MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

While the union has resisted many of MLB’s proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.“As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes,” union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. I think it would hustle it up and if we can’t tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn’t be doing it anyway.” They’re used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is.”Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. “For the most part, it’s not changing the strategy, it’s just kind of speeding things up. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport’s labour contract.Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.“I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision,” Francona said. I’m good with it.”There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher’s slot to the plate.“You don’t want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm,” Girardi said. You signal. “I’ve often wondered why you don’t bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. I don’t think that’s a big deal,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. I know they’re trying to cut out some of the fat. Let the shortstop walk him. “There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however.”The union’s decision was first reported by ESPN .“I’m OK with it. “I actually wish they would. There won’t be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.The players’ association has agreed to Major League Baseball’s proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.“It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. I’m OK with that,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

A power-play wizard, Leafs’ Nylander nears franchise rookie record

He quickly received the pass and then loaded up for a wicked shot that beat Craig Anderson. Each operates on one side of the ice – Nylander on the right, Matthews on the left – thereby creating dueling threats for opposing penalty kills to contend with.Matthews set up Nylander’s goal against Winnipeg, his 17th overall this season. The American centre shot wide of Connor Hellebuyck in the Jets cage and the puck bounced directly to Nylander, who dropped to his right knee and fired. “You’re just trying to see what they give you,” Nylander said Wednesday. Matthews said the two had practised the play two months earlier and got “lucky” that it worked in a win.“They love to pass to each other too – sometimes a little too much,” Komarov said.From time to time the two rookies, both wildly skilled, like to play with the puck a little too often for teammates’ liking. With Winnipeg’s penalty killers closing in, William Nylander looks to be cornered and out of options. He’s got an elite, elite shot and he can score from the hash-mark area.”“When he has the puck he makes a lot of good plays,” Komarov added, “and a lot of goals.” Komarov credits the rapid release for his shooting success with the man advantage, something Nylander says is owed to practice and lots of it.He often lingers with other young players after on-ice sessions to talk about his shot.“He can flat-out shoot the puck,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “You try to create stuff, but it’s mainly what they give you.”Matthews sucked in the attention of all four Senator penalty killers last weekend against Ottawa and then dished to Nylander on the weak-side. Then the Maple Leafs forward brushes off Joel Armia, protects the puck from the Jets winger’s prying stick and finally whips a cross-ice pass to Leo Komarov for another power-play goal.Still just a rookie, Nylander is already a wizard on the NHL’s No. He leads his team and all rookies with 19 power-play points and the entire league in power-play points per-60 minutes at 8.69. “He can skate, turn and gets his feet around in a heck of a hurry. “Maybe Leo might not have been open and then I maybe could’ve got a shot off or whatever so it depends what they do.”Nylander had two points with the man advantage Tuesday in Toronto’s 5-4 overtime win over the Jets, including his eighth power-play goal that tied the game 4-4. 1 power-play unit. But both also see the ice exceptionally well, Komarov notes, and have the skill to make decisive plays, whether by shooting or passing to open teammates.On the Komarov goal he saw “a little lane” towards the net and caught his teammate creeping towards the back-post.“We just see what they give us,” Nylander says of the opposition penalty kill. That brought him to within one of the Leafs franchise rookie record for power-play goals (held by three players) and within six of Dan Daoust’s franchise rookie mark for power-play points (25), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.“He’s very calm with the puck and I think he makes plays,” said teammate Connor Brown. “For him, I think just the way he can have the puck on his stick and be able to look around and see the ice (makes him effective), the way he handles the time and space well.”Nylander spends most of his time on the Toronto power play with fellow rookie and Leafs leading scorer Auston Matthews.

Jim Popp the top candidate for Argos’ general manager post

7 after missing the playoffs for a second straight year. Popp hired
Trestman in
Montreal in 2008 and, over five seasons, Trestman led the franchise to three Grey Cup
appearances, winning in 2009 and 2010.The Alouettes
finished atop the East Division four times during Trestman’s tenure.Trestman,
61, was 13-19 over two seasons as the Chicago Bears’ head coach before being
fired in 2014. Tanenbaum is
the chairman of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Leafs,
but is also the Argos co-owner.“We have no comment on any speculation regarding our search for a new general
manager,” Argos spokesman Jamie Dykstra
said.Montreal fired Popp on Nov. He’d served as GM since
the franchise’s return to the CFL in 1996 and departed with one year remaining
on his contract.Last month, Toronto fired GM Jim Barker and, shortly afterwards, head coach Scott Milanovich resigned to become the Jacksonville
Jaguars’ quarterbacks coach.If Popp lands
in Toronto, he could potentially bring in former Als coach Marc Trestman. He was released as Baltimore Ravens’ offensive co-ordinator in
October, 2016. Former Montreal Alouettes
general manager Jim Popp is the
leading candidate for the Toronto Argonauts’ vacant GM position.A source said Wednesday that Popp remains
in talks with the Argos but a deal wasn’t imminent.Popp didn’t
immediately respond to a message from The Canadian Press.Popp was
photographed Tuesday night sitting with Larry Tanenbaum during the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5-4
overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets at Air Canada Centre.

MLB’s rule change forgets that baseball takes as long as it needs

Her book, Baseball Life Advice, will be available April 11.On Tuesday evening, ESPN’s Howard Bryant reported that Major League Baseball had approved a rule change that aims to replace the four-pitch intentional walk with a signal from the dugout. In the theatre of this game, the intentional walk is for some a beloved, delightful performance – the extended concession that a player is too good for a pitcher to deal with in the moment – and there are fans unwilling to part with it.This reluctance is unsurprising. Stacey May Fowles is a Toronto-based writer. Manfred seems to hate baseball so much. It would seem the overall aim is simple – shave off a couple minutes of playing time here and there, and continue MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s mission to tighten up the game to attract a new, younger (supposedly bored and easily distracted) audience. And as each intentional ball is thrown, the crowd gets an opportunity to jovially boo the compliment that their hitter is simply too good to reliably get out, and, as some have noted, the time to hope and pray that the insulted batter behind him gets the best of the man on the mound.As for Mr. Manfred and his marketing team with a comprehensive list – its brevity and efficiency are not, and will never be among them. And while there are plenty of reasons for new fans to fall in love with baseball – I’m more than happy to provide Mr. The act has seen its share of oddities, perhaps the most cited being when, in 2006, Miguel Cabrera sneakily hit a go-ahead RBI single in the 10th inning of a Marlins versus Orioles matchup.While by and large it is an uneventful process that takes only a couple of minutes, pitching the walk does leave room for human error, and some occasional wild surprises. In a world where we are over-scheduled and consistently exhausted, the unpredictable timeline of a relaxing summer game of baseball feels to me more like a gift than a deterrent.The overall lack of a ticking countdown clock is certainly not for everyone, and the accusation that baseball is long and boring is certainly a common refrain, but those who love this game relish in its languishing, unpredictable temporal nature, and generally argue for more, not less playing time. A huge part of baseball’s enduring charm is its wonderful weirdness, and the four-pitch intentional walk – a sanctioned workaround of sorts – is a part of that tradition. Some asked why Mr. If you checked online reactions, you’d find countless accusations of misguidedness and, well, downright stupidity. Further, if you forgivably find this game a slog, I’m not sure five, ten, or even thirty minutes culled from its playing time will make much of a difference to you.I’m not suggesting that baseball should be immune to change and improvement, or that it shouldn’t listen to the needs of its players, but killing something that fans either don’t care that much about or passionately love, something that has the potential to enhance the drama, enjoyment, and therefore fans’ willingness to come back to the park, feels like the wrong way to go.After a long, dark winter without baseball, it’s only natural to take exception to leadership that keeps proposing new and increasingly bizarre ways to condense this game, thereby giving us less of what we have been craving for months on end. Manfred’s plan to shorten games in the interest of ratings, it’s frankly absurd and maybe even offensive to hinge a campaign on the idea that younger fans will respond in droves to a slightly edited game. That means that instead of a pitcher deliberately tossing balls at a hitter deemed likely to do some real scoreboard damage, a simple gesture can instead get him to first, and a less-feared player in the lineup will automatically step up behind him. Absurdly lengthy games, like the Toronto Blue Jays 6-hour and 37-minute, 19-inning marathon against the Detroit Tigers in August of 2014 – during which Ryan Goins and Nick Castellanos famously played rock, paper, scissors to pass the time – become the stuff of legend, not the subject of contempt. Though this may seem like an insignificant change, the immediate reaction among baseball romantics fell somewhere in the realm of rage, dismay and total bewilderment. (It’s also a campaign that’s failing; according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, after seeing some very minor decreases, the average game time actually went up more than four minutes last season.)For devotees both young and old, there is something comforting about the fact that baseball always takes as long as it needs.

Mike Weir back at Augusta, scene of his greatest victory

“Clearly right now he’s not feeling good and his game isn’t feeling good. The things that I had been struggling with were getting much better. I just haven’t played a whole lot,” he said. “I don’t think this will be the [only] trip I make to Augusta before the Masters. My body feels good right now though.”He is a two-time champion of the Genesis Open, but his request for a sponsor’s exemption into that tournament was declined, which is why he tried qualifying instead.His long-time relationship with RBC has also ended, meaning it’s up in the air if he will get into the RBC Heritage the week after the Masters. While the loss of sponsorship has meant blacking out the RBC logo on his golf bag, he will likely play in this summer’s RBC Canadian Open, where he remains a fan favourite.Despite the uncertainty of his coming schedule, he said he felt like be belonged on the tour when he was playing Pebble Beach a few weeks ago.“Without a doubt I feel that,” he said. With no status on the PGA Tour this year, Mike Weir spent Wednesday at a place filled with good memories – Augusta National Golf Club.The 2003 Masters champion tried to qualify Monday for this week’s Honda Classic in Florida but missed by five shots. In this day and age, every shot is scrutinized and picked apart and that’s probably not the best scenario for him to come back to, but that’s unfortunately the world he lives in.”It’s not certain if Woods will return in time for this year’s Masters, but Weir will definitely be there. There were some definite improvements. He said he could relate to the current struggles of Tiger Woods, who has been in and out of the PGA Tour over the past 18 months and has an uncertain future.“I hope for his sake that his body can move correctly and he can get back to being Tiger Woods again, whatever that looks like at 40-plus years old,” Weir said. “Going to Augusta to play some rounds and get ready for that event that I know I’m in will be good.”Unlike in years past when Weir has been battling injuries, the native of Brights Grove, Ont., said he’s feeling healthy now. My body feels good right now though, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to play again soon.” He also tried last Monday to qualify for the PGA Tour’s Genesis Open in Los Angeles. I felt like I was very competitive.”Weir has battled personal and injury issues in the past few years, making just one cut since the 2014 season when he earned $854,413. I haven’t had a lot of work except for indoor work, really. “I hadn’t played very much and I was coming out of the cold not playing a lot of rounds so I was a little rusty. “I’ve tried some of these Monday qualifiers coming out of the cold in Utah, only hitting balls indoors. Again, he missed by five. It’s living in the cold climate of Utah that has been tough on his preparation, he said.“Everything feels good, I haven’t had any setbacks. “It’s always really special.”Having used both exemptions available to him because of his place on the all-time money list – the 46-year-old currently sits 32nd with almost $28-million in career winnings – Weir is left with few options to try to get into PGA Tour fields.As a Masters champion, however, he receives a lifetime exemption into that tournament in April and can play the legendary course as often as he wants.“I don’t have any status to play so in order to stay sharp I have to try to qualify,” said Weir. He headed to the storied layout in Augusta, Ga., for the first time in 2017 on Wednesday morning.“Every time I get there, I love that place,” Weir said Tuesday night. I can commiserate because that’s a tough thing to go through. I plan to come in a few times which I haven’t done in a few years. I plan on playing a few more rounds before the tournament. My game was very good, especially the last couple of rounds. And he hopes a return to Augusta this week will re-energize his game and get him back playing on tour more frequently.“This year I’m a little more intent on getting some extra practice in,” he said.

Christine Sinclair leads young Canada squad as it targets Algarve Cup repeat

6 Australia, No. “The focus will be on winning the tournament, by firstly shaking off some rust and then pushing to recreate the tactical cohesion and off-field chemistry we saw in Rio.“We have six new additions to our squad, players who showed well on our [January] assessment camp and who will add depth to key positions and challenge the Olympic core players for places. 15 Denmark on March 1 before facing No. 20 Iceland and Group 3 is comprised of No. 13 China.“This tournament will be our first opportunity to play consecutive competitive fixtures since the 2016 Rio Olympics and a chance to get our whole squad back together,” Herdman said in a statement. 11 Norway, No. 23 Russia on March 3 and No. 38 Portugal on March 6.Group 2 is made of No. Levasseur has two caps and Stratigakis one. The quintet has a combined 604 caps.The Algarve roster features 14 of Herdman’s 18 Olympians. Melissa Tancredi and Rhian Wilkinson have retired, Diana Matheson is injured and Josée Bélanger, who is no longer in the NWSL, was not picked.Playing in a relatively benign Group 1, Canada opens against No. 14 Spain and No. The Canadian women have had one camp and played just one game – a 3-2 win over Mexico on Feb. This is a fast-paced tournament where we will face one day-turnarounds between games, so we will need to hit the ground running and maintain a high pace if we want to win back-to-back Algarve titles.”Huitema, Taylor, 20-year-old Alex Lamontagne, and 21-year-old Lindsay Agnew are uncapped. 8 Sweden, No. Carle was an alternate.Ten other members of the Algarve squad are 23 or younger.The veterans are Sinclair (33), Stephanie Labbé (30), Desiree Scott (29), Allysha Chapman and Sophie Schmidt (both 28). 12 the Netherlands and No. 4 in Vancouver that was more about the past than the future in feting three retiring players.The storyline for this 22-woman squad is youth as Herdman kicks off the post-Rio quadrennial for real.Jordyn Huitema, a 15-year-old forward from Chilliwack, B.C., seen as a future star, is joined by fellow teenagers Deanne Rose, Sarah Stratigakis, Hannah Taylor (all 17), Gabrielle Carle and Jessie Fleming (both 18) and Marie Levasseur (19).Fleming and Rose were on the Rio Olympic team. Captain Christine Sinclair leads a young roster featuring seven teenagers as Canada looks to defend its title at the Algarve Cup.John Herdman’s fourth-ranked team leaves Thursday for Portugal and the 12-nation tournament that runs March 1-8. 7 Japan, No. Canada defeated Brazil 2-1 in last year’s final.With the tournament falling on a FIFA international window, Herdman has been able to summon European-based pros Kadeisha Buchanan (Olympique Lyonnais) and Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain) for the first time since Canada won bronze at last summer’s Rio Olympics.

The mercenary life of beer-league hockey goalies

But he also has a deal with his wife about goaltending, which means he usually plays between 9 p.m. He was a jockey at Woodbine Racetrack in the 1980s until injuries ended that career. He is a film actor, among other jobs, and like Smith and Schonberger, says despite the constant demand it is almost impossible to make a full-time living as a rental goalie.For a one-hour game, for example, Goalies Unlimited charges the team $45. That means an outlay of anything from $300 for pants to $600 for skates to as much as $1,000 for a helmet. Without them, a lot of games in rinks across the country would never be played or would be a lot less fun.These are not vagabonds in the traditional sense. The goalie gets $30 and the service gets $15. But the human factor also means even a good goaltender such as McLeod can have a bad game. They are the hired guns of beer-league hockey – rental goalies.Call one of the many services that provide these goaltenders for your league game or shinny session – you can also order one online or through an app – pay the going rate, which is $45 in most places, and someone such as McLeod or Dan Smith or Andy Schonberger will show up to play goal for your team or your scrimmage.In the past 25 years, as goaltenders became harder to find because of age, injury or the escalating costs of equipment, rent-a-goalie services exploded across Canada. A quick online search produces a long list of them, from Smith’s Goalies Unlimited, which has been around for 27 years, to MyPuck to to Puck App, which lets you book a goalie with a few taps on your smart phone.“This is my way of playing quite a bit but still having flexibility,” said Schonberger, 36, a mechanical engineer by day in Toronto who spends his nights playing goal through Goalies Unlimited. I have one on my arm right now that’s purple. However, just about every service allows those paying for goalies to rate them on their websites so people have an idea of what they are getting. What they do not have is loyalty to one team. But when it happens I try not to cry.”The quality of rental goaltenders varies as much as their day jobs. “Hockey is a great workout. And getting $30 does not mean you only put in one hour. “I don’t want to be hurt and I want it to last.”Injuries are the major hazard of the job. He has about 50 goalies on his roster of varying ability, including four women, and he still plays as often as 10 times a week himself. Then the next week, Dan [Smith] will give me four skates in three days. After a good game, even against crappy players, it’s a great workout.“If you wanted to make money at this, you would have to join multiple services and stack your games.”Schonberger, in addition to his demanding job as a mechanical engineer, is married and has two young children. It can cost upward of $3,000 for a full set of equipment (Schonberger says you can pay $5,000 for high-end custom gear), which by itself means few people are attracted to the position in an already expensive sport. McLeod and Schonberger say the most common injuries for goalies are groin-muscle strains, back and knee injuries. His youngest netminder is 18.Aside from the scarcity of goaltenders, the major factors in the increased demand are the rise of women’s hockey and the growing popularity of summer hockey and ball hockey.“We’re getting a lot of women calling for goalies now, even asking for men because there are not enough women goalies to go around,” Smith said. Everyone who’s ever been part of a shinny group knows the disappointment of shooting at a sweater hanging in the net or having to hit the posts to score if a goaltender fails to show up.“Even 20 years ago when I started playing goal, if a team was playing once a week and didn’t have a goalie some guy would say, ‘I’ll go in net,’” says Smith, who joined Goalies Unlimited for extra practice when he decided to switch from being a forward and eventually bought the company. “Summer hockey has grown about 50 per cent from a few years ago. Getting hit by the puck is not as dangerous, thanks to improvements in equipment, but it can still be a problem.“I had seven or eight weeks off last year with a groin injury,” Schonberger said. Schonberger, who admits he likes to splurge on the most expensive custom-made equipment, says the wear-and-tear means he needs one new piece every year. “As I get older the injuries start to happen.“I have bruises galore, that happens all the time. Men today are also finding ball hockey is good exercise at a much cheaper cost so there’s a demand for goalies there as well.“We go year-round now and we’re covering ice time between 5 in the morning to 12 at night.”Traditionally, goaltender was considered a position for eccentrics and Smith says his roster may not be deep in oddballs but it is an eclectic group. “We helped market the show by putting 100 goalies on Bay Street to hand out promotional cards. So I have tons of flexibility and I just love the game.”The goaltender position has long posed problems for recreational teams and those who just rent the ice at an arena for an hour and play pick-up shinny. This can be an issue, especially when it comes to leagues, who have concerns about ringers. Services also have long-term connections to leagues so the right goalies can be sent along when they are needed.Smith says McLeod, who played university hockey and a little in the professional minor leagues, is one of his most valuable goalies because he can tailor his game to the skill level of the group he plays with. Sticks at $150 are a constant expense because the other players are all shooting harder thanks to composite sticks and the shots do the most damage to goal sticks.“You can go cheaper but I found through experience I want pro-level gear,” Schonberger said. He moved on to be a horse-racing official and is now a project manager connected to a religious organization.“There are goalies from all walks of life who do this,” he said. If the session is before 9 a.m. He has played for groups from former NHLers (yes, even they need goaltenders) to ankle-benders and says the common thread for hockey players is that they all are usually understanding when he has an off-night, even if they are paying for it.“Yes, it can happen but if you try hard and you’re friendly they understand,” McLeod said. He says he is the oldest goalie on the roster at 55. Add injuries and even for established teams in leagues having a goalie every week can be a recurring headache. Neither goaltender knows anyone who does it for a living other than in short stints between jobs.“But if you’re going to the gym, you’ll eat up two hours and you won’t get paid,” McLeod said. The half-hour comedy series won a string of awards and chronicled the adventures of a haphazard young man who ran a goalie-rental service out of his family’s coffee shop.“That was the one major thing that changed the business,” Smith said. “And that’s for 30 bucks,” he said.McLeod is part of a band of vagabonds who provide adult recreational hockey its backbone. It sure beats doing cardio at the gym. and 11 p.m.“The general rule of thumb is she really doesn’t care as long as the kids are in bed, I’ve done my fatherly duties and the homework is done,” he said.Both McLeod and Schonberger say they put all of the money they make into gas and new equipment. “They are police officers, actors or construction workers.”One of the best goaltenders on Smith’s roster is McLeod, who is also 55. “If I do play like crap I apologize and they accept it.”Despite the injuries and the driving around, all three goaltenders say their main motivation is simply a love for the game.“I’ll do it until I can’t do it any more,” Schonberger said. Almost all of them have regular jobs and they all have a place to live. “But with the cost of equipment today, and the composite sticks people are using mean everyone can wire the puck so the chances of getting hurt are higher, you don’t get that many goaltenders any more.”Smith says the number of goalie services exploded in the wake of a television series called Rent-a-Goalie, which ran on Showcase from 2006 to 2008. We got more views on our web page and more calls but it also meant more people starting the same business.”Despite the increased competition, Smith, who runs his business out of Fort Erie, Ont., says he cannot keep up with the demand. or after 11 p.m., the charge is $50 with the extra $5 going to the goaltender.But both Schonberger and McLeod point out they do not get paid for gas, an increasing problem given the traffic in the Greater Toronto Area, so both tend to stick to calls close to their homes. I tell my son look, I’m tough. Three or four times a week, John McLeod’s cellphone will go off and he will toss his goaltending gear into the car.Someone at a hockey rink needs a goaltender and McLeod is only too happy to oblige for an hour and a few dollars.For a game at 1 p.m., McLeod says, he has to leave his house in Toronto at 12:15. After the game ends at 2 p.m., it is not unusual to be home by 3 o’clock, bringing his time spent to nearly three hours. “I’m not paying to be on a team and stuck with Tuesday nights where you’re in that slot all the time and have to go.“I’ll have two weeks where work is crazy and I can’t play.

Canadians McMorris and Toutant put a new spin on snowboarding

Toutant, from L’Assomption, Que., landed the same trick soon after. This trick and others have helped the two together win almost 20 medals at the X Games. One example is near the start on the first feature, where an athlete can choose to do a trick off a jump, or jump up onto a high rail, or a third option, to hop on to a small kinked rail. “But I see it as another contest. The 2014 men’s snowboard slopestyle gold was won by then 19-year-old American Sage Kotsenburg, who won when he scored top points for two unusual tricks.“Being there for your country, that was a rad moment,” Toutant said. It is important because it happens every four years. I don’t put more pressure on myself. The video planned for Red Bull is called Uncorked.McMorris sees the shift in tastes and direction in the enthusiasm of fans on his Instagram and Twitter.“People like to see us do casual tricks too,” he said. Because of the gap, the rider can’t simply go as fast as possible to do the biggest trick possible.Mark McMorris talked about doing a 180-degree spin from the first section of the takeoff to the second and then, riding backward, a “switch back 9” off the lip, 2<AF>1/2<XA> spins to land forwards. Designed by Schneestern GmbH & Co. As competition veterans, they haven’t seen many changes in courses over the years and are hungry for something new. At the top of Grouse Mountain, the imagination of snowboarders Sebastien Toutant and Mark McMorris has come to life.The two Canadians, who helped revolutionize competitive snowboarding, have turned their attention to the way competitive courses are built, in an effort to change the trajectory of the sport. The goal, he said, was to see “all the resorts start building more creative features.”Another push will be seen at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where the slopestyle course will be unusual. This winter, younger athletes have added even more spins and flips.There is a worry that these tricks are turning snowboarding into sports such as freestyle aerials skiing or platform diving, all about intricate spinning, instead of the free-flowing riding that is more the essence of snowboarding. in Germany, the course will feature several jumps with various options for the athletes. 4, taking about two weeks to build.“They’re putting snowboarding back on its right path,” said Cartwright of McMorris and Toutant. The two riders, in their mid-20s, pushed the progression of flips and spins when they were in their late teens. The aim is to stoke variety and creativity.Six years ago, McMorris, a Regina native, was the first rider to land a backside triple cork 1440, with three off-axis flips and four spins. “The main goal [here] is to hit different features and the more you hit different features, the better prepared [you are] for Korea.”The Olympics are a pinnacle but the event does not loom in the minds of McMorris and Toutant, who will be medal favourites in slopestyle next winter but also among the older competitors. At Grouse Mountain, they want to show what change is possible.“We’re in a good position to do that right now,” said McMorris at the top of the course. They came up with new ideas for different jumps and Red Bull, one of their main sponsors, turned the ideas into reality. “Snowboarding has always been about style.”The Grouse Mountain course – which will be open to the public in a somewhat reduced form in March – also serves as a training ground for the unorthodox 2018 Olympic course, though it doesn’t mimic the Olympic course, being different in design but similar in spirit of new types of jumps.At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, McMorris won a bronze in slopestyle. “What we’ve never seen before.”One idea that came to life is a series of three rails, called the “Toutant Transfer.” One rail with a kink in it leads to two more, on the left and on the right, rider’s choice.A jump that leapt from paper to snow was built with a six-metre-wide gap in the takeoff ramp. It’s all in the judges’ hands.” I just want to do the run that I’ve been thinking of. He said the course encourages subtle technical skills over speed, and rewards “style over spins.”Red Bull funded the project and construction started on Feb. Progression in snowboard competitions has long been measured in the number of flips and spins young riders perform off large jumps, a trend that has made the sport more about acrobatics than actual snowboarding.A shift is under way.McMorris and Toutant lead one push. “What we would like to hit,” said Toutant. While there are fewer contortions, the two tricks would still be difficult.“You’ll be able to do combos you’d never been able to do,” McMorris said.Marcus Cartwright, the 30-year-old terrain park manager at Grouse Mountain, helped build the course. “That stuff gets just as much love – or more – than the gnarliest trick ever.”Toutant, McMorris, and Craig McMorris, Mark’s older brother, sketched out a sheaf of ideas for Red Bull and the Grouse Mountain crew that built them. Toutant was among the top qualifiers but finished ninth in the finals.“Korea’s going to be a lot different,” Toutant said. The result is a private playground where Toutant and McMorris and friends will spend the next week to re-imagine what competitive snowboarding can look like.

Ontario’s Rachel Homan undefeated in Scotties Tournament of Hearts

“It’s more, like, scary because you’re bound to lose a game,” Homan said. Joanne Courtney joined the team at second following the departure of Alison Kreviazuk in 2014.They’re the heavy favourite in this year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts at the Meridian Centre. It’s really tough to go undefeated.“You keep playing as well as you can. You’re always bound to lose a game. Reigning Olympic champion Jennifer Jones didn’t make the Manitoba final.An extra-end win over Carey to open the tournament and Wednesday’s game that went to an 11th end were Homan’s toughest tests up to Wednesday.Ontario lost a measurement on Homan’s draw for the win in the 10th against McCarville. Ties for fourth get solved by tiebreaker games. McCarville dropped to 4-3 alongside Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink.Four losses is often the cutoff for playoffs. The final is Sunday.At eight wins, Englot was assured at least a tiebreaker.Defending champion Chelsea Carey stayed in the playoff hunt at 6-1 with a game to play at night against Newfoundland and Labrador. Kerry Galusha of Northwest Territories was 3-4 facing Saskatchewan at night.Prince Edward Island’s Robyn MacPhee and Stacie Curtis of Newfoundland were 2-5 ahead of Nova Scotia’s Mary Mattatall at 1-6.Saskatchewan’s Penny Barker was winless in seven games, while B.C.’s Marla Mallett was 1-8.Homan, third Emma Miskew and lead Lisa Weagle are two-time Canadian champions (2013, 2014). It took an extra end, but Rachel Homan’s team was the first into the playoffs at the Canadian women’s curling championship.The Ottawa Curling Club foursome edged provincial rival Krista McCarville of Northern Ontario 7-6 to get to nine wins without a loss Wednesday.Just three teams have gone undefeated in the preliminary round since the national women’s curling championship became the Tournament of Hearts in 1982: Homan (2014), Jennifer Jones (2013), Linda Moore (1985). “It’s sport. “I think we’ve picked up a few fans along the way.”The top four teams after the preliminary round’s final draw Friday morning advance to the Page playoff. and then it would come down to being a first-place battle against Ontario and that’s exactly where we want to be.” Homan was not short again in the 11th drawing in for the victory.Englot is an experienced skip having represented Saskatchewan seven times between 1988 and 2012 and finishing third twice.Her Manitoban squad meets B.C. on Thursday morning before what could turn into a game for first place against Ontario.“Maybe it just seems like a fairy tale yet that I’m not feeling the pressure too much, but we have been playing fairly solid all year,” Englot said.“We just needed to concentrate on bringing our ‘A’ game to this event and so far we’ve managed to do it for the most part.“We know we need to beat B.C. No matter what our record is at the end, we just need to win out in playoffs and that’s our goal.”The defending champion gaining automatic entry into the following year’s Hearts wasn’t introduced until 1986, so Moore was 10-0 in 1985 while Homan and Jones went 11-0.Ontario concludes their round robin Thursday against Quebec’s Eve Belisle (6-3) in the morning followed by a much-anticipated showdown with Manitoba’s Michelle Englot (8-1) at night.“It’s going to get awfully loud in here,” Englot said.

Oilers push past Panthers, snapping five-game streak

And just when it seemed like Edmonton would take a 3-2 lead into the third period, the Oilers quickly gave the advantage back.Nugent-Hopkins’ goal off a rebound with 1:01 left in the second gave Edmonton its third lead, but Matt Hendricks was whistled for holding five seconds later. And just as it did to start the period, Florida finished the second by cashing in on the man advantage – with Marchessault scoring with four seconds left to send the teams into the final 20 minutes tied yet again. He went goalless in his first 48 games with the Oilers. Kris Russell scored the third goal of the night by Edmonton’s defencemen with 7:58 left, lifting the Oilers over Florida 4-3 on Wednesday to snap the Panthers’ five-game winning streak.Russell’s goal was his first since Feb. 11, 2016, when he played for Calgary. Keith Yandle had two assists for the Panthers, giving him 400 points for his career.Cam Talbot stopped 31 shots for the Oilers, who have won their last eight games at Florida – last losing on the Panthers’ ice in 2002. James Reimer made 31 saves for the Panthers, who just completed a 5-0-0 road trip.The Panthers trailed for 93 seconds on their five-game road trip. It worked three times – but not a fourth.Florida knotted the game on a power-play goal from Barkov 21 seconds into the second period. They trailed for the final 14:42 of the first period alone in this one, after Klefbom’s unassisted goal opened the scoring.From there, the trend of the night emerged: Edmonton would lead, and Florida would come back. Fellow defencemen Oscar Klefbom and Eric Gryba also scored for Edmonton, as did forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Gryba made it 2-1 midway through the second, only to have Sceviour answer five minutes later. Connor McDavid, who came into the night leading the NHL scoring race, had an assist on Russell’s goal.Aleksander Barkov, Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida.

Canada’s Meghan McPeak is D-League’s only female broadcaster with Raptors 905

Her other interest was interior design.“I remember when I would get home from college, watching the HGTV design shows with my mom, that stuff always intrigued me, the way that someone can look at a room or a house and just sort of turn it into something that it wasn’t,” McPeak said.In the end, it would be former longtime Humber athletic director Doug Fox who would steer her toward broadcasting “based on the fact that I don’t stop talking,” McPeak said, with a laugh. “So I tend to look to the Doris Burkes of the world, who, although she does colour commentary (on the NBA for ABC and ESPN), she still had to be a trailblazer in order for women to be taken seriously in a male-dominated position within the broadcast.”She looks up to Beth Mowins, who does play-by-play for women’s college sports, and in 2005 became only the woman to call nationally televised college football games for ESPN.“Women like that in my opinion are bigger trailblazers and barrier-breakers than I am, simply because if it was not for them, doing the hard work and the leg work and really (erasing) the stereotype that women can’t do certain positions in sports or sports media because it’s so male-dominated,” McPeak said. “It was probably the best decision someone else has ever made for me.”McPeak also works as a radio host for Raptors pre-game, halftime and post-game shows on TSN 1050, and has been an occasional guest analyst on NBATV Canada’s “The Hangout” along with Bell TV’s “Open Gym: Fast Break.”She doesn’t see herself as a trailblazer. Game nights at Humber College were always a bit nuts for Meghan McPeak.She’d suit up as the starting point guard for the Humber Hawks women’s basketball team, and then it was a mad dash of showering, changing and the inevitable sprint across the gym to slide into her seat on press row to work the men’s game. When she began driving, the voices of Paul Jones and Chuck Swirsky calling Raptors games provided the soundtrack.McPeak first attended Fanshawe College, and had dreams of becoming a sports and conditioning coach like the Raptors’ Scott McCullough. She’d settle in on Sundays to watch football with her dad. She’d slip on her headset with a mere minute or two to spare. McPeak was enrolled in Humber’s radio broadcasting program. I think it just comes down to if you’re good, you’re good – period.” The 29-year-old McPeak is in her second season as the voice of Raptors 905, the D-League affiliate of the Toronto Raptors.According to the NBA, she is the only female play-by-play announcer in the D-League. There are none in the NBA, and just one – ESPN’s Pam Ward – in the WNBA.McPeak grew up playing rep basketball in Hamilton and pickup basketball with her older brother Matt. “I really wouldn’t be in the position that I am, so I try not to look at myself in the same light as them.”She listens to others broadcasters to study their tendencies.“I try not to always focus on just one person’s style, because I don’t want to be a duplicate of someone who’s already in the business, I want to sort of have my own style,” she said.“I’m one of the lucky females in that I do have a deeper voice, but it’s not as deep as a male’s voice so I’m not going to be able to call a huge, crazy wild dunk or a huge timely three in the fourth quarter the same way that a Mike Breen or a Matt Devlin or a Paul Jones or an Eric Smith would be able to call it simply because our pitch is completely different,” she added. Her coach Denise Perrier, supportive of McPeak’s budding broadcast career, was kind enough to deliver a swift, down and dirty post-game speech.“It was pretty quick,” McPeak said of her wardrobe change.Those hectic nights paid off. “Basically you’re doing NBA basketball, because there are NBA players playing there, and it’s run by NBA clubs, so the D-League for someone like Meghan, it’s more than putting your foot in the door.“She’s genuinely a basketball fan, she likes the game, and that comes across in her work too.”McPeak said her dream job is “simply to be able to call games consistently,” but would love to work as a broadcaster in the WNBA or NBA. Instead she credits the women who’ve paved a path before her.“At some point there was someone else that was in front of me that had to do it for me to even be in this position,” McPeak said. Calling basketball games at an Olympics is also a goal.Since the NBA is touted as the most progressive of the four major North American pro leagues, she’s in the right sport.“If you look at the (NBA) sidelines, the sidelines are full of women, so if anybody’s going to do it, it will be the NBA,” Rautins said, mentioning Burke, Stephanie Ready, a sideline reporter in Charlotte, and ESPN studio hosts Sage Steele and Michelle Beadle.“So there’s definitely a progression there. “I try to take little pieces from different announcers and different people.”Leo Rautins, who is TSN’s basketball analyst, said the D-League is the perfect launching pad for a young broadcaster.“Masai (Ujiri, the Raptors’ president) often talks about the D-League as far as the development of the team and the players, but I think for other industries like the broadcasting world, it’s a huge asset,” Rautins said.

Toronto Wolfpack ready for competitive debut in Ladbrokes Challenge Cup match

A successful amateur side in West Yorkshire, Siddal has sent players to the pro ranks and become a home for former pros. There is no stadium, just CWC Park – a ground with people ringing the field.“It’s back to rugby league raw. “They’re a very very good team, they’re a very tough opponent.”The third round sees Toronto and the other 15 Kingstone Press League 1 clubs joining the eight second-round winners.Siddal, which made the fourth round of last year’s competition, beat the Milford Marlins 16-4 and Pilkinton Recs 34-10 to earn the date with Toronto.It’s a blue-collar outfit. Now we want to get stuck in.”Toronto’s first home game is May 6 against Oxford RLFC. The challenge begins for real Saturday for the Toronto Wolfpack.The trail-blazing transatlantic rugby league club plays its first competitive match, taking on Siddal in the third round of the knockout Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.Toronto opens league play on March 4 at the London Skolars in the Kingstone Press League 1, the third tier of English rugby. It is a well-established club with more than 350 players spread over 16 teams from youth to masters.Siddal topped the Premier Division of England’s National Conference League last season with an 18-4-0 record and defeated League 1’s Newcastle Thunder 40-4 before falling 48-20 to the Rochelle Hornets in Cup play.“They’re probably one of the most decorated amateur clubs,” said Wolfpack coach Paul Rowley. “I’ve said from the outset we’re very humble. That’s fine,” said Rowley, a former England hooker. because Toronto Wolfpack bring with it a lot of interested people,” said Rowley. “So we’re more than happy.”Toronto has played one pre-season game to date, losing 26-20 to Super League team Hull FC in late January. Rowley believes the team has improved dramatically since and is eager to see it in action against Siddal.“We’re all excited. Saturday’s game will be streamed live on BBC Sport.“I’m rather sure that (Siddal) sense an opportunity to take a scalp whilst the world is watching … And we’re comfortable with that. This is where the game starts. Clubs like Siddal are fantastic for the game – in fact there’d be no game without these sort of clubs “We’re looking forward (to playing) and very respectful of Siddal, not only the people who play for the team but the people who run the club and that goes with it.”In contrast to Siddal, Toronto is a well-heeled startup looking to win promotion all the way to the Super League.Welsh international Dan Fleming and England’s Gary Wheeler are both unlikely to play for Toronto due to injury.“It’s a small squad selection but we’re healthy enough to give a couple of headaches,” said Rowley. “They would arguably be better than some of the teams that we’ll play against this year in the professional league.”The Wolfpack, who have been training in Yorkshire near Siddal’s Halifax base since November, have already drawn interest in England.

Lance Armstrong faces November trial in $100-million lawsuit

Armstrong’s legal team had asked to postpone trial until 2018 because of a potential scheduling conflict. The government wants Armstrong to pay back the $32-million the U.S. The government joined the case in 2013 after Armstrong admitted cheating and was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for cheating, could collect up to 25 per cent of damages awarded. Lance Armstrong’s $100-million legal fight with the federal government has been set for a November trial.U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Thursday set a Nov. Postal Service paid his team for sponsorship, plus triple damages.Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis initially filed the whistle-blower case in 2010, accusing him of violating the sponsorship contract by taking performance-enhancing drugs. 6 trial start in Washington.

Premier League champion Leicester City fires manager Claudio Ranieri

The club qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League — it lost 2-1 to Sevilla in the first leg on Wednesday — but even the potential prospect of reaching the quarterfinals of Europe’s most illustrious competition hasn’t saved Ranieri.“His status as the most successful Leicester City manager of all time is without question,” a long club statement said of Ranieri.“However, domestic results in the current campaign have placed the club’s Premier League status under threat, and the board reluctantly feels that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the club’s greatest interest.”Leicester hasn’t scored a goal in six league games in 2017, and could be in the relegation zone by the time the team plays its next match, at home to Liverpool on Monday.Assistant manager Craig Shakespeare and first-team coach Mike Stowell have been placed in temporary charge of the side.Ranieri took charge of Leicester in July 2015. “We are duty-bound to put the club’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment,” Leicester vice chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said, “no matter how strong that might be.”Leicester, with a team of journeymen, cast-offs and previously unheralded players, won the Premier League last season at odds of 5,000-1, a feat generally viewed as one of the greatest in all sports.Ranieri was last month voted as FIFA coach of the year.However, the Italian manager has come under heavy pressure in recent weeks as Leicester slipped closer to the bottom three in the Premier League and reportedly fell out with some of his players. Claudio Ranieri was fired as the manager of English champion Leicester on Thursday, nine months after guiding the club to the most improbable title triumph in Premier League history.Leicester’s Thai owners took the drastic measure with the team just a point above the relegation zone with 13 games remaining in a dreadful title defence.

Bernie Custis, pro football’s first black quarterback, dies at age 88

Allen played for six teams over an illustrious 23-year career, winning four Grey Cups.When he retired after the ‘07 season Allen was the leading passer in pro football history (72,381 yards). He registered a 31-23-1 record and was named Canadian university football’s top coach in 1982.Custis was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1994 and in 2015 received the CFL’s commissioner’s award from Jeffrey Orridge.“Bernie Custis changed the face of our game forever,” Orridge said at the time. He’s currently second overall behind former Montreal star Anthony Calvillo (79,816).After football, Custis returned to Hamilton, enjoying a long career as a teacher and school principal. A great friend and a mentor,” Gabriel said on his Twitter account.Custis led the Sheridan College Bruins to six OCAA and Eastern Canadian titles (1973-78) and spent eight seasons as the McMaster Marauders coach. It was there Custis coached tight end Tony Gabriel, who’d later star in the CFL with Hamilton and Ottawa before being inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.“RIP Bernie Custis, my Burlington Braves coach & the one responsible for my getting a scholarship at Syracuse. Bernie Custis, pro football’s first black quarterback who blazed the trail for future stars like Warren Moon, Chuck Ealey and Damon Allen, has died.He was 88.Custis made pro football history Aug. “Before Henry Burris and Damon Allen and Warren Moon and Chuck Ealey, there was Bernie Custis.“Many of us here tonight would not have had the opportunities we’ve had, were it not for people like Bernie Custis.”Custis is also a member of the McMaster University Hall of Fame and Syracuse University Athletic Hall of Fame.“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Bernie Custis, former #Ottawa Rough Rider and member of the CFHOF,” the Ottawa Redblacks said on their Twitter account. 29, 1951, when he became a starter with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who confirmed his death Thursday. He is a member of both the Canadian Football and Pro Football Hall of Fame.Despite leading Toledo on a 35-game win streak in his three years as the starter, Ealey was bypassed by NFL teams and headed to Hamilton to play professionally in 1972. He also got involved in coaching at various levels over 31 years.He compiled a 74-20 record over eight seasons with the Burlington Braves of the Canadian Junior Football League, including three Ontario championships and two Eastern Canadian titles. He starred at quarterback with Syracuse University and was selected sixth overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 1951 NFL draft.But the former college roommate of Al Davis — the late Oakland Raiders coach and owner — was told he’d play safety with the club, a move he resisted.The native of Washington, D.C., opted to sign with Hamilton instead, starting every game under centre in his first season.Custis moved to running back the following season and in 1953 helped Hamilton win the Grey Cup game, downing Winnipeg 12-6.Custis finished his pro career with the Ottawa Rough Riders, playing running back in 1955-56.After a brilliant career at Washington, Moon was undrafted by the NFL and headed to Edmonton for the chance to play quarterback professionally. He became the Ticats’ starter later that year and was named the league’s top rookie.Ealey capped his memorable first CFL season leading Hamilton to a 13-10 Grey Cup win over Saskatchewan at Ivor Wynne Stadium. He went on to play for Winnipeg and Toronto in the CFL before retiring after the ‘78 season.Allen came to the CFL following his collegiate career at Cal State Fullerton, joining the Eskimos in 1985. After leading the Eskimos to five straight Grey Cup titles (1979-83), he went on to star for several teams in the NFL.