AP

U.S. gold-medal curling team misses nationals to promote the sport

Leave a comment

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — John Shuster‘s U.S. Olympic curling team had planned for a whirlwind couple of months in 2018, hoping to bounce from PyeongChang to the U.S. Championships in Fargo and then perhaps on to the world championship in Las Vegas.

Then they won a gold medal.

On Friday, the day before the start of the national tournament, Shuster’s team found themselves being chauffeured around the Big Apple after ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

It’s part of a celebrity tour that includes television appearances, a Sports Illustrated photo shoot, the ceremonial puck drop at an NHL game, an outdoor curling exhibition in Manhattan’s Bryant Park and even a cameo by Tyler George and Matt Hamilton in a Broadway play.

As a result, the team bowed out of the Fargo event. John Landsteiner said “it hurts a little bit” to miss his first national tournament in 12 years and a shot at worlds, but it’s tough to complain about the VIP treatment in New York.

“We keep kind of joking about it: ‘Well, we could be in Fargo right now,'” Landsteiner said, chuckling.

Rick Patzke, the CEO of USA Curling who is accompanying the group in New York, said the team is handling its newfound fame well, knowing that it’s the best chance any U.S. curling team has had to promote the game that has seen steady growth since it became an Olympic medal sport in 1998.

“They kind of wake up and say, “Where do we go today?’ It’s kind of like ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ times a thousand,” Patzke said.

Said Landsteiner, “It all feels pretty cool to a bunch of small-town guys from Minnesota.”

Patzke said Shuster’s team is still hoping to make an appearance in Fargo, although that could be nixed by a West Coast media tour.

“If we can have a plane change in Fargo, that would be great,” he said.

The national tournament at Scheels Arena in Fargo kicks off with the opening ceremony Saturday and ends with the men’s and women’s championships March 10.

While fans may be disappointed that Team Shuster isn’t playing, tourney organizers say their gold medal places more attention on the event and there are several men’s and women’s teams that could be future Olympic medalists.

“They are on a massive tour right now promoting the sport. And it’s good for it,” said Evan Workin, the manager of the Fargo-Moorhead Curling Club and a member of the Jed Brundidge team that’s playing for a national title. “It’s obviously something you need to do.”

USA Curling staff member Tom Violette, who was helping Friday with finishing touches inside the Fargo arena, said the opportunities that come with an Olympic title are “just too important and too numerous” to pass up. He also said the interest that goes with the gold medal has made it “enjoyable and challenging” for the curling organization.

“Pretty crazy times right now. It’s just nuts. I can’t come up for a better word for it,” Violette said. “I don’t think anyone in the world expected a gold medal.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Top moments from Team USA’s run to curling gold

Lindsey Vonn and her dog to host Amazing Race-like series

Lindsey Vonn
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lindsey Vonn and one of her three dogs, Lucy, will host “The Pack,” an “Amazing Race”-like series where dogs and their humans compete in challenges across continents.

The Amazon Prime show filmed earlier this year and will premiere later in 2020. Production included a team of veterinarians and dog experts to ensure “a positive experience for everyone.”

Twelve teams vie for a prize of $500,000, plus $250,000 for the animal charity of their choice.

Vonn, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion and female record holder with 82 World Cup wins, retired after the February 2019 World Championships, four shy of the overall victories record held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

She traveled the last few years of her career with Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that she got in Italy in January 2016. Lucy required German, Italian and American passports to accompany Vonn on the ski circuit.

Vonn previously adopted rescue dogs Leo, a brindle boxer to help her through recovery from knee surgery that kept her out of the 2014 Olympics, and Bear.

Vonn’s previous broadcast credits included a 2010 appearance as a secretary on “Law & Order,” two judge spots on “Project Runway” and an episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” in 2016.

MORE: Lindsey Vonn’s mom is tough as nails

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

London Marathon mass event canceled; Kipchoge, Bekele still to race

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The London Marathon will not hold a mass participation race of 40,000-plus runners, but will have an elites-only event featuring the fastest marathoners in history on a different course.

Organizers announced that the World Marathon Major, previously rescheduled for Oct. 4 from April 26, will be restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Elite runners, including world-record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei and Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest man in history, will instead race but not on the usual route around London landmarks.

They will run on an enclosed looped in St. James’s Park in a “secure biosphere” without spectator access. Elite wheelchair racers, including past champions David Weir and Manuela Schar, will also compete.

Before canceling, London Marathon organizers planned to use Bluetooth and wideband ranging to monitor every participant’s distance from each other, though they did not specify if the event would have still included more than 40,000 runners.

If a participant spent more than 15 minutes within a specified distance of anyone else, and if somebody had informed organizers they contracted the virus within two weeks after the race, he or she would have been contacted.

“Despite all our efforts, the fantastic support from all of our partners and the progress that has been made on planning for the return of smaller mass participation events that are not on the roads, it has not been possible to go ahead with a mass socially distanced walk or run,” event director Hugh Brasher said in press release.

Four of the other five annual World Marathon Majors this year were canceled — Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City. The earliest major, Tokyo, was held March 1 with elite runners only.

Kipchoge, the Olympic marathon champion from Kenya, and Bekele, a three-time Olympic track champion from Ethiopia, were previously announced as headliners for London in the winter, before the pandemic.

Kipchoge lowered the world record to 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. Bekele clocked 2:01:41 in Berlin last September. They are the only men to ever break 2:02 in a marathon. Kipchoge also clocked 1:59:40 at a non-record-eligible event in Vienna on Oct. 12 instead of racing a fall marathon.

Kipchoge has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

Bekele, the more accomplished track athlete with Olympic golds and world records at 5000m and 10,000m, has been a roller-coaster road runner.

Bekele owns two of the seven fastest marathons in history, recorded three years apart in Berlin. In between, he failed to finish two marathons and, in his last London start in 2018, clocked a pedestrian 2:08:53 for sixth place.

That was more than four minutes behind Kipchoge, who is undefeated in four London starts and has beaten by Bekele by at least 100 seconds in all four of their head-to-head marathons.

The Kenyan Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

The 2021 London Marathon will also be held in October to give a better chance of holding a mass race than in April.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results