IOC president open to unified Korean Olympic team in PyeongChang

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach said Friday that he is open to the possibility of a unified Korean team at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Speaking in Muju, 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Seoul, on the final day of the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships, Bach told a media conference that he would discuss the issue with South Korea President Moon Jae-in.

At the opening ceremony of the championships, Moon, currently in the United States to visit U.S. President Donald Trump, raised the possibility of the two countries participating together.

“We have noted with great appreciation the message of President Moon to see the Olympic Games as a possibility for dialogue and reconciliation,” said Bach, adding that Moon’s comments reflected the Olympic spirit.
“What this could mean for the 2018 Winter Games and what could be done in respect, we’ll discuss this Monday with President Moon once he’s back from his state visit to the U.S.”

Bach, a former Olympic fencer, confirmed that regardless of any joint team, the IOC was ready to assist North Korea’s involvement at Pyeongchang.

“The position of the IOC is very clear,” he said. “We have already invited the DPRK (North Korea) to participate in the Winter Games in 2018. We are supporting athletes in order to assist them to qualify for the Olympic Games.”

Earlier this week, however, North Korea’s sole member of the IOC, Chang Ung, was cautious when talking to South Korean media.

“It’s only hypothetical, and many different departments at the IOC are involved,” said Chang. “We should stop this discussion. We should only talk about what’s practically possible. I think it’s going to be very difficult.”

While the two Koreas, technically still at war since an armistice brought hostilities to an end in 1953, have marched together at the opening ceremonies at various Olympic tournaments in the past, they have never sent a unified team to compete on that stage.

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MORE: North Koreans can cross DMZ for Olympics

Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

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Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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