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The Youth Olympic Games

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The 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games begin this week in Switzerland. Not familiar with the event? Here’s what you should know about it:

What are the Youth Olympic Games?

They’re a multi-sport event for athletes between the ages of 15 to 18, organized by the International Olympic Committee. Just like the regular Olympics, there are both summer and winter versions — each held every four years, but in a reverse seasonal cycle (these Games are winter events, ahead of Tokyo’s Summer Games.) The first summer Youth Olympics were held in 2010 and the first winter edition in 2012.

When does this one take place?

The opening ceremony is Thursday at 2 p.m. ET in Lausanne. Competition begins the next day and runs until the closing ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 22. There are 13 days of competition.

How big is it?

Around 1,900 athletes from more than 80 countries will be in Switzerland. They’ll compete in 81 medal events in 16 disciplines across eight main sports.

Are the events the same as in the regular Olympics?

Yes and no. You’ll recognize Winter Olympic staples like figure skating, speed skating (long and short track), skiing (alpine, cross-country and freestyle), sliding (bobsleigh, luge and skeleton), snowboarding, curling, ski jumping and biathlon.

There are also two versions of hockey. For the standard game, there’s a men’s and a women’s tournament. Each country can enter only one of them, and Canada is once again in the men’s. The team is made up of 15-year-olds, and it’ll try to win Canada’s first gold medal after bronze and silver showings the previous two times.

There’s also a very quirky 3-on-3 (plus goalies) version of hockey. It’s cross-ice, meaning games are played on half the rink, with the nets placed at the side boards and two games going on at once, separated by a temporary wall. If you have kids in minor hockey, you may be familiar with this. If not, here’s how it looks:

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And there’s another twist: each team is made up of players of different nationalities. Organizers say the idea is to promote “integration and understanding between cultures.” There’s both a men’s and a women’s 3-on-3 tournament.

The weirdest sport you’ll see is ski mountaineering — “skimo” for short. It’s basically a blend of cross-country skiing, alpine skiing and winter hiking. Athletes have to go both downhill and uphill. Sometimes they’re on their skis, other times they’re climbing a hill by foot with their skis strapped to their back. It actually looks pretty awesome.

Is there anything else that makes the Youth Olympics unique?

For one, there’s a different spirit. Athletes still compete for gold, silver and bronze medals, but the emphasis is on inclusiveness, friendship and respect (for each other and for the environment) as much as competition.

In keeping with the vibe, athletes will take public transportation to their events. And long track speed skating is being held outdoors on a “sustainable” frozen lake at St. Moritz. The scene is pretty breathtaking:

 

 

Also, these Games are being billed as “completely gender equal,” with the same number of male and female athletes. For the first time at any version of the Olympics, women will compete in the Nordic combined event. Several events are mixed gender, including both curling competitions — mixed doubles and the traditional version of the game, which here will feature two men and two women per team. That’s a trend the regular Olympics are embracing too. Mixed doubles curling made its Olympic debut in 2018, and mixed-gender swimming and track relay races will join the program at this year’s Summer Games in Tokyo.

The Youth Olympic Games, though, are taking the concept of mixed events to another level by putting athletes from different countries on the same team in some events. We already mentioned 3-on-3 hockey. There are also mixed-nationality team competitions in curling (the mixed doubles event), figure skating, ski mountaineering, and short and long track speed skating.

The Youth Games are also ahead of the curve when it comes to bobsleigh. The only event being held is the single-rider monobob, which will be added to the regular Olympic program in 2022.

Keep your eye on these athletes at Lausanne 2020. 1:24

Has anyone famous competed in the Winter Youth Olympic Games?

American snowboard sensation Chloe Kim won two gold medals in 2016 in Norway before becoming one of the biggest stars of the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Suzanne Schulting went medal-less at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012, but six years later she became the first Dutch athlete to win Olympic gold in short track speed skating and has also won four world titles.

A few NHL players have competed in the Youth Games, including Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kasperi Kapanen. He actually scored the gold medal-winning shootout goal for Finland in 2012.

What about Team Canada?

This year’s squad is bigger than ever — 78 athletes. Canada’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony is Lauren Rajala, a 17-year-old curler from Sudbury, Ont. She played lead on a rink that won gold at both the Canadian U18 curling championships and the Canada Winter Games last year. She’ll be with a different squad at the Youth Olympics, where curling is a mixed sport and the Canadian team was selected with athletes from different parts of the country.

Canada is hoping to improve on its eighth-place finish in the medal standings at the last Winter Youth Olympics, where it won three gold medals and six total. In 2012 Canada won nine medals, but only two were gold so the team placed 15th in the standings.

Is Russia allowed in this?

Yes. Russia, you may remember, is banned from sending an official team to this year’s regular Olympics because of its repeated (and egregious) doping violations. But that’s not the case for the Youth Olympics. Russia will be treated like any other country. It can use its official name, flag and anthem.

How can you watch and/or follow the Games?

CBCSports.ca is streaming events live all day, every day, starting with the opening ceremony Thursday at 2 p.m. ET. Watch all the live streams here. The CBC TV network will also have coverage on Saturday, Jan. 25 from noon-2 p.m. ET. For more details, here’s the link to CBC Sports’ full streaming and TV schedule.

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena

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LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap

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In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates

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Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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