As Pro Sports Return, Some Stars Say Not So Fast

 

 

United States Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe will be noticeably absent from the N.W.S.L. Challenge Cup when the National Women’s Soccer League resumes play later this month. Rapinoe is refusing to play on the grounds of safety, and her team, OL Reign, will be without her for the month-long tournament taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The 34-year-old soccer star is one of the biggest names in the game, having led the USWNT to victory in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. “I understand her motivations,” her coach Farid Benstiti was quoted as saying in the The New York Times, “but I am disappointed and frustrated that she will not be with us to compete in this tournament. Megan is important to the group, and we could have achieved something big if she had joined the rest of the group. She will be missed by the team and also by women’s football.”

Rapinoe isn’t the only member of the USWNT who is refusing to play, according to Yahoo Sports, but she is the only one who has been named so far. Players have voiced concerns about safety and testing protocols, isolation from their families during the required quarantine, and the risk of injury in a compressed schedule where most games will be played on artificial turf — the latter of which has been an ongoing concern for players even before the Coronavirus pandemic hit. Rapinoe tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee while training on a turf field before one of the national team’s victory tour games, and also tore the meniscus in her left knee in 2017.
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Kassia Meador: Sound Surfer

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY SARAH LEE

Back in early October, I attended a press event for Kassia + Surf in NYC. The company and its namesake founder were introducing a new line of wetsuits made from recycled neoprene and salvaged tires, along with a collection of other eco-conscious surf apparel. Considered perhaps the best female longboarder ever, Kassia Meador’s graceful and effortless surfing style is legendary — cross stepping and tiptoeing up to the nose of the board, hanging out there in a crouch, or maybe topping it off with a twirl.

The press event was hosted at Mndfl, one of the new breed of meditation studios that have popped up over the last few years, and a featured part of the morning would be a sound bath meditation led by Kassia herself. If you have never experienced a sound bath, it is style of meditation that uses vibrational sound waves produced by chimes, gongs, drums, and crystal bowls as a relaxation technique. As you “bathe” in these tones, it facilitates a shift in your brainwaves to a state of deep relaxation and rest. For those who are new to meditation or have found it a challenge, a sound bath is a great place to start. Focusing on these vibrational tones can help tune out distractions to attain that deeply meditative state many of us find so elusive. Read More

 

Hooping It Up

 

SABRINA IONESCU

Last weekend was a big one in professional basketball. Though there were no live games, both the NBA and WNBA featured major stories. In the WNBA draft, “virtual” this year, the number one pick went to the New York Liberty who selected Sabrina Ionescu. Over on ESPN, The Last Dance, the much-anticipated documentary series on Michael Jordan and the 1990’s Chicago Bulls debuted.

Basketball fan or not, undoubtably the name Michael Jordan is familiar to you, but likely not that of Sabrina Ionescu. Here’s why it should and likely will be soon.

Star point guard at the University of Oregon, Sabrina Ionescu is the first player in NCAA Division I history – male or female – to record 2,000 career points, 1,000 career assists, and 1,000 career rebounds. She also finished her college career with a record 26 triple-doubles (that’s points, assists, and rebounds). Even more impressive is that she achieved this milestone just hours after delivering an unforgettable eulogy at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service in front of tens of thousands at the Staples Center (watch here).
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Great Performances: The Best of 2019

 

 

From Team USA’s Women’s World Cup Win to the Washington Nationals’ first World Series Championship to record shattering times in both the Men’s and Women’s Marathon… 2019 was filled with many an epic sport moment! Here are the 12 pinnacles of the year that had everyone talking… including you!

Team USA wins the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup!

Defending their 2015 title, Team USA won their fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup on July 7th in Paris, defeating the Netherlands 2-0. Scoreless at the half, Team USA took the lead on a penalty kick by Megan Rapinoe at the 62-minute mark, followed up by a second goal by midfielder Rose Lavelle just before the 69-minute mark.

The tournament generated as much attention for the quality of play as the inequality of pay. Despite the US women being ranked number 1 in the world, the US men’s team, currently ranked 30th, earns more when they lose than the women do when they win (Vox Media). In response to this pay disparity, 28 members of the women’s national team sued the US Soccer Federation for gender discrimination on March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day. Crowds could be heard chanting “Equal Pay” throughout the tournament during the games in which the US played.  Read More

 

Home Run Jersey

 

 

BABE RUTH NEW YORK YANKEES ROAD JERSEY c.1928-30.

Babe Ruth is still breaking records. A New York Yankees jersey worn by the baseball legend sold at auction last Saturday for a record-breaking $5.64 million, making it the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever. Hunt Auctions partnered with Babe Ruth’s family, along with select additions from other collections, to offer the largest assemblage of over 400 personal items and artifacts ever auctioned.

The previous record for the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia sold was set by another Babe Ruth jersey from 1920, which went for $4,415,658. What made this jersey so special and rare was the fact it was the only time in franchise history when “Yankees” appeared on the front of a road uniform.
 


 
“The legacy and significance of Babe Ruth to the game of baseball and American popular culture is unmatched by any other figure in the history of this country,” president of Hunt Auctions David Hunt said in a statement. “While the record-setting prices attained today are certainly astonishing I am not surprised at all given the incredible materials and the mythical status the Babe holds in the history of this country.”

 

Alex Goes To Hollywood

 

ALEX HONNOLD

Climber Alex Honnold scaled new heights last night at the 91st Academy Awards as the film about his death-defying climb of El Capitan, Free Solo, took home the Oscar for Best Documentary. Honnold accepted the award with film makers Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, appropriately attired in a tuxedo custom made for him by his sponsors at The North Face.

A one-of-a-kind bespoke piece, The North Face Black Series™ Custom Tuxedo combined the premium, modern aesthetic of the Black Series line, with classic suiting tailored for Honnold’s unique climbing physique. The look also featured a stretch cotton poplin shirt – a nod to Honnold’s lifestyle and The North Face performance heritage – along with a subtle tone-on-tone jacquard pocket square and bow tie reflecting the distinct aesthetic of the Black Series™.

The premium lifestyle collection of The North Face, Black Series is inspired by urban exploration and balances utility, modernity and hyper minimalism with the iconic brand’s heritage. Now if we could just see him climb El Capitan in that tuxedo!
 

 
Free Solo documents Honnold’s ascent of the freerider route of Yosemite’s El Capitan without the use of ropes or any other protective climbing gear. With no margin for error, and where a fall equals death, the film is an edge of your seat thriller from start to finish. For more about the Free Solo, read here: Rockstars.

 

A Vonn Farewell

 

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Lindsey Vonn announced her retirement from skiing last week on Instagram in a post that read: “I have always pushed the limits of ski racing and it has allowed me to have amazing success but also dramatic crashes. My body is broken beyond repair and it isn’t letting me have the final season I dreamed of. My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen”.

Vonn leaves the sport as the greatest female ski racer in history, but for this warrior who famously battled back time and time again from devastating injuries, this early exit not the ending she envisioned. When Vonn said this would be her final season, there was one more record she planned to break before she said farewell — most World Cup wins held by Ingemar Stenmark. And though that didn’t happen, he was there at finish line at her last race today to congratulate her on a storied career.

Coincidentally, another snow sport superstar, Chloe Kim, also announced she was retiring last week, but under polar opposite circumstances. The 2018 Gold Medalist in the Women’s Halfpipe, Kim was the face of the Pyeongchang Games last February. At 17 years old, not only did she live up to the Olympic hype and pressure to become the youngest woman to win a gold medal in the halfpipe, but she did it with unprecedented flair in a run that featured two back-to-back 1080-degree spins — a combination no other woman has ever done in a competition.
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The All Stars

 

CLOCKWISE TOP LEFT: DOUGLAS FORBES, 16; CC KAPLAN, 12; ARIA BEVACQUA, 11; KAI YUDELSON, 16; KAILEY BOGART, 13; IZYAN AHMAD, 8

 

Look out Roger Federer, Michelle Wie, Alex Ovechkin, and Chloe Kim… the next generation of superstar athletes is comin’ for ya! CC Kaplan, Izyan Ahmad, Aria Bevacqua, Kai Yudelson, Kailey Bogart, and Douglas Forbes: though these 6 young athletes are different ages, gender, and compete in different sports, what they share is an unrelenting passion and dedication to their pursuit.

They train for hours a day like professional athletes, but unlike professional athletes they still have school and homework to do. It makes for a jam-packed daily life many grown-ups couldn’t handle. They’re at practice before their peers wake up and starting homework when most are going to bed. So why do they do it? It’s the love of the game and their dream to be the best.

There is no way to know for sure whether a promising young sport phenom will become the next all star, but each one of these athletes featured here has the talent and drive to make those dreams come true… Read More

 

Trading Places: Michelle Wie & Genie Bouchard

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANNE MENKE

When two of the biggest stars in tennis and golf, Eugenie “Genie” Bouchard and Michelle Wie respectively, met for the first time last week, you would have thought they were lifelong friends. Both Nike athletes, they had been brought together for a promotional event and quickly hit it off, literally, hitting golf and tennis balls, and exchanging coaching tips. Their rapport was instant and their ability to pick up each other’s sport didn’t lag too far behind.

Korean-American Michelle Wie, 27 years old, has been on the LPGA tour since just before her 16th birthday and is currently #34 in the Rolex Ranking. Though at age 10 she became the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur championship, Wie actually had dreams of becoming a professional tennis player. This phenom’s golf game was better than her tennis game, however, and so the clubs beat the racquet. Wie won her first major at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. Though she doesn’t get much of a chance to play tennis these days, after a few pointers from Genie, she quickly showed she’s still got some game.

Canadian Genie Bouchard, 23 years old, is currently ranked 57th in the WTA and has been a force to contend with since she hit the tour: named WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2013 and WTA Most Improved Player in 2014. She was the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up, and semi-finalist in both the Australian and French Open that same year. Though Bouchard has virtually no golf experience, she was swinging like a pro after just a few tips from Michelle.
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All’s Well in Wellington

 
KENT FARRINGTON AND HIS STABLES IN WELLINGTON, FLORIDA.
©Rolex/Ashley Neuhof

 

Unless you are part of the equestrian set, Wellington, Florida might not be a familiar destination, but every winter the world’s best riders descend upon this sport mecca for the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Hosted at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the main attraction is the show jumping and its numerous Grand Prix events — along with the perfect climate for rider and horse alike. 

Next door to Palm Beach, Wellington was originally created in 1972 as a 7000-acre equestrian preserve. The Winter Equestrian Festival has been going on since 1979, but it wasn’t until 2008 that Wellington began to evolve into the equestrian lifestyle destination it is today. In 2006, about 1000 acres that included the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, were purchased for $135 million by Mark Bellissimo, a former tech entrepreneur, who envisioned the economic impact developing this community could have.
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Catch The Waves

 
“THE WAVES”
The Pepperdine Women’s Beach Volleyball Team

 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY KEITH KING

This Saturday, March 4th, the Pepperdine Women’s Beach Volleyball team kicks off the 2017 season with their home opener against USC and UCLA. Yes, Beach Volleyball is a NCAA sport, and with 3 out of the top 5 ranked teams on the West Coast, these college athletes make you wish they all could be California girls. Tall, fit, and tan, with killer spikes and power blocks, these women are exactly as you picture them and then some.

Collegiate Beach Volleyball is a relatively new NCAA sport, which is why you may be surprised to hear about it. I know I was when I stumbled upon the Pepperdine Waves on Zuma Beach last fall, and couldn’t help but notice these physical specimens practicing on the court next to ours. Similar to college tennis, five teams of doubles compete for each school. The team winning 3 out of 5 matches wins the tournament. The Pepperdine Waves are ranked #4 going into the 2017 season, with USC ranked #1 and UCLA #3.
 

A DAY AT THE BEACH
Coach Nina Matthies and the Pepperdine Women’s Beach Volleyball Team:
“We’re training eyes, mind, and bodies.”

 

Pepperdine University is a small Christian college nestled in the hills of Malibu, California. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it is one of the most beautiful college campuses you’ve ever seen. The Waves home court is on world famous Zuma Beach — think “Baywatch” — to keep you California dreaming. The NCAA announced beach volleyball as an emerging sport in January 2010, and Pepperdine officially added the program for the 2012 season.
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The XPT Experience

 

3 DAYS WITH GABBY REECE, LAIRD HAMILTON…

AND KERRI WALSH JENNINGS, TOO!

IT’S THIS SPORTY GIRL’S DREAM COME TRUE!

 

PHOTOGRAPHS & COLLAGES BY KEITH KING

Ever wonder what life is like for Gabrielle Reece and Laird Hamilton? Well, wonder no more. Gabby and Laird, along with Brian MacKenzie, a human performance specialist, have created The XPT Experience, a 3-day turbo-charged immersion into their lives. XPT stands for Extreme Performance Training and for $5000, you get full access to this trio and a roster of the most buzzed about – although you may not have heard about them yet — trainers, coaches, health and wellness experts. The XPT Experience is an action packed program of workouts, lectures, and playtime too, all of which comes from the cutting edge training, nutrition and recovery these professional athletes have integrated into their daily lives.

For those who don’t know this Amazonian beauty, Gabby Reece is a former professional beach volleyball player, model, best-selling author, mother, and world-renowned fitness personality, most recently seen as the host of NBC’s Strong. At 6’3 she is a towering presence, and at 47 years old, as gorgeous and fit as ever, enhanced by a big heart and generosity as large. Husband Laird Hamilton is the world famous big wave surfer, who at 53 defies age and gravity, riding massive walls of water for a living and inventing new water sports for the rest of us to enjoy. He is recognized as the creator of Stand Up Paddleboarding. His rock hard physique and hunky good looks are hard to ignore, along with an engaging stream of dialogue that questions many common assumptions on health and fitness, while offering alternative ways of thinking with the latest discoveries in human performance. Read More

 

The Equestrian: Georgina Bloomberg

 
GEORGINA BLOOMBERG AND “CROWN” AT THE HAMPTON CLASSIC
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DEBBY HYMOWITZ

 
This Sunday, one of the pinnacle events and grand finale to the Hamptons summer social scene takes place, The Hampton Classic Grand Prix. Always a star-studded affair, it attracts the see and be seen crowd who have come to watch the best riders in the world compete for the $250,000 prize.

Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of billionaire business magnate, philanthropist, and former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, is one of the sport’s top competitors and one to watch on Sunday. Thoroughly impressive in her own right, we had the opportunity to meet her earlier this week and discovered the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. She is fiercely competitive, driven to succeed, and totally committed to the sport.

SOS: How did you get started riding? How did it become this passion? How did it become “Ok… this is my job?”

GB: I started riding when I was 4. My mother is English. She had grown up on horses and wanted me and my sister to take lessons and start riding. My sister started taking lessons and I just wanted to do everything she did so I started taking lessons too. I originally didn’t like it and was actually totally afraid of it, but as soon as I started being able to compete I fell in love with the competition and that part has never changed for me. I wouldn’t ride if I couldn’t show. I’m never going to ride for fun. I’m going to ride at the top level or not do it at all. There is no in-between for me.

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SOS: Wow… that says so much about you.

GB: Yes, I’m very competitive. If I’m going to do something, I want to do it all the way. I go to the barn in the morning and work hard at it so I can go to a competition and win.

SOS: How did you balance riding with everything else growing up?

GB: I grew up in Manhattan. There is less of an understanding of the sport than outside the city where there are closer barns. I was a very rebellious teenager and said “FU” to anybody who didn’t want to take my way. For me it was difficult to balance because my teachers were not so understanding when I had to miss school to go to Florida to compete. So instead of trying to accommodate them more, I just basically gave up on school. Read More

 
 

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