Shani Davis

Shani Davis, Heather Richardson make podium at World Sprint Championships

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Shani Davis and Heather Richardson won silver and bronze, respectively, at the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships, the final major international event before the Olympics.

Davis used the event as a warm-up before Sochi. The World Sprint Championships consist of two 500m races and two 1000m races over two days.

In the 1000m, Olympic champion Davis and world champion Denis Kuzin swapped one-two finishes. Davis placed 11th and 14th in the two 500m races. He finished behind repeat champion Dutchman Michel Mulder overall.

“It’s more just practice, going through the steps of competing at a higher level and leading into Sochi,” Davis told Dutch broadcaster NOS in a video interview before Sunday’s final races. “This will be the biggest time in between races, from my Olympic Trials til Sochi. I wanted to break it up a little bit, have a high-level competition.”

Davis’ 1000m results were most notable as he is the two-time reigning Olympic champion in the event. Davis won three of four World Cup 1000m races this season with Kuzin failing to make the podium in all four.

The Kazakh Kuzin had never finished better than fifth in a World Cup 1000m before he won the World Championship at the Sochi Olympic oval on March 22. His win Saturday proved that world title was not a single-skate fluke.

In the women’s competition, Richardson was unable to successfully defend her sprint championship from last year.

China’s Yu Jing took gold, followed by the countrywoman Zhang Hong and Richardson. Richardson, a threat for as many as four medals in Sochi, won the final 1000m, took third in both 500m races and fourth in the earlier 1000m.

Richardson edged Yu for the title last year in Salt Lake City. The competition this year was missing South Korean Lee Sang-hwa, the heavy favorite for Olympic gold in the 500m.

U.S. Olympic Skeleton Team named

World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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