Carol Heiss Jenkins writes letter to U.S. women’s soccer team

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Carol Heiss Jenkins couldn’t make it to the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s ticker-tape parade in New York on Friday, but the 1960 Olympic figure skating champion sent her regards before the World Cup winners followed in her path up Broadway.

“Enjoy the moment. Look up at the buildings and the people above,” Heiss Jenkins wrote. “The cheering fans should make you realize your accomplishment transcends just a score in a soccer game. Take it all in, as it goes by fast. This moment in time is very well-deserved, and I hope your day is as magical as the one I enjoyed back in 1960.”

The last time a New York ticker-tape parade was held for female athletes only was singularly for Heiss Jenkins in 1960, after she won Olympic and World titles that year. (more on Heiss Jenkins’ parade here)

Heiss Jenkins, now 75, underwent hip surgery in June, heeded doctors’ advice not to travel and said she would watch the parade on TV.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 55 years since I was riding in a convertible down the Canyon of Heroes, the same parade route all of you will be riding along on Friday,” she wrote. “I was 20 years old, having just won an Olympic gold medal in figure skating, and like yours, my life was a whirlwind, flying by like the ticker tape in the sky. It was a magical day, and I remember looking up at all of these people and all of these tall buildings. It was a marvelous scene that I have never forgotten.”

Fourteen players out of the 23-woman U.S. World Cup roster won Olympic gold medals in 2012. The U.S. team must be trimmed to 18 for the 2016 Olympics, should it qualify next year.

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Swimming short-course records in peril as FINA recognizes ISL times

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In the debut season of the International Swimming League, six U.S. short-course records have fallen. USA Swimming has recognized the new circuit’s times from the outset.

International body FINA, which at first threatened to ban swimmers who participated in the ISL and then said it would not recognize records from the team-based league, which debuted in October and will hold its first final meet Dec. 20-21 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, is now recognizing those times, and the effects on its statistics have been drastic.

MORE: Ledecky sets U.S. record in ISL debut

This morning, a downloaded list of the top times in the world this year included no ISL times. By the afternoon, times from the ISL’s meet over the weekend in College Park, Md., accounted for most of the times on the lists, including the top 10 in the women’s 50m freestyle and women’s 100m freestyle.

So far, the ISL hasn’t figured into the top five on many all-time FINA lists. But the best short-course times are typically posted near the end of the year, and the ISL has two meets remaining.

The U.S. record book has already changed. In October, Katie Ledecky set the 400m freestyle record (3:54.06) and Melanie Margalis set the 200m medley mark (2:04.18).

In College Park this weekend, Margalis also set the U.S. 400m medley record (4:24.46) and Ian Finnerty set two records the 50m breaststroke (25.99), with runner-up Michael Andrew also beating the previous record, and the 100m breaststroke (56.29). Also, Caeleb Dressel set the 50m butterfly record (22.21).

Only half of the swimmers in the ISL will advance to the final, and qualification isn’t necessarily in their hands. After the College Park meet, the Cali Condors and LA Current clinched spots in Las Vegas. That’s bad news for Andrew (New York Breakers), Finnerty (DC Trident) and Ledecky (DC Trident).

Dressel, Margalis and Lilly King — all representing the Condors — will have another shot at records in Vegas. 

FINA, as usual, is running its World Cup circuit during the fall and early winter, and some swimmers — including overall World Cup champions Vladimir Morozov and Cate Campbell — are pulling double duty between the World Cup and ISL.

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IOC announces deal with Airbnb to add housing for future Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee has moved to help with the scramble to house the influx of athletes, staff and spectators with each Olympics, making a deal with online housing broker Airbnb to add accommodations for the Games through 2028.

“The agreement includes accommodation provisions that will reduce costs for Olympic Games organizers and stakeholders, minimize the need for construction of new accommodation infrastructure for the Olympic Games period, and generate direct revenue for local hosts and communities,” the IOC announced.

Airbnb’s partnership also includes accommodation for disability athletes for the Paralympic Games, and the company will join large global companies such as Coca-Cola, Visa and Panasonic as worldwide Olympic partners.

Athletes also will have a chance to make money by hosting travelers.

“As an Olympian host, you can create and lead an experience inspired by your expertise and interests,” reads an explanation on the Olympic athlete support portal Athlete365.

Outside the Olympics and Olympic athlete experiences, the IOC and Airbnb are pledging to work together on long-term support to refugees.

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