December 22, 2014

Medina was ranked 12th in the world in 2011, his rookie year.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Gabriel Medina Wins World Surfing Title

First Brazilian ever to win the crown

From the first contest of the 2014 World Championship Tour, Brazilian wunderkind Gabriel Medina emerged as the surfer to beat. On Friday, at the iconic Bonzai Pipeline in Hawaii, Medina won his first WCT title

Medina, who turns 21 today, dominated competitions held during the first half of the season, earning wins at Fiji, Tahiti, and Australia’s Gold Coast. His championship title marks the peak of a gradual ascension that began in 2011, his rookie year, when he was ranked 12th in the world.

Medina’s early season dominance gave him a comfortable margin of error going into the final event of the season. At the Billabong Pipe Masters, world number two Mick Fanning, 33, and number three Kelly Slater, 42, needed an early exit from Medina (in addition to their own berths) to have a shot at winning the title. They didn’t get it.

Slater lost in round three, eliminating his chance to claim a 12th world title. Fanning, the 2013 WCT champ, exited in round five. Watching Fanning’s heat from the channel, Medina paddled to the beach amid cheers of Brazilian fans chanting “Via Medina.”

“It feels amazing. I don’t know what to say right now,” he told the ASP. “I love the crowd. I love this sport. Everything pays off right now.”


Vonn stopped skiing for 10 months after she injured her knee and broke a lower leg bone in Austria.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Lindsey Vonn Crashes Out of World Cup Super-G

Skier is one victory shy of tying victories record

Lindsey Vonn crashed out of a record bid during the super-G at Val-d’Isère, France, on Saturday, reports the New York Times. Vonn’s win in the downhill race the day before put her one victory away from tying the record for total World Cup victories, currently held by Annemarie Moser-Pröll of Austria, who dominated women’s skiing in the 1970s.

The 30-year-old Vonn crucially avoided reinjuring her right knee ligament in the crash. Knee problems kept her out of last winter’s Sochi Olympics, and she recently began racing again on her repaired knee after two surgeries.

Austrian Elisabeth Goergl ended up winning the race, with Olympic champion Anna Fenninger and World Cup points leader Tina Maze rounding out the podium.

Vonn’s next chance to tie the record for World Cup victories will come at Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, which hosts downhill and super-G races on January 10 and 11. She’s currently third in the overall World Cup standings.

For more on Vonn, check out our 2013 feature profile.


The scourge of Houston's health codes might be traded in for a greener model.     Photo: Bukowsky18/Flickr

Astrodome May Have Future in Outdoor Recreation

Proposal to turn shuttered stadium into bike trails and public gardens

A group of Texas environmentalists is advocating to convert the deserted Houston Astrodome into a community green space, the Associated Press reports.

Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute presented a proposal last week to turn the former baseball and football stadium—the world’s first domed sports stadium—into an outdoor recreation mecca, complete with running and bike trails, zip lines, a garden, and pavilions. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who first proposed the idea, told the AP he believes his plan has “almost a 100 percent chance of succeeding.” ULI hasn’t offered a cost estimate, and it’s not yet known how the renovation costs would be covered.

The Astrodome was closed in 2008 after a slew of citations for code violations. Attempts to salvage the stadium have been unsuccessful. Voters narrowly rejected a 2013 referendum to convert the stadium into a convention center, largely due to a $217 billion bond price tag.

City councillors are split on the idea of simply leveling the structure, which would cost between $5 million and $80 million. Polls show that voters are generally opposed to the idea, despite health hazards in the stadium and a $2 million annual expense to maintain the venue.