U.S. puts 2 women on Tour de Ski stage podium

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Jessie Diggins won her third straight World Cup 5km freestyle, while Sadie Bjornsen notched her first individual World Cup podium as the U.S. put two racers in the top three of a Tour de Ski stage for the first time on Friday.

Full results are here. Tour de Ski standings through five of seven stages are here.

The Tour de Ski, which debuted in 2006-07, is a weeklong, all-around test of the world’s best cross-country skiers. Stages vary in distance and technique.

Diggins, 25, continued her strong season with her third World Cup podium in 12 starts. She made her Olympic debut in Sochi with a best finish of eighth.

Though Diggins owns the 5km freestyle, that event is not contested at the Olympics.

The U.S. owns one Olympic cross-country medal, Bill Koch‘s 30km silver at the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Games. A U.S. woman has never placed higher than sixth in any event.

This year’s Tour de Ski is lacking the sport’s biggest female stars.

Norway’s Marit Bjoergen and Therese Johaug and Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk combined to win 12 of the last 13 individual world titles, the last eight World Cup overall titles, the last seven Tour de Ski overall titles and six of the last seven individual Olympic titles.

Bjoergen and Kowalczyk are skipping the Tour to focus on the world championships in February and March, while Johaug is serving a doping ban.

The top skier this season has been another Norwegian, Heidi Weng, who leads the World Cup and Tour de Ski overall standings. Diggins is fifth in the Tour de Ski standings, which would match the best finish ever for an American.

Diggins is now tied with four-time Olympian Kikkan Randall for the most Tour de Ski stage wins (two) and podiums (three) for an American.

MORE: Doping agency eyes 14-month ban for world’s best XC skier

Tokyo Paralympic medals unveiled with historic Braille design, indentations

Tokyo Paralympic Medals
Tokyo 2020
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The Tokyo Paralympic medals, which like the Olympic medals are created in part with metals from recycled cell phones and other small electronics, were unveiled on Sunday, one year out from the Opening Ceremony.

In a first for the Paralympics, each medal has one to three indentation(s) on its side to distinguish its color by touch — one for gold, two silver and three for bronze. Braille letters also spell out “Tokyo 2020” on each medal’s face.

For Rio, different amounts of tiny steel balls were put inside the medals based on their color, so that when shaken they would make distinct sounds. Visually impaired athletes could shake the medals next to their ears to determine the color.

More on the design from Tokyo 2020:

The design is centered around the motif of a traditional Japanese fan, depicting the Paralympic Games as the source of a fresh new wind refreshing the world as well as a shared experience connecting diverse hearts and minds. The kaname, or pivot point, holds all parts of the fan together; here it represents Para athletes bringing people together regardless of nationality or ethnicity. Motifs on the leaves of the fan depict the vitality of people’s hearts and symbolize Japan’s captivating and life-giving natural environment in the form of rocks, flowers, wood, leaves, and water. These are applied with a variety of techniques, producing a textured surface that makes the medals compelling to touch.

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Tokyo Paralympic Medals

Tokyo Paralympic Medals

Alysa Liu lands quad Lutz

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Alysa Liu, a 14-year-old who in January became the youngest U.S. women’s figure skating champion, on Saturday landed a quadruple Lutz, something no other U.S. woman has done in competition.

Liu landed the jump at the Aurora Games, a women’s sports festival in Albany, N.Y. It does not count officially, since it’s not a sanctioned competition.

Previously, Sasha Cohen landed a quadruple Salchow in practice in 2001, but never in competition. At least three Russian teens landed quads in junior competition in the last two years.

Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva became the first woman to land a clean, fully rotated quad in senior competition en route to silver at last season’s world championships.

Liu, who landed three triple Axels between two programs at January’s nationals, makes her junior international debut at a Grand Prix stop in Lake Placid, N.Y., next week.

She will not meet the age minimum for senior international competitions until the 2022 Olympic season. But she can continue to compete at senior nationals.

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