Ten things to know from last week. December 28, 2021 - January 3, 2022: Tour de Ski, Four Hills, Bobsleigh streak ends, Chess upset...
Five things to know from last week
  1. Triple Champion no more. Practically two weeks after successfully defending his Classic Chess World Championship, Magnus Carlsen (NOR) lost both his Rapid and Blitz Chess World Titles. In Rapid, 17 year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB) stunned everyone by beating Carlsen -who finished third- and the Norwegian’s Classic Challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS), to become the youngest World Champion ever. Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana (USA) had tied the first two in points but only the first two went to a playoff because of a rule where that gives advantage to those that defeated stronger opposition. Perhaps an unfair rule. In Blitz, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) beat Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL) to become Champion. Carlsen was only 12th. Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) and Bibisara Assaubayeva (KAZ) won the Women’s Rapid and Blitz tournaments.
  2. Streak is broken! Francesco Friedrich (DEU) finally did not win! After a perfect 2021, Friedrich lost the first World Cup race of the calendar year, as he finished 12th in the first race in Sigulda (LVA) with each of Alexander Schüller and Thorsten Margis as his brakemen. This was his first time out of the podium since 2017. Rostislav Gaitiukevich and Mikhail Mordasov (RUS) won the race. It was not all bad for Friedrich however, as he came back to win the Four-man event, where he still remains unbeaten this season. In Skeleton, local Tomass Dukurs (LVA) took his first World Cup win in 18 years, ahead of brother Martins Dukurs (LVA). Women’s World Champion Janine Flock (AUT) took her first win of the season. So did Elana Meyers Taylor and Lake Kwaza (USA), in 2-Woman’s Bob.
  3. Mr. Dakar is out of contention! 14-times Dakar Rally winnerStéphane Peterhansel (FRA, Audi), had a crash in just the second day of competition and lost seven hours, which effectively rule him out of win contention. Another Frenchman, Sébastien Loeb (FRA, BRX) -now with Fabian Lurquin (BEL) as a  co-driver-, took the win on the third day and is now second, nine minutes behind Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT, Toyota) / Mathieu Baumel (FRA). Other early leaders include Sam Sunderland (ENG, Gas Gas) in motorcycles, Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS, Kamaz) and team in Trucks, Francisco López Contardo (CHL, Can-Am) in Light Prototypes, Austin Jones (USA, Can-Am) in SSV’s and Laisvydas Kancius (LTU, Yamaha) in Quads.
  4. Fourth for Sarjah! Sharjah (FRA) puts his name among the all-time greats in Irish Hurdle Racing, as he won the Grade I Matheson Hurdle (December Festival Hurdle) for the fourth year in a row, all under Patrick Mullins (IRL), son of the trainer, Willie Mullins. In the Christmas Hurdle, Epatante (FRA) -under Nico de Boinville (ENG)- won again, a month after his dead heat in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. The Savills Chase was an exciting race, where Galvin (IRL) -under Davy Russell (IRL)- beat A Plus Tard (FRA) and Kemboy (FRA) right on the line.
  5. Darts. Gary Anderson (SCO) won his second PDC World Darts Championship, after beating Michael Smith (ENG) in the Final. Smith -who eliminated previous World Champion Gerwyn Price (WAL)- was ahead bu Anderson had a great closing to take it 7-5.
  6. Seventh txapela. Javier Urriza (ESP) tied with Zeberio (ESP) in most Remonte Pairs txapelas won, with seven. Jagoba Labaka (ESP) became the first teammate to repeat Championship with Urriza, as they both repeat their Championship from last year. This time they beat Imanol Ansa and Ibai Martirena (ESP) by 40-37.
  7. Tour de Ski. Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (NOR) won for of the first five races of the Tour de Ski, leading with just one race to go. He won the Sprint Freestyle in Lenzerheide. The next race would be the 15 km Classic, won by Iivo Niskanen (FIN) also in Lenzerheide. The Norwegian star would win the rest: the 15 km Freestyle Mass Start and Sprint Classic in Oberstdorf (DEU), and the 15 km Classic Mass Start in Val di Fiemme (ITA), which will host the final rae. These wins mean he now has 46 World Cup wins in total, tied with Norwegian legned Bjørn Dæhlie (NOR) for most of all time. He is also number one of all time in Sprint and Stage World Cup event wins. In the women’s side, Natalya Nepryayeva (RUS) leads, having won two races. Last year’s Champion, Jessie Diggins (USA), has also won two stages.
  8. Japanese Ichi Bans. Sara Takanashi (JPN) increased her Ski Jumping World Cup win record to 61 wins after she took the win of the second event at the Savina Ski Jumping Center in Ljubno (SVN). Takanashi was third in the overall 1st Silvester Tournament, which was won by Marita Kramer (AUT), ahead of local Nika Križnar (SVN) -who won the first event- and Takanashi. The Men’s side was very active with the Four Hills Tournament, where Ryōyū Kobayashi (JPN) has taken the first two wins: Oberstdorf (DEU) and Garmisch-Partenkirchen (DEU).
  9. Australian Ichi Ban. The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race saw a boat win three times for the third time, as Matt Allen’s (AUS) Ichi Ban won the Tattersall Cup again.
  10. Four-times Ichi Ban. Shuhai Aoyama (JPN) won his fourth Auto Race SG Superstar Championship Finals -for oval motorcycle racing- in Kawaguchi, which place him joint third of all time.