Hanyu, Ledecká rise above it all in a year when world sport needed them - and other athletes - as salvation from scandal and cowardice

Hanyu, Ledecká rise above it all in a year when world sport needed them - and other athletes - as salvation from scandal and cowardice

In international sports, 2018 was a year of courage and cowardice and common sense in seeing through a con.

And, as usual, it was a year of athletes of all colors, backgrounds, nations, shapes and sizes rising above the inanity, craven callousness and amorality of the old, white men who run global sports.

To which one can only say this:  Thanks, Yuzuru Hanyu and Simone Biles, thanks Ester Ledecká and Chloe Kim, thanks Eliud Kipchoge and Team Shuster. . .thanks to you and more for the achievements and goodwill that made us remember that sport, for all its ugly, scandalous warts, can show humankind at its most attractive.

Read More

In needed move to prevent federation figure skating heads from judging, ISU still needs to go further

In needed move to prevent federation figure skating heads from judging, ISU still needs to go further

The International Skating Union’s biennial congress early next month will consider a proposal that might have been unnecessary if the top Canadian figure skating federation official had a more accurate ethical compass.

So you can call Urgent Proposal No. 6 the Leanna Caron Rule, since the proposal obviously was spurred largely by the actions of Skate Canada president Caron.

The proposal, submitted by the ISU Council, is a move in the right direction toward eliminating conflicts of interest that can undermine confidence in judging of this highly subjective sport.  Hopefully, it will pass.

But it doesn’t go quite far enough.

And the ISU needs to change another regulation so it can go further.

Read More

Sonia Henie, as controversial as she was legendary

Sonia Henie, as controversial as she was legendary

I saw a tweet this week from Kiira Korpi, the Finnish figure skater who won medals three times at the European Championships, that referred to the last day of filming skating scenes for a Sonja Henie movie.  You can't find much information online about such a movie, but it is a biopic with the working title, "Queen of Ice."

That suggests it is drawing from a biography, "Queen of Ice, Queen of Shadows, the Unsuspected Life of Sonja Henie."  The book, written by a Hollywood screenwriter and Henie's estranged brother, paints a very unflattering portrait of the greatest figure skater in history, seen by many as a Nazi collaborator or sympathizer, criticized by Norwegians for her high life, little esteemed in her own country until the end of her life.

When I went to Norway in 1993 to do reporting for a profile on Henie that appeared in a Sports Illustrated Olympic advertising supplement before the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games, I asked Jan Staubo, then his country's International Olympic Committee member, to assess the way Norwegians viewed Henie today.  Staubo, who had been a pilot and German prisoner during World War II, politely but firmly declined to talk about Henie.

Read More

Chances grow of two-for-one Summer Games (2024-28) deal

Chances grow of two-for-one Summer Games (2024-28) deal

The chances have increased substantially for the hosts of both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics to be named at the same time this September.

That was the takeaway both from an action the International Olympic Committee executive board took Friday and also the statements IOC President Thomas Bach made in a press conference after the meeting at the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In his first public comments directly on the possibility of a joint award to Los Angeles and Paris, the 2024 candidates, Bach made it clear the IOC would do well “to exploit a positive situation” of having “two excellent candidates from two major Olympic countries.”

Read More

With five quads, Chen continues to defy limits of figure skating

With five quads, Chen continues to defy limits of figure skating

Athletes are always redefining the limits of human possibility. When they push past one barrier by doing something extraordinary, something for the ages, they dream of what might be next.

When Nathan Chen, then 16, landed four clean quadruple jumps in the free skate at last year's U.S. championships -- becoming the first U.S. athlete to do so -- it already defied the imagination. He had already pushed the sport to the edge of the 22nd century, so it was hard to believe it would take him only one year to defy the realistic pace of progress.

Chen was dreaming even bigger, however, and began working to turn visions into reality.

Five quadruple jumps in the eight jumping passes of a free skate? So what if nobody had ever done that many quads clean in a competition. Why not?

That is precisely what Chen did Sunday afternoon at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Kansas City, tossing them off with surpassing ease that could only have one thinking that this is just the beginning of how this young man may reset the physical parameters of figure skating.

Read More