Lara van Ruijven
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Lara van Ruijven, short track speed skating world champion, dies at 27

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Lara van Ruijven, a world champion short track speed skater from the Netherlands, died Friday following complications from an autoimmune disorder, according a branch of the Dutch Olympic Committee and the Dutch skating federation. She was 27.

Van Ruijven was admitted to a hospital on June 25 after feeling ill at a training camp in the French Pyrenees. Since June 29, she was in an intensive care unit, where she was in a coma. She experienced internal bleeding, including in her brain, and underwent multiple surgeries, according to Dutch press releases.

“It’s incomprehensible that she has been taken from us while in the prime of her life,” Dutch skating director Herman de Haan said in a release, according to an Associated Press translation.

Van Ruijven is the reigning world champion at 500m. She earned bronze at the PyeongChang Olympics as part of the 3000m relay.

At the 2019 Worlds, van Ruijven led the 500m nearly from start to finish. Italian Martina Valcepina caught her and made contact with van Ruijven as they crossed the finish line. That caused van Ruijven to fall as Valcepina outleaned her by half a skate blade. Upon video review, Valcepina was disqualified two minutes later for an arm block.

Van Ruijven became the first Dutch woman to win a world short track title (not counting the 3000m super final).

“My dream came true and I can’t believe it, I have to cry,” van Ruijven said that day, according to the International Skating Union.

In 2018, van Ruijven was part of a quartet that took Olympic relay bronze by winning the B final in a world-record time. Two of the four teams in the A final were disqualified, allowing the Dutch to ascend to the podium.

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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