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Skater loses gold at world allround championships with stunning fall

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AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a stunning finish to the world allround speed skating championships, Dutchman Patrick Roest won the title Sunday after Sverre Lunde Pedersen of Norway fell in the closing 10,000m race as he was on track for a convincing overall victory.

Video is here.

Roest was some eight seconds behind Pedersen ahead of the 10,000m and, thanks to Pedersen’s fall around 6500m, finished the grueling finale more than 15 seconds faster than the Norwegian.

Pedersen picked himself up off the ice at the temporary, outdoor oval at Amsterdam’s 1928 Olympic Stadium and still managed to come back to beat nine-time allround champion Sven Kramer in their head-to-head battle to finish second overall.

But he lost so much time that a title that was his for the taking slipped through his fingers and went to Roest.

Afterward, Pedersen sat at the side of the oval with his head in his hands as Kramer gave him a consoling pat on the back.

“I am almost never falling,” Pedersen said. “I don’t know what to say.

“What can I say? It’s a pity for all of us that something like this happens. But that’s how it is.”

In a changing of the guard, Pedersen’s fall handed the allround title to Roest, Kramer’s 22-year-old teammate and training partner.

“I can’t believe it,” Roest said. “Of course it’s a shame that Sverre fell. You wouldn’t wish that on him. But it’s very cool to be world champion allround.”

Dutchman Marcel Bosker took third place in the overall standings. Kramer finished fourth after skating 14:05.70 in the 10,000m, his slowest time in that event by more than 20 seconds in more than a decade on the top senior international level.

“I did not feel well physically this weekend,” Kramer said, according to the International Skating Union.

Kramer was going for his record-extending 10th straight world allround title (not counting the editions he missed in 2011 and 2014).

On Saturday, Miho Takagi became the first Japanese woman to win a world allround title after beating defending champion Ireen Wust in a thrilling 1500m.

The 1500m win was partial revenge for Takagi, who was relegated to silver by Wust over the same distance at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

“I am very, very happy,” Takagi said. “I am proud.”

The world title capped a great season for Takagi, who won an Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit when Japan beat the Netherlands in the final.

“She has shown all season that she’s really good,” Wust said. “She has more speed than me.”

Wust won the closing 5000m to finish second overall, falling just short in her chase for a seventh allround title. Countrywoman Annouk van der Weijden ended third.

The championships are a test of skaters’ all-around prowess, with races over 500m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m for women and 500m, 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m for men. They have been held officially since 1893.

They also were a test of how they coped with warm and rainy conditions that left puddles all over the oval at a championships being staged outdoors for the first time since 2001.

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MORE: Best speed skating moments from PyeongChang Olympics

World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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