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United States women held by Colombia, still win Group G

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Having never lost a major international match to Colombia the United States women, already well-positioned to win Group G, were expected to comfortably pick up a third win in as many matches. But things didn’t go as planned, with the South American side putting forth a tougher challenge than expected. Catalina Usme’s left-footer free kick in the 90th minute pulled Colombia level, with the match finishing in a 2-2 draw in Manaus.

Yet even with the surprising result the United States won Group G, finishing on seven points with France, 3-0 winners over New Zealand, finishing second on six points. Next up for the Americans is a quarterfinal match in Brasilia Friday against Sweden, which finished third in Group E.

MORE: Hope Solo: “We got our point”

Colombia opened their account in the 26th minute on an Usme free kick that was poorly handled by keeper Hope Solo. Usme’s shot dipped, slipping through Solo’s hands and going into the net. Solo, who picked up her 200th international cap in the win over France, did not have her best night in goal for the United States. However the Americans would even the score in the 42nd minute as Crystal Dunn cleaned up a rebound from a Carli Lloyd shot that caromed off the crossbar.

The United States appeared to be in control of the match early in the second half, culminating in Mallory Pugh’s goal in the 60th minute to make the score 2-1. With her goal Pugh, just 18 years old, became the youngest American goal scorer in Olympic history. But the Colombians continued to attack, ultimately earning the free kick opportunity for Usme in the final minute of regulation time.

WATCH: Catalina Usme’s match-tying free kick

Also of note for the United States was the tournament debut of midfielder Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe, who tore the ACL in her right knee in early December, played 32 minutes before being replaced by Pugh in the 33rd minute.

The other quarterfinal match-ups are Brazil vs. Australia, Canada vs. France and Germany vs. China.

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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