Thousands of dead fish found near Rio Olympic sailing venue

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
1:31
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Rio Olympics, pollution, sailing, Guanabara Bay, Rio de JaneiroAP Photo/Leo CorreaA large fish die-off was found in Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro near the Olympic sailing venue. The discovery came amid a visit by International Olympic Committee inspectors, in Rio to check up on the city's preparations.

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Rio de Janeiro's state environmental agency says it is investigating a fish die-off that has left thousands of carcasses floating in waters where sailing events are to be held when Brazil hosts next year's Olympics.

The dead twaite shad, small whitish gray fish, were discovered Tuesday by inspectors conducting routine water testing in Rio's sewage- and trash-filled Guanabara Bay. The agency was conducting tests to determine the cause of the die-off, with results expected in a week, it said in a statement Tuesday.

The discovery of the fish, which were washing up on the coastline outside Rio's international airport and about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the starting point for the 2016 Olympic sailing events, comes amid a visit by International Olympic Committee inspectors, in Rio to check up on the city's progress in preparing for the games.

It also follows upbeat comments by Rio Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao, who said the city was working to meet its pledge to treat 80 percent of the sewage in the sprawling urban area that rings the bay. While the lion's share of area sewage long has long flowed, raw, into the bay, Pezao said 49 percent of the area's sewage was now being treated. Still, he acknowledged that Rio is unlikely to meet its goal of 80 percent treatment.

"It's not easy," he told reporters at an event in Rio's subway system on Wednesday. "Every time we have a negotiation, the bidding process (for the project) slows and postpones things."

The IOC executive director of the Olympic Games, Christophe Dubi, said at a news conference in Rio on Wednesday that it's his understanding the goal of depolluting Guanabara Bay by 80 percent remains.

"We are still aiming for this goal. We cannot judge until the finish line," he said. "We are like athletes in that we are pushing toward the finish line and we should respect that every effort is being made."

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Air + Style brings big air and snow to Pasadena

February, 23, 2015
Feb 23
5:42
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Big Air in PasadenaBrett Wilhelm/ESPNA 150-foot-tall big air ramp was the centerpiece of two days of snowboarding, skiing and music at the inaugural Air + Style: Los Angeles.

PASADENA, Calif. -- Air + Style, a 22-year-old contest known as the breeding ground for snowboarding trick progression mostly held in Innsbruck, Austria and Beijing, came to the United States for the first time last weekend thanks to new majority owner Shaun White. This time, skiers were invited, too.

Dubbed "a mix of Coachella and X Games" by White, the inaugural event was occasionally at odds with its Pasadena neighbors, much like the annual music festival and its hosts in Indio.

Noise ordinances prompted Saturday's headliner Kendrick Lamar to rant about the low volume, and he left the stage with 40 minutes remaining in his scheduled set. A riser designed for VIPs had to be dismantled and removed during the opening hours of Saturday's festival, among other reported permitting difficulties.

Even the ramp, originally planned to be inside the Rose Bowl based on renderings revealed at the announcement last fall, was constructed on the front lawn outside of the stadium.

But the contest itself, the reason for the event in the first place, kept with its innovative tradition. Yuki Kadono landed the first switch backside triple cork 1620 in a snowboarding competition to take the gold medal on Saturday. Sebastien Toutant of Canada finished second and Norwegian Ståle Sandbech got third. Sandbech also wrapped up the snowboard season title after making the final.

"It's awesome," said Kadono, the 18-year old from Japan who speaks very little English. "I'm so happy."

Just two years ago, only four riders could land a triple cork. Now, it's a trick anyone with gold medal ambitions has to have in their repertoire as Air + Style has continuously rewarded progression. Saturday was no different.

The roster of snowboarders and skiers featured 22 Olympians, including American Sochi gold medalist snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg (who didn't qualify for the finals). Even though the ramp ended up on the lawn, the 200-foot tall snow covered centerpiece shone like a giant icicle in the middle of Southern California utopia framed by palm trees and mansions.

And on Sunday, when a rare rainstorm threatened to wash out the competition, the skiers gave it their best, despite the conditions. After several long bouts of rain, however, the ramp had had enough. Round 1 standings held, and American Olympian Gus Kenworthy was awarded the ski gold medal.

Despite all the medals, money and sponsors, giant ramps and cameras, Toutant said snowboarding is always all about having fun.

"Snowboarding has advanced so much that we're continuously pushing the limits of what we can do." Toutant said. "But I think kids need to just have fun and forget about the fame."

Check out more photos from Air + Style on XGames.com.

Action sports at the Sochi Olympics: One year later

February, 21, 2015
Feb 21
1:35
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One year ago this month, the lives of a dozen or so freeski and snowboard athletes were flipped upside down when they won gold medals for their countries at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Russia.

XGames.com checked in to see what's changed for the freeski and snowboard slopestyle and halfpipe gold medalists since bringing home the prestigious hardware. See the gallery here and check out an update from slopestyle gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg below.



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The most famous moment in American sports took place 35 years ago this week when the U.S. hockey team shocked the world by defeating the Soviet Union 4-3 at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. The victory led to "U-S-A! U-S-A!" chants, nationwide celebration, repeated honors for the "Do You Believe in Miracles?" team (including the 2002 Olympics torch-lighting), a dozen or so books, a 1981 made-for-TV movie, a 2001 documentary and a 2004 major movie starring Kurt Russell.

And all of that, naturally, was from the American perspective.

Now, 35 years later, we’re finally seeing the Soviet view of what happened in the recently-aired ESPN 30-for-30 documentary "Of Miracles and Men" and the recently-released documentary "Red Army." Rather than write about the documentary made by my employers, I’ll focus on the telling and entertaining "Red Army" which explores the fascinating story of the Soviet team.

As an old black-and-white clip of Ronald Reagan says in the "Red Army" trailer: "In the traditional motion picture story, the villains are usually defeated and the ending is a happy one. I can make no such promise for the picture you’re about to watch."

"Red Army" describes the development of the Soviet team under coach Anatoli Tarosov, considered to be the father of Russian hockey. He is then followed by the brutal Viktor Tikhonov, who is more the Dictator of Russian hockey and, according to the documentary, got the head coaching gig due to KGB links.

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U.S. Ski Team brings the funk

February, 19, 2015
Feb 19
4:26
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FALUN, Sweden -- The U.S. cross-country skiers are showing off some funky dance moves to get fans back home excited about the world championships.

The American team spent three weeks producing a four-minute video with the men's and women's cross-country skiers dancing in the snow, moon-walking in ski boots and lip-syncing to "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson. It was choreographed by reigning team sprint world champion Jessie Diggins, who said the team wanted to "share our passion with the rest of our fans back in the U.S."

It seems to be working. Less than a day after being uploaded on Wednesday evening, the video had been viewed more than 250,000 times on the team's Facebook page.

The Nordic skiing world championships began Thursday with individual classical-style sprint races. Diggins said the U.S. team started filming its video in Davos, Switzerland, three weeks ago, then continued shooting scenes during a World Cup meet in Ostersund, Sweden, this past weekend before wrapping it up in Falun.

Diggins took dance classes as a child and choreographed the moves, while men's skiers Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell did the video editing. It also features some of the team staff and a cameo by Swedish sprinter Emil Jonsson, who had the Americans over for dinner in Ostersund one night.

"It's great team bonding, especially when people are getting nervous about worlds," Diggins told The Associated Press. "We'd have dance practice in the hallways and meeting rooms for weeks. I'd wake up and come outside in the morning and the boys would be out in the hallway on their own practicing. It was so cool."