Guanabara Bay

U.S., Rio officials to test polluted Olympic bay before August competition

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US Sailing says it’s working with the U.S. Olympic Committee, which will combine with Rio de Janeiro authorities to test the water at a 2016 Olympic sailing venue before American sailors travel there for a competition that begins Aug. 2.

US Sailing will send athletes to the competition, an Olympic test event, despite reports of concerning pollution levels at the Guanabara Bay venue, and the sailors may take inoculations or antibiotics based on the results of water testing.

“We’re well aware of the concerns of water quality in Guanabara Bay,” U.S. Olympic Sailing managing director Josh Adams said. “We’re taking the steps necessary so that the athletes are prepared.”

The Guanabara Bay water quality is “very, very bad” compared to most sailing venues, the head of competitions for the International Sailing Federation told the Associated Press on Monday. Sailing’s governing body may conduct independent water-quality tests, the AP reported.

Sailors from around the world agreed that the water quality in the 148-square-mile bay must improve, in interviews with the AP and The New York Times.

Adams, who plans to go to the test event with US Sailing athletes, last visited Guanabara Bay in November 2012 and is in regular contact with the International Sailing Federation and other countries’ national governing bodies for sailing about Olympic preparations, including cleaning up the bay.

“We are taking actions in our own hands and testing the water,” Adams said, “to determine what kind of inoculations or antibiotics we have to take.”

It’s a standard measure, Adams said. The U.S. also tested the sailing venue before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where an algal bloom threatened the waters but was cleaned up in time.

“As is always the case, we’re working with the organizing committee and the local authorities to ensure that our athletes are able to safely compete and have the resources they need to be successful,” the USOC said in a statement.

About six U.S. sailors recently visited Guanabara Bay for training or competition over two trips, one year ago and again in January. The venue regularly hosts local sailing events, and its biggest competition was the 2007 Pan American Games.

“I would say I’ve sailed in worse waters before, for sure,” said American Chris Barnard, who has sailed internationally for six years and competed in Guanabara Bay in January. “I would say that venue, it’s not the worst, but it could use some cleaning.”

Barnard said he’s never taken preventative medication due to water quality issues before.

Another U.S. sailor, 2012 Olympian Paige Railey, said Rio de Janeiro is her favorite sailing venue in the world out of her 12 years of international experience. She last visited for training in September, where she said she didn’t find any of the reported overt problems at the portions of the bay she sailed in.

“We went swimming in the water,” she said. “I flipped over [in my boat]. I’ve been in the water, have had it splashing in my face. None of us had any issues.”

Railey plans to spend a lot of time in Rio de Janeiro over the next two years training for the Olympics.

“It’s important to note that Brazil has a pretty rich history in sailing, and there’s a lot of competition that goes on in Guanabara Bay,” Adams said. “A lot of Olympians over the years have traveled there to sailing competitions. It’s not like all of a sudden we’re descending on a place that has never hosted a sailing event before.”

Pollution flowing into the bay hoped to be cut by 80 percent by the Olympics, but the new best-case scenario is “over 50 percent” could be cut, according to the AP.

Rio’s top environmental official said recent tests showed that fecal contamination in the Olympic regatta area was within “satisfactory” standards in Brazil, according to the Times.

US Sailing expects to send more than 20 athletes to the test event in August.

“As far as we can tell, conditions haven’t changed recently, people are just becoming more aware of it,” Adams said. “We are in favor of efforts to clean up the bay and expect a lot to be done in this area.”

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Gracie Gold qualifies for nationals, Polina Edmunds shut out

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2014 Olympian Gracie Gold qualified for the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships by virtue of a third-place finish at the Eastern Sectional Singles Final on Saturday in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

“Bronze: so hot this fall,” Gold posted on Instagram. She last competed at U.S. nationals in 2017, when she finished sixth. She won the national title in 2014 and 2016.

Gold sat second after the short program with 63.55 points, and ultimately finished third overall with 109.90 points in the free skate for 173.45 points. The top four at the event qualify for the national championships in Greensboro, North Carolina in January.

Her free skate included a fall on the opening triple Lutz and an under-rotation on the triple Lutz, double toe loop combination. She also put a hand down on the landing of a double Axel. The rest of the program, though, was clean.

Her performance, set to “She Used to be Mine” by Sara Bareilles, can be found at the 2:05 mark of the on-demand stream of the event for NBC Gold Pass subscribers.

Meanwhile, her Sochi teammate Polina Edmunds was shut out of nationals based on a fifth-place finish at the Pacific Coast Sectional Singles Final (top four qualify). Her performance can be found for NBC Gold Pass subscribers at the 1:50 mark of the on-demand stream for the event. Edmunds last competed at Nationals in 2016, when she earned the silver medal behind Gold.

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Bronze: so hot this fall 🥉

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Brittany Bowe extends unbeaten streak to open speed skating World Cup

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Brittany Bowe extended one of the most dominant runs for any U.S. Winter Olympian, earning her first straight World Cup 1000m win to open the season on Sunday.

Bowe, fourth and eighth in the event at her two Olympics, clocked 1:15.35 in Minsk, Belarus, to beat PyeongChang gold medalist Jorien ter Mors by six tenths. Ter Mors missed all of last season after knee surgery.

Bowe won every World Cup 1000m dating to last December, plus her second world title in the event last February, lowering track records at each stop.

She ended last season by breaking the world record by .48 of a second on the fast ice of the 2002 Olympic oval in Kearns, Utah. That time — 1:11.61 — would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1997.

Bowe, a former Florida Atlantic point guard who missed all of 2016-17 with a concussion, is up to 23 career World Cup wins. That’s fifth on the U.S. all-time list behind Bonnie Blair (69), Shani Davis (58), Dan Jansen (46) and Heather Bergsma (34), according to schaatsstatistieken.nl.

The World Cup moves to Poland next week.

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