Snow trucked in, starting place moved north for famed Iditarod dog sled race amid unusually warm and dry Alaska winter
Al Jazeera / AP, March 8
A lack of snow has forced the Iditarod dog sled race to relocate its traditional start on Monday from Anchorage to Fairbanks, for the second time in the history of the event.
A stalled jet stream pushed Arctic air and snow into the U.S. Midwest and the East Coast, but kept Alaska fairly warm and dry this winter, especially south of the Alaska Range where the Iditarod was due to begin. Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, received only about a third of its normal winter snowfall, making for treacherous trail conditions and forcing race officials to make the course adjustment.
On Saturday, snow was trucked into Anchorage for the ceremonial start, which is a show for fans who can’t make it to the actual race’s rugged thousand-mile trail that will stretch from Fairbanks to Nome this year.
City crews overnight delivered up to 350 dump truck loads of snow and spread it out over city blocks so the show could go on. City maintenance workers stockpiled snow from neighborhoods the past few months and kept it for winter events, culminating with the Iditarod, said Paul VanLandingham with the public works department.
The festivities started Saturday morning in very un-Iditarod-like conditions — almost 40 degrees with a light rain falling before the start.
If you hadn’t heard, World Cup host nation Brazil had its dreams shattered last evening.
For those that might not have noticed, there’s an important horse race to be run today at Belmont Park, New York.
To begin, California Chrome has a chance to win the Triple Crown, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1978. This entails winning three consecutive races against the best three year-old Thoroughbreds in the country, The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and finally the Belmont Stakes. While there are more valuable races, none carry the prestige of these three classics. Read More
Well, we’re literally days away from the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics, and Vladimir Putin is starting to see his chickens come home to roost:
The Olympic teams of Germany, Hungary and Italy said Wednesday that they had received emails threatening attacks at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, adding to mounting security fears two weeks before competition begins.
The International Olympic Committee told NBC News that it did not consider the threats credible and said that they appeared to be “a random message from a member of the public.”
Still, the threats arrived as Russian security forces were hunting for at least five suspected terrorists who may be plotting attacks against the Olympic torch relay or the games themselves, according to noticed posted in Sochi.
Don’t let anyone tell you that sports isn’t political. Sports is always political.
Now if we can only get Putin to change his mind about teh gheys:
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s parliament on Wednesday passed an amnesty bill that will likely apply to the 30-member crew of a Greenpeace ship detained after an Arctic protest, but it wasn’t immediately clear if and when the activists would be allowed to leave the country.
The amnesty, which also would likely free the two jailed members of the Pussy Riot punk band, has been largely viewed as the Kremlin’s attempt to soothe criticism of Russia’s human rights records ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February. But opposition lawmakers argued it doesn’t go nearly far enough and the complicated legislation appeared to leave many questions open.
The State Duma on Wednesday voted 446-0 in favor of the carefully tailored bill, which mostly applies to those who haven’t committed violent crimes, first-time offenders, minors and women with small children. Lawmakers said they expect about 2,000 people to be released from jail.
I’m on the fence about boycotting the Sochi Olympics next year over the LGBT punishments handed out by Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.
I can certainly see the point of making a boycott, withdrawing our athletes over treating anyone as subhuman – altho it’s interesting that many of the people rallying for a boycott oppose intervention in Syria over a far worse human rights abuse…one of the reasons I’m on the fence here, because I’m on the fence there, too.
Still, something about it all bothered me, and then I happened to catch this on the new ESPN show, “Olbermann,” the new home of an old friend of the blog, Keith Olbermann.
Watch Johnny Weir speak passionately on not boycotting and then tell me if I’m wrong that his point about Jesse Owens isn’t one of the most powerful statements made about this issue, altho Keith Olbermann made a great point about Marty Glickman at those same Games.
When word broke that ESPN was unexpectedly and belatedly ending its involvement with PBS’s Frontline on a pair of documentaries investigating head injuries in football, ESPN swore up and down it had nothing to do with keeping the NFL happy. According to a report in today’s New York Times, that was a bold-faced lie. ESPN’s statement was that it was pulling out because it had no editorial control over the documentaries—even though it’s known that for months, and as recently as two weeks ago was trumpeting its partnership with Frontline.
In just a few short days, the National Football League’s 2013 season begins, and America’s obsession with violence punctuated by committee meetings (apologies to George Will) will commence.
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with football.
It’s January in the South. Two teams are gearing up to play a professional football playoff game, the semi-finals. The winner gets bragging rights to be the conference champion. The host city spent billions in taxpayer dollars on a stadium to keep the team local. Worldwide television is covering the game, Tens of thousands of live spectators and millions around the globe are watching two of the premier American football teams square off.
Meanwhile, outside, the masses of poor residents gather. They have signs protesting the amount of money the city has spent on this spectacle, and how it could have been spent creating jobs, or feeding and housing the poor. The police move in. Teargas flies, some of it filters into the stands, causing spectators to choke.
It would never happen here. But it did happen in Rio de Janeiro last night: Read More
This is pretty sad, if you’re a baseball fan:
Major League Baseball will seek to suspend about 20 players connected to the Miami-area clinic at the heart of an ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, possibly within the next few weeks, “Outside the Lines” has learned. If the suspensions are upheld, the performance-enhancing drug scandal would be the largest in American sports history.
Tony Bosch, founder of the now-shuttered Biogenesis of America, reached an agreement this week to cooperate with MLB’s investigation, two sources told “Outside the Lines,” giving MLB the ammunition officials believe they need to suspend the players.
One source familiar with the case said the commissioner’s office might seek 100-game suspensions for Rodriguez, Braun and other players, the penalty for a second doping offense. The argument, the source said, is the players’ connection to Bosch constitutes one offense, and previous statements to MLB officials denying any such connection or the use of PEDs constitute another.
Some random thoughts on the Boston bombing yesterday:
– Road running is about as egalitarian a sport as there is. All you need is — well, I was going to say a pair of sneakers, but you don’t even need that. Or feet. But most people can do it for free, with minimal equipment. That an event like that is terrorized speaks volumes about the cowardice of the bomber(s).
– That said, a few things should be noted about this particular race:
- While marathons are generally viewed as peace time activities, we should not forget that they have their roots in war. The first marathon was run to celebrate an Athenian victory. Was the bomber aware of this? Who knows?
- It was the celebration of Patriot’s Day, the day when the American Revolution kicked off (actually, that’s April 19, but the celebration is always the third Monday of the month.) The bomber most certainly was aware of this.
- The race is run in the city most synonymous with an event that probably instigated the fierce British response that triggered the Revolution full stop: the Tea Party. I’ll let you draw whatever conclusions you may from that, but it’s an eerie note to make.
Folks outside of New York – hell, folks outside of Queens – are probably not aware of the Flushing Meadow Park, except in snippets they’ve seen on the TeeVee during the US Open or perhaps NY Mets baseball games. It is the largest park in Queens, spanning nearly 1,300 acres, and is bordered by three highways. It was the site of the 1939 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs, and is most famous for the Unisphere (featured in more movies located in New York City than you can shake a stick at), a Cold War relic that celebrated the first Mercury flight to circle the globe.
An historic event occured over the weekend, and I’m betting you didn’t even hear about it.
[Lauren] Silberman kicked only twice. They were two kickoffs for a total of 30 yards. Only one crossed the midfield stripe – by a yard. After that, her day was over because she said she aggravated a quad injury she suffered in practice last week.
In the NFL, the ball is placed on the defense’s 35 yard line, which means it must make it 65 yards to the other team’s defensive end zone for a kicker to be considered effective. Granted, with an injury to a quad, a kicker is going to be far from effective which begs the question why not take a miss on this tryout and find a way to latch onto a team’s training camp as a walk-on?
Sadly, the perception from the NFL owners and general managers will probably be more sexist than that.