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Composed and confident, Jacobs cruises past Koe and into Olympic trials final –



SASKATOON — Brad Jacobs wrapped up his post-game interviews, said “thanks” and was walking over to join his teammates when he added one last thought.

“Pretty cool,” the 36-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., said, grinning. “Who gets to do once-in-a-lifetime things over and over again, eh?”

Team Jacobs sure does, sports fans. They’re one win away from earning the chance to represent Canada on the Olympic stage, yet again.

On Saturday at SaskTel Centre, the 2014 Olympic gold medallist led his team to an absolute thrashing of Kevin Koe’s crew in the semifinal of Canada’s Olympic curling trials, an 8-3 win they led from start to finish, a game that ended after just six ends.

“Big win,” Jacobs said, and it was in every sense.

The stage is now set for the Battle of the Brads, with the winner representing Canada in Beijing in February. On Sunday night, Jacobs, his Harnden cousins — E.J. (the second) and Ryan (the lead) — and third Marc Kennedy will play Brad Gushue and his Newfoundland rink, the 2006 Olympic champions, for that coveted 2022 Olympic berth.

“It should be a heck of a game,” Jacobs said. “Really looking forward to it.”

A heck of a game is also in line on the women’s side after the legend that is Jennifer Jones punched her ticket to the final with an 8-3 win over Krista McCarville’s crew from Thunder Bay, Ont., in Saturday night’s semifinal.

When it was over, Jones raised her broom in the air and gave her teammates some solid high-fives while Tina Turner’s “The Best” played over the arena’s speakers. The 2014 Olympic gold medallist was beaming when it was all over.

“These are the moments that you play for, the adrenaline rush, the rollercoaster ride — it’s what makes sport so much fun to train for and to play, that you never know what’s going to happen on any given day and you just try to find your limits and how far you can push it,” Jones said. “And for our team, I’m so proud of the girls and to be in the final tomorrow is our first goal, and now we just want to go out and play well tomorrow.”

The 46-year-old skip, along with third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jocelyn Peterman, lead Dawn McEwan and fifth Lisa Weagle, will be up against fellow Manitoba club Team Tracy Fleury that went undefeated through round-robin play.

The key is simple if you ask Jones: “Just make all our shots, no problem,” she said, smiling.

The women’s final is set for 11 a.m. local time, while the men play at 7 p.m.

The way Jacobs earned his way to Sunday’s trials final was absolutely emphatic, highlighted by “two beauties” from the skip, as Kennedy assessed it.

Beauty No. 1 came in the third end, when Jacobs made the biggest shot of these Olympic trials on his last rock, taking out two of Koe’s to stick an emphatic four. The skipper yelled “Yeah!” and pumped his broom in the air.

In the fifth, again with the hammer, Jacobs scored another four, navigating past a guard for a takeout to bring him to 8-1 at the break. After that one, Jacobs barely smiled and got a couple fist-pumps. It was clinical stuff.

“That pretty much put it away,” Kennedy said.

Koe stared at the ice during the break, down 8-1.

“I mean, it sucks, right,” the skip said when it was all over. Koe represented Canada at the last Olympics.

“What can you say?” he said. “I thought we were ready to play.”

The team’s lead, Ben Hebert, said they brought their “C Game.” Hebert added that whiskey would be consumed tonight.

“That’s the best I’ve seen Brad Jacobs’ team in a couple years,” said Team Koe second, John Morris.

Jacobs agrees on that point.

“They’re playing so well in front of me that it really is making my job seem quite easy and simple,” he said. “Really, this is the best team performance that I can remember that we’ve put together to this point.”

“We haven’t been too uptight, we’ve been relaxed and havin’ fun and really we’ve been following Brad’s lead,” Kennedy added. “Brad’s been fantastic. And I think when you feel like your skip’s gonna make everything, it allows everybody to be a little bit more relaxed and that’s kinda been the story of the week.”

E.J. Harnden echoed that thought.

“Brad’s pretty much been perfect and then it becomes about wanting to be somewhere close to him,” he said, laughing. “He’s made some phenomenal shots all week long. I think what’s been really impressive is just his composure and confidence and support for all of us. He’s out there making everything and he’s giving all of us what we need to be at our very best, too.”

Jacobs and the Harndens won Olympic gold in 2014, while Kennedy won it in 2010 alongside Kevin Martin. The 2022 Olympics would be Kennedy’s third trip – he competed in 2018 alongside Team Koe. For all of them to earn another shot at another Olympic gold, they have to get past Team Gushue.

“I think we all feel very confident heading into tomorrow’s final,” Jacobs said. “What’s it gonna take to beat those guys? It’s gonna take a near-perfect performance.”

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Chiefs’ Tyrann Mathieu suffers concussion on opening drive vs. Bills –



KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu has been ruled out for the remainder of Sunday’s divisional-round game against the Buffalo Bills after suffering a concussion while trying to make a tackle on the opening drive.

The Chiefs had held the Bills to fourth-and-2 at midfield when Allen took off on a designed run. Mathieu went low trying to tackle the 240-pound quarterback and his helmet collided with the knee of teammate Jarran Reed.

Mathieu was checked briefly in the blue sideline tent before he was taken to the locker room.

Allen converted that fourth-down run, then the Bills converted again on fourth-and-goal at the Kansas City 1 to take a 7-0 lead in a rematch of last year’s AFC title game won by the Chiefs.

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Beijing introduces more COVID measures as cases mount before Olympics



Beijing‘s city government on Sunday introduced new measures to contain a recent outbreak of COVID-19, as China’s capital continued to report new local cases of the virus less than two weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympic Games.

Nine locally transmitted cases were found in Beijing on Jan. 22, the National Health Commission said on Sunday, of which six were in the city’s Fengtai district.

Fengtai will organise nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 for all of its residents on Sunday, district health authorities said.

Authorities have asked residents of “risky areas,” including a neighbourhood of Fengtai, to not leave the city, a local government spokesman said at a Sunday news conference, adding that Fengtai residents have been asked to avoid mass gatherings.

Beijing city has also asked residents to proactively conduct nucleic acid tests if they find themselves with COVID-19-like symptoms within 14 days of receiving any deliveries from overseas, local authorities said in a statement dated Saturday.

Authorities have suggested Beijing’s first case of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus could have arrived via a package from Canada.

In Fengtai, some kindergartens have told parents that children who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be able to attend, two parents told Reuters.

Reuters could not determine whether the requirement is a government regulation or the kindergartens’ own rules.

A mother surnamed Wang, whose child attends at a private kindergarten in Fengtai, said a teacher told her on Friday that unvaccinated children will not be allowed to return from Monday citing new government regulations, without providing Wang any official documents.

“This is not on a voluntary basis. This is coercion,” Wang told Reuters. She said she has filed a complaint with authorities in the hope of having the requirement removed.

Reuters could not reach local authorities for comment on a non-business day.

Mainland China reported 56 new COVID-19 cases on Jan. 22, down from 63 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.

Of the new cases, 19 were locally transmitted, versus 23 a day earlier, it said.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 34 from 43.

There were no new fatalities, leaving the death toll at 4,636.

As of Jan. 22, mainland China had confirmed 105,603 cases.

(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang, Roxanne Liu, Jing Xu and Ryan Woo in Beijing; Editing by William Mallard and Christopher Cushing)

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ECHL's Jacksonville Icemen release Jacob Panetta after Jordan Subban calls out racist gesture – The Athletic



The ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen released defenseman Jacob Panetta on Sunday after South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban said he was subjected to a racist gesture during Saturday’s game. The league suspended Panetta indefinitely, pending a hearing under the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

Later Sunday, Panetta released a response on Twitter, tagging Subban and captioning the video, “racism has no place in this world and no place in the game we love.” He said the gesture he made toward Subban was a “tough-guy, bodybuilder-like” one during a confrontation on the ice. He also said he’s made the same gesture to “non-racialized players a number of times” in his career.

Subban said Panetta made monkey gestures in his direction. His brother, New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, later tweeted a video of the incident, which occurred 23 seconds into overtime.

“More like (Panetta) was too much of a coward to fight me and as soon as I began to turn my back he started making monkey gestures at me so I punched him in the face multiple times and he turtled like the coward he is,” Jordan Subban tweeted after the game.

In his video, Panetta said “no racist slurs, noises, or anything of the like, were said by me during the incident.” While he said there were no racial intentions behind the gesture, Panetta apologized for the “pain and suffering and anger my actions have caused him, his family, and everyone that was hurt by this.”

“I acknowledge the impact of my gesture and will commit to better understand the impact going forward,” Panetta said. “Those who know me understand (it) was not intended to be racial, it is not who I am, it is not how I have been raised.

“But at the same time, I need to and I will learn from this. Racism and other forms of discrimination have no place in society, including hockey. I believed that before, and I still believe that now.”

Panetta’s release is “effective immediately” and the investigation is still ongoing at the league level, Jacksonville said in a statement.

South Carolina president Rob Concannon said the club is “disgusted and appalled” by Saturday’s incident.

“Our organization stands in support of our friend and teammate, Jordan, as well as the other players who continue to deal with racism and discrimination. This behavior has to stop and is unacceptable.”

The NHL also issued a statement Sunday, saying it “will continue to make its resources available to the hockey ecosystem to educate and inform, with the goal of making the game welcoming and safe for all players and fans.”

“Incidents of racism, whether they occur in hockey or anywhere else, are abhorrent,” the league said.

Later Sunday, the Devils released a statement backing the Subbans. “We stand in support of Jordan, P.K., the Subban family and anyone who has experienced discrimination within our sport,” team said. “This week’s racist acts within the hockey community are unacceptable and have no place in the game or anywhere.”

On Friday, the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL suspended forward Krystof Hrabik 30 games for using a racial gesture during a game earlier this month.

(Photo: Brett Carlsen / Getty Images)

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