January 19, 2012
Bergamo Alps

Bergamo Alps     Photo: Paolo da Reggio/Wikimedia Commons

Italian Mountaineer Merelli Dies in Fall

Accident in Italian Alps

Italian mountaineer Mario Merelli died on Wednesday in a fall from Pizzo Redorta in the Bergamo Alps, near Val Seriana, Italy. A helicopter team recovered his body after the accident. Merelli, 49, was an accomplished climber who had summitted 11 of the Himalayas' 14 eight-thousand-meter mountains, including Everest, which he climbed twice. In 2005, Merelli summitted Annapurna with Ed Viesturs, for Viesturs's final eight-thousander.

Read more at UPI


Bike path, Malmö, Sweden

Bike path, Malmö, Sweden     Photo: La Citta Vita/Flickr

Sweden Could Get Bicycle Highway

Route would link Lund and Malmö

The city of Malmö, Sweden has put forth plans to build a 30-mile, four-lane bicycle "superhighway" to neighboring city of Lund. The path would include two lanes in each direction and would trace a right of way already established by a rail line that connects the cities. The path could feature repair stops and would take eight years to complete at a cost of only $7 million.

Read more at Studio360


London Olympic Park

London Olympic Park     Photo: Tasmin Slater/Flickr

State-of-the-Art Doping Lab Unveiled

London lab will test record samples

Organizers for the 2012 London Olympic Games on Thursday unveiled the most high-tech anti-doping lab in the history of the Olympics. The center will operate 24 hours a day during the Games, allowing 150 anti-doping scientists and a team of volunteers to test as many as 400 samples per day, the highest number of any Olympic Games. The center is the first Olympic anti-doping center sponsored by a pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, but the company's management insists it will have no role in the actual testing process and does not present a conflict of interest. The lab also features a new identification system that is meant to virtually eliminate the risk of contamination or false positives. "Of course we can't guarantee that they will be a drug-free Games, but we have the very best system to try and catch anybody who even thinks of cheating," said Hugh Robertson, Great Britian's Minister for Sport and the Olympics.

Read more at Reuters


Didier Cuche in 2010

Didier Cuche in 2010     Photo: Ola Matsson/Flickr

Legendary Skier Didier Cuche Will Retire

Cuche, 37, will make this season his last

Swiss skier Didier Cuche, who has won four of the last five World Cup downhill titles, announced today in Kitzbuehul, Austria that he will retire at the end of this season. Now 37, Cuche is still racing with the best in the world. He is ranked eighth in overall FIS World Cup standings, and with one win in downhill already this year remains in contention to win his fifth career downhill title. "I'm in top form and I can still aspire to win races. It's in this condition that I wish to retire from the World Cup," he said.

Read more at ESPN


Half Dome

Yosemite's Half Dome     Photo: Randy Robertson/Flickr

Half Dome Permits Required for 2012

Lottery replaces first-come, first-served

On Friday, Yosemite National Park announced an extension of an interim permit program that limits to 400 the number of hikers who can climb Half Dome on any given day. Two years ago, in response to overcrowding and safety concerns on the popular cable-lined route, Yosemite began issuing permits on a first-come, first-served basis on weekends and holidays and will now move to a lottery system. Last year, permits were required seven days a week. Before 2010, it was not uncommon for more than 800 people to ascend Half Dome on a typical weekday. The 2012 lottery system is designed to deter scalpers, who would buy the $5 Half Dome permits online and sell them at many times their face value. Hikers may enter the lottery in March, or apply for one of the approximately 50 permits available daily from cancellation.

Read more at the Fresno Bee


Skier Sarah Burke

Skier Sarah Burke     Photo: Johann Wall

Sarah Burke Succumbs to Injuries

Skier sustained "irreversible damage"

Skier Sarah Burke died Thursday in Salt Lake City, Utah, after a crash on January 10 left her with "severe irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen," according to a statement released by her family. In what has been described as a "whiplash" fall during a superpipe training run at Park City Mountain Resort, Burke, 29, ruptured her vertebral artery and went into cardiac arrest. Emergency personnel on scene performed CPR and she was quickly flown to University of Utah Hospital, where surgeons successfully repaired the torn artery and placed Burke on life support. Further neurological tests revealed that the damage had been too severe. Burke, a four-time X-Games champion, was instrumental in bringing halfpipe skiing to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. An online fundraiser to help cover Burke's medical expenses is here.