Tuesday March 16th, 2010

• Not only will they be compared for their ability to host Olympic Games and to make tea, but Beijing and London will go head-to-head for the right to stage the IAAF world championships in Track & Field for 2015. If Beijing wins, the championships will be held at the acclaimed Birds' Nest stadium that hosted track at the 2008 Games. If London wins, the events would be held at the Olympic Stadium being built for the 2012 Olympics.

Lindsey Vonn capped off a sensational season last weekend by winning her third straight overall world cup alpine title, becoming the first woman to accomplish the feat since Austria's Petra Kronberger in 1990-1992. Vonn finished with 1671 points for the season, 155 ahead of her German pal Maria Riesch, the runner-up. Sweden's Anja Paerson was a distant third with 1047. The Olympic downhill champ also captured season globes in the two speed events (downhill, Super-G) and in the half speed event, the super combined.

Vonn's 33rd career title on the world cup circuit passed teammate Bode Miller for top all-time spot by a U.S. skier. Miller, who had an outstanding Olympics that included medals of every color, shut down his season prematurely because of an injured ankle.

Switzerland's Carlo Janka won the men's overall title with 1197 points, followed by Austria's Benjamin Raich (1091) and Switzerland's Didier Cuche (952). Ted Ligety, who finished in seventh place with 667 points, was the top U.S. . Of those, he amassed 412 of those in the giant slalom, securing his second career title for that event.

Other men's event title winners included: Cuche (downhill), Canada's Erik Guay (Super-G), Raich (combined) and Austria's Reinfried Herbst (slalom). Women's winners included Germany's Kathrin Hoelzl (giant slalom) and Riesch (slalom).

• As expected, U.S. luge doubles teammates Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin announced their retirement this week following their silver-medal performance at Nationals last week, ending the run of the finest U.S. pair in the history of the sport. After Grimmette competed with another partner at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, he joined forces with Martin. The pair won a bronze medal at the 1998 Games in Nagano and a silver in Salt Lake City four years later. They also captured an astounding nine medals at world championships over the years, though they never won gold. They also won 65 medals on the world-cup circuit during their career as a team. Grimmette, 39, was further recognized for his athletic dedication when he was chosen to carry the U.S. flag during the opening ceremonies in Vancouver.

• With little fanfare, a U.S. track record that lasted nearly two decades fell over the weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Francena McCorory of Hampton University won the 400 meters in 50.54 seconds, topping the mark set by New Yorker Diane Dixon, who ran 50.64 in 1991. Dixon won a gold medal in the 4x400-meter relay at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, but was better known for her prowess on the boards. She won world indoor titles in the 400 in 1985 and 1991.

• The Paralympics opened last week in Vancouver with a stirring tribute to Terry Fox, an iconic Canadian during the opening ceremonies at BC Place. Fox became a nearly mythic figure in 1980 when he attempted to run across Canada after losing his right leg to osteosacrcoma. Though his journey was met with initial skepticism and more than a few honking drivers telling him to get off the road, Fox gradually gained wide support for his personal challenge and his goal to raise money for cancer research throughout the country. He ended his quest after 143 days, when doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to his lungs and he would lose his battle with the disease less than a year later. Still, few courageous humanitarians have resonated with a public as Fox did and still does.

Former Prime Minister Trudeau greeted him along his journey and championed his cause. Pope John Paul said a special prayer for him during one of his masses. Races, parks and roads have been renamed in his honor and a postage stamp bears his likeness. Contributions in his name have exceeded half a billion (yes, with a B) dollars. During the Olympics, his mother, Betty Fox, was among the select eight who carried the Olympic flag into the arena, though many wrote in to various media outlets and campaigned in advance for Mrs. Fox, suggesting the she and not Wayne Gretzky, should be the final torch bearer.

• After his disappointment at the Olympics in Vancouver last month, Canada's Brian McKeever won a gold medal in the 20-kilometer cross-country ski race for visually impaired athletes at the Paralympics. It was his fifth career Paralympic title. The 30-year-old McKeever, who suffers from Stargardt's Disease, was selected for Canada's squad last month and had hoped to compete against able-bodied athletes, but the Canadian coaches who named him to the team did not select him to compete in any races.

• Granted, medal hopes were slim higher for U.S. cross-country skiers in Vancouver, but the team didn't wasn't among the 11 nations that came away with medals and was far off the podium in a number of races. But this weekend, Kikkan Randall won a silver medal in a freestyle sprint race in Oslo, marking only the third time a U.S. woman has reached the podium in a world cup race. On Thursday, Andy Newell also won a bronze medal in a sprint race in Drammen, Norway.

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