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Real Madrid kicks off busy five weeks away to Granada******
MADRID, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid visits Granada on Sunday at the start of a busy five weeks between now and the Christmas break.。
As well as its five scheduled La Liga games, Real Madrid has two further league games (both against Athletic Club Bilbao) to fit in, along with two Champions League group matches in what promises to be a period in which coach Carlo Ancelotti will have to rotate his squad as much as possible.。
Sunday's visit to fourth from bottom Granada should bring three points for Ancelotti's men, although Real Madrid has recently made hard work of games against Shakhtar Donetsk and Rayo Vallecano, with questions raised about their defending after Rayo actually managed more shots than Madrid in the Bernabeu a fortnight ago.。
Granada may be struggling, but they have plenty of firepower in attack, with Luis Suarez leading the line supported by the pacy Darwin Machis and veteran Jorge Molina.。
Ancelotti will once again be without Gareth Bale, after the Welsh international suffered a calf injury during the international break, while Fede Valverde is also sidelined and there is a doubt about Brazilian winger Rodrygo's fitness.。
However, both striker Karim Benzema and winger Vinicius Jr are available and Ancelotti will once again look to the duo to carry the weight of his side's attacking play, with either Marco Asensio or Lucas Vazquez fitting in on the right.。
Ancelotti is likely to use his first choice midfield of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, with Eduardo Camavigna waiting his moment on the subs' bench.。
Eden Hazard again looks likely to continue on the bench, with every game the Belgian doesn't start making his departure from the club look more likely, meanwhile Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao, David Alaba and Dani Carvajal will play across the back four.。
An early goal would be perfect for Madrid on Sunday, as it would not only give them an advantage, but also possibly turn the crowd in the Los Carmenes Stadium against coach Robert Moreno. The former Spain coach has already heard chants for his resignation and defeat on Sunday could see him out of the club he only joined this summer. Enditem。
Slovan Bratislava wins 7th straight in Slovak ice hockey league******
BRATISLAVA, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The 23rd round of the Slovak ice hockey premiership Tipos Extraliga saw league-leader HC Slovan Bratislava stretch its lead to six points after a clear 4-1 victory in Trencin on Sunday.。
Slovan Bratislava Hockey Club continues to ride the winning wave, defeating HK Dukla Trencin without much effort. The home team averted a debacle late in the third period. Slovan's Canadian goalie Clint Windsor had a wonderful night, saving a whopping 40 shots by Trencin.。
HK Spisska Nova Ves got an early jump on HKM Zvolen, leading 4-1 in the middle of the match, but the home team managed to mount a comeback and tied things up early in the third period during a powerplay when its 19-year-old forward Maros Jedlicka scored his second of the night. But a few minutes later, the visiting forward Matej Gilak also scored his second goal (after assisting on both the other goals of his team) on a nice passing play, grabbing a 5-4 lead. The reigning champs got stunned by this final blow and failed to force overtime despite pulling their goalie in the final moments, conceding an empty-netter instead.。
Nove Zamky Hockey Club scored an unexpected victory over the third-ranked HK Dukla Ingema Michalovce 4-2.。
HK Nitra's two goals within the first two-and-a-half minutes laid a solid foundation for beating HC Kosice 3-1 in the end. "It was an unpleasant beginning but we had a chance of getting back into the game. As a head coach, I am responsible for the results. We cannot rely on winning a game with only a single goal scored. We have to work on that," said Kosice coach Kalle Kaskinen after the loss.。
Poprad Hockey Club was on its way back to the top half of the league, leading in Liptovsky Mikulas 3-1 after two periods, but the home team rallied in the final stretch and pushed the game into overtime and eventually a penalty shootout which it won. Enditem。
Feature: Bringing skiing to more children at South Africa's only commercial ski resort******
by Sportswriter Lyu Tianran
CAPE TOWN, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- With a number of snowy mountains in winter, South Africa has one of a few known public ski resorts in Sub-Saharan Africa, although man-made snow has to be used together with natural snow.
The history of skiing in the southernmost country on the African continent dates to 1929 when members of The Mountain Club of South Africa started skiing in the mountain range in the western region. It was in 1994 that the country has its first and only commercial ski resort, Tiffindell, according to Snow Sports South Africa, officially recognized sports body for alpine skiing, snowboarding, freestyle skiing, Nordic Combined and bobsleigh and skeleton.
There is "surprisingly" a lot of people in South Africa like skiing, yet it is still a small sport, with major sports like rugby taking more focus, said Alexander Heath, better known as Alex Heath, the three-time Winter Olympian and the only coach of the South African national skiing team.
He coaches two development programs in Tiffindell for children who like skiing and future skiers who can compete at the international level.
"I still believe we (skiing) have a place in the sporting community here. and I think we are doing amazing things," said Heath, adding that skiing can teach children "amazing values in life" and opens doors for them to go overseas when the opportunity is limited in other things they do.
Tiffindell started the Ikhephu Ski Pups Junior Development Club in 1996, to give local children who live in the area an opportunity to ski, and also develop the children who might work in the sector in the future, as there were no other formal sports opportunities for the youth in that area, according to Christina Olivier, chairperson of Ikhephu.
Later in 2014, the Winter Sports Academy ran by Heath was established here to improve the level of children who ski so that they can compete at the international level.
Heath, who started skiing in England at the age of nine, opted to coach children in Tiffindell after he stopped racing in 2006 as he thought it was an opportunity to help kids enjoy this "amazing" sport in South Africa.
Located at an elevation of 2720 meters on the slope of a 3001-meter mountain in southeastern inland near Lesotho, Tiffindell Ski Resort has an international-level ski area that offers three months of skiing each year from June to August in winter, with natural and man-made snow, and had been hosting ten International Ski Federation (FIS) races every year that attract skiers from all over the world, until the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
At Ikhephu, meaning "snow" in South Africa's Xhosa language, where members mainly ski for the interest, the youngest child could be as little as three years old, and one can keep his membership until 21. While the youngest skier at the academy is about nine, and the skiers are mostly school children.
During the winter season, over 60 children would first learn how to ski at the development club, and then go to bigger slopes and be given instructions in skiing. Around 20 identified athletes at the academy will stay on the mountain for almost the entire season, and they will do ski training in the morning on the slopes for three hours or so, and then do schooling at the resort in the afternoon.
The two programs get support from the national Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, which covers some fees for children.
Over years, four athletes from the Winter Sports Academy qualified for Winter Youth Olympic Games and one qualified for Olympic Winter Games. According to Heath, almost all the athletes of the national ski team came out from the academy.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 that led to the temporary closure of Tiffidal in the past two winters and related travel restrictions, none of the South African skiers have qualified for the next Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing next February, although one skier who is training in Europe is still attempting to qualify.
"We were hoping to qualify for Beijing, but unfortunately it wasn't possible," said Heath. "I'm very sad that we wouldn't be in Beijing because we have some athletes that would have had the chance."
"Going forward, I'm pretty confident that we would be able to qualify athletes, men and women, for future Olympic Games," he said.
As Tiffindell opened when countries in the northern hemisphere were in summer, it attracted a lot of interest from overseas like South Korea, Israel, Italy, UK, Sweden, France and Morocco, especially for aspirants who sought for qualifying by making points at the competitions, according to Olivier, who organized these international competitions. She believed that skiers will return as long as the ski resort reopens.
While expecting the reopening of Tiffindell, she said the development programs plan to reach more children in the country.
"We are planning to involve children from wider areas in South Africa. We focus on local communities mostly, but if the resort reopens, we have plans to involve children from all over the country to join in our ski camps," said Olivier. Enditem