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Polar Barely

first_imgI was tired of the same old New Year’s routine — drinking champagne, lighting a few crummy fireworks, watching the ball drop. I needed a new tradition, and jumping into a half-frozen lake seemed as good as any. So I signed up for a polar bear swim—an out-and-back 50 meters in a mountain lake on the first day of the new year.Hung over and half asleep, I drove two hours through the mountains and arrived at Lake Chatuge just before noon. Sixteen other shivering swimmers huddled around a campfire along the shore, trying to stay warm in 30-degree weather and flag-whipping winds. I squeezed in between a crew-cut army cadet, two teenage girls, and an overweight man wearing Spandex.“Do we tip-toe into the water or dive in?” asked one of the girls.“Gotta hit it hard,” the cadet said stoically.At least one hundred spectators lined the lake, waiting to see a bunch of half-naked Southerners act like Eskimos. Some watched from the warmth of their cars. Minutes before the start, the organizer pulled a thermometer from the water: 46 degrees Fahrenheit.The cold truth was starting to sink in: I really had to go through with this. I had to get in that water and swim 50 meters — two full swimming pool lengths. Though I’d competed in dozens of triathlons, I had never felt more nervous than at the starting line of a mere 50-meter swim. My teeth were chattering, my arms twitched, my goose-pimpled skin shook uncontrollably — and I hadn’t even touched my toes to the water yet.Waiting made it worse. Just thinking about the swim made me cold. I jumped up and down, pretended to stretch, and even ran a few barefoot sprints along the rocky, frost-covered lakeshore to stay warm. Then, back at the boat ramp, I listened to a wife berating her husband as he undressed.“You warm up your shower water before you get in every morning, for Chrissakes! How are you going to swim around in a freezing lake?”But the husband would not be dissuaded. He quickly stripped off his clothes, handed them to his wife, and joined the other swimmers milling around on the boat ramp making jokes.“Weather’s bit nipply out here, wouldn’t you say?”“It takes some balls to be out here.”“Yeah — blue, shriveled, marble-sized ones.”At high noon, the organizer yelled “GO!” and we herded into the lake. Swimmers whooped and shouted as they plunged in. I high-stepped out as far as I could, then dove headlong into the lake. When I popped up, my mind completely shut down. I was all body and instinct. Panic poured through my muscles. I was hyperventilating and hypothermic. Frantically I threw my arms in front of me and swam toward the orange buoy. It looked a lot farther away than a pool-length.I was breathing too rapidly to put my face underwater; instead I was splashing across the lake with a spastic, all-arms, head-out-of-the-water stroke. Frenzied swimmers collided with me as we rounded the buoy. Trickles of laughter from onshore spectators drifted across the water.On the long swim back to the boat ramp, my adrenaline-fueled muscles slowed. Icy blood coursed through my veins. My arms slapped against the water. I floundered forward, meter by meter. Finally my knuckles scraped the sandy bottom, and I felt my brain click back on.I climbed out and felt rejuvenated. After numbing myself in the lake, I felt the glow of life so much more intensely. Every sensation was heightened. Scalp tingles surged electricity down my spine.Blue-faced and panting, I put on my clothes and watched the rest of the swimmers slugging toward shore. Rescuers in oar boats threw life jackets and float rings to struggling swimmers. Two guys had to be helped to shore. The teenage girls stumbled out of the water together, holding hands and hugging each other. The army cadet was close behind.After three minutes, everyone had made it back — except three especially cold-blooded polar bears. They were still wading offshore to see who could stay in the lake the longest. One kicked his feet in the air as if lounging in a warm bathtub. Their breath visibly condensed in the frozen air. After five minutes, nobody had flinched. Finally, to break the tie, the three swimmers raced back to the boat ramp.Afterward, we all crouched around the bonfire sipping hot chocolate. I warmed myself inside a circle of other hardy, grizzled beasts. I was one of them now. I was a Polar Bear cub.I couldn’t wait to get back home and hibernate.Polar PlungesJanuary 1: LAKE LURE, N.C.January 17: WESTMINSTER, MDJanuary 25: BLOWING ROCK, N.C.January 26: CHATTANOOGA, TENN.FEBRUARY 1: VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.FEBRUARY 9: MORGANTOWN, W.VA.FEBRUARY 16: LAKE LANIER, GA.FEBRUARY 25: RALEIGH, N.C.last_img read more

Crush Friday In Madison County, Virginia

first_imgMadison County is an outdoor paradise, both peaceful and adventurous.Ride or bike the small country roads, even participate in Tour de Madison in May or take advantage of the equestrian trails.Hike a couple of Shenandoah National Park’s most popular hikes on Old Rag Mountain or White Oak Canyon Falls or enjoy a stroll at Hoover Ridge.Taste Virginia’s first historic farm brewery at Bald Top brewing sitting outside enjoying the views and listening to music, or experience America’s Favorite Tasting Room at Early Mountain Vineyards, or one of the other wineries such as DuCard, Prince Michel or Revelation and enjoy the gorgeous views they all offer. Like many others, you may decide to have your wedding in Madison.Taste the delectable food at The Bavarian Chef, Bonanno’s Madison Inn, MAD Local, Pie in the Sky, Giovanna’s, or Yoder’s Country Market to name a few.Shop at Plow and Hearth outlet, Southern Grace, MAD Arts, She She on Main, The Market on Main, or E. A. Clore Sons Inc., a fine furniture store!Go to a Music festival at Graves Mountain Lodge, Wool and Wine Festival, Taste of the Mountains, or Hops and Homestead Festival at Bald Top.Stay in a B&B, cabin, house, Lodge RV or even a luxurious yurt! President Herbert Hoover built his summer retreat, Camp Hoover, at the source of the Rapidan River. Fish the same river that presidents and dignitaries fished, or explore one of the many rivers and streams throughout Madison County.Your outdoor paradise awaits in Madison County, VA.Visit their website or give them a call to learn more: 540-948-4455.last_img read more

North East School Chess Championship from December 19

first_imgOur Sports ReporterGUWAHATI: The 8th editions of Raktabh Dutta Choudhury Memorial North East School Chess Championship will kick off in the city on December 19. The four-day meet, to be organized by the Mind Sports Foundation, will be held at the Assam Jatiya Bidyalay campus at Noonmati. The secretary of the Mind Sports Foundation Nayan Kumar Dutta today informed the media that more than 100 players from the different parts of the Northeast are expected to participate in the tournament. The champion will earn a cash award of Rs 10 thousand while the next two position holders will be richer by Rs 7,500 and Rs 5,000 respectively. The organizer will provide cash awards to the first ten position winners of the meet. Meanwhile Dutta today also announced that like the earlier years this time also Mind Sports Foundation will felicitate a Senior Sports Journalists of the state and this time they have selected President of the Sports Journalists Federation of India Subodh Malla Barua.Also Read: DPS, Guwahati bag runners up title in National U-11 Chess ChampionshipAlso Watch: Govt all set to push for the contentious Citizenship Bill in the winter session of Parliamentlast_img read more

The Latest: Bettman set to announce format if NHL returns

first_imgBettman is set to make a televised address at 4:30 p.m. EDT about what hockey will look like if the NHL can resume the season this summer. That means a 24-team straight-to-playoffs format with the league’s other seven teams having their seasons ended.The Players’ Association voted last week to approve the 24-team format proposed by the Return to Play committee. It involves the top four teams in each conference playing a mini-tournament for seeding, while the other 16 face off in best-of-five series to set the field.There is still no timetable for the resumption of game action or when players can return to team facilities for voluntary workouts. This announcement does come on the heels of the league and NHLPA unveiling protocols for those workouts, including a limit of six players on the ice at a time.___Conferences and television networks have agreed to an extension to next week’s deadline for determining the broadcast schedule for college football’s early season games. The NFL’s preseason and training camps wouldn’t begin until midsummer — teams are doing virtual workouts in place of the usual on-field activities because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the NHL is planning ways to complete the 2019-20 season. Should those plans include the Devils, they now can reopen their training facilities.“Professional sports teams in NJ may return to training and even competition — if their leagues choose to move in that direction,” Murphy wrote on Twitter. “We have been in constant discussions with teams about necessary protocols to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, and personnel.”A Jets spokesman said: “We are working closely with Gov. Murphy’s office, the league and our medical staff to establish prudent, health and safety measures for our staff and players. Based on those guidelines, we will begin to open our facility using a phased approach at a time that is the most practical for our operations.”The Giants echoed those sentiments and said: “With today’s announcement by the governor, we are finalizing our plans to reopen the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. We will continue to have as many employees as possible working remotely. For employees who need to return to work at our facility, we expect to begin that process next week, and we will do so in a systematic and safe way that adheres to the state’s guidelines and NFL protocols.” The cuts represent about a quarter of the group’s workforce.McLaren executive chairman Paul Walsh says “we plan to emerge as an efficient, sustainable business with a clear course for returning to growth.”___World TeamTennis says it is planning to allow up to 500 spectators at outdoor matches during its three-week season from July 12 to Aug. 2 at a resort in West Virginia.All tennis events sanctioned by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation are on hold at least until late July because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Latest: Bettman set to announce format if NHL returns The Football Bowl Subdivision conferences issued a joint statement Tuesday along with ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and their affiliated networks. The statement said only that the game times would be set “at a later date as we all continue to prepare for the college football season.” The deadline typically falls on June 1, which is Monday.___Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted Tuesday that as long as the NFL’s Giants and Jets and the NHL’s Devils follow health and medical protocols, they could open training camps or even hold competition. ___Formula One carmaker McLaren says 1,200 jobs will be lost across its entire group’s operations because of the coronavirus outbreak.It was not immediately clear how the cuts would affect the group’s F1 operation. The sport has yet to start its 2020 season amid the pandemic.The McLaren Group says “the cancellation of motorsport events, the suspension of manufacturing and retail activities around the world and reduced demand for technology solutions have all led to a sudden impact” on its revenue-generating activities.McLaren says the reduced budget-cap level for F1 teams also led to the job losses.center_img Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to announce the league’s return to play format this afternoon. But the WTT is not affiliated with those tours and does not need to abide by their decisions about when it is OK to compete. No ATP or WTA ranking points are available for its matches.The WTT says it is increasing its prize money to $5 million. That is $1.5 million more than for its 2019 season.The league is bringing all nine of its teams to one site at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, because of the pandemic instead of having matches around the United States.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 Associated Press May 26, 2020last_img read more

Germany Tackle Chile in Confed Cup Final

first_imgThe final showdown of the Russia 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup will take place sunday evening as world Champion Germany take on South American champion Chile in St. Petersburg, Russia. However, before the mouth-watering showdown, the third place play off between Portugal and Mexico will whet fans’ appetiteThe final is the second meeting between the two countries in the competition after they first clashed in the group stage. Germany will be looking to win their first Confederations Cup title with Chile also eyeing the title at the first attempt. Both teams played out a 1-1 draw in the group stage of the tournament when Lars Stindl equalised for the Germans after Alexis Sanchez had put the South Americans ahead.Germany leads the very limited head to head between the two with one win and a draw. Prior to the draw in the group stage, they had met in just one friendly match before, which Germany won 1-0 back in 2014.Germany romped to a 4-1 win over Mexico in their semifinal clash, taking their tally to ten goals in four games in the tournament so far. They clearly have the firepower with Lars Stindl and Timo Werner as good options and Leon Goretzka raising his stock with a quick brace against the Mexicans as well. They have a very exciting and fluid young attack with manager Joachim Low electing to leave most of the squad that won the 2014 World Cup at home.Chile on the other had an exhausting semifinal encounter with Portugal, having to win by penalties after a goalless encounter against Portugal.Chile’s Arturo Vidal, Aranguiz and Arsenal star, Sanchez converted their penalty kicks past Portugal’s goalkeeper Ruis Patricio, while the European champions failed to convert any of theirs.Portugal will face Mexico in the third place play-off. Again, it is the second time both teams will be playting each other in the competition after the first game ended in a 2-2 draw. However Portugal will have to make do without captain Cristiano Ronaldo as he Real Madrid star was excused from the squad, returning home to meet his newborn twins.The 32-year-old, who already has a seven-year-old son, Cristiano Ronaldo Jnr, from a previous relationship, is believed to have fathered the twins with a surrogate mother in the United States.“We knew he was having family matters at home,” Portugal manager Fernando Santos told a news conference yesterday.”Obviously it was an important moment in his life to have these children, whom he hasn’t seen yet. And as we failed to reach the final here the president of our football federation and me decided that it will be a nice gesture to give him a chance to be with his family.”Portugal are often accused of relying heavily on Ronaldo, but they claimed their first major title without their injured talisman when they beat France 1-0 after extra-time in last year’s Euro 2016 final.Borussia Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro is also missing for Portugal through injury, but veteran defender Pepe returns after he was suspended for the Chile clash.“It will be a game with the same commitment, with the same willingness to win from both sides, I believe,” said Santos. “None of us wanted to play this game as our main goal was to reach the final. But as we failed to get that result we have to be motivated for Sunday’s encounter.“We have the same objective as we have had in the last two and a half years – to play for the win in every game.”Mexico are appearing at their seventh Confederations Cup and are hoping to restore their pride after Thursday’s 4-1 semifinal defeat against world champions Germany. Mexico, who won the tournament in 1999, have fallen behind in each of their four matches in Russia but will welcome back captain Andres Guardado, who was banned for the Germany game.Pay TV channel, StarTimes will beam both matches live subscribers. Acting Brands and Marketing Director, StarTimes, Mr. Qasim Elegbede, said StarTimes is ever commitment to delivering quality sporting content to its loyal subscribers.He said quality sporting content was the reason behind the acquisitions of sporting rights like the FIFA World Cup in over 48 territories in Africa and other sporting event such as the Serie A, Bundesliga, French Ligue 1, Chinese Super League, Eredivisie.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Kick-off: Portugal vs Mexico 1pmGermany vs Chile 7pmDuro Ikhazuagbe and Demola Ojolast_img read more

Aaron Pico sees Bellator 222 as fresh start to his MMA career

first_img“I think Adam Borics is a very tough guy — he’s 12-0 and he’s fought some good competition,” said Pico. “I’m in for a great fight, but he fought a guy like me, someone who can wrestle like me.”I can tell you that my pace is going to be very, very high. He’s going to be looking for flying knees. He’s going to be looking for check hooks. He’s probably going to expect to be in a firefight, but we’re going to surprise him with a lot of new things that I’ve learned and have been working a lot in sparring. Physically, my weight is good, I’m healthy and this is the fight that I feel the most mentally prepared for. As long as I stay composed, stay relaxed and I don’t put any emotional value to the fight, I can see the path to victory.””I’m a fighter, so I’m going to fight tough guys,” he added. “It’s like a bull rider —they’re going to be riding tough bulls. It’s just something you have to expect. I’ve prepared well, I have a great team around me and now I just have to go win.” It’s the undeniable truth and for anyone else, it would be an acceptable answer, but Pico isn’t your average 22-year-old fighter with just six professional bouts under his belt.Join DAZN and watch Bellator 222 on June 14Billed as “the greatest prospect in MMA history” more than two years before he transitioned to the sport, the Whittier, Calif., native is one of the most hyped and heavily scrutinized fighters to enter the sport in the last five years.He was projected to be a champion before he’d even had a professional fight and in a sport where young fighters often get the opportunity to work out the kinks in half-empty arenas against fellow neophytes, local toughs and maybe a washed up veteran or two, Pico went right to the big leagues, making his professional debut at Bellator 180 inside Madison Square Garden.”There were a lot of eyes on me well before my professional career and I basically was baptized by fire,” Pico told Sporting News last week. “A lot of people don’t realize that I never had (the progression from a) local scene show to a little bit of a bigger show and then to the big leagues — it was out of the gate at Madison Square Garden.”His first foray into the Bellator MMA cage couldn’t have gone worse. He was rocked right out of the chute by veteran Zach Freeman and 24 seconds after the bout began, the fight was over. Social media was flooded with comments calling the highly touted newcomer an overhyped fraud.Pico backed up his advance billing over his next four outings, stringing together four straight first-round stoppage wins, including a dominant performance against former title challenger Leandro Higo, to set up his showdown with Corrales earlier this year. There, more rookie mistakes cropped up and led to Pico being knocked out for the first time in his career.“I’ve competed at the highest level in wrestling, I’ve had a lot of good boxing experience, but there is a big difference coming onto the professional level,” Pico said, reflecting on his career to date. “I’ve had a rude awakening a couple of times, so it’s definitely hard at times, but I take it as a privilege to be in my position.”“I’m still young — I’m still very, very young — and, make no mistake, I’m going to be the champion of the world. There is no doubt about it,” he added. “These are rookie mistakes, fine-tuning stuff.”Set to return to action Friday night against unbeaten rising star Adam Borics, Pico has made dramatic changes in advance of the fight, beginning with relocating to Albuquerque, N.M., to train at Jackson-Wink MMA, the hardscrabble city’s famed breeding ground for high-level fighters and coaches.”I’m here because I have to learn how to fight. I don’t know how to fight yet,” he said. “I have all the skills — the boxing, the wrestling, the mindset — but I don’t know how to fight yet, so that’s why I’m here.”That’s a pretty startling admission for a young fighter who has shown as much promise and potential as Pico, but it’s also very much in keeping with his personality and overall approach.Having competed at a high level in wrestling throughout his teenage years and been forced to contend with the pressure that comes with permanently being in the spotlight, Pico has maturity and professionalism well beyond his years. He has remained even-keeled throughout his first two years as an active member of the Bellator MMA roster, confident that he’ll reach the championship goals he has set out for himself while also understanding that there is still a great deal for him to learn before he can get there.Knowing he wanted to make a change coming out of the fight with Corrales, Pico, his manager and his brother loaded up and made the trip to Albuquerque. Almost immediately upon arrival, Pico knew he’d found what he was looking for in a team.”One thing that I really like is that they all work together as a team,” Pico said of the collection of coaches who are working with him — Greg Jackson, Mike Winkeljohn, Brandon “Six Gun” Gibson and Harry St. Leger.“Sometimes you have different coaches and one thinks you should do this and another thinks you should do that and it always puts the fighter in an awkward situation. But here, everything is in sequence with the coaches. It’s collaborative. There are no egos and they don’t put me in an awkward situation, which I really, really like.”When I first got here, my brother said, ‘Now your MMA career has started,’ and that’s how I really feel,” he added. “I’ve improved a lot in the seven weeks that I’ve been here and I’m excited to see how my skill set (continues to grow) two, three years from now, too.”His first opportunity to showcase the adjustments and improvements he has made since moving his camp to Albuquerque comes Friday, when he returns to Madison Square Garden to take on Borics, an undefeated 25-year-old who has rattled off three straight stoppage wins inside the Bellator cage to push his record to 12-0 overall.It’s another tough test for Pico, especially coming off a loss, but as he noted, his job is to fight the people the promotion puts in front of him, and people aren’t exactly lining up to share the cage with him.”There were four guys that were presented the opportunity to fight me and four of them turned it down,” said Pico. “People always say, ‘Why don’t you fight a lesser opponent?’ but do you really think a lesser opponent is going to fight me if the top guys aren’t going to fight me?”All these guys are like, ‘I want to fight at MSG! I want to fight at MSG!’ and (Bellator) says, ‘OK, you can fight at MSG,'” he continued, voicing both sides of how he imagined those conversations went.”‘Who am I going to fight?'””‘Aaron Pico.'”“’Uh, six weeks is not enough and I was just going down the stairs and stubbed my toe.'”It’s a frustrating reality, but one that ultimately isn’t his concern.Right now, all he’s concerned about is returning to action Friday and implementing everything he has been working on throughout this camp. Rookie mistakes.That’s how Aaron Pico categorizes the missteps that led to his knockout loss at the hands of Henry Corrales in Inglewood, Calif., earlier this year. It also applies to the errors that got him tagged and tapped out just 24 seconds into his highly anticipated debut a little less than two years ago.last_img read more