Sports Digest: Patrick Dempsey to be honorary captain of U.S. Olympic cycling team – Press Herald

CYCLING

Patrick Dempsey will serve as the honorary captain for the U.S. cycling team at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, part of a unique working relationship between USA Cycling and the actor best known for his role on the TV show “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The sport’s national governing body has been re-positioning itself under new chief executive Rob DeMartini to better serve the needs of recreational riders and with elite athletes. As part of that thrust, USA Cycling reached out to Dempsey – an avid cyclist – to help raise awareness, encourage people to ride and support the U.S. team at the Summer Games.

“I have been a passionate cyclist for years now and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, one that I could not pass up,” Dempsey said. “Cycling is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle, and it is important to bring awareness to the world. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to play a small part in USA Cycling.”

SOCCER

COPA DEL REY: Athletic Bilbao moved closer to its fourth final in 12 years by defeating Granada 1-0 in the first leg of the semifinals at Madrid.

Iker Muniain scored the winner in the 42nd minute after an assist by Inaki Williams. The goal had to be confirmed by video review as it appeared Williams controlled the ball with his arm before making the low cross for Muniain’s close-range shot.

The second leg will be on March 5 at Granada, which is trying to reach its first final in more than six decades.

FRENCH CUP: Defender Mitchel Bakker needed only one minute to impress in his first start for Paris Saint-Germain, when his cross led to an own goal in a 6-1 win at Dijon in the quarterfinals.

Marseille saw its 16-game unbeaten run end and playmaker Dimitri Payet limped off injured in a 1-0 loss at Lyon.

ITALIAN CUP: Fabian Ruiz curled in a shot from outside the area to give Napoli a 1-0 win at Inter Milan in the first leg of their semifinal.

Napoli will host Inter in the second leg on March 5.

AUTO RACING

DAYTONA 500: The Daytona 500 is scheduled for Valentine’s Day in 2021, a week earlier than usual and putting NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl seven days after the actual Super Bowl.

The revised date could cause changes to Speedweeks, the opening stretch of stock car racing at Daytona International Speedway that includes run-up events like Daytona 500 pole qualifying, the exhibition Busch Clash and the ARCA Series opener.

It could ultimately lead to “Speedweek,” singular. Cramming everything into one week seems like the obvious outcome, which would eliminate two “dark days” at the track between pole qualifying and Daytona 500 practice and help shorten a long, tiring regular season that drivers and crews have been complaining about for years.

The Super Bowl is set for Feb. 7, 2021. NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway announced earlier this week that the 500 will be the following Sunday, but the rest of next year’s Speedweeks calendar has yet to be finalized.

BASKETBALL

WNBA: Skylar Diggins-Smith is going to Phoenix to join Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.

The Dallas Wings traded the four-time All-Star to the Mercury for the No. 5 and 7 picks in the 2020 WNBA draft and Phoenix’s 2021 first-round pick. The Wings then sent the 2021 pick the team acquired in the deal to the Chicago Sky in exchange for Astou Ndour.

OLYMPICS

BIDS: Salt Lake City may shift its focus to bidding for the 2034 Winter Olympics rather than the Games being held four years earlier following the announcement last month that Sapporo, Japan, will bid for 2030, organizing committee members said.

A new organizing committee will do a careful analysis in the coming months of the pros and cons between bidding for 2030 or 2034 and then inform the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee of its decision, said Fraser Bullock, president of the committee and key organizing player in Salt Lake City’s 2002 Olympics.

CORONAVIRUS

GOLF: The PGA Tour is postponing two qualifying tournaments and the start to its PGA Tour Series-China circuit because of concerns over the coronavirus.

One qualifying tournament for players from mainland China already had been moved to Indonesia.

Tour officials say the qualifying tournaments would be postponed until late April or early May. The season was supposed to start the last full week in March. Now the 10-tournament schedule will not start until late May or early June, depending on the circumstances.

FORMULA ONE: Formula One organizers postponed the Chinese Grand Prix that was due to be staged in Shanghai in April, the latest sporting event impacted by the coronavirus.

One of 22 races on the F1 calendar for 2020 that opens in Melbourne next month, the Chinese Grand Prix was due to be staged on April 19.

It is the first time a race has been called off since political unrest led to the cancelation of the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Motor sport officials from F1’s governing body, the FIA, Chinese organizers and teams will remain in discussions about whether the race can be rearranged this year.

FIGURE SKATING

RETIREMENT: Former Olympic figure skating champion Ksenia Stolbova announced her retirement.

Stolbova won gold in the team event for Russia with her partner Fedor Klimov in 2014 and silver in the pairs event at the same Olympics.

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