Italo Ferreira
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Surfing world champions will be crowned in a different format

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World champions in surfing will start being crowned in a one-day, surf-off format in 2021, a change from the season-long title race of the Championship Tour.

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan cited last year’s men’s title race that came down to the last heat of the eight-month, 11-contest season at the Billabong Pipe Masters on Oahu’s North Shore in December.

Italo Ferreira prevailed over Gabriel Medina in a battle of Brazilians, who are medal favorites for the sport’s Olympic debut next year.

“We’re very fortunate that all of the elements aligned for it to happen, but as we know, it’s not every year that we get a world championship heat,” Logan said, noting discussions on the change began before the coronavirus pandemic. “Starting next year, the world champions will be determined in a single day of thrilling competition, the ultimate finals day and the last day of the Championship Tour season with the top men and the top women battling for their respective titles in a new, surf-off format.”

Logan said the surfer ranked No. 1 through the Championship Tour regular season will have “a distinct advantage” going into the final surf-off day. More details will be announced in July. How the new format will affect Olympic qualifying for Paris 2024, when surfing will be held in Tahiti, is unknown.

This season, all World Surf League contests through June have been postponed due to the coronavirus. The next status update will come June 1.

“Where and when we will run this year is still very much an open question,” Logan said.

Most of the Olympic surfing field is set, led by the top 10 men and top eight women from the 2019 season standings, maximum two per country. The U.S. qualifiers were world champion Carissa Moore and runner-up Caroline Marks and Kolohe Andino and John John Florence, who beat out Kelly Slater.

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World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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