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.

MORE: Japan’s top golfer finds ties to Tokyo Olympics beyond the obvious

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Susie O’Neill, Australian great, answers Katie Ledecky by balancing beer while swimming

Susie O'Neill
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Katie Ledecky‘s feat of balancing a glass of chocolate milk while swimming reverberated Down Under, where one of Australia’s Olympic legends attempted to mimic it with a cup of beer.

Susie O’Neill, an eight-time Olympic medalist from 1992-2000 known as Madame Butterfly, accepted a challenge put forth by her fellow radio show hosts. In video shared across Australian media, she took 13 strokes before the beer came off her head, just before reaching a wall.

“It’s actually not as hard as I expected,” O’Neill said in an Instagram Live. “Well, it was pretty hard.”

O’Neill, 47, said backstrokers sometimes train with a water bottle on their foreheads to stay straight. But O’Neill, a freestyler and butterflier, never balanced anything on her head while training.

MORE: O’Neill in tears watching Sydney Olympic defeat for first time

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Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to TASS. The ISU has not confirmed or denied that report.

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu. Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

MORE: World’s top skater leaves famed coach

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