of the Rio Olympic velodrome was damaged in a fire Sunday when the building was struck by a small, hand-made hot-air balloon.

A charred area could be seen on the roof of the structure, and shots from TV network Globo showed a 20- to 30-meter portion of wood track surface had burned.

The racing surface was made of special Siberian wood, a requirement that made the velodrome one of the last venues to be ready for the Olympics.

The Brazilian sports ministry confirmed the incident with no injuries reported. In a statement it said the damage was being evaluated.

Despite being illegal, the release of the hand-made balloons — or lanterns — is common in Brazil. The balloons often cause fires when they land.

The incident took place just a few days short of the one-year anniversary of the Rio Games, which opened Aug. 5.

The velodrome cost about $45 million and, like a half-dozen other sports arenas in the Olympic Park, is struggling to find a use. Many of the arenas are boarded up, and the park in suburban Barra da Tijuca is largely vacant with few amenities for visitors.

Brazil spent about $13 billion in public and private money to hold last year’s Olympics, with some reports suggesting the overall cost is closer to $20 billion.

The costs are a flashpoint because Brazil is going through its deepest recession in a generation.

The state of Rio de Janeiro has been late paying teachers, police and pensions, and the military has been arriving in Rio over the last few days to try to control the city’s soaring violence.

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World downhill champion Ilka Stuhec tears ACL

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Lindsey Vonn’s top rival for downhill gold is in danger of missing the upcoming Olympics.

Ilka Stuhec, a world champion Alpine skier from Slovenia, suffered a torn ACL after a practice crash in Austria this weekend.

Stuhec had become a strong medal favorite for PyeongChang after winning FIS World Cup titles in downhill and Alpine combined last season. She also won a gold medal in downhill at the 2017 World Championships, where Vonn placed third.

According to a post on the FIS website, surgery is set for this Wednesday, with more information to come after that. But preliminary reports suggest that she is likely to miss the Olympics.

“For now it looks like Ilka Stuhec will have to miss a large part or maybe the whole World Cup season, including the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea,” a spokesperson for Struhec told Reuters.

In a tweet, Struhec acknowledged that she would be sidelined “for a few months.”

The Olympics start in less than four months.

 

U.S. Ski & Snowboard mourns after 17-year-old aerials skier found dead

U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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Mikey Lillis, a 17-year-old aerials skier, died in his sleep at his home in East Rochester, N.Y., overnight Saturday, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

“We are a family, and as a family our entire team grieves for Mikey, his own family and his teammates,” U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw said in a statement. “We’ll remember him for the pathway he was following and the goals he was beginning to achieve. Our condolences go out to his parents Bernie and Jamie and the entire Lillis family.”

Lillis was working his way to join his two older brothers at the elite international level. He made three podiums on the Nor-Am Cup tour between the last two seasons.

Jon Lillis, 23, is the reigning world champion in aerials. Chris Lillis, 19, won the FIS Rookie of the Year award last season with four top-10 finishes on the World Cup.