Ten things to know from last week: December 21-27, 2021: Jump races, Australia wins the Ashes, a World Champion in just 5 fights...
  1. A giant slalom. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) won her 72nd career Alpine Ski World Cup race by winning the Giant Slalom 1 in Courchevel (FRA) to take the overall World Cup lead, a few days before she announced a positive for covid. Sara Hector (SWE) won the second race, ahead of Shiffrin. On the men’s side, Marco Odermatt (SUI) continues to lead the overall standings. Sebastian Foss-Solevåg (NOR) won the Slalom in Madonna di Campiglio (ITA).
  2. Jump races. This is the season of big steeple chase races. Rachael Blackmore (IRL) closes a great year, taking Envoi Allen (FRA) to the win at the Paddy’s Reward Club Chase in Leopardstown (IRL). In the same course, Master McShee (IRL), ridden by Ian Power (IRL), just snatched the win off Farouk D’alene (FRA) in the BoyleSports Faugheen Novice Chase. In Kempton Park’s (ENG) King George VI Chase, Tornado Flyer (IRL) became the longest shot to ever win the race, at 28-1. He was ridden by Danny Mullins (IRL).
  3. Biggest in Japan. Ten-year-old horse Oju Chosan won his third Nakayama Daishogai -one of the richest steeplechase races in the world, established in 1934- and became the second horse to do so in history -after Barone Turf-, and the first in the “international era” of the race. Ishigami meanwhile became the first jockey to win the race four times. Combined with the five consecutive wins they had at the Nakayama Grand Jump, they are among the best horse-jockey combinations of all time and certainly the best of all time in Japan.
  4. Australia retains ashes. Already in Australia’s Wednesday, its national cricket team retained The Ashes after winning the first three Tests against England. This win gives them the edge in overall Series wins 34-32 since the first edition in 1882. Australia totally dominated and Scott Boland achieved the third-best bowling figures in the history of Australia’s cricket at 6-7 (4 overs).
  5. World Champion after five fights.  Erick Rosa (DOM) became one of the boxers to win a World Championship with the least number of fights. Back in July, he became the Interim World Boxing Association World Champion against Ricardo Astuvilca (PER) and now in his fifth fight, he beat World Champion Victorio Saludar (PHL) in Santo Domingo to claim the outright title.
  6. Van Aert beat van der Poel. Last season, World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (NED) won the majority of the cyclocross races he competed in. This time, Wout van Art (BEL) beat van der Poel in the Champion’s comeback to the World Cu, in Dendermonde (BEL). Then he won the Superprestige race in Heusen-Zolder. World Champion Lucinda Brand (NED) took both races on the women’s side.
  7. Short Course conclusion. USA topped the medal tally at the Short Course Swimming World Championships. On the last day, Florian Wellbrock (DEU) swam the fastest 1500 meters ever, to win gold with a time of 14:06.88, just a week after he had won gold in the 10km Open Water World Series race and bronze in the Open Water Relay in the Abu Dhabi Aquatics Festival. Sarah Sjöstrom meanwhile won three medals: gold in the 50m freestyle and the Women’s 4 × 100 meter medley relay, and silver in the Women’s 4 × 50 meter freestyle relay. She won a total of three gold, three silver and one bronze medal at the Championships. Among the women, only Maggie MacNeal (CAN) won more throughout, with a total of 4. Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS) also won four gold medals.
  8. Amy Pieters in coma. The current Madison World Champion, Amy Pieters (NED), is in state of artificial coma following a crash during a training session in Spain.
  9. Fifty years ago. The 2021-22 NFL’s Miami Dolphins are achieving something that had not seen before: come back from seven losses in a row to seven wins in a row. They are 8-7. This comes fifty tears after Don Shula (USA) led the Dolphins to a 17-0 season, including the Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers have the best record, with 12-3, while current Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 11-4, so are the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams. In the American Conference the Kansas City Chiefs are also 11-4.
  10. Horse races. Takeshi Yokoyama (JPN) rode Efforia (JPN) to win the 66th Arima Kinen (GI) at Nakayama Raceourse. Efforia now has six wins in seven races. In New Zealand, Ashvin Goindasamy (MUS) had a big breakthrough as he won the Zabeel Classic, riding Tiptronic 59 (NZL). In the other side of the Pacific, California’s Santa Anita Park closed the year and opened its racing season with three Grade I races. In the Malibu Stakes, Flightline (USA) made a statement, as Flavien Prat (FRA) rode him to the win with an advantage of 11 1/2 lengths.