Nunavut’s Higgs guides his team to territory’s first-ever win at Brier
LONDON, Ont. — Kevin Koe, Reid Carruthers and Matt Dunstone were the headliners entering the Saturday afternoon draw at the Tim Hortons Brier.
Nunavut skip Jake Higgs ended up stealing the show.
Higgs guided his team to a 7-4 victory over Newfoundland and Labrador’s Nathan Young for the territory’s first-ever win at the Canadian men’s curling championship.
“I have been a competitive curler for a long time,” Higgs said. “I got to go to the Olympics as a coach but this (win) in front of this crowd today, it was the best moment of my curling life.”
Nunavut entered play with an all-time record of 0-38 at the Brier since making its debut in 2018.
Playing on Sheet A by the side boards at Budweiser Gardens, the spectators gave the players a standing ovation after the historic win. Higgs raised his broom in the air and the crowd roared its approval.
“You have to experience it to understand what it felt like,” Higgs said. “It was incredible.”
Higgs stole a single in the ninth end when Young was heavy with a draw. The 47-year-old team import made a hit and roll in the 10th that sat buried and Young’s tricky double-takeout attempt didn’t work out.
The announced crowd of 4,858 included many friends and family members from the five-player Nunavut side.
“So many people I know from across Ontario and Canada were out there watching and cheering for us,” Higgs said. “It felt really genuine and it felt awesome.”
Higgs lives in Strathroy, Ont., about a half-hour drive from London. Three of his four teammates also have southern Ontario roots.
Second Brady St. Louis, an Iqaluit native, lives in nearby St. Marys, Ont. Lead Christian Smitheram was born in Oakville, Ont., and calls Iqaluit home.
Fifth Terry Lichty, a native of Guelph, Ont., also lives in the Nunavut capital. Third Sheldon Wettig was born in Iqaluit and resides in Brandon, Man.
“I’m still floating up somewhere else,” Smitheram said after the memorable win. “It’s surreal and so great to be here.”
Higgs was 0-7 in his previous Brier appearance in 2020. He has made four career appearances at the Canadian mixed playdowns and coached the American mixed doubles team at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
After shaking hands, the Nunavut squad took pictures by the scoreboard featuring the historic result before celebrating with supporters in the stands.
“You just try to keep breathing,” Higgs said of the final few ends. “I was nervous out there. You just try and say, ‘You know what, just make all the shots you can and let the chips fall where they may.’
“Today we made more shots. It was awesome.”
Nunavut played in a pre-tournament qualification draw at the Brier in 2016 and ’17.
The territory went 0-3 in both years before getting a main draw berth in 2018. Qualification games are not considered official results by Curling Canada.
On Saturday, curlers on the other three sheets would occasionally check in on the Sheet A action. The loudest cheers of the day were for the Nunavut side.
“You can tell how much it means to them,” said Nova Scotia third Luke Saunders. “It’s so good for the nation that this is just so well represented. Everybody feels present.
“I think that this win really secures that. Happy to be out there for it.”
It was the Nunavut team’s first competitive game since winning the territorial playdowns in Iqaluit last December.
“I think it’ll do nothing but help curling up there,” Higgs said. “They’ve got a good junior program going up there and they’re starting to get more involvement.
“A win like this, maybe it (gets) a few more people out to the rink. I think it’ll be great.”
Nunavut also had a main draw spot in the Canadian women’s championship starting in 2018. The territory earned its first Scotties Tournament of Hearts win the following year.
In other games Saturday, Dunstone led his Manitoba side to a 9-3 victory over Saskatchewan’s Kelly Knapp.
Koe’s Alberta team held off Nova Scotia’s Matthew Manuel 5-4 and Northern Ontario’s Tanner Horgan posted a 6-4 win over Carruthers and his Wild Card 2 rink.
In the night draw, Brendan Bottcher’s Wild Card 1 side picked up a 10-3 win over Karsten Sturmay’s Wild Card 3 rink, and Ontario’s Mike McEwen topped Canada’s Brad Gushue 6-4.
Quebec’s Felix Asselin beat Yukon’s Thomas Scoffin 8-2 and Prince Edward Island’s Tyler Smith needed an extra end to complete a 9-8 win over New Brunswick’s Scott Jones.
The competition shifts to a three-draw daily schedule starting Sunday. Round-robin play continues through Thursday and the final is scheduled for March 12.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2023.
Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos bidding for Washington Commanders – The Globe and Mail
In 2009, Toronto real-estate developer Andreas Apostolopoulos shocked the U.S. sports community by purchasing an 80,000-seat football stadium in the Detroit suburbs for the rock-bottom price of just US$583,000.
A generation later, son Steve Apostolopoulos is shaking up pro sports with an audacious move at the other end of the spectrum. Where his late father snagged a bargain, his Harvard University-educated offspring will potentially set a new high-water mark for the value of a professional franchise, as one of two bidders offering more than US$6-billion for the National Football League’s Washington Commanders.
In vying for an NFL team, the formerly low-profile Apostolopoulos is striving for membership in the most exclusive of clubs, as an owner of a pro sports franchise. If he buys the Commanders, the son of a Greek immigrant will be rubbing shoulders with heirs to the Walmart fortune, who acquired the Denver Broncos last summer for a record US$4.65-billion, and hedge fund billionaire David Tepper, who acquired the Carolina Panthers in 2018 for a then-record US$2.2-billion.
To buy the Commanders, Apostolopoulos will need to outbid a group led by Josh Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management, one of the world’s largest alternative asset funds. Harris already owns the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers and a stake in the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils and is worth an estimated US$7-billion.
Over the past 18 months, Apostolopoulos has built a relationship with NBA player agent Bernie Lee, president of Thread Sports Management LTD. In an interview, Lee said the real-estate executive has done the work needed to succeed as a team owner.
“Steve has immersed himself in the inner workings of pro sports, from understanding players and team management to the big-picture issues around the league,” said Lee, who represents basketball stars Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons. “Steve’s business and people skills are comparable to, or exceed, those of any sports owner I’ve meet.”
Prior to turning his attention to the NFL, Apostolopoulos was one of several bidders on a stake owner Michael Jordan is selling in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.
Apostolopoulos’s wealth comes from commercial and industrial real estate that he owns with his two older brothers, Jim and Peter, through a private company called the Triple Properties. The portfolio includes office towers in Detroit, movie studios and a 40-acre complex near Toronto anchored by the Pickering Casino Resort. Apostolopoulos did not respond Wednesday to an interview request.
TriBro Studios, the family’s collection of sound stages in the Toronto area, count Disney, Bell Media and Netflix as clients. The studios include an industrial site, ‘The Pit,’ that can be flooded and serves as a backdrop for science fiction, horror and action shoots.
In Pickering, Triple used a casino run by Great Canadian Entertainment as the anchor for a larger development featuring a hotel, restaurants and a concert venue that will play host to singer Bryan Adams in April. Apostolopoulos, along with potential lenders that include Royal Bank of Canada, see a similar real-estate play in Washington’s football team, which current owner Daniel Snyder acquired in 1999 for US$800-million, according to two sources familiar with the potential buyer’s plans.
Washington’s current stadium, FedEx Field, opened in 1997 and is considered dated. Snyder owns the property and has proposed moving to a new site within the city, or in nearby Maryland or Virginia. Redevelopment plans were put on hold after the NFL fined Snyder US$10-million in 2021 following an investigation into sexual harassment and other workplace issues at the Commanders. Last November, Snyder announced he would sell all or part of the team.
If he wins the auction, Apostolopoulos plans to build a new stadium near Washington and redevelop FedEx Field and the team’s practice facility in Virginia, potentially making US$1-billion on the real estate, according to sources. They said the Commanders consistently turn a profit on television revenues, and are expected to increase revenues from ticket and merchandise sales if a new owner can restore fan interest in a former marquee franchise that has won three Super Bowls.
The Commanders – rebranded in 2022 after Snyder yielded to years of protests over the name Redskins – had the lowest home attendance in the NFL last year, selling 85 per cent of seats. No other team sold less than 92 per cent of tickets to home games.
Along with real estate, Apostolopoulos runs a private equity fund, Six Ventures Inc. One of the fund’s investments is credit card and expense management company Caary Capital, which services small to medium-sized businesses. As part of Caary’s launch, Apostolopoulos offered advice to entrepreneurs.
“You will get 1,000 defeats in business. Every time you get defeated, it will make you stronger. Stay with it. Keep rolling. Don’t give up,” he said. “Oh, and don’t do bad deals.”
In Pontiac, Mich., Apostolopoulos’s father acquired the former home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions – the Silverdome – by making a lowball offer in an auction for the city-owned stadium after the football team moved downtown. The new owner paid less than 2 per cent of the building’s US$55-million construction cost in 1975.
The Apostolopoulos family revived the abandoned facility by booking boxing, monster truck shows and concerts. However, the Silverdome’s roof partly collapsed in 2013 after a snowfall, and the building was torn down in 2017. Triple enticed Amazon into opening a warehouse on the site in 2021, the same year Andreas Apostolopoulos passed away at the age of 69.
Heirs to Canadian real-estate fortunes are also among the leading contenders to acquire the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, which went up for sale last November following the death of owner Eugene Melnyk.
The Toronto-based Kimel family, who run developer Harlo Capital, Vaughan-based Remington Group president Christopher Bratty and Ottawa-based Roger Greenberg, executive chair of Minto Group, have all shown interest in the Senators. The club could fetch more than US$900-million, the highest price paid for an NHL team, with the new owner expected to attempt to increase the club’s revenues by moving from the suburbs to a new, downtown arena.
Summer McIntosh sets world record in 400m freestyle at Canadian swimming trials – Yahoo News Canada
Summer McIntosh is now the world record holder in the 400-metre freestyle event.
The 16-year-old phenom electrified the hometown crowd with another memorable performance on Tuesday night at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre on opening night of the national trials.
With her parents, Jill and Greg McIntosh in the crowd, Summer stopped the clock in a time of 3:56.08, breaking the world record held by Ariarne Titmus of Australia.
It’s her first world record — she holds many world junior and national records.
McIntosh was overrun with emotion after the race as she looked up at her parents cheering in the stands.
WATCH | How Summer McIntosh’s world record swim looked from poolside:
The normally composed and reserved teen broke down in tears.
“I’m not a crier,” she told CBC Sports after the race.
“It’s absolutely incredible. I’m not an emotional person. But I was hit with so much emotion. Pure euphoria right now. I’m just so grateful for everyone who got me to this point.”
WATCH | McIntosh sets women’s 400m freestyle world record:
McIntosh fought back tears as she described the moment.
“Over the past few years I’ve put my life into this. To be the best I can be. To achieve something like this, it was very unexpected. It was never in my dreams to do this tonight or even a few years ago. This just blows my mind.”
Summer’s head coach Brent Arckey, who travelled from Sarasota, Fla., for the event was equally emotional after the swim.
“I’m not really sure what to say right now. I’m trying to hold it all in. But celebrating her. This is a special thing,” he said.
“I’ve seen her do some really special stuff in practice. I’m just super proud of her. She’s one of the best racers I’ve ever seen.”
Mother Jill’s valuable experience
Jill, who competed in swimming at the 1984 Olympics for Canada, has valuable experience to lean on to help guide her daughter.
She was bursting with pride as she watched Summer touch the wall on Tuesday night at trials.
“I’m so proud of Summer and the person she is, foremost. I just hope she’s happy with her races here this week,” Jill said.
“She loves this facility. It’s all learning at this point heading into the worlds this summer and the Paris Olympics. This is a stepping stone.”
Greg talked about how nice it is to be able to drive to the pool to watch his daughter — something that doesn’t happen all that often these days.
“I know she’s training in Florida but she will always be Canadian and we are so proud of her,” he said.
Arckey says each meet from here until the Paris 2024 Olympics is a chance to tinker with things and ultimately get better.
“I don’t fully understand what she means to Canada because I’m not Canadian. I don’t live here, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of what she means to the country,” Arckey said.
“The world championships this summer is the first big test. And we’re going to try to do right by Canada.”
Summer’s meteoric rise doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Her intensity is realized through an unmistakable stoicism despite what’s happening behind her focused face.
Thriving in, out of the pool
McIntosh is thriving, both in swimming and in life, and is loving being in Florida with her club team.
At the place they call the Shark Tank, home of the Sarasota Sharks club, there are three outdoor 25m pools. All 29 lanes spread across the three pools are constantly churned up by legs and arms creating a cacophony of splashing.
Upwards of 60 to 70 swimmers are in the pool during morning practices, including Summer, who is there two times each day of the week.
For as intense and focused as Summer is each training session, she’s also having fun. With a group of swimmers her age with the same goals and dreams as her in the pool, the teen from Canada says she’s right where she wants to be.
“There’s a bunch of girls and guys down here that I’ve started to get really close to and get to know really well, and they’re also going to be travelling on the world stage and that’s really exciting for them and I’m very proud of all of them and what they’ve accomplished so far,” Summer said.
“Together as a group, we’ve really grown and continued to improve our swimming, which is obviously the main goal, but also having fun while doing so.”
‘You have to have fun’
It’s something Jill feels is important.
She doesn’t want her daughter to be so singularly focused on swimming that she forgets to be a kid sometimes.
“I think as parents Greg and I want to make sure the kids are having fun. You have to have fun. No matter how old you are, have fun through your whole career,” Jill said.
“And you have to celebrate the steps along the way.”
In between swimming sessions in Florida, Summer squeezes in school and strength and conditioning sessions.
About ten minutes away from the Shark Tank, Summer works out at the Positive Sports Lab with director Jason Riley. He’s trained NFL and MLB players as well as Olympic gold medallists.
Inside the space there is top-of-the-line equipment at every turn.
Summer can easily do three sets of pushups with a 20-kilogram weight on her back before picking up a medicine ball.
“Doing that is not something you see every day from someone her age. She does not mess around. She’s extremely dedicated to her craft and has the mindset you see in a lot of world-class athletes,” Riley says.
“Summer is a special athlete. She has god-given talent and this unique work ethic and discipline. The sky’s the limit for her.”
What becomes evident very quickly is how much the team around Summer is doing everything it can to make sure she stays in a healthy mental and physical mindset.
She has the experience of her mom’s career to lean on. She has a coach in Arckey who unequivocally respects what Summer’s trying to achieve.
“I have such amazing people surrounding me with family, friends and all the coaches, and I’m so grateful for that and I honestly could not be having any more fun than this,” Summer says.
Other notable results
Eric Brown, 20, of Pointe-Claire, Que., had the unenviable task of following up McIntosh’s stunning performance, swimming to gold in the men’s 400m free finals with a time of 3:50.81.
Also taking home a gold medal in the men’s competition was James Leroux in the 100m breaststroke (Para) with a time of 1:10.97.
First-place finishers in the women’s events were Niki Ens in the 50m breaststroke (Para) with a time of 1:43.32, and Tess Routliffe clocking in at 1:34.68 in the 100m breaststroke.
WATCH | Day 1 finals of the Canadian Swimming Trials:
Indonesia stripped of men’s U20 World Cup amid turmoil over Israeli participation
Indonesia was stripped of hosting rights for the under-20 World Cup on Wednesday only eight weeks before the start of the tournament amid political turmoil regarding Israel’s participation.
FIFA said Indonesia was removed from staging the 24-team tournament scheduled to start on May 20 “due to the current circumstances” without specifying details.
The decision followed a meeting in Doha, Qatar between Indonesian soccer federation president Erick Thohir and Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.
Israel qualified in June of last year for its first under-20 World Cup. But the country’s participation in the official draw for tournament groups, scheduled to be held Friday in Bali, provoked political opposition this month.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation and does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, while publicly supporting the Palestinian cause.
Indonesia’s host status for the tournament was cast into doubt last Sunday when FIFA postponed the draw.
Argentina reportedly interested in hosting
It is unclear who could now host the tournament, which was scheduled to be played in six stadiums in Indonesia. Argentina, which did not qualify for the tournament, is reportedly interested in hosting.
“A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged,” FIFA said.
The Indonesian soccer federation could be further disciplined by FIFA. A suspension could remove Indonesia from Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup. The continental qualifiers start in October.
FIFA staff will continue to work in Indonesia in the months ahead, the governing body said, “under the leadership of President Thohir.”
Thohir said as a member of FIFA, Indonesia had little choice but to accept the decision.
“I have tried my best,” he said in a statement. “After delivering a letter from President Joko Widodo and discussing it at length with the President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, we must accept FIFA’s decision to cancel the holding of the event that we are both looking forward to.”
He said although he’d conveyed all the concerns and hopes of Indonesia’s president, soccer lovers as well as the players from the under-20 Indonesian national team, “FIFA considered that the current situation cannot be continued.”
Soccer and public authorities in Indonesia agreed to FIFA’s hosting requirements in 2019 before being selected to stage the 2021 edition of the under-20 World Cup. The coronavirus pandemic forced the tournament to be postponed for two years.
President objects to Israel’s participation
But Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Tuesday evening that his administration objected to Israel’s participation. He told citizens that the country agreed to host before knowing Israel would qualify.
However, the removal of the hosting rights by FIFA has raised concerns within Indonesian soccer.
Arya Sinulingga, an executive committee member of Indonesia’s national soccer association PSSI, was concerned about further repercussions.
“This is a sign that we are not able to carry out what has been asked (by FIFA) … among other things that there should be no discrimination,” Sinulingga said in an interview with a local television, “What we are most worried about right now is that we will be ostracized from international events, especially from world soccer activities.”
He said that “it can happen and it will be very detrimental to us in many ways.”
“We have something that is bigger than losing our right to host the under-20 World Cup. We have to face it in the near future, and that could effect the future of our sport,” Sinulingga said, “We are now fighting not to get sanctioned, but people should know … this is too hard.”
Israel qualified for the tournament by reaching the semifinals of the under-19 European Championship. The team went on to lose to England in that final.
Israel plays in Europe as a member of UEFA after leaving the Asian Football Confederation in the 1970s for political and security reasons.
FIFA bills the men’s under-20 World Cup as “the tournament of tomorrow’s superstars.”
Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba are previous winners of the official player of the tournament award, and Erling Haaland was the top scorer at the 2019 edition.
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