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An Ex-Dolphin Gets A New Home: The Week In Sports

Saturday, March 15, 2014

March Madness kicks off. Jonathan Martin finds a new home in the San Francisco 49ers. Kobe Bryant is out for the season and maybe his career. NPR's Jacki Lyden speaks with ESPN's Howard Bryant.

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Before The NBA Was Integrated, We Had The Black Fives

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Black Fives were African-American basketball teams that played in America before the NBA was integrated in 1950. Their lost history is making a comeback.

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All Things Considered

This Is Trust: Paralympian Skier Guided By Husband At 70 MPH

Friday, March 14, 2014

Melissa Block talks to U.S. Paralympian Danelle Umstead, a visually impaired skier, and her guide and husband, Rob.

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Soundcheck

Let's Get Physical: BPM and Bio Rhythm

Friday, March 14, 2014

The desire to get into shape (and the drafting of New Years resolutions) will send Lycra and headband-wearing crowds to the gym in the early days of 2012. A clue to the success or failure of the huffing and puffing masses just might be in the music they use to power through. Today, the sport psychologist Costas Karageorghis explains how the right soundtrack can really pump up a workout. And, he shares tips for creating a performance enhancing playlist.

This segment originally aired on Jan. 3, 2012.

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Morning Edition

'Requiem For The Big East' Honors Basketball Rivalries

Friday, March 14, 2014

David Greene talks to Ezra Edelman about his documentary, Requiem for the Big East, airing Sunday on ESPN. It's about the rise and fall of the once most dominate conference of NCAA men's basketball.

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The Takeaway

Inside the Paralympics: Ice Sled Hockey

Friday, March 14, 2014

It is finally a joyous day for the Americans in the U.S.-Canada hockey rivalry: The U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team defeated the Canadians 3 to 0 in yesterday's semifinals. Team USA's preparation and grit has certainly paid off. The Paralympic sled hockey players bring a fierce athleticism to the ice, with flips and turns that seem to defy nature. Nikko Landeros is a key player for the U.S.

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Soundcheck

Soundcheck's Ultimate Running Playlist; Workout Music; Escort Plays Live

Friday, March 14, 2014

In this episode: This year, Soundcheck is offering up no fewer than two of its producers to Sunday's New York City Half Marathon. And we asked listeners to help us build a playlist to carry us across the finish line. We hear selections from our Ultimate Running Playlist.

Then, we revisit a recent favorite segment with sports psychologist Costas Karageorghis, who explains how the right soundtrack can really pump up a workout. And, he shares tips for creating a performance enhancing playlist.

And, hear the Brooklyn disco-pop band Escort play in the Soundcheck studio.

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Morning Edition

Who's The Best In College Basketball? Let's Look At The Numbers

Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Nobody really compares" to Alan Williams number-wise, a statistician says. But the starting center for University of California, Santa Barbara, isn't widely expected to be named Player of the Year.

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The Takeaway

Inside the Paralympics: Wheelchair Curling

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wheelchair curling is one of the five unique sports in the Winter Paralympics. You might have a hard time finding someone who loves the sport more than Team USA wheelchair curler James Joseph, or "Jimmy Jam" as he is called by his teammates. After surviving a vehicular accident in 1987, Jimmy continued to pursue his passion for sports. The 51-year-old athlete says that curling is "in his blood."

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PRI's The World

In Paralympic slalom racing, you are flying nearly blind — with your teammate

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Meet two extraordinary athletes competing at the Paralympics in Sochi. They're skiers and they are inseparable on the slopes.

Great Britain's Kelly Gallagher is a 28-year-old, visually-impaired skier who won a gold medal in the super-G slalom event. She is from Northern Ireland and won gold with a time of 1:28.72 — just two-tenths of a second ahead of Russia's Aleksandra Frantseva at 1:28.94.

And she couldn't have done it without her guide skier, Charlotte Evans, who won a gold medal with her. Gallagher had poor eyesight from birth and was registered blind as a child. But she does have partial sight.

"I really don't see anything to do with the snow. All I see is Charlotte's orange bib that she wears. We start off side-by-side. She says '3-2-1 Go!' and then I chase her the whole way down the hill with bluetooth radio communications, so I don't really see anything but the orange bib."

"We're just about a ski's length separated from each other and the closer I can get, the better my skiing can be and the faster we can go down the hill together."

The Paralympic judges recognize the teamwork that's required for winning performances. Each athlete and guide get a medal and recognition.

Charlotte Evans says her role as guide skier is "to basically feedback everything that's happening, making sure that I tell her about the terrain changes, the combinations of the course, or what's happening under foot. And I have to relay that back before Kelly comes towards it."

Charlotte says it requires very fast response times. She has to look at least four gates ahead to make sure that she's getting enough information quick enough to be relayed to Gallagher.

"Basically it's alerting her as soon as anything happens. So say there's a roller coming, I'll be like 'Roller! then 'Standup!' and give technical feedback about how her skiing is going, whether she's got to stand on her outside foot, whether she's got to drive her outside hand forward, anything like that I have to pass back quickly."

It doesn't always go perfectly. The day after their gold medal performance on the super-G, Gallagher says something went wrong.

"I just kind of hit a gate, just the ski tip, it basically knocked me out of my rhythm and I was out of the course, and there's really nothing you can do. We were doing really well up to that point and then we were out, so it's just something that happens, I guess, in slalom."

Gallagher tried skiing for the first time at 17, but coming from Northern Ireland, she admits she wasn't a natural.

"Anybody from Great Britain or Northern Ireland or Ireland doesn't really have the opportunity to get on snow, it's not on your doorstep," Gallagher says. "But I guess it’s just a testament to the amount of work and effort that we've put in."

Gallagher and Evans teamed up for the first time four years ago.

"I struck gold with Charlotte in 2010," Gallagher says. "Charlotte had injured her ACL and was recovering from that and doing some coaching, and she took the opportunity to come and try and guide for me. Six weeks later, we were racing at world championships."

So what does it take to beat the tough international competition on the Rosa Khutor slopes in Sochi?

"There are really amazing athletes we're competing against," Gallagher says. "But mostly, we're competing against ourselves. You're trying to improve on every run and trying to put 100 percent of your effort in to see what the results are at the bottom of the hill."

I asked Evans what advice or encouragement she had for other people with impaired vision who might be interested in skiing. "Just get involved and try it! If you're brave and you have guts, then you're perfect for this sport," she says. 

"Being a bit of an adrenalin junkie is good. It’s such a nice sport to be a part of and everyone really cares about each other, especially in our category, we're all such great friends."

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All Things Considered

In Oscar Pistorius Trial, All Eyes Turn To A Battered Door

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Robyn Dixon has been covering the trial of former Olympian Oscar Pistorius for the Los Angeles Times. She explains the latest details, as well as what's different about South African trials.

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For Player At Center Of NFL Bullying Story, A New Opportunity

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Former Miami Dolphins player Jonathan Martin has been traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Martin's earlier departure from Miami prompted an in-depth investigation of the Dolphins by the NFL.

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Paralympics In Full Swing In Sochi

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Russia is hosting this year's Paralympic Winter Games, but people with disabilities are often have a tough time living regular lives in the country. CBC Sports Reporter Signa Butler explains.

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The Takeaway

Inside the Paralympics: Snowboarding

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Snowboarding makes its debut at the Paralympic Winter Games this year in Sochi. The inclusion of the sport is crucial to the growth of the Paralympic movement, which strives to gain more viewers, athletes, and supporters. Athlete Cristina Albert  is making her first-ever appearance at the Games as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Snowboard Team. She joins The Takeaway to tell her inspiring journey to the top of her sport.

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Morning Edition

In Sports, There's No Such Thing As A Bad Hustle

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Outside of sport, the word "hustle" has a negative connotation: A hustle is a scam; a hustler a flimflam man. But in the world of sports, says commentator Frank Deford, you can never hustle too much.

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PRI's The World

Russians are turning out like never before for Paralympians in Sochi

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Make no mistake: Moscow is one of the world's great cities.

Red Square still inspires with its onion-domed churches and the sheer magnitude of the place. The city's 80-year-old metro system is still — somehow, even today — an unparalleled Soviet achievement in getting people from here to there.  

The city's theaters, museums, and concert halls count among the world's finest.  

And yet, says Igor Gakov, these attractions remain all but off limits to people with disabilities.

These ‘pearls’ of the city, the places people who come to Moscow want to see — they’re not accessible. You can get close, but you won’t go very far," he adds.

Gakov, a native Muscovite who has used a wheelchair for 16 years, says the key to getting around the city he loves is to be fearless and in really good shape — essentially, an everyday Paralympian.

“I’m pretty strong,” says Gakov, “so probably 70 percent of the city is accessible to me. But for others, it may be as little as 20 to 30 percent.”

It’s easy to see what he means. One only need look at Moscow's pedestrian underpasses to see how challenging the city can be for the disabled. The underpasses have ramps, technically, but they’re installed over steps descending at a harrowing 45 degrees.

“No invalids” in the USSR

When the Soviet Union hosted the Summer Olympics in Moscow in 1980, Soviet officials refused to combine it with the Paralympic Games. At the time, a Soviet official famously insisted the USSR had "no invalids."  

Russia only ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2012 (something the US hasn’t done yet) — a long overdue move applauded by human rights groups.                                                                                                                                  

“We’ve been seeing a real push to improve the lives of people with disabilities, at least in Moscow,” says Denise Roza, the American director of the Russian disability rights group, Perspektiva. “We’re seeing it across the country, but in those cities that have more resources, we’re seeing it happen faster.”

Roza says while the situation is far from perfect, progress is evident: Public schools are beginning to accommodate children with disabilities, the disabled are increasingly entering the work force and public buildings are becoming accessible to all.  

In a sign of the changing times, the Russian state has lavished attention on these Paralympic Games — especially after Russia’s Paralympians did well in the medal count in the Vancouver and London games. The government has poured money into Paralympic sports programs and advertising campaigns featuring the athletes. Russia leads in this year’s Paralympics medal count as well.

Denise Roza, who was in Sochi for some of the Paralympic games, says the fans have been showing up.

“All these thousands of people in this stadium cheering for the sledge hockey team, and I kept thinking to myself — ‘they’re cheering for disabled people.’  Would they have done this five years ago? Probably not. Would they have gone to a sledge hockey match? No. If that sledge hockey team comes to their town in a year will they go? Yes, and they’ll tell their friends to go. So I think we’re going to see all kind of changes,” she adds.

But there is a risk that all these efforts will be eclipsed by Russia’s ongoing dispute with the west over Ukraine. The US and the UK political delegations boycotted these Paralympic Games in protest of Russian intervention in Crimea. The athletes are still competing, though.

At a recent press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin called these political gestures the "height of cynicism." But as the west and Russia face off over the fate of Ukraine, Russia’s disability rights activists are hoping some of the focus can stay on breaking barriers, rather than redrawing borders.

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Dallas Seavey Wins Iditarod Despite Lack Of Snow, High Winds

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Seavey, 27, was victorious in the iconic dog sled race for a second time, slipping under the famed burled arch in Nome, Alaska, the finish line for the 1,000-mile-long trail.

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The Takeaway

Inside the Paralympics: The Biathlon

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Paralympic Winter Games offer an opportunity for people with a wide range of disabilities to compete in adjusted versions of popular Olympic sports. As part of our week dedicated to America's Paralympians, The Takeaway speaks to Kevin Burton, a U.S. Paralympic Biathlete, who breaks down how he's able to navigate the kilometers of courses and shoot a rifle all while being visually impaired. He discusses what inspired him to become a competitive athlete.

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All Things Considered

After A Marathon Game, Two Hockey Teams Split One Trophy

Monday, March 10, 2014

A high school hockey game in Ohio ended in surprise after seven periods of overtime, when officials called it a tie. Chris Irwin, the athletic director of one of the teams, explains the decision.

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The Ragged Edge: A Runner Chasing Greatness Finds His Muse

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Boston Marathon is in sight and Eric Ashe is going for broke as he chases his dream of being an elite runner. The quest is about more than the discipline of running. It's about the art of racing.

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