Erik Sparkowski of Simsbury will compete in his first ski cross World Cup Jan. 18 in Alberta, Canada. Ski cross is a form of freestyle skiing in which four ski racers compete at the same time over a course featuring jumps and gates. Sparkowski, 21, said in an interview with The Courant in 2016 that he had his sights set on the 2022 Olympics. … The 2018 Winter Games are less than a month away and two state athletes who have made the luge team were competing in Konigsee, Germany this past weekend. Tucker West of Ridgefield finished sixth at the World Cup and Emily Sweeney of Suffield seventh. West helped the U.S. relay team to a silver medal. … Also, it was announced Tuesday that North Korea will be sending athletes to the Pyeongchang Games after talks between North Korea and South Korea in the DMZ at the border between the two countries.
In a game full of drama, there was more drama at the College Football Championship, which Alabama won 26-23 in overtime. The bad drama: After a personal foul penalty of 15 yards, Alabama redshirt sophomore linebacker Mekhi Brown was so annoyed that he went after Kerry Stevenson, Alabama’s director of player personnel, on the sideline and had to be restrained by linebacker Keith Holcombe. After the game, Brown was repentant: “I really feel like a jerk,” Brown told Yahoo!. “I did something stupid. I could have cost us the game.” The good drama: Bradley Bozeman proposed to his girlfriend Nikki Hegstetter, a former Alabama basketball player, after the game. If the Crimson Tide had lost, he was going to wait a day. Hegstetter said yes.
Derby the bat dog of the Trenton Thunder died Saturday just short of age 10, of cancer. Derby, a golden retriever whose father Chase had served as the Thunder’s bat dog before Derby, retrieved bats dropped by players at home plate. He was popular with the fans, who were invited to send photos of Derby to the Thunder on social media, to be featured in a video on what would have been Derby’s 10th birthday Jan. 26. Derby’s son Rookie, who began training as a bat dog in 2014, will likely take over for his famous father.
According to ESPN, a Japanese kayaker who was favored to compete in the 2020 Olympics spiked a rival’s drink with anabolic steroids, causing his competitor to fail a drug test in September. Yasuhiro Suzuki admitted to the deed, and was banned from the sport for eight years.
Adam Rippon will be the first openly gay man to compete in the Winter Olympics for the United States in figure skating. Rippon, 28, was chosen by the selection committee after last weekend’s national championships, in which he finished fourth. It’s his first Olympics. “A few weeks ago, I was asked in an interview … what was it like being a gay athlete in sports,” Rippon tweeted. “I said it’s exactly like being a straight athlete. Lots of hard work but usually done with better eyebrows.”