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Petter Northug Has Tour de Ski Victory Within Reach

In the sixth stage of the prestigious eight stage event, the 24 year old Norwegian Petter Northug started with a 0.4 second lead and was able to finish the day with a 20.1 second lead over Sweden’s Marcus Hellner. Sweden’s Daniel Rickardsson surprisingly won the stage, which was a 10km classic, in 23:14.5 minutes. Olympic silver medalist Lukas Bauer finished second in the stage, 1.7 seconds behind Rickardsson, and Northug finished in third position, 4.5 seconds behind the Swede.

Northug was once again aided by a strong sprint to the finish, as he was able to gain 4 seconds on the lead in the final 2km of the race.

There remaining stages in the race are a 20km classic mass start race and a 10km freestyle pursuit.

Norway’s Northug Reclaims the Tour de Ski Lead

Following a disappointing sprint in which he didn’t make it past the qualifying stage and was consequently left in fifth place, 47.3 seconds off of the lead, Norway’s Petter Northug has reclaimed the top position in the Tour de Ski. Northug won the 30km pursuit, which was the fifth stage of the event, over Dario Cologna. It was Emil Joensson’s withdrawal, however, that allowed Northug to take the lead. Prior to his withdrawal, Joensson was the overall leader of the Tour de Ski.

Figure Skating Updates

With the Olympics quickly approaching, I thought I would give you some updates on your favorite figure skaters.

Swiss skater Stephane Lambiel is attempting a comeback after being away from the sport for one season. In December, he won his ninth Swiss title. Though he struggled with his quad-toe and didn’t attempt a triple-axel, he has improved greatly since the Nebelhorn Trophy at the beginning of the season. He also won that event, but didn’t look nearly as solid. In the Swiss Championships, Lambiel received 83.91 pts in the short and 160.32 in the long program, which gave him 244.23 pts overall.

According to reports, Aliona Savchenko, who is one-half of the German favorite pairs team along with her partner Robin Szolkowy, is suffering from mononucleosis. Due to her illness, the duo may not appear in the European Championships, which are set to begin on Jan. 18. The reigning two-time world pairs champions won the last three European Championships.

French skater Brian Joubert is expected to return at the European Championships now that he has recovered from an injury to his foot that required surgery. Joubert, who won the NHK Trophy in Japan, was not able to compete in the Grand Prix Final because of his injury, but his coach insists that he is steadily improving and should be adequately prepared for the Olympics.

There may be more competition for Kim Yu-Na as her rival Mao Asada skated fantastically to win her fourth straight Japanese national title. Asada, who has struggled with her triple-axel all season, perfectly landed the jump in the free skate and later found herself at the top of the podium for the first time all season. Joining Asada in the Olympics will he Akiko Suzuki and Miki Ando.

Reigning Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko not only recently won the Russian national title, but he did it with record marks. He won his eighth national championships with a score of 171.50 in the free skate and a score of 271.59 overall.

Russian ice dancing duo Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin are the reigning world champions, but after Shabalin sustained a knee injury, they were unable to compete for the bulk of the season. They debuted their interesting “Aboriginal” themed original dance, but they didn’t seem to have the crispness and fluidity that we have all become accustomed to seeing from them. Though they easily won the event, they skated very slowly and Shabalin struggled with his twizzles. Their free dance wasn’t any better and I would actually say that it was boring, which is not a term that I have ever previously used to describe their skating. They will be lucky if they make the podium in Vancouver.

Video of the Day: Northug Gets the Win

January 3, 2010 2 comments

Watch Norwegian Petter Northug win the 15km classic in the Tour de Ski in a sprint to the finish.

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Daily Rant: Double Standards in Sports

January 2, 2010 3 comments

Photo by xploitme

When Tiger Woods has countless extramarital affairs he is slammed as a poor role model and a disgrace to his fans and his sport. When it comes to other sports, however, athletes don’t seem to be held to the same standards. Given golf is known to be a “gentleman’s game” and Tiger carefully crafted his perfect family man image, but his fault is nowhere near as bad as others that we have seen as of late.

I am in no way defending Tiger’s actions, but hearing him get slammed week after week for having extramarital affairs and not hearing any commentary at all when Gilbert Arenas allegedly pulled a gun on his teammate Javaris Crittenton is simply blasphemous. If this was the case, Arenas could have severely injured if not killed his own teammate, and yet people are still talking about Tiger and what a horrible man and role model he is. Arenas is one of the biggest stars in the NBA, but because basketball is filled with bad boys, he isn’t forced to undergo the same treatment as Tiger. Arenas isn’t a lone wolf either, take a look at the members of the Minnesota Vikings that were involved in the infamous “Love Boat” scandal, in which two boats were rented and several of the players involved performed sexual acts on  women in front of crew members. If that wasn’t bad enough, according to an unnamed source, it wasn’t the first time that such an incident had occurred. To make things worse, when the cleaning crew arrived, they found “used condoms, K-Y jelly, Handi Wipes, and wrappers for sex toys,” among other things. There were criminal charges made in this case and although it received a good amount of media coverage, the players involved did not nearly receive the amounts of negative attention that Tiger has undergone. Even Ron Artest and his brawl in the stands couldn’t top Tiger.

Again, I don’t condone Tiger’s actions, but if you’re going to let such guys as Artest, Arenas, and several members of the 2005 Minnesota Vikings off of the hook, you have to do the same with Tiger. He didn’t break a law for having and affair and he wasn’t in danger of causing physical harm to anyone while he was canoodling with other women. He definitely has familial issues that need to be resolved, but I bet there are a slew of other athletes that are in the same boat.

At the end of the day, I hate what this controversy does for the sport of golf. Surely, their ratings will take a massive hit while Tiger is gone and I can only hope that people will watch after he returns. None of the players on the PGA Tour asked for this and if their ratings take the hits that are expected, the Tour’s necessary sponsorship dollars and television coverage will certainly dwindle. So even if you can’t stand Tiger and never want him to win another tournament again, don’t let it stop you from watching what is the wonderful sport of golf. The other day, I saw a commercial that hyped the other players on the PGA Tour, specifically Phil Mickelson, Y.E. Yang, Sergio Garcia, and Stewart Cink. Though I chuckled a bit while watching a Tiger-less golf commercial, I was glad to see the other guys getting some hype. I have always loved that golf is such an international sport and that it has tons of characters that you don’t tend to see in other sports, where the guys seem to be getting more and more robotic everyday. After the positive news that came from golf becoming an Olympic sport, the loss of Tiger for a significant period of time was a massive hit. It was a hit that nobody anticipated and nobody could have stopped, and yet all of the players on tour will suffer as a result. Nevertheless, I will be watching while Tiger is gone and for the sake of the PGA Tour, I hope that others will too.

New G2 Campaign

The new G2 campaign pays homage to Muhammad Ali, while also featuring Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, tennis player Serena Williams, US soccer player Landon Donovan, US soccer player Abby Wambach, and gymnast Chellsie Memmel.

Amanda Beard Married and Pregnant

Photo via LadyThrills.com

Photo via LadyThrills.com

Amanda Beard, a seven-time Olympic medalist in swimming, has announced that she is married and is expecting her first child with her husband, photographer Sacha Brown. The couple was married on May 1 in Wakatobi, in southern Indonesia. Beard, who is 5 1/2 months pregnant, said that she is “starting to look pregnant,” but her fans shouldn’t worry because she also said that she plans to comete in the 2012 Olympics.

Read more (here)

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