Felix Baumgartner jumps from stratosphere, breaks sound barrier

Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner, aged 43, performed a jump Sunday from 39km above the Earth’s surface using a full-pressure suit, a parachute canopy, a capsule, and a helium balloon. Baumgartner broke the sound barrier as his top speed reached 1342km/h (834 miles per hour), exceeding the speed of sound, and landed in the New Mexico desert, United States.

The jump follows several days of waiting for atmospheric winds to decrease to make sure the jump would be safe, and the capsule would not be blown away.

Felix Baumgartner, Austrian skydiver, daredevil and BASE jumper.

A balloon with 850ML (30 million cubic feet) of helium took over two hours to lift the Red Bull Stratos capsule to a 39km altitude in the stratosphere, 2km higher than expected, breaking a 1961 manned balloon record of 34.7 km (113,740 feet).

While the capsule ascended, a helmet faceplate heater failed. Exhalation fogged the faceplate and affected vision. Baumgartner proceeded with the jump anyway.

Felix Baumgartner on the Edge of Space.

Baumgartner jumped with his head down to increase speed. A quick jump was essential to minimise the risk of spinning out of control which could make the skydiver lose consciousness.

Baumgartner’s suit was equipped with devices to document the jump, including a camera. They also included tools to measure altitude, speed and location, and to report them to the mission control center.

After the successful jump, Baumgartner said, “When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data. The only thing you want is to come back alive. … Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are”.

The project was sponsored by Austrian Red Bull energy drinks company.



Moto GP rider Marco Simoncelli dies in 2011 Malaysia Grand Prix

Italy’s Marco Simoncelli, 24, has died after a crash during the second lap of the 2011 Malaysia Moto GP Grand Prix held at the Sepang International Circuit.

While veering accross the track on the exit of turn 11, Simoncelli was hit by the bike of Colin Edwards and fell into the path of Edwards and Valentino Rossi. The other riders were powerless to avoid Simoncelli. Such was the force of the collision, Simoncelli’s helmet was dislodged and bounced several. Fellow rider Casey Stoner said “Whenever the helmet comes off that’s not a good sign.”

Marco Simoncelli (20 January 1987 – 23 October 2011), an Italian motorcycle racer.

Simoncelli lay without moving in the centre of the track, causing the race to be immediately red flagged for safety reasons. When medics arrived, he was in cardiac arrest and they fought to resuscitate him in the ambulance and medical centre. Simoncelli died from his injuries at 16:56 local time.

Known for his aggressive attacking style, Simoncelli had enjoyed a run of success in Moto GP despite his status as a relatively new rider on a satellite bikeand was predicted by many to be a rising star of the sport. His death is a blow to the Moto GP world.

Simoncelli at the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi

The official Moto GP statement is as follows:

“On Sunday, 23 October, during the MotoGP race at the Sepang International Circuit, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Italian rider Marco Simoncelli suffered a serious accident wherein he sustained critical injuries.

“The race was stopped immediately with the red flag and Simoncelli was transported by ambulance to the circuit medical centre where the medical staff worked to resuscitate him.”

The death is the first in Moto GP since Japan’s Dajiro Kato died in his home race in 2003 and follows the death of Japanese rider Shoya Tomizawa in the 2010 inaugral Moto2 season. Edwards also fell from his bike and sustained a dislocated shoulder, Rossi remained onboard.

NASCAR: Trevor Bayne wins the 2011 Daytona 500

Wood Brothers Racing driver Trevor Bayne, who qualified thirty-second, won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2011 Daytona 500 held on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, United States. This became his first win of his career, and his first at Daytona International Speedway. Throughout the course of the race there were 16 cautions and 74 lead changes among 22 different drivers.

File photo of Trevor Bayne. Image: Royalbroil.

Bayne had only one start in the series before the race, and by winning it, became the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 in history at age 20. The win also gave Wood Brothers Racing their second Daytona 500 win, which their first was in the 1976 Daytona 500. Following Bayne, Carl Edwards finished in the second position, ahead of David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte, and Kurt Busch. Juan Pablo Montoya followed Busch in sixth, while Regan Smith could only manage seventh.

Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, and Mark Martin rounded out the top ten finishers in the race. Ryan Newman led the most laps during the race with 37, but finished 22nd. Following the race, Bayne described his enjoyment of winning the race, “I keep thinking I’m dreaming. Our first 500 — are you kidding me? To win our first one in our second-ever Cup race, I mean this is just incredible. Wow, this is unbelievable. How cool is it to see the Wood Brothers back in Victory Lane? It’s crazy to get my first win before a Nationwide win — I didn’t know how to get to Victory Lane.”

Afterward, second placed Edwards said, “Look, right now this is going to be a long night for me. I’m going to go back to the motor home, I’m going to watch the replay, think about a hundred things I could have done, think about, ‘Man, what would it have been like to [win] the race?” Following the race, Edwards was the Drivers’ Championship leader with 42 points. Next, Gilliland and Labonte was tied for second, only one point behind Edwards. Kurt Busch was placed fourth with 40 points, ahead of Montoya and Smith in fifth and sixth. Kyle Busch, Menard, Martin, and A. J. Allmendinger rounded out the top-ten point positions.

The 2011 season will continue on February 27, 2011 at Phoenix International Raceway for the 2011 Subway Fresh Fit 500. The race will be televised on Fox at 3:00 p.m. EST.

FIFA announce Russia to host 2018 World Cup, Qatar to host 2022 World Cup

Football’s governing body, FIFA, today announced Russia is to host the 2018 World Cup, and Qatar is to host the 2022 World Cup. The decision was made by FIFA’s 22 executive members, who conducted a ballot in Zurich today. Russia beat England, Spain-Portugal and Holland-Belgium to host the event in 2018. The Qatar bid was picked ahead of the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea to stage the 2022 tournament.

Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Igor Shuvalov spoke briefly to react to his country’s victory. “You have entrusted us with the FIFA World Cup for 2018 and I can promise, we all can promise, you will never regret it. Let us make history together,” he said. Some analysts had suggested that Russia would not win the right to host the tournamet, since Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had decided not to travel to Zurich, but remained in Moscow. FIFA President Sepp Blatter said of Russia: “I am sure that to organise the World Cup in that region, or that continent, it will do a lot of good for this part of the world.”

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, one of the venues in Russia where games will be played during the 2018 tournament. Image: fourlingual.

Russia captain Andrey Arshavin said he was “very, very happy” with the result. “It is going to have a huge impact in sports, in our economy, in the development of the country and even in politics. The influence of football in the world is huge. You can see that even today with the presentations and those who were making them,” he said. “It’s going to be the best World Cup in history because Russians are so hospitable. I hope it will change the way that Europe and the world view Russia—and hopefully change the opinion of Russian people too.”

‘Today we celebrate, but tomorrow, the work begins’

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruling Emir of Qatar, praised FIFA for “believing in change”. Al Thani, who was in Zurich for the announcement, added: “We have worked very hard over past two years to get to this point. Today we celebrate, but tomorrow, the work begins. We acknowledge there is a lot of work for us to do, but we also stand by our promise that we will deliver.” Qatar urged FIFA to take “a bold gamble” by hosting the event in the Middle East for the first time. While only 1.7 million people live in Qatar, the bid representatives said that football is popular there. It was thought that there may be concerns that the extreme heat in Qatar would put the delegates off. Hassan Al-Thawadi, the chief executive of the bid, played down the fears. “We know it would be a bold gamble and an exciting prospect but with no risk,” he said. “Heat is not and will not be an issue.”

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruling Emir of Qatar, praised FIFA for "believing in change".

“Everyone is celebrating in the Middle East; everyone was behind us since the very beginning. They believed in us the whole way. And I’m so glad FIFA believed in us as well,” Al Thani added. “I’m speechless, but very proud and happy. I’m so proud that the Middle East was recognised by FIFA. We are so privileged to have a tournament like this coming to our region for the first time. It shows the value of FIFA and what it stands for as an organisation. As I promised, we will not let FIFA down. Everything we have promised until now will become a reality.” Speaking about why Qatar won the bid, he said: “What made us different is that we pushed the boundaries; we created new concepts, things which were not conventional but still very possible, very realistic for a country like ours. Therefore we are very proud to represent a new era, a new age for FIFA to look towards the future—the World Cup is for everyone.

‘We gave it our best shot’

There was disappointment in the countries which were beaten by Russia and Qatar. “Naturally we are hugely disappointed. At the same time we gave it our best shot,” said England ambassador Gary Lineker “It was very well presented by our bid team. All you can do is wish Russia well and hope they have a really good World Cup but I wish it was us.” A journalist in Spain reported that there was “bitter disappointment here amongst Spanish fans,” and added that the economic crisis in the country may have been to blame. American supporters watching on large screens in Washington, D.C. were, when it was announced Qatar had won, “simply stunned—no booing or tears, but disbelief; and then a minute later, every face shows honest disappointment,” a BBC correspondent said.

Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, announced Russia and Qatar would host the tournament. Image: Roosewelt Pinheiro.

The managing director for the Spain-Portugal joint bid, Miguel Angel Lopez, commented on losing out to Russia. “FIFA thought it was better to promote football in other latitudes and there we are,” he said. “The decision is focused on taking football to regions which have never held a World Cup.” Former Belgian footballer Marc Wilmots said: “Russia is a political choice and Qatar is an economic choice. You can say that to some extent the sport has been the loser with the decision for these two World Cups.”

Howard Stringer, Japan’s bid chairman and CEO of Sony said: “We had it in 2002—that was too big a mountain to climb. I was hoping we could get Japan another mission—the chance to do something spectacular in technology for society.” The vice-president of the Japan Football Association Kuniya Daini added: “We had heard people say our bid was too soon so it’s possible that was the reason. We knew it would be tough but it’s still a big disappointment. We have set a target of hosting the World Cup alone by 2050 so we will be bidding again.” The Australian Sports Minister Mark Arbib told local media that “We’re all pretty shattered over here. It was a bit unexpected because we thought we had run a first-class campaign to win. We did our best … unfortunately it wasn’t the case.”

Making the announcement, Blatter said: “We have had four bidders for 2018 and we can have only one winner. Three of the bidding associations must go home saying ‘what a pity’. But they must say football is not only by winning but football is also a school of life where you learn to lose. That’s not easy.” The 2010 World Cup was held earlier this year in South Africa, and Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup. When the bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments were announced in March 2009, Blatter praised the number of countries who wanted to host. “We are very pleased about the fantastic level of interest in our flagship competition, with all initial bidders confirming their candidature.”

Felix Loch wins season opening World Cup luge race in Austria

Reigning Olympic luge champion Felix Loch has won season-opening race of the 2010 World Cup in Innsbruck Igls, Austria. Loch defeated fellow German David Moeller for a 1-2 German finish. This is Loch’s second World Cup race win, the first being last season in Altenberg, Germany. Italian Armin Zoeggeler came in third.

Felix Loch (center), who won the season-opening race of the 2010 World Cup, at the 2008 FIL World Luge Championships. Image: Hagen Frey.

Loch is still competing with a hip injury. “As a consequence of my injury I’m still wasting some vital fractions of a second at the start,” he said. “One cannot force an overall World Cup victory but I’ve enough time to make a go at it. However, it would be nice to win some more World Cup events this season.”

The first ever team competition also took place this year. The German team of Tatjana Huefner, Andi Langenhan, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won the event. Canada came in second, while Italy came third.

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