The Bobsled and Skeleton Worlds in Innsbruck came to a close this weekend, with Germany on top of the standings again, securing six overall medals - including four gold - across the six events. Those four golds included both the men's and women's two-person bobsled, but did not include the four-man as expected. That victory went to a surprise Latvian team led by driver Oskars Melbardis, after a ninth-place finish in the first run to come from behind and nip Germany's Francesco Friedrich for the gold. The competition also featured an exhibition four-woman bobsled race, which was won by Canadian Kallie Humphries and team, over Canada II and Romania in third.
Cameroon Scores 1st Olympic Volleyball Spot
At the conclusion of the 2016 Women's African Olympic Qualifier Tournament for volleyball, team Cameroon won a hard-fought, five-set victory over Egypt to claim the continental representative spot in the Olympics. Although ranked in FIVB higher than the Egyptians, and playing on home turf in Yaounde, the Lionesses were a surprise. In the four previous Olympics, only Kenya (2000, 2004) and Algeria (2008, 2012) have represented Africa. Good for the game is diversity and competition, though - congrats! Egypt and Kenya (in third-place over Algeria) will enter a final Olympic Qualification tournament, along with Colombia and Puerto Rico, for an additional single berth.
India Dominates the Finally-Held South Asia Games
After a few years (!) of delay after original host Kathmandu backed out for 2012 in favor of Delhi 2013, which then postponed to 2015 and then 2016 - and changed in favor of Guwahati and Shillong as hosts, the South Asia Games finally took place. Hosts India, as probably expected, dominated the medal table over the other seven participating nations, with 308 total to second-place Sri Lanka's 186. That tally represents almost half of the total podium placements, and India secured 10 Games records in athletics, 19 in swimming and all seven golds in men's boxing. Kathmandu will finally get its shot at hosting again, with the next iteration currently scheduled for 2018 there in Nepal.
Iran and Kazakhstan Dominate Asian Wrestling
At the Asian Wrestling Championships, Iran finished strong with nine golds (including five of eight in men's freestyle) and 14 overall. Although, that wasn't enough to topple Kazakhstan from the top spot on the medal table, as team Kazakhstan enjoyed five medals in women's freestyle events to outpace the Iranians overall with 17. Perhaps if Iran ever developed a women's program, let alone encouraged their equal citizens to fully access and participate in sport, they might get there. Similarly, China's and Mongolia's twelve medals each were largely powered by their female wrestlers. Just sayin'...
The annual Four Continents Figure Skating Championships ended in Taipei with style this weekend, after two-time winner and Olympic silver-medalist Patrick Chan of Canada produced a personal-best score of 203.99 in the free skate to come back from fifth place after the short to the title. With that, he overcame China's Jin Boyang, who landed four quadruple jumps in one competition's free skate. Jin also is the first person to land three different types of quads in one program. Surely, he is a rising star - and a member of a rising national team program, too, with compatriot Yan Han finishing in third place and with the bronze medal. On the women's side, Japan finished one and three, with Satoko Miyahra and Rika Hongo, respectively, bookending USA's Mirai Nagasu. China secured a one-three in pairs led by Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, while the United States finished one-two in ice dancing, led by the brother-and-sister team of Maia and Alex Shibutani. In the end, the United States and China tied for four medals each, while Japan and Canada each had two medals to complete the competition.
Winter Youth Olympics End
The fourth Youth Olympics and the second winter version concluded in Lillehammer this weekend, with Russia and Germany atop the medal table. Across 70 medals events, Russia finished with 26 medals to Germany's 22, with host Norway in third with 19. Approximately 1100 athletes, aged 14-18, competed in traditional Winter Games sports, with several new additions, including mixed-gender relays and team events in biathlon, nordic skiing and an intriguing ski-snowboard cross event. In addition, mixed nationality teams were allowed - and encouraged - to enter certain competoitions, including curling's mixed doubles, figure skating team, and luge mixed team relay. This certainly enabled a broader range of nations' atheletes to enjoy a podium finish, including Mongolia's Sumiya Buyantogtokh in mixed team sprint speed skating (gold), and Australia's Julia Moore in short track mixed team relay (silver).
Teams USA and Canada Secure Olympic Women's Football Spots
As probably expected, the United States and Canada both secured the two regional representation spots in Rio's women's football tournament with final match placements at the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, ending this week in Houston. The U.S. was never seriously threatened, except in a group stage match against Mexico, which ended in a 1-0 victory thanks to a bounce-back of a failed penalty kick by Carli Lloyd. Otherwise, the Americans easily entered the semifinal match against Trinidad & Tobago with 16 total goals for and 0 against. In the final - in which Canada qualified by defeating Costa Rica 3-1, the U.S. won 2-0.