Olympic speed skater, Montana’s only female governor dies

AP
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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Judy Martz, a 1964 U.S. Olympic speed skater and Montana’s only female governor, has died.

Martz had been battling pancreatic cancer. She was 74.

Martz died Monday in Butte, said state Attorney General Tim Fox, who is a friend of the family.

“She had a very forceful personality and was a very articulate, very smart person, and it doesn’t surprise me that she would be our first woman governor,” Fox said.

State political leaders, including Gov. Steve Bullock, are expressing sympathy and honoring Martz as a trailblazer for women in Montana.

“While she will always leave her mark in our history as a trailblazer for women, we will also remember the spirited enthusiasm she brought both in her service to Montanans and through her lifelong love for our state,” Bullock said in a statement.

Martz, then Judy Morstein, was 15th in the 1500m at the Innsbruck 1964 Winter Games.

Martz, a Republican, served as governor from 2001 to 2005. She was noted for turning a state deficit into a surplus while reducing taxes and increasing funding for education.

However, her term was besieged by missteps. Her popularity dropped to 20 percent at its low point.

Martz entered politics in 1996 as Gov. Marc Racicot’s running mate. She ran for governor after Racicot was barred from seeking a third term.

Martz faced backlash following a 2001 drunken-driving crash involving her chief policy adviser, Shane Hedges. He was at the wheel of an SUV that went off a mountain road and killed Montana’s House majority leader, who was a passenger. Martz was ridiculed for washing her aide’s clothes shortly after the crash, an act she said was a motherly reaction.

She was also criticized for comments suggesting she did not mind being referred to as a “lap dog” of industry. Her administration came under fire after news reports revealed that some of her staff used state phones to make political fundraising calls.

Martz, who often said she was mistreated by the news media, alluded to her political troubles in making her announcement not to run for re-election in 2003. “Among the difficulties, we have dealt with tragedy and adversity, some self-imposed, some stemming from misperception, and some the result of staff,” she said.

In the years since she left the governor’s office, Martz routinely addressed Christian organizations throughout the country and was part of a network that prays at locations across Montana.

In late 2014, Martz announced through a spokesman that she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was treated at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she and her husband, Harry, had a home.

She said at the time that prayers and her deep faith in God would carry her through the difficult time. She thanked people for their prayers.

Martz and her husband raised two children.

Martz graduated from high school in Butte in 1961, was named Miss Rodeo Montana and attended Eastern Montana College.

Martz was a field representative for U.S. Senator Conrad Burns from 1989 to 1995. She also owned and operated a commercial solid-waste business with her husband.

NFL star Jared Allen’s team beats Olympic champions at curling nationals

Jared Allen
Getty
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Retired NFL star Jared Allen was part of a curling team that beat 2018 Olympic champion John Shuster to open the U.S. Championships in Denver on Sunday night.

Allen, who retired from the NFL in 2016 and picked up curling in 2018, is on 2010 Olympian Jason Smith‘s team, which beat Shuster’s team 10-6 in the first game of round-robin play.

After all eight teams play each other, the top four advance to Friday’s playoffs. The winner of Saturday’s final is national champion and is expected to be the U.S. team for the world championship in Ottawa in April.

Allen, 40, said before nationals that he is eyeing the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I thought curling was going to be a lot easier than it was,” Allen, whose team at the last nationals in 2021 went 0-9, told the newspaper. “But I’m one of those guys who, once I start something, I’m going to see it through. Our goal at nationals is to beat as many teams as we possibly can and see where we land.”

How big of an upset was Sunday’s result? Ken Pomeroy rated Smith’s team fifth in the eight-team field before the tournament, while he had Shuster’s team second behind Korey Dropkin.

Shuster’s team won the last three nationals that they entered, plus the last two Olympic Trials since the bulk of the team formed for the 2015 season. Shuster went 11-0 at his last nationals in 2020, then 11-2 at the 2022 Olympic Trials, where the younger Dropkin beat him twice but ultimately lost in the finals series.

Allen was first linked to serious curling in February 2018 via U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Lou Nanne on a Minnesota ESPN radio show. Nanne said Allen told him at a dinner.

“[Allen] says, ‘I’m giving myself four years to make the Olympic curling team,’” said Nanne, a 1968 U.S. Olympian.

Allen, along with retired quarterback Marc Bulger, first played on a team with 2010 Olympian John Benton and fellow veteran curler Hunter Clawson.

Allen’s new team includes Smith, who played on the 2010 Olympic team skipped by Shuster, Clawson and Dominik Maerki.

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U.S. Alpine skiers wear climate change-themed race suits at world championships

U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit
Images via Kappa
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Looking cool is just the tip of the iceberg for Mikaela Shiffrin, Travis Ganong and the rest of the U.S. ski team when they debut new race suits at the world championships.

Even more, they want everyone thinking about climate change.

The team’s predominantly blue-and-white suits depict an image of ice chunks floating in the ocean. It’s a concept based on a satellite photo of icebergs breaking due to high temperatures. The suit was designed in collaboration with Kappa, the team’s technical apparel sponsor, and the nonprofit organization Protect Our Winters (POW).

The Americans will wear the suits throughout the world championships in Courchevel and Meribel, France, which started Monday with a women’s Alpine combined race and end Feb. 19.

“Although a race suit is not solving climate change, it is a move to continue the conversation and show that U.S Ski & Snowboard and its athletes are committed to being a part of the future,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, the president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

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Global warming has become a cold, hard reality in ski racing, with mild temperatures and a lack of snow leading to the postponement of several World Cup events this winter.

“I’m just worried about a future where there’s no more snow. And without snow, there’s no more skiing,” said Ganong, who grew up skiing at Lake Tahoe in California. “So this is very near and dear to me.”

What alarms Ganong is seeing the stark year-to-year changes to some of the World Cup circuit’s most storied venues.

“I mean, it’s just kind of scary, looking at how on the limit (these events) are even to being possible anymore,” said Ganong, who’s been on the U.S. team since 2006. “Places like Kitzbuehel (Austria), there’s so much history and there’s so much money involved with that event that they do whatever they can to host the event.

“But that brings up a whole other question about sustainability as well: Is that what we should be doing? … What kind of message do we need show to the public, to the world, about how our sport is adapting to this new world we live in?”

The suits feature a POW patch on the neck and the organization’s snowflake logo on the leg.

“By coming together, we can educate and mobilize our snowsports community to push for the clean energy technologies and policies that will most swiftly reduce emissions and protect the places we live and the lifestyles we love,” according to a statement from executive director Mario Molina, whose organization includes athletes, business leaders and scientists who are trying to protect places from climate change.

Ganong said a group of ski racers are releasing a letter to the International Ski Federation (FIS), with the hope the governing body will take a stronger stance on sustainability and climate change.

“They should be at the forefront of trying to adapt to this new world, and try to make it better, too,” Ganong said.

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U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit