December 19, 2014

Endurance athletes Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg acclimate to Aconcagua.     Photo: Summits of My Life/Facebook

Jornet's Aconcagua Attempt Cut Short

Wind forces runner to abandon FKT bid

Mountain runner Kilian Jornet attempted a fastest known time (FKT) speed ascent and descent record on the Argentinian mountain of Aconcagua today as part of his Summits of My Life project, but he was forced to turn back due to strong winds, according to the project’s Facebook page. The time to beat is 15 hours, 5 minutes.

Jornet, 27, has been in Argentina since December 10, when he arrived in Mendoza to finish a five-city film tour. He has since been training to summit the 22,837-foot Aconcagua and acclimatize to altitude. Jornet summited successfully on December 16 during strong winds and had been waiting for a pocket of better weather to attempt the speed record.

Friends received a message from Jornet this morning announcing the attempt. “Today is the day to try!” he wrote. “Wind is stronger than perfect on the mountain but [it] is a window.” Jornet started out by running up Aconcagua; he planned to ski down after reaching its peak. Three hours later, however, his plan was cut short.

“Kilian was not able to reach the summit on his attempt due to strong wind,” Jornet’s friends wrote on Facebook. “He could reach up to 6.500m [21,325 feet] but 90km/h [55 mph*] winds made the attempt completely impossible and he had to turn back. In Kilian’s words ‘I will try again soon.’”

There’s no word yet on when “soon” might be.

Besting Aconcagua would be the second-to-last challenge in Jornet’s Summits of My Life project, a quest he began in 2012 to complete FKTs at the world’s Seven Summits. He plans to end the project next year with a run up Everest.

*This article was updated to correct the wind speed Jornet faced during is latest FKT attempt.

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Slater is both the oldest- and youngest-ever Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour champion.     Photo: Dane Siestas/Flickr

Kelly Slater Eliminated from World Title Contention

Brazil's Gabriel Medina draws closer to winning his first crown

Brazilian pro surfer Gabriel Medina beat Hawaiian Dusty Payne in the third round of the Billabong Pipe Masters on Friday, mathematically eliminating the chances of Kelly Slater capturing his 12th world title.

Slater, who is both the oldest- and youngest-ever Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour champion, was ranked as high as second in the world title race this year. But even with world number one Medina’s uncharacteristically low results at the Hurley Pro at Trestles, Quiksilver Pro France, and Rip Curl Pro Portugal, Slater was never able to capitalize. After Slater’s early elimination at Portugal (he placed 13th), he dropped to third in the world title rankings. Going into Pipe, Medina would merely have to advance past the third round to knock Slater out of the title race.

Though he’s out of world title contention, Slater could still take first place at Pipe. A seven-time winner of the event, he faces Brazilian Alejo Muniz in round three of heat 12.

World number two and 2013 World Championship Tour champ Mick Fanning represents the final hurdle in Medina’s bid for the title. According to the ASP, for Fanning to win, Medina has to lose before the finals and Fanning must place no lower than runner-up. On Friday, Fanning advanced to round four, past Jeremy Flores of France.

According to event organizers, the competition is set to complete today, which would conclude the 2014 season and decide the title race. No Brazilian has ever won the world title.

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It's unusual to survive full burial in an avalanche, but the skier was able to dig himself out with the help of a companion.     Photo: Paxson Woelber/Flickr

Skier Survives Full Burial in Avalanche

Emerges unharmed with help from companion

A backcountry skier walked away unharmed after triggering an avalanche Thursday afternoon at Turnagain Pass in Chugach National Forest.

According to Alaska Dispatch News, the 350-foot-wide avalanche slid downhill for about 1,000 feet and completely buried the skier, who wasn’t named. Though his head was about a foot beneath the snow, the man could move his arm enough to uncover his head. His companion, who had skied to the side of the avalanche, helped dig him out.

“They were pretty rattled,” avalanche forecaster John Fitzgerald told the Dispatch News. “But they are regulars up there [in Turnagain Pass] and they realize the gravity of being caught and buried.” The National Forest had posted an avalanche warning for the day, but at least 20 skiers and snowboarders were on the mountain, Fitzgerald said.

The chances of surviving a complete burial in an avalanche are especially low. Many of the skiers who have been so lucky in the past few years (including one whose ordeal was caught on film during a car commercial shoot) owe it to avalanche airbags. The pack keeps the wearer close to the surface, increasing the chances of surviving a slide.

Brush up on the basics of avalanche safety with Outside’s guide to the three most critical emergency tools.

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Trafeh admits to EPO use as far back as 2012.     Photo: U.S. Army IMCOM/Flickr

U.S. Record-Holder Mo Trafeh Gets 4-Year Doping Ban

Moroccan resident caught with EPO in February

On Thursday, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced that 25K American record-holder Mo Trafeh received a four-year sanction for multiple doping violations. It is the second ban the agency has handed down this week within the sport of track and field. On Monday, USA Track and Field Olympic coach Jon Drummond was given an eight-year sanction for doping violations.

Trafeh, a 29-year-old Moroccan-born U.S. citizen, has had rumors of PED use swirl around him since high school. The eight-time U.S. road champion was stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport on February 8 and found to have six EPO syringes on his person, according to the report, which was produced by the American Arbitration Association and released by USADA.

In a statement through his lawyer to LetsRun.com in June, Trafeh said he purchased the banned substance as a means of returning to competition after being sidelined by chronic injuries. “I was stopped before I was able to use EPO, I never previously used EPO, and if I had the financial resources to fight this case, I am confident that I would prevail,” he told LetsRun.com. Rather than take the matter to court, Trafeh announced his retirement.

Contradicting his previous claim, in an interview included in the report, Trafeh admits to using EPO as far back as January 2012 and purchasing it on four separate occasions, including prior to the 2012 Olympic Team Trials marathon, which he did not finish.

“This decision by the independent arbitrator shows the importance of nonanalytical cases in the effort to protect clean athletes,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in the announcement. “Along with education and testing, investigations are a critical component of the mission to ensure that those who defraud their competitors with the use of performance-enhancing drugs and attempt to evade testing to avoid getting caught don’t get away with it.”

Trafeh’s sanction, backdated to January 1, 2012, has nullified his 2012 U.S. 15K National Championship, his 2013 U.S. Half Marathon Championship, and his 25K American record, set on May 11, 2013.

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Jeptoo's "A" sample tested positive for EPO in September.     Photo: BU Interactive News/Flickr

Rita Jeptoo's "B" Sample Comes Back Positive

Top Kenyan marathoner confirmed for EPO use

In a week rife with doping news, the Associated Press reports that Boston and Chicago Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo’s “B” sample has returned positive. Athletics Kenya had previously admitted to the AFP that the banned substance was the glycoprotein hormone erythropoietin (EPO).

Jeptoo, who set a course record in April with her third Boston Marathon win, also won the overall World Marathon Majors title in the two-year contesting period of 2013 to 2014. But prior to the $500,000 prize being awarded, RunBlogRun.com announced on October 31 that the Kenyan athlete’s “A” sample had tested positive for a banned substance. She requested her “B” sample tested on November 5, according to the Australian AP.

In a press conference during the New York City Marathon in November, Jeptoo’s agent, Federico Rosa, and coach Claudio Berardelli both claimed they were unaware of the offense, according to Runner’s World. “I see what is going on in Kenya, how many athletes have been caught,” Rosa said, according to Runner’s World. “I don’t think agents are behind it. I think it’s more on their own.”

Seventeen Kenyan runners have tested positive for banned substances in 2013 and 2014, according to the Kenyan paper Standard. That’s the largest number of positives in the country’s history and raises questions about the previously unquestioned dominance of East African distance runners.

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