December 23, 2013

Ted Ligety (left), Lindsey Vonn (center), and Bode Miller (right).     Photo: B.Stefanov, SnoCountry.com, Eric Schramm

American Skiers Looking Mortal

Only Ted Ligety makes podium this weekend.

After this weekend's World Cup alpine races in Europe, we learned that Lindsey Vonn has "no ACL," Ted Ligety is mortal, and Bode Miller vaguely resembles the Olympic and World Champion that he is.

Lindsey Vonn says she has no ACL

Lindsey Vonn began, but didn't finish, her run at Saturday's World Cup downhill race in Val d'Isere, France. Midway through, Vonn's knee gave out, and she skied off to the side of the course, clutching her knee in pain.

"I didn't hurt myself more than I'm already hurt,"  Vonn told reporters afterwards. Vonn told the media she partially tore her ACL during a training run in Beaver Creek in November, but her comments on Saturday suggest the tear is more severe. She told reporters that "I have no ACL."

Despite this setback, she still plans on competing on the Olympic stage in February, and she expects to only enter one or two more races before the Sochi's opening ceremony in 45 days.

Ted Ligety is human

A year ago Ted Ligety won the giant slalom on the Gran Risa course, in Alta Badia, Italy, by a massive margin. On Saturday, the heavy favorite placed third, behind defending overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher and Alexis Pinturault of France.

Hirscher is now 60 points ahead of Ligety in the giant slalom, and he told the Associated Press: "I'm happy to see that Ted is beatable and human."

In previous seasons, Gran Risa was known for being extremely icy. Legity told the press at the event that his performance this weekend wasn't his best. The course was softer than expected and that amplified the little mistakes he made in his runs.

Bode Miller resembling his old self

After knee surgery, a season off the slopes, and a failing to qualify for the finals in World Cup races in Val d'Isere, Bode Miller is beginning to resemble his old self—an Olympic and World Champion skier with 76 career podium results.

In Val Gardena, Italy, on Friday, Miller placed eighth in the super-G—his first time in the top ten in the event this year. The next day, he finished fifth in the prestigious Saslong downhill race.

"I've been skiing well," Miller said to the Associated Press. "The fact is we just don't have the whole thing together right now. We're close, and we're getting there."

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A Sea Shepherd ship confronts a Japanese harpoon whaling vessel.     Photo: John/Flickr

Australia to Monitor Japanese Whaling

Surveillance plane will watch whalers' ships

Japan caught more than 100 whales last year in the Southern Ocean for what the country calls scientific research. Those ships will continue whaling, but they’ll now do so under the watchful gaze of an Australian surveillance plane.

The Australian government hopes the plane will prevent further conflicts between the whalers and environmentalists, The Guardian reports.

But according to a campaign group, officials broke an election promise by sending an aircraft, rather than ships, to monitor the Japanese whalers. They described the decision as “weak,” claiming the focus should be on stopping the practice.

“They haven’t got the guts to go down there and do it,” Jeff Hansen, managing director of the environmental group Sea Shepherd Australia, told the BBC.

Sea Shepherd Australia sent three ships to the Southern Ocean to stop the whalers, who are already on their way to the hunting grounds around the Antarctic for the annual whaling season.  

Although there is a worldwide ban on whaling, Japan took advantage of a provision last year that allows groups to capture the animals for scientific research. But the Australian government doesn’t buy it—it believes the Japanese are engaged in commercial whaling and it took the case to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice. The court will likely determine whether the whaling is illegal next year.      

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Rudolph really does have a red nose.     Photo: CBS/Landov

Red-Nosed Reindeer Are Real

Provided you look at them via thermal imaging

As a young child growing into adulthood, you might have been disappointed to learn that reindeer do not, in fact, have bright red noses as depicted in so many Christmas tales. Well, rejoice, because it turns out that they do, provided you look at them through advanced thermal imaging.

Swedish researchers at Lund University made the discovery while studying the animals' body temperatures during feeding. Reindeer are covered in thick, insulating fur, except for their noses, which remain exposed to the cold.

This makes digging in the snow for food a challenge, so, scientists discovered, reindeer channel more blood to their noses, where they have a higher concentration of blood vessels. Not only does this keep their noses warm and functional, it makes them glow bright red on thermal scans.


Courtesy of Lund University

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    Photo: Getty Images

Alpinist Roskelley to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Ceremonies to take place in March

Alpinist John Roskelley, 65, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Piolet d’Or in Chamonix, France, in late March 2014. The honor is given to those “whose spirit inspired subsequent generations.” Roskelly is the first American and sixth recipient of the Golden Ice Axe.

Roskelley, who now resides in Spokane, Washington, is best known for his solo ascent of Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world, without use artificial oxygen in 1980. The technical difficulties of the route "were of a level never before attained in Himalayan climbing," Roskelley wrote in the American Alpine Journal

Roskelley told Rock and Ice magazine that the lifetime achievement award is “a surprise to me, given the hundreds of exceptional climbers throughout the world. I will be accepting it on behalf of all of my teammates through the years who made this possible. After all, I couldn’t have reached the summits of so many classics without them.”

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