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Rich Moffitt / Flickr--CC

Can Kansas Citians live the Olympic dream? Figure skater John Coughlin came close. The Kansas City native and his partner in ice pairs, Caydee Denney, just missed out on the selection for the Olympic team.

Competing at the elite level of figure skating while training in Kansas City has its challenges. But it’s improving. When the Independence Events Center opened four winters ago, not only the newly established Missouri Mavericks hockey team took off. So did the Heartland Figure Skating Club.

Courtesy of Coach Joseph Potts

Kansas may be an unlikely place to find a bobsledder in training, but 23-year-old Anna Norsant says this is where she belongs.

Norsant is committed to the high-speed Olympic sport, which begins with two or four athletes pushing a snow-car-type sled at a sprinting speed, jumping in, and then descending down an ice covered run.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, began on Feb. 7 and the world has been enthralled with the incredible athleticism displayed at the games.

Today we talk with professional runner Amy Mortimer, who placed ninth at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials. Later, we discuss what it takes for Olympians to train and compete in extreme winter conditions.

Also, KCUR reporter Laura Ziegler talks about the public's reactions to the Olympic games with this week's Tell KCUR. Finally, we explore what's at stake for Russia in hosting these games.

Guests:

Esther Honig / KCUR

Ski jumping was developed in Norway and has been around since the early 19th century. In this event, skiers go down a take-off ramp, jump, and attempt to impress judges, who give points for style.

The Nordic combined, also developed in Norway, is a combination of cross country skiing and ski jumping.

mutigers.com

What does it mean to be an openly-gay athlete? Just ask Michael Sam. The Mizzou football player, who was out to his teammates, made it public on a national scale this weekend.

On Tuesday's Up to Date, we talk with some of the organizations that support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes about the issues these athletes face.

We also talk with an athlete who’s dealt with the problems that can come with a public coming-out announcement.

Guests:

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Before his final football season at the University of Missouri, defensive lineman Michael Sam made the decision to privately tell his teammates that he is gay. On Sunday, Sam went public with it.  And if he is selected in May’s NFL draft, Sam will be pro football’s first openly gay player. The first men’s college basketball player to openly declare he’s gay also plays nearby, but Jallen Messersmith took a slightly different approach.

Flickr kylemac

  Bobsled, Skeleton, and Luge are winter Olympic sports that involve zipping down an ice covered track on a type of sleigh as fast as you can. (We’re talking like 90 mph.)

All three sports use the same type of track, or “run,” but the sleds are different enough to categorize them each into their own sport.  

So what’s the difference?

John Lemieux / Flickr--CC

Olympic Freestyle skiing is a form of skiing that encompasses many different disciplines, including: aerials, moguls and ski cross.

For aerials, competitors ski straight down a mountain toward jumps that hurls them into the air. In the moguls competition, skiers race down a mountain, navigating around large bumps and perform small aerial jumps throughout the course.

Ski Cross is similar but the ski course involves natural terrain as well as artificial features like jumps, rollers or banks.  

supersum / Flickr--CC

Figure skating and ice dancing are the two Winter Olympic sports that combine sport with art. The choreographed performances show not only elite skill and athleticism, but also artistry and emotion. 

Practiced inside on a standard sized rink, figure skating is a sport that is easily practiced in the Kansas City area.

Laura Ziegler

 

Alpine skiing is the most commonly practiced Winter Olympic sport. But, as Midwesterners our "alpine" options leave much to be desired. Still, if you want to feel the air through your hair as you barrel down a mountain on skis or a snowboard, we have some options. The mountain just won't be quite be the size of those found in Sochi.

Where to go:
Snow Creek Park, Weston, Mo. 

Cost:
Adult lift ticket: $43
Child lift ticket: $28
Equipment rentals: $10-$25

KCUR

Dear Kansas City, we want to know what your Olympic dreams are.

As the world’s finest athletes compete at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia,  we’re wondering which gold you’ve been eyeing — from your living room.

Tell KCUR: If you could be in the Olympics, what would be your sport? Why?

Are you a would-be figure skater? A snowboarding hopeful?

Laura Spencer / KCUR

You will likely face two challenges if you want to try cross country skiing in Kansas City: the right weather conditions and available equipment.

Cross country skiing is considered one of the most challenging of the endurance sports. Participants use skis and poles to move across snow-covered terrain. Traditional cross country skis are long and narrow; holding on to the poles, you push with one ski and glide with the other.

Donna Vestal / KCUR

Speed skating is ice skating that falls into two basic categories — long track and short track. Long track races takes places on a 400m long oval rink with skaters competing in pairs. Short track involves four to six skaters on a track about a fourth that size.

Kansas City doesn’t have an Olympic sized rink for even short track, but a hockey rink will work.

Michael Sam, a standout football player at the University of Missouri, said in interviews Sunday that he is gay.

As an All-American defensive lineman and the Associated Press’ SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Sam is expected to be selected in May’s NFL draft. If he were to be drafted, Sam would be the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL.

Of all sporting events, perhaps none is more tangled up in dreams of glory and miracles and fellowship than the Olympic Games. For two weeks, the peoples of the planet come together in celebration of the Olympic spirit and all is well with the world!

Yeah, right.

The Olympics are a human endeavor. All those idealistic “principles” in the Olympic Charter—social responsibility, mutual understanding, universal respect—are written down because they’re so often forgotten. Just search “Olympic Scandals and Controversies” on Wikipedia; you’ll find nearly a hundred offenses.

The Kansas Board of Regents approved the construction for an apartment building that will serve as the housing for the men’s and women’s basketball players at the University of Kansas. It’s expected to be ready for the 2015-16 school year.

When completed, the $17.5 million apartment building will have 66 bedrooms, enough to mix in some students who don’t play for the Kansas Jayhawks, which is a NCAA requirement. The apartment will have a half-court for recreational basketball.

Funding will be private and through issued revenue bonds.

The Kansas City Chiefs season came to a stumbling, stuttering end on Saturday, January 4th. Everyone knew it would not be an easy game, but watching a 28-point lead turn into a one-point loss – the second-biggest playoff choke by any team in NFL history.  It was also the Chiefs' 8th playoff loss in a row that some might say was a fitting end to a season that started as hopefully as any season could and then went into something of a tailspin.

In college basketball, the Kansas Jayhawks lost 61-57 against San Deigo State, after 68 straight home wins against non-conference opponents.

San Diego State, ranked 21st in the AP poll, knocked off the 16th ranked Jayhawks, at home Sunday afternoon.

The last non-conference team to beat the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse was Oral Roberts in November of 2006, the early stage of a season during which KU ended up only one victory shy of reaching the Final Four.

KC Chiefs

History doesn’t favor the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL playoffs when they’re matched against the Indianapolis Colts. But the Chiefs hope to turn that around Saturday afternoon when they kick off in Indianapolis, Ind.

The first playoff game between the Chiefs and the Colts on a frigid afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium in 1995 ended with a missed field goal under coach Marty Schottenheimer. Chiefs placekicker, Lin Elliott, missed three field goal attempts that day.

In January, 2004, at Arrowhead again but under Coach Dick Vermeil, the Colts outslugged the Chiefs, 38-31.

It may take  two years to get to trial, but nine former Kansas City Chiefs players are signing on to a lawsuit claiming the team glossed over concussions, leading to permanent brain damage.

The team has declined to respond publicly to the allegations. The pleadings are included among documents filed with Jackson County Circuit Court.

The nine join five original members of the lawsuit, all former Chiefs players who say the team turned a blind eye on scientific research about head trauma.

Independence, Mo., lawyer Kenneth Mclain said it was common practice for  years.

Ian Echlin

Northwest Missouri State put the finishing touches on a 15-0 season over the weekend. The Bearcats from Maryville, Mo., captured their fourth national championship in NCAA Division II football with a 45-28 win over Lenoir-Rhyne from North Carolina.

Billy Creason, a Northwest Missouri State senior running back from Grain Valley said it was a memorable moment.

“To go out undefeated is just amazing. It doesn’t happen very often,” said Creason. “A great senior year and I’m glad I’m glad we made it to the top. Man it’s awesome.”

Saturday is the beginning of college football’s bowl season. Yep, season. Where there used to be just a handful of games—with names like Rose and Orange, Sugar and Cotton, mostly huddled on or around New Year’s Day—there are now 35, spread out over weeks. If ESPN’s ads are to be believed, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Saturday morning, Northwest Missouri will play in the NCAA Division II football national championship game in Florence, Ala. A Kansas City delegation is in attendance, and not just to cheer on the Bearcats. They’re taking notes because next year the championship game moves to Kansas City.

How did Kansas City land the championship for next year? The answer may surprise you.

Kansas City led the way in cities awarded future men's and women's NCAA championships.

Of the 14 NCAA men's and women's championships awarded to Kansas City, 13 are scheduled for soccer venues built within the last three years - either at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., or the new Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Mo.

The most significant announcement centers around the Division II football championship. It will be played at Sporting Park, starting next year and running through 2017.

Two days after helping his team win the MLS Cup, Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper and team captain, Jimmy Nielsen, announced he'll retire from soccer.  

After the MLS Cup was one Saturday night, goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen said the last thing anyone would want is to have come out of a final like the MLS Cup thinking they could've tried harder.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

A celebration of Sporting Kansas City’s Major League Soccer championship victory is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Union Station area of Kansas City, Mo.

Sporting won the MLS Cup Saturday night after ten rounds of penalty kicks. The final score was 7-6, against Real Salt Lake.

The win is the first championship since 2000. Back then, two current starters followed the team to Washington D.C., for the match as native Kansas City fans when the team was known as the Kansas City Wizards.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Sporting Kansas City and MLS Cup opponent, Real Salt Lake tied the score 1-1 after two hours of regulation play. That left a “shoot out” a series of kicks with just one player, squared off against the opposing teams goal keeper, to settle the national championship.  

Fans across Kansas City, and a sold out stadium, watched as the longest shoot out in MLS playoff history unfolded. The score was tied, again after 10 kicks. But in the end, Sporting KC put seven in the net, Salt Lake, six.

Brian Davidson

Major League Soccer’s championship, the MLS Cup, will be played Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The match, set for the latest date in the 18-year history of the league, is also expected to be the coldest championship in league history. But, are temperatures in the 20s under these wintry conditions seem appropriate for an outdoor soccer game?

"That’s not what I think of as soccer conditions," says Sporting Kansas City season ticket holder Jessie Williams. 

Brian Davidson

Sporting Kansas City’s personal connection to fans help distinguish the soccer team’s fan experience from other professional teams in Kansas City, our listeners and online audiences tell us.

With Saturday’s Major League Soccer championship matchup between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City in the MLS Cup, we wanted to know: How is rooting for Sporting Kansas City different than rooting for other pro teams in KC?

Carla Wilson was named UMKC's new athletic director this week. Her hiring is a landmark for women of color, as she is the only African-American woman who is an athletic director of a division 1 school that is not historically black.

Wilson is not new to UMKC, she's been there for 24 years, 16 of them in the athletic department. As a college student, she had a work study in the athletics department, and after earning her degree in accounting, she went on to work at UMKC and move up in the ranks. 

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