James Magnussen
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James Magnussen fails to make Olympic 100m freestyle

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James Magnussen, who finished .01 behind Nathan Adrian in the 2012 Olympic 100m freestyle, did not qualify for Rio in the event at the Australian Olympic Trials on Monday.

Magnussen, the 2011 and 2013 World champion, placed fourth at the Australian trials in Adelaide, needing to finish first or second to make the Rio Olympics in the individual 100m free.

“Obviously pretty shattered,” Magnussen said on Australian TV.

Cameron McEvoy won the trials in 47.04 seconds, an Australian record and the fastest-ever time outside of the high-tech swimsuit era. Kyle Chalmers, 17, was second in 48.03, followed by James Roberts (48.32) and Magnussen (48.68). Full results are here.

McEvoy broke Magnussen’s Australian textile record 47.10 set at the 2012 Olympic Trials. He inched close to Brazilian Cesar Cielo‘s 2009 world record of 46.91.

“I had some good words of advice leading into this race,” said McEvoy, who took silver at the 2015 World Championships in 47.95 behind China’s Ning Zetao (47.84). “A lot of the best swimmers in the world, past and present, get up behind the blocks and just put up the curtains when they decide the lanes. I did that. I guess it paid off.”

Magnussen did qualify for the Australian 4x100m freestyle relay team by finishing in the top six Monday.

Magnussen, 25, had the fastest 100m free time in the world in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, but his best yearly time had gotten slower each of the past four years. He also missed the 2015 World Championships due to left shoulder surgery.

“I’ve done everything I could, physically, to get back in shape,” Magnussen said. “Those guys just raced a better race tonight. I couldn’t keep up with them. That’s how strong Australia swimming is at the moment.”

The Australians, like the Americans, shockingly failed to make the 2015 World Championships 4x100m free relay final.

In London, Magnussen swam a slow leadoff leg en route to the Australians finishing fourth in the 4x100m free relay.

Magnussen can still make the Australian Olympic team individually in the 50m freestyle. That final is Wednesday.

MORE: Australia swim legend fails to make Olympic team

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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