Tora Berger was a mild surprise. She’s one of the world’s best biathletes, with a handful of Olympic and World Championship gold medals to prove it. But biathletes typically don’t win three races in the same weekend, which is exactly what she did in neighboring Sweden.
Marit Bjoergen, on the other hand, does this sort of thing on occasion. She won most of the cross-country skiing events contested the 2010 Olympics and 2011 World Championships. She, like Berger, took the natural hat trick this weekend.
But for epic all-time greatness, the big Norwegian winner is Magnus Carlsen, who can now stake a claim to being The Best Chess Player of All Time, at least unofficially. By rating, he has now slightly surpassed Garry Kasparov‘s record rating of 2851. Not bad for a guy who just turned 22. (If you like to dive into the methodology, start at this roundup of various attempts to rate the best ever, then call Nate Silver.)
Also, Aksel Lund Svindal leads the men’s Alpine World Cup standings over the USA’s Ted Ligety. He won it in 2007 and 2009. Seems like he’s been around forever, but he won’t turn 30 until later this month.
Here’s what else happened over the weekend while we were mourning Georgia’s SEC loss and watching Beckham’s back-to-back …
Women’s World Cup, Lake Louise, Alberta: Lindsey Vonn — the same Lindsey Vonn whose general health was in serious question a couple of weeks ago — won a downhill. And another one. And then a super-G. Vonn is the first skier to win three races at the same venue in two different seasons.
Here she is:
If you’d prefer to see her scramble out of trouble, check this one:
And more U.S. women were in the mix — Stacey Cook was second in each downhill, Julia Mancuso was second in the super-G, and the USA had six of the top 20 in the second downhill (Vonn, Cook, Mancuso 9th, Alice McKennis 11th, Laurenne Ross 18th, Leanne Smith 20th).
The USA has four women in the World Cup top 10: Vonn 3rd, Cook 5th, Mancuso t-6th, Mikaela Shiffrin 10th.
Men’s World Cup, Beaver Creek, Colo.: Ted Ligety joked after Saturday’s super-G:
Have to smile. Another superg wooden spoon. Good crowd on hand. http://t.co/JVoRjoLr
— Ted Ligety (@tedligety) December 1, 2012
Isn’t the wooden spoon typically last place, not fourth? In any case, he can quit fretting about it now: He won Sunday’s giant slalom so convincingly that his rivals called him “unbeatable” in the event.
The speed events were much better for the Italians than the Americans: Christof Innerhofer won the downhill, and Matteo Marsaglia won the super-G.
World Cup, Kuusamo, Finland: Unique format this weekend — a three-race mini-tour with a sprint, a short freestyle (5k women/10k men) and a classical pursuit (10k/15k). Maret Bjoergen took away the need for any math by winning all three events on the women’s side.
Among Americans — Kikkan Randall has suddenly flipped from contending in the sprints to contending in the distance races, finishing second in the freestyle and holding on for fifth overall despite being knocked out in the sprint semifinals. Ida Sargent also made the sprint semis and took 18th overall. The others were all in the top 24: Liz Stephen 17th, Holly Brooks 22nd, Jessie Diggins 24th.
In the men’s event — yet another Norwegian? Yes, it was Petter Northug taking the overall. Only three of the six Americans finished the last event. Noah Hoffman had the only top-20, finishing 19th in the freestyle.
World Cup, Kuusamo, Finland: No Americans made the trip. Germany won the team event and the individual (Severin Freund).
World Cup, Kuusamo, Finland: France’s Jason Lamy Chappuis, while American Bryan Fletcher kept up a string of promising performances with a 14th-place finish.
World Cup, Astana, Kazakhstan. Shani Davis was the only U.S. skater competing, and his win in the 1,500 meters broke up a Dutch men’s sweep. Jorrit Bergsman won the 10,000; the Netherlands won the team pursuit.
Canadian women had two wins — the team pursuit and Christine Nesbitt in the 1,500. The Czech Republic’s Martina Sablikova won the 5,000.
World Cup, Nagoya, Japan: Not a great weekend for U.S. women — none made a final, and Jessica Smith‘s seventh-place finish in the 1,500 was the top result.
A but better for the men: J.R. Celski (2nd, 1,000 and 7th, 1,500) and Travis Jayner (3rd, 500) made finals. Jeff Simon made a pair of semifinals.
World Cup, Oestersund, Sweden: Jean Philippe Le Guellec is the first Canadian man to win a World Cup event, shooting cleanly to win the sprint. For the Americans, Tim Burke showed some signs of snapping into form, finishing 18th in the sprint and 15th in the pursuit. Susan Dunklee was the only U.S. woman to qualify for the pursuit, finishing 39th.
Tora Berger (see above) won all three women’s events; France’s Martin Fourcade won the men’s individual and pursuit.
World Cup, Koenigssee, Germany: The host country swept the men’s podium, with Chris Mazdzer 16th and Taylor Morris 22nd. And they took four of the top five places in the women’s race, interrupted only by Canada’s Alex Gough in third. American women finished in pairs: Erin Hamlin and Emily Sweeney 11th/12th, Kate Hansen/Julia Clukey 20th/21st.
And in the doubles, it was … Germany, 1-2. Matthew Mortensen/Preston Griffall finished 11th; Jake Hyrns/Andrew Sherk 17th.
Cyclocross World Cup, Roubaix, France: It’s all about Katie Compton, who came back on the last lap for her third win of the World Cup season.
American Open, Palm Springs, Calif.: This was held. Not sure what’s up with results.
Bellator: Andrey Koreshkov, whose name sounds like a former Yes keyboardist but isn’t, remained unbeaten in winning the welterweight tournament final over Lyman Good. And we welcome Kala Hose back to … what? Knocked out in 22 seconds by Doug Marshall?
BAMMA: Alex Reid — to my knowledge, the only MMA fighter to fare better on Celebrity Big Brother than on The Ultimate Fighter — is back with a win.
KSW: UFC veterans Kendall Grove and Rodney Wallace traveled to Poland and lost. Grove at least lost to a strong opponent — Mamed Khalidov, the highest-ranked middleweight outside the UFC and Strikeforce.
Cage Contender: TUF alum Martin Stapleton won an old-school, one-night tournament that would never be allowed in the USA today.
Sevens World Series, Dubai: Samoa beat New Zealand 26-15 in the final. The USA beat Spain and put up good fights against France and South Africa but was oddly blown out by Canada.
Friendly: One of England’s “great victories in their history,” the BBC’s Tom Fordyce says, as New Zealand fell 38-21.
Grand Slam, Tokyo: Didn’t see any Americans in the top eight.