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Weekend of world championships forges ahead in face of pandemic

I’m always amazed and, quite frankly, inspired by the passion that our sporting analysts bring to the table each weekend on Road to the Olympic Games. It’s the intimate knowledge and affection they exude which delivers the thrill of competition to so many viewers across the country. And in the face of the pandemic, winter sport around the world has found a way to not only survive, but to thrive in the pre-Olympic year. Perhaps it’s because sport means so much to so many people, in so many places, and the thought of a winter without it is a non-starter. So it is that in Holland, where they are obsessed with speed skating, the world championships push ahead in the Heerenveen bubble and the historic Thialf Arena. Similarly, the sleds continue to rumble in Altenberg, Germany, which is the acknowledged heartland of the sliding pursuits. In the Dolomites of Italy, the alpine world championships unfold as skiing takes centre stage against a spectacular backdrop. Further north, in Scandinavia, the ski cross and snowboard racers go head-to-head in Idre Fjäll, Sweden. In all, Road to the Olympic Games will have eight hours of world championship competition this Saturday and Sunday and the voices who describe the action so expertly have been there to experience the devotion to their respective sports first-hand. Winter sport passion They understand that as we Canadians wouldn’t dream of a season without hockey, or Americans would do anything to make the Super Bowl spectacle happen, Europeans will deliver winter sport world championships — come hell or high water. “Even without fans in the stands, the rich lore and history of the Netherlands’ love for skating is visceral and every skater seems to find that sixth gear regardless of circumstances,” says two-time Olympian Anastasia Bucsis, CBC’s speed skating analyst. “My career’s fondest memories stem from competing in the Netherlands around Remembrance Day. The Dutch fans would come up to us in grocery stores or on the street and thank us not only for racing and providing sporting entertainment but also for Canada’s history of liberating Holland in World War Two.” WATCH | Canadian speed skating coach Shannon Rempel chats with Anastasia Bucsis: Brian Stemmle is a four-time Olympian and raced around Europe on alpine’s World Cup for more than a decade. He knows the lure the “White Circus” has over people. “Being a ski racing fan in Europe is like eating wiener schnitzel in Austria — it’s bred into the culture,” Stemmle says. “Driving from race to race, throughout Europe we’d sometimes stop for lunch at an Autogrill or walk into a pizzeria in Italy. Often, huddled around a small television, watching an afternoon ski race would be a group of grizzled, ski-racing fans drinking espresso and smoking Marlboro’s. “The gentlemen were having a social connection through a sport that they had a passion for. Those die-hards made me realize that people I didn’t even know, halfway around the world, cared about the same thing that I loved and that inspired me to try even harder to be a winner.” ‘Sport brings people together’ Bobsleigh is king in Germany and the 2021 world championships have moved there from Lake Placid, N.Y., the original host, because of the pandemic. They’ve reverted to fertile ground for a beloved and thrilling athletic endeavour. “Sport brings people together and there are certain places, for certain sports, where the energy is palpable. For bobsleigh that place is Germany,” says Helen Upperton, CBC’s bobsleigh analyst and an Olympic silver medallist. “They love the sport, they love the rivalries, the danger, the power and precision and they express their love for all the athletes, not just the home team. Sport is so much more than just the race or the match or the game. It’s the undertow that pulls people in the same direction, toward the common bond; a flag, a team, or an athlete. If you somehow managed to win in Germany, you were never forgotten.” These vivid descriptions of what goes on in exotic places far away are proof that these commentators have travelled the planet to experience the complex, often elusive, attractiveness of sport and can speak to it in the first person. It’s an altogether intangible power which allows sport to defy the universal threat we now face during the days of COVID-19. “I’ve never been made to feel like a rock star the way I was when competing in Holland,” Bucsis recalls. “It really touched my heart and reminded me how unifying and wonderful sport is.” The show must go on For Stemmle, the ability — even during a pandemic — to follow the action is sustenance for fans the world over. “Cheering for a sport you love makes you feel like a part of the team,” he reckons. “Like me cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs, deep down it makes me believe I’m making a difference in the outcome.” “There is something magical about racing in a country that loves a sport as much as you do,” Upperton concludes. “Perhaps this passion for human excellence brings out the best in all of us, athletes and fans alike.” And although it’s a cliché, it amounts to the truth. In uncertain times the wide world of sport will continue to spin on its axis and the show will most definitely go on.

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Quebec reports 749 new COVID-19 cases, 10 deaths as province expands vaccine access – The Daily Courier

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Quebec continued to escalate its vaccination drive over the weekend, reporting Saturday that the past 24 hours had seen it deliver a single-day high of nearly 20,000 shots to its growing list of eligible residents.

The 19,865 jabs administered on Friday mark the most the province has reported in a single day and come as vaccine shipments ramp up across Canada following numerous international shipment delays.

To date, provincial figures show 532,012 doses of vaccine have been administered out of a total of 638,445 received from the federal government.

Provincial health minister Christian Dube highlighted the upward trend in a tweet on Saturday.

“Vaccinations have [increased] over the last few days and will continue to [increase], with other regions in addition to Montreal beginning mass vaccination next week,” Dube wrote.

Until recently, Quebec has concentrated its vaccination effort on particular groups such as health-care workers, people living in remote regions and seniors in long-term care facilities.

The government began allowing members of the general public to schedule appointments to receive their vaccines recently, with eligibility varying by region. In Montreal and Laval, for example, people over the age of 70 can book appointments, while slots are restricted to people over 80 in other regions.

More regions are scheduled to expand vaccine access to those in different age groups starting next week.

In addition to the vaccine numbers, Quebec reported 749 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday along with 10 new deaths linked to the virus.

Hospitalizations across the province declined by 16 to 601 over the past 24 hours, while the number of patients in intensive care declined by two to 109.

Quebec’s case numbers have stabilized in recent weeks, prompting officials to relax restrictions in some regions.

Starting on March 8, areas such as Estrie and Capitale-Nationale will be designated as “orange zones,” meaning the provincewide curfew will be extended until 9:30 p.m. rather than 8 p.m. More businesses, including restaurants, will also be allowed to open at limited capacity.

Quebec premier Francois Legault has said that Montreal and the surrounding areas will not see any imminent changes in public health restrictions, warning that more contagious variants of the virus could prompt a sharp uptick in the number of cases in the region.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.

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Functioning cellphone returned to owner after nearly 6 months at bottom of Harrison Lake – CBC.ca

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Fatemeh Ghodsi was skeptical at first when she got a text from someone saying they found her phone nearly six months after she lost it in Harrison Lake.

Ghodsi, who lives in Vancouver, was confused and thought one of her friends might be playing a prank on her. But she was soon convinced and made the trip to Chilliwack to collect the phone, which amazingly still works.

Clayton Helkenberg and his wife Heather found the lost iPhone 11 during a sweep of the lake bottom under the water park at Harrison Lake — part of a hobby that includes the odd treasure find, but mostly just lots of garbage clean up.

Ghodsi dropped the phone in the water in early September, during a ride on the bumper boats — photos recovered from the phone show her still smiling moments before the mishap.

Fatemeh Ghodsi gives the peace sign as she and her friend are seen riding bumper boats at Harrison Lake in early September. Moments later, Ghodsi’s phone was lost at the bottom of the lake. (Fatemeh Ghodsi)

“I was in a situation where I kind of lost balance and dropped it in the water,” she said, adding that the water park staff convinced her it would be impossible to find the phone in the deep water.

“Distressed and in tears, we went back to Vancouver just kind of hopeless,” said Ghodsi.

She soon bought a new phone, and came to terms with the lost photos, contacts, and other personal information that hadn’t been backed up.

YouTubing diver

Helkenberg has been snorkeling, swimming and diving for years, but at the start of 2020 — with extra time on his hands after being laid off — he started putting more effort into searching for lost items in the water, as well as doing trash cleanup missions.

Sometime he goes on his diving missions with friends and his wife. He even started a YouTube channel to document his finds.

[embedded content]

Last year, he found more than a hundred pairs of sunglasses, 26 cellphones and two GoPro cameras. This year, he’s already counted 35 pairs of sunglasses, five phones and one GoPro.

His underwater work has even attracted some media attention, including a report of 359 kilograms of trash he and friends pulled from Cultus Lake earlier this year.

This week, he was at Harrison Lake — the water is much shallower now than it was in the summer, and according to Helkenberg, it’s quite clear. He found a severely damaged flip phone, but Heather Helkenberg noticed Ghodsi’s iPhone.

Heather Helkenberg finds an iPhone 11 in the sediment at the bottom of Harrison Lake. She said it was the first cellphone she has found. (Clayton Helkenberg)

‘It just turned right on’

Clayton Helkenberg said he usually puts phones in a container of silica to dry them out, but he’s had good luck with iPhone 11s.

“I took it home, cleaned the dirt off of it and it just turned right on, so it was pretty amazing,” he said.

He pulled out the SIM card, put it in another phone to figure out the phone number and got in touch with Ghodsi.

“I was in complete shock, initially to start with. It was kind of like a zombie phone coming back to me, because I’d totally made peace with it being gone,” she said.

Ghodsi said the microphone is broken and the speaker sounds weird, but everything else is in perfect shape; the battery health is still at 96 per cent.

She’s thankful for the phone’s recovery and inspired that Helkenberg makes the effort to reunite people with lost valuables, asking nothing in return. But the experience has left Ghodsi even more impressed by his trash cleanup work, saying it’s a reminder to keep our water clean.

“It gives me so much hope for the good that’s out there,” she said.

As for the next time she takes a ride on the bumper boats? Ghodsi said she’ll either leave her phone and valuables on the shore or keep them securely stowed in a pocket.


Do you have more to add to this story? Email rafferty.baker@cbc.ca

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker

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Watch: Elon Musk's SpaceX Starship Lands, Then Explodes – NDTV

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Watch: Elon Musk's SpaceX Starship Lands, Then Explodes

Despite the mishap, the test is likely to signal progress for the massive vehicle.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s newest and biggest rocket pulled off its first successful landing, then exploded a brief time later and was engulfed by fire.

The Starship SN-10 prototype lifted off from SpaceX’s seaside launch pad at about 5:15 p.m. in Boca Chica, Texas, on Wednesday, based on a live video stream on SpaceX’s website. The rocket then flew to an altitude of about 10 kilometers (around 6 miles) before turning its engines back on and settling on the landing pad with a slight lean.

Shortly after that, the rocket was lifted into the air by an explosion and consumed by flames, possibly after a fire ignited fuel. Until that point, the rocket appeared to achieve a key milestone with its first stable landing in three attempts. After its ascent, Starship shut off its three Raptor engines and performed a controlled “belly flop” descent, then reignited its engines to make a vertical landing.

Despite the mishap, the test is likely to signal progress for the massive vehicle. An earlier Starship rocket slammed to the ground on the program’s first high-altitude flight Dec. 9, igniting a fireball, followed by a similar outcome with a second prototype last month. No one was hurt in the mishaps, and there were no reports of injuries from the fire after the latest flight, which was the third high-altitude test.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk plans to use the Starship to shuttle as many as 12 people around the moon in 2023, land NASA astronauts on the lunar surface and eventually settle explorers on Mars. The company still has work to prepare the Starship for its first orbital flight, which could occur later this year.

“I’m highly confident that we will have reached orbit many times with Starship before 2023, and that it will be safe enough for human transport by 2023,” Musk said Tuesday in a video released by Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who has invited eight people to apply to join his “fun trip” around the moon. “It’s looking very, very promising.”

SpaceX conceived the stainless steel Starship as a versatile, fully reusable craft that can carry 100 metric tons for deep-space missions to the moon and Mars. It’s also designed to serve as a hypersonic, point-to-point vehicle to reduce travel times across Earth.

Excluding a heavy booster that creates a two-stage system, Starship is 160 feet (49 meters) high with a 30-foot diameter, and able to carry as many as 100 passengers.

Musk said in October that he’s 80% to 90% confident that Starship will be ready for an orbital flight this year. SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, plans to fly multiple Starship prototypes from its Texas launch site near the U.S.-Mexico border.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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