Archive for February, 2016

Olympic Golf Course increased local biodiversity, says Rio Department of Justice’s expert report

February 26th, 2016

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Rio 2016

Rio 2016 Olympic race walk test event to give public a taste of the outdoor Games

February 26th, 2016

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Rio 2016

River and Aline dominate Alpine skiing scene

February 26th, 2016

USA’s River Radamus and Switzerland’s Aline Danioth reigned supreme in the Alpine skiing events in Hafjell. The American skier pocketed more gold medals than any other athlete at Lillehammer 2016,winning the Alpine combined, super-G and the giant slalom, while Aline was one of just two athletes to win four medals: ,golds in the Alpine combined and ,the slalom and bronzes in the super-G and giant slalom.

River Radamus © Simon Bruty for YIS/IOC

The only blemishes on a near-perfect week for River, who said he learned to ski before he could walk, came when he skied out in the first leg of the slalom and then suffered early elimination with the USA in the parallel mixed team event.

“I didn’t think I would be able to perform the way I have over the Games,” he said. “I’ve had a good run in Lillehammer, so I can’t be disappointed with my slalom fall. I wasn’t even favourite on a couple of these events and the competition has been fierce throughout the Games.

“I had a lot of trust in how I was skiing coming here, and my coaches were excited by my form. We just put trust in what I could do. You think you’d get used to winning gold medals, but for me the third one (giant slalom) was the most emotional.”

Manuel Traninger © Simon Bruty for YIS/IOC

The slalom gold went to Austria’s Manuel Traninger, who completed a full set of medals, having also won bronze in the super-G and silver in the combined. Italy’s Pietro Canzio also excelled on the snow in Lillehammer, claiming silver in the super-G and bronze in the combined.

Pietro Canzio  © Arnt Folvik for YIS/IOC

Once in a lifetime

In the women’s competitions, meanwhile, the gold medals were shared among three skiers. Aside from Aline in the combined and the slalom, Austria’s Nadine Fest prevailed in the super-G and Switzerland’s Mélanie Meillard, who finished second to her compatriot in the combined, took the giant slalom title.

Mélanie Meillard © Simon Bruty for YIS/IOC

A medallist in every individual ladies’ event, Aline had this to say after her slalom win: “It’s a special event. I can only compete in the Youth Olympic Games once in my life, so to win four medals is so cool. I would never have believed I could win four medals. Even for one everything needs to come together. I think that once you’ve won one, everything gets easier. But today I was really nervous.”

Aline Danioth © Arnt Folvik for YIS/IOC

Praising Aline and Mélanie for their performances, Swiss head coach Beat Tschuor said: “These two girls are very strong. It is a good sign. Aline has pretty high goals. That is the point. She will realise what she did in the next few hours. They are both really on the way to good things. We have good talent.

Germany win the day

Taking place on the penultimate day of Lillehammer 2016, the parallel mixed team event pitched two-athlete NOCs – one man, one woman – against each other in a knockout slalom format.

Lucia Rispler (GER, blue gates) and Riikka Honkanen (FIN, red gates) © Simon Bruty for YIS/IOC

The final saw German duo Jonas Stockinger and Lucia Rispler take on Russia’s Anastasiia Silanteva and the in-form Aleksey Konkov, who had won all his races to that point and kicked off the final by beating Jonas in the opening run. Lucia got the better of Anastasiia to level it up at 1-1 before Jonas avenged his earlier defeat to Aleksey to seal a 3-1 win for Germany. Finland beat Canada by the same scoreline to complete the podium.

Prevented from taking part in the giant slalom after crashing and injuring himself in the super-G, Jonas was delighted to have a gold medal to show for his efforts in Norway: “I actually [shouldn’t have] raced today, but I had to. It was very, very cool. We gave it our best and we won.”

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Monobob proves an instant hit at Lillehammer 2016

February 26th, 2016

For decades the sport of bobsleigh has been dominated by teams using Formula One technologies and aerospace engineering to design the fastest possible bobs, while keeping their innovative research into aerodynamics under close wraps.

Mercedes Schulte AUT © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

The monobob has been designed to respond to all that and take technology out of the equation by making athletes share the same sleds. As a result, the second runs at Lillehammer saw the fastest athletes on the first runs swap sleds with the slowest.

Daniel Mayhew JAM © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

By making the Lillehammer 2016 bobsleigh competitions into one-athlete events, the organisers also sought to open the sport up to as many countries as possible and encourage more young athletes to give it a try.

Anastasiia Dudkina RUS © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

This unique format produced two exciting and closely contested competitions at the Lillehammer Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track, the outcome of both the men’s and the ladies’ competitions only being decided when the last competitors crossed the line at the end of their second and final runs.

Taking victory in the women’s event was Laura Nolte of Germany, who beat Austria’s Mercedes Schulte to gold by 0.24 seconds, with Great Britain’s Kelsea Purchall a further 0.02 seconds back in third.

(Gold) Laura Nolte GER, (Silver) Mercedes Schulte AUT and (Bronze) Kelsea Purchall GBR © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

The men’s event proved just as tight. Germany’s Jonas Jannusch eclipsed Russia’s Maksim Ivanov by 0.15 seconds to make it a double for his country, while the bronze went to Norway’s Kristian Olsen.

“The idea is to give more people more chance of winning and that it isn’t just down to who has the best equipment,” Jonas said. “The basic idea is very good.”

(Gold) Jonas Jannusch GER, (Silver) Maksim Ivanov RUS and (Bronze) Kristian Olsen NOR © Arnt Folvik for YIS/IOC

A hit with young bobsledders

“All the monobobs are quite similar,” said Kelsea “By giving the bob that was last in the first run to the person in first place, you prove that it wasn’t the sled’s fault. It is a really fair process.”

Sangmin Kim KOR © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

“This is the second season we have been racing with monobobs, but the first time at a major event,” said Ivo Ferriani, the president of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF). “I am sure it will help to develop a young generation because it makes it easier for them to approach the sport, it is sustainable in cost and it’s safe.

“You don’t need someone behind you to drive. You do not focus on the material [technology]. You focus on the driving and the athletic skill.”

George Johnston GBR © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

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‘It’s not every day that you can bash up other guys in wheelchairs,’ says Australian wheelchair rugby captain Ryley Batt

February 25th, 2016

Thrills, spills and firsts aplenty in the ice hockey at Lillehammer 2016

February 25th, 2016

“I got better as a player and as a person because of this experience,” said Finland’s Jimi Uusitalo moments after his side’s 6-2 defeat to Russia in the bronze medal match of the men’s ice hockey competition. “I got to know the guys on my team. I got to meet athletes from other countries and learn about their sport. I had so many great experiences. This is a great event.”

That men’s competition yielded the very last gold medal of the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games, with USA beating Canada 5-2, a scoreline that failed to reflect the closeness of the contest.

The Americans held a slender 3-2 lead when Tyler Weiss left them a man down after picking up slashing penalty late in the third period.

Stepping up the pressure on their depleted opponents by replacing their goaltender with an extra defender, the Canadians were pressing hard for the equaliser when Tyler returned to the ice, the player immediately atoning for his transgression by spinning and powering a low shot into the unguarded net to effectively settle the match.

Tyler Weiss USA and Gleb Babintcev RUS © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

“I was just throwing it somewhere, just getting the puck down the ice,” Tyler said of his crucial goal. “I thought I’d cost us there [by taking the penalty] but the boys killed it off.”

Breaking into a broad smile as he admired the gold medal hanging round his neck, he added: “It was the biggest goal I have ever scored. This thing is heavier than I am.”

Two-goal Lundin inspires Sweden

The women’s final also threw up a hero in Sweden’s Sofie Lundin, who scored twice to set her side on the way to a 3-1 defeat of Czech Republic and was mobbed by her grateful team-mates at full-time.

“I could hardly breathe, but it was worth it. All I was thinking about was ‘we won, we won’,” said Lundin, who spearheaded the Swedish attack throughout the competition.

Sofie, who turned 16 on day four of the YOG, is one of the rising stars of Swedish women’s ice hockey, having been spotted several years ago by the national federation and since promoted to the national U-18 team.

Sofie Lundin SWE (Right) © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

The Swedes led the final from start to finish, only giving the Czechs a glimmer of hope when conceding an own goal at the end of the first period, while Switzerland beat Slovakia 5-2 in the bronze-medal game.

© Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

Skills contests throw up historic firsts

Sena Takenaka made a little piece of history in the women’s skills contest, winning the gold medal to give Japan their first ever international ice hockey title. Taking second place behind her was Italy’s Anita Muraro, while the bronze went to Austria’s Theresa Schfzahl.

Sena Takenaka JPN © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

A competition unique to the Youth Olympic Games, the skills contest features six different tests of individual ability (fastest lap, shooting accuracy, skating agility, fastest shot, pass precision and puck control).

Anita Muraro ITA © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

A total of 16 female players from around the globe entered the competition and went through a qualification contest that trimmed the field to the eight finalists.

Hailing from Japan, Italy, Republic of Korea, Austria, Germany, Slovakia and Norway, the medal contenders were warmly applauded for their skills by the fans at Kristins Hall, with Sena eventually winning a tight and very sportingly contested competition in the final round.

(Gold) Sena Takenaka JPN , (Silver) Anita Muraro ITA and (Bronze) Theresa Schafzahl AUT © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC

Also registering a first for his country in the men’s skills challenge was Romania’s Eduard Casaneanu, who stayed in touch with the leaders in the first four rounds before snatching the gold with victory in the final round (fastest shot). Finland’s Aleks Haatanen and Hungary’s Natan Vertes led the way at the start of the competition only to falter in the pass precision and puck control elements, allowing Eduard to make the title his, with Slovakia’s Sebastian Cederle taking silver and Germany’s Sebastian Cederle and Finland’s Aleks Haatane bronze.

“This is the biggest moment in my career, my country’s first medal,” said the winner as he contemplated his prize. “I am so, so proud. It is an amazing feeling.”

Eduard Casaneanu ROU © Jon Buckle for YIS/IOC

Pulling the Romanian flag around his shoulders for the medal ceremony, an emotional Eduard shed a tear or two on the podium before completing a lap of honour around the rink.

(Gold) Eduard Casaneanu ROU, (Silver) Sebastian Cederle SVK and (Bronze) Erik Betzold GER © Jon Buckle for YIS/IOC

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Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay to showcase diverse beauty of Brazil

February 24th, 2016

Curling mixes it up with great success in Lillehammer

February 24th, 2016

Unique to the Youth Olympic Games, the mixed team competition featured teams of two male and two female curlers from the same NOC, while the mixed doubles, which will be included on the Olympic Winter Games programme at Pyeongchang 2018, comprised pairs made up of a male and female curler from different NOCs.

Unbeaten in the group phase of the mixed team competition, the Canada team formed by skip Mary Fay, Tyler Tardi, Karlee Burgess and Sterling Middleton overpowered Turkey 10-2 in the quarter-finals before edging Switzerland 7-5 in the semis.

Waiting for them in the final was a USA team comprising skip Luc Violette Cora Farrell, Ben Richardson and Cait Flannery, who suffered a solitary defeat to Russia in their group before kicking on to beat Norway 7-5 in the last eight and then get their own back on the Russians with an 8-6 victory in the semis.

© Thomas Lovelock for YIS/IOC

Canada began the final in emphatic fashion, scoring five on the very first end. They continued to heap the pressure on Luc and his team-mates with doubles on the third and fifth ends, and though the USA quartet closed the gap, they were unable to prevent their northern neighbours from recording a comfortable 10-4 win.

The bronze medal went to the Swiss quartet of skip Selina Witschonke, Henwy Lochmann, Laura Engler and Philipp Hoesli, the youngest player in the competition at 14 years of age, who eased to an 11-3 win over Russia after also making an impressive start.

© Thomas Lovelock for YIS/IOC

“It’s just hard to believe,” said Canadian skip Mary. “It’s hard to wrap your head around the idea that you brought the gold medal home for your country.” Delighted with her team’s efforts, Canada coach Helen Radford added: “The level of maturity that all four have is pretty incredible.”

The perfect combination

The mixed doubles competition took place on the final day of the YOG, just a few hours before the Closing Ceremony, with players from different cultures coming together, urging each other on and forging new friendships in a wonderful atmosphere.

The pairings were decided according to the position the players occupied in their teams in the mixed team competition and the final ranking of their teams, a system that ensured the mixed-NOC duos were evenly matched.

The tandem formed by Hoesli and 16-year-old Yako Matsuzawa of Japan quickly found their stride to ease through the early rounds, though they were taken all the way by China’s Riuyi Zhao and Norway’s Andreas Haarstad in the semis, the Swiss/Japanese pairing squeezing through to the final by a 7-6 scoreline.

Yako Matsuzawa JPN and Philipp Hoesli SUI © Jon Buckle for YIS/IOC

Waiting for them there were China’s Yu Han and Great Britain’s Ross Whyte, with Phillip and Yako scoring a crucial four in the fourth end and establishing a 6-3 lead at the halfway stage. A decisive five in the sixth end gave them a commanding lead and though Yu and Ross trimmed the deficit, Phillip and Yako eased home to record an 11-5 win. The bronze went to Zhao and Haarstad.

© Jon Buckle for YIS/IOC

“It’s incredible to win gold,” said Hoesli. “I’m so happy, I can’t believe it. It’s just fantastic. I don’t think the final score is a fair reflection of the match. It was much closer than that. The two rinks played some great shots; it was so tense! I knew that I was the youngest player in the curling tournament, but that’s nothing unusual for me. It’s always like that. And I knew I was the youngest member of the Swiss delegation here. Right now I’m really tired. I’d just like to go to sleep right now!”

“The unique part of it was the mixed doubles and mixed curling,” said USA skip Luc. “Originally going into this a few years ago, I was kind of sceptical about the whole thing. I found it gave me some new perspectives in the game and I am glad it happened. I am more than glad I did this.”

Luc Violette USA © Thomas Lovelock for YIS/IOC

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‘I’m absolutely shocked,’ says Jamaican diver after winning World Cup silver and place at Rio 2016 Olympic Games

February 23rd, 2016

Russia and Kopp on top in Nordic combined

February 23rd, 2016

Turning 17 just five days before the individual Nordic combined competition, Germany’s Tim Kopp celebrated in style on the Lysgardsbakken, soaring out to 99.5m to earn himself a useful eight-second lead over the USA’s Ben Loomis ahead of the 5km cross-country race at the Birkebeineren Ski Stadium.

© Bob Martin/YIS/IOC

Joining the front two in the battle for the medals was Czech Republic’s Andrej Pazout, who was 19 seconds off the pace after his jump, with France’s Lilian Vaxelaire a further 25 seconds further back in fourth.

The front three fought out on exciting duel, with Tim leading the way and Ben and Andrej giving dogged pursuit and eventually closing the gap on the frontrunner. Tim had left something in reserve, however, and made a decisive spurt on the climb on the final lap, pulling away from his pursuers to stop the clock at 13:31.4, with the American trailing in 5.2 seconds behind and the Czech 7.9.

© Thomas Lovelock/YIS/IOC

“It was crazy,” said Tim after his win. “The race was awesome. I thought ‘this is going to be close’, but then I felt strong on the last round and pushed it all out. The jump was just perfect and being first at the start of the race helped me. It made me more relaxed.”
He added: “This is what makes Nordic combined great. I’m feeling so thankful for everyone who made this happen: my coach, my friends and my family. Next, I’m going to the junior world championships. Maybe in some years you’ll see me at the real Olympics. That is my goal.”

Russia prevail in maiden mixed team event

The Nordic combined mixed team NH/3×3.3km competition made its Olympic debut at Lillehammer 2016, with 11 teams of five athletes (one female ski jumper, one male ski jumper, one male Nordic combined athlete, one female cross-country skier and one male cross-country skier) going head to head in an event that began with a round of ski jumping and concluded with a 3×3.3km cross-country skiing relay race.

© Jon Buckle/YIS/IOC

A Slovenia team comprising Nordic combined specialist Vid Vrhovnic took a clear lead in the ski jumping round, which ended with Russia lying fourth overall.

Formed by ladies’ ski jumping silver medallist Sofia Tikhonova, Vitalii Ivanov (Nordic combined), Maksim Sergeev (ski jumping), Igor Fedotov (cross-country) and Maya Yakunina (cross-country), the Russian team bounced back in the cross-country relay, however, with anchorman Fedotov crossing the line fully 21 seconds clear of Norway’s Vebjörn Hegdal to clinch the gold. Taking bronze behind the Norwegians were Germany.

© Jon Buckle/YIS/IOC

“I want to thank my teammates for their performance,” said a jubilant Vitalii afterwards. “The team is very important to me, because we all put in our own effort. We are very happy to be one team and to represent Russia here in Lillehammer.”

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