Short Track Speedskating

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Speed skating World Cups canceled; ‘hub’ concept explored

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This season’s first four World Cup speed skating stops in November and December and the first two short track events have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Skating Union is evaluating a proposed “hub concept” for alternative speed skating competitions to be held in the Netherlands, the world’s dominant skating nation.

The following speed skating World Cups were canceled:

Tomaszow-Mazowiecki, Poland, Nov. 13-15
Stavanger, Norway, Nov. 20-22
Salt Lake City, Dec. 4-6
Calgary, Dec. 11-13

The following short track World Cups were canceled:

Montreal, Nov. 6-8
Laval, Quebec, Nov. 13-15

A decision is pending on the third and fourth short track World Cups in Seoul and Beijing in December. After those, the next scheduled World Cups for short track and long-track speed skating are in February.

Last season’s world championships for short track, originally scheduled for last March, were previously canceled.

MORE: China adds best Olympic short track skater as coach

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Viktor Ahn the latest Olympic star to coach Chinese athletes ahead of Beijing 2022

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Viktor Ahn, the most decorated Olympic short track speed skater in history, will coach Chinese skaters leading up to the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, according to South Korean media.

Ahn, who won three gold medals each for South Korea and for Russia, announced his second retirement in 20 months in April at age 34. He cited constant knee pain and other injuries.

Ahn joins a long list of retired Winter Olympic champions to coach Chinese athletes in this Winter Olympic cycle, before the nation hosts its first Winter Games. Others include U.S. speed skater Shani Davis, biathletes Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway and wife Darya Domracheva of Belarus and bobsledders Andre Lange of Germany and Pierre Lueders of Canada. Plus Bud Keene, the longtime coach of snowboarder Shaun White.

Ahn was added to China’s short track program after the nation’s most decorated Winter Olympian, short tracker Wang Meng, reportedly stepped down as head coach in April after 11 months in the position.

Ahn, then 20, earned three golds among four medals as Ahn Hyun-Soo for South Korea at the 2006 Torino Winter Games.

He missed South Korea’s team for the 2010 Olympics after undergoing four knee surgeries in the 15 months leading up to the Olympic Trials. Ahn’s club team dissolved, and his father contacted Russia’s federation. He became a citizen in 2011, then earned three golds among four medals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

The International Olympic Committee did not invite Ahn to the PyeongChang Olympics, the only way he could have competed in his birth nation due to sanctions placed on Russia for its poor anti-doping record.

South Korea and China have often clashed in Olympic short track speed skating, given they rank Nos. 1 and 2 on the all-time medal standings in the sport.

MORE: U.S. Olympic short track skater called up by Miami Marlins

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Eddy Alvarez, Olympic short track medalist, to play for Miami Marlins

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Eddy Alvarez realized his MLB dream, six years after earning a Winter Olympic medal, and during a global pandemic that affected his club more than any other U.S. professional sports franchise.

Alvarez, a 2014 U.S. Olympic short track speed skating medalist, is being added to the Miami Marlins roster for Tuesday’s restart of their abbreviated season, president of baseball operations Mike Hill said Monday, according to Marlins beat reporters.

The 30-year-old was among a group added after as many as 18 Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus last week, forcing the club to cancel seven games.

Alvarez is believed to be the first U.S. Winter Olympian to become a Major League Baseball player.

He may be the second Olympic medalist in a sport other than baseball to make it to the majors, joining Jim Thorpe. (Michael Jordan tried to do so with the Chicago White Sox, playing Double-A in 1994, but returned to the Chicago Bulls in 1995.)

Alvarez, a Miami native, played baseball in high school and at Salt Lake Community College before focusing on short track in 2012 for a 2014 Olympic run.

He came back from missing the 2010 Olympic team and surgeries on both knees, reportedly leaving him immobile and bedpan dependent for four to six weeks, to make the Sochi Winter Games. Eddy the Jet earned a silver medal in the 5000m relay.

Then Alvarez returned to baseball after three years away. He signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago White Sox in June 2014. He worked his way through the minors between that franchise and the Marlins system.

Alvarez was a Kannapolis Intimidator, a New Orleans Baby Cake and a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Now, he’s a big leaguer.

“It definitely was a chance, picking up a kid who hasn’t played in three years who is starting at the age of 24,” Alvarez said in 2014. “It’s not your typical story, but I play like a 17-year-old kid. I’m running around everywhere. I’m diving around everywhere. I’m full of life. I definitely see my progression moving at a rapid pace.”

MORE: What Olympic baseball, softball return looks like in 2021

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