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Swiss skier Yule pledges prize money to fight climate change

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GENEVA (AP) — Hitting back at the president of his sport’s governing body, Swiss skier Daniel Yule will give his prize money this month to an athlete-backed charity campaigning against climate change.

The Olympic gold medalist said Monday he is “putting my money where my mouth is” after criticizing International Ski Federation president Gian Franco Kasper at the world championships last month.

Kasper’s comments about “so-called climate change” in a Swiss newspaper interview prompted Colorado-based non-profit Protect Our Winters to urge him to resign.

Yule, a slalom specialist, made his pledge in an Instagram post ahead of World Cup races on the next two Sundays.

“After the FIS president denied climate change during the last World Championships, I’ve decided to donate half of the prize money I earn at the last two world cup races in Kransjka Gora and Andorra to @protectourwintersswitzerland,” he wrote.

Both slalom races offer 45,000 Swiss francs ($45,000) for winning, with prize money paid for the top 30 placings down to 500 Swiss francs ($500) for 30th.

Yule has earned almost 90,000 Swiss francs ($90,000) in prize money this season, including his first World Cup win in December in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.

The 26-year-old skier, whose parents are British, also helped Switzerland win gold in the team event at the worlds in Are, Sweden. The Swiss also won team gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

Yule’s pledge was quickly liked on Instagram by Olympic slalom champion Andre Myhrer of Sweden, who wrote “That’s amazing” with a thumbs up emoji.

In interviews during the world championships, Yule said he was disappointed with Kasper’s newspaper comments, which the long-time FIS leader later said were not meant to be taken literally.

“FIS fully supports Daniel Yule’s decision … to help create increased awareness about the importance of sustainability,” said skiing’s governing body, which has previously worked with Protect Our Winters on an awareness campaign for children.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety also used social media last month to challenge Kasper’s views on climate change.

“Time for leadership that is in touch with reality and forward thinking,” the American racer wrote on Twitter .

Kasper was an International Olympic Committee member for 18 years and sat on its executive board until last year when both positions lapsed for age reasons. He is now an honorary IOC member.

The 74-year-old former journalist remains president of the Association of International Winter Sport Federations, and a member of the IOC panel overseeing planning for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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