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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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November 25, 2008 2:25 PM

(UPDATED) Winter sports launch: Universal to broadcast skiing, bobsled, luge

Posted by Ron Judd


(See broadcast update below.)

Thanksgiving weekend marks the kicking-into-gear of many Winter Olympic sports, and NBC's Universal Sports venture is making it easier than ever before for Americans to track the action.

Alas, the cable network, in some 30 million U.S. homes, is not available in the Seattle area (something might be brewing; stay tuned). But some action will make its way to parent network NBC, and online simulcasts at Universalsports.com will bring skiing action to Northwest winter sports fans.

Universal's FIS World Cup alpine ski coverage kicks off with live online and cable broadcast of the men's downhill and Super-G Saturday and Sunday from Lake Louise, Alberta. See the Web site for broadcast times.

NBC's TV skiing coverage kicks off with the Aspen Winternational women's giant slalom at 11 a.m. PT Sunday, and the Beaver Creek men's downhill at 11 a.m. PT on Dec. 7.

At the NBC microphone is host Tim Ryan, former Canadian Ski Team member Todd Brooker and former U.S. Ski Team members Steve Porino and Kristina Koznick. Former men's head coach (and Bode Miller handler)Phil McNichol joins Porino and Steve Schlanger for Universal Sports' cable and online coverage.

All of this should be a natural for NBC and Universal. One winter out from the Vancouver 2010 Games, the U.S. alpine team is perhaps at its all-time strongest, with Miller, Ted Ligety, Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso and other stars looming as constant medal threats. Miller and Vonn won the coveted World Cup all-around titles last year, the first U.S. sweep since Phil Mahre and Tamara McKinney 25 years ago. And the full slate of races will give U.S. fans a rare chance to follow skiers through a full World Cup season.

Here's the near-term schedule. See Universal Sports for broadcast times:


UPCOMING ALPINE WORLD CUP SKIING ON UNIVERSAL SPORTS:

Nov. 29 - 30 Women - Aspen, Colorado
Nov. 29 - 30 Men - Lake Louise, Alberta
Dec. 4 - 7 Men - Beaver Creek, Colorado
Dec. 5 - 7 Women - Lake Louise, Alberta
Dec. 13 - 14 Women - La Molina, Spain
Dec. 13 - 14 Men - Val d'Isere, France
Dec. 19 - 20 Women - St. Moritz, Switzerland
Dec. 19 - 20 Men - Val Gardena, Italy
Dec. 28 - 29 Women - Semmering, Austria
Dec. 28 - 29 Men - Bormio, Italy

Both NBC and Universal also will broadcast the 2009 Alpine World Championships February 2-15 from Val d'Isere, France.

--------------------

Other winter sports this weekend, courtesy of the USOC:

Figure Skating: A delegation of U.S. figure skaters, including Johnny Weir (Quarryville, Pa.) and Mirai Nagasu (Arcadia, Calif.), will compete in the NHK Trophy Grand Prix competition in Tokyo, Japan, Thursay through Sunday.

Luge: The team travels to Igls, Austria, for the World Cup #1 event Saturday and Sunday. See broadcast update, below.

Speedskating: Short track skaters, including Seattle's Apolo Anton Ohno, will compete in the World Cup #3 event in Beijing, China, Friday through Sunday.

Bobsled: 22 U.S. skelton and bobsled sliders kick off their World Cup tour Friday through Sunday at Winterberg, Germany. See broadcast update, below.
----------------------

Broadcast update, 2:15 p.m.: Universal reports that it also will provide coverage of the luge and bobsled/skeleton World Cup events listed above.

Bobsled/skeleton coverage will be same-day, on-demand at universalsports.com, with daily recap shows on the Universal Sports broadcast cable channel.

Luge coverage of the World Cup opener from Igls, Austria will be some live and on-demand video, free of charge, with one-hour highlight shows on the broadcast network. See the Web site for scheduling.

Upcoming World Cup Bobsled/Skeleton coverage on Universal Sports:

Nov. 28 - 30: World Cup, Winterberg, Germany
Dec. 5 - 7: World Cup, Altenburg, Germany
Dec. 12 - 14: World Cup, Igls, Austria
Dec. 19 - 21: World Cup, Cesana, Italy
Jan. 9 - 11: World Cup, Koenigssee, Germany
Jan. 16 - 18: World Cup & European Championship, St. Moritz, Switzerland
Feb. 5 - 7: World Cup, Whistler, Canada
Feb. 12 - 14: World Cup, Park City, Utah
Feb. 20 - Mar. 1: World Championship, Lake Placid, NY

Upcoming World Cup Luge coverage on Universal Sports:

Nov. 29 - 30 World Cup #1 Igls, Austria
Dec. 6 - 7 World Cup #2 Sigulda, Latvia
Dec. 13 - 14 World Cup #3 Winterberg, Germany
Jan. 3 - 4 World Cup #4 Koenigssee, Germany
Jan. 10 - 11 World Cup #5 Cesana Pariol, Italy
Jan. 23 - 25 World Cup #6 Oberhof, Germany
Jan. 24 - 25 World Cup #7 Altenberg, Germany
Feb. 6 - 8 World Championship Lake Placid, NY
Feb. 13 - 14 World Cup #8 Calgary, Alberta
Feb. 20 - 21 Olympic Test/World Cup #9 Whistler, B.C.

And there's more: Universal says it also will offer coverage this winter of freestyle skiing, ski jumping, nordic combined, biathlon, cross country, short and long track speed skating and ice hockey.


Comments | Category: Alpine skiing , Snow Sports , Vancouver 2010 Games , Winter Games , World Championships , World Cup Competition |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 6, 2008 10:02 AM

Bellevue ski racer Libby Ludlow moves on

Posted by Ron Judd

LibbyL.jpg
A few months ago, up at Whistler, you could see it in her face. Not defeat. Just fatigue. Bellevue's Libby Ludlow, a ski racer almost her entire life, was fighting to recover from microfracture surgery -- another in a long series of painful injury rehabs in pursuit of a dream: Skiing in the Olympics on a mountain range in the Northwest, a day's drive from home.


It wasn't to be. Ludlow, 26, announced her retirement this morning, after 10 years on the U.S. Ski Team.

"The fact that I am healthy right now and can walk away from the sport healthy, happy and satisfied with what I've accomplished is what I've always wanted. It feels really good," Ludlow told U.S. Skiing. "It was clear that now is my time to walk away. I feel really good about my career and I am excited about what lies ahead."

Ski racers who get the need for speed in their system often find it difficult to do what Ludlow is doing -- pull the plug before it has to be done from one of those ski-patrol body sleds. As it is, Ludlow has enough physical scars from her career to serve as reminders for the rest of her life. So cutting the losses is an investment in what surely will be a bright future, away from icy mountainsides.

The sport also appeared ready to exact an even greater toll on Ludlow: She said earlier this year that changes in the U.S. Ski Team's ranking system might mean she would lose her funding to compete on the World Cup next year as she struggled to get healthy.

She leaves with a career of which she can be proud: Ludlow skied in the Turin Olympics, won the 2004 giant slalom national crown, and posted 45 top-30 World Cup finishes, three of them top 10s. She also skied on the 2003 and 2007 World Championships teams. She was ranked 10th in the world in super G at the dawn of the 2007 racing season.

She also was a talented athlete off the slopes. Ludlow was a soccer midfielder and won a state girl's pole-vaulting title at Interlake High School, where she graduated first in her class.

Ludlow, who began skiing at age 2 at Crystal Mountain, and racing with Crystal Mountain Alpine Club at 6, said she will take a year to finish her undergraduate degree -- in philosophy modified by Eastern religion -- at Dartmouth, then work toward certification as a yoga instructor.

"I've been doing yoga for 11 years, and it's something I plan to use to transition into the real world," she says.

Ludlow is one of those determined athletes that makes covering Olympic sports inspiring. Tens of thousands of them are out there every day, putting life and limb literally at risk, for pure love of their sport. Only a handful ever reach the level of a medal podium, and the (brief) fame and sponsorship money that comes with it. The rest of them work hard, enjoy the little rewards along the way, and then move on -- in the best cases, without the assistance of crutches.

So here's to Libby Ludlow, one of the hardest of hard chargers. She left a lot of herself out there on a lot of different mountains -- but still possessed the good sense to know when to hop off.

(Photo: U.S. Ski Team)



Comments | Category: Northwest Olympians , Snow Sports , Vancouver 2010 Games |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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Blogroll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.