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Massachusetts man is king of cyclocross

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 17, 2012 09:00 AM
Jeremy Powers

Jeremy Powers won the US cyclocross championship earlier this month. (Keith Snyder photo)

He's a superstar in his sport, and stars in a reality show. When not hanging out with his girlfriend, he's spending time training with other pro athletes, traveling all over the country to compete.

No, we're not talking about Kris Humphries on Keeping Up With The Kardashians. We're talking about Jeremy Powers, otherwise known J-Pow, who stars in his own reality series, Behind the Barriers. As of Jan. 8, heís the new reigning King of US Cyclocross, after winning the Elite Menís race at the National Championships, arguably the biggest race in US cyclocross.

With two laps to go in the eight-lap, hour-long race, Powers, who is from Easthampton, Mass., made the decision to split from a group of the five strongest riders in the country and fly off of the front, holding his competitors at bay to cross the finish line unchallenged.

He crossed the line on Sunday with one arm raised in the air, and the other covering his face. He rolled over to hug his longtime girlfriend, and the cheering crowd watched as the two cried with happiness. It was an emotional moment, and even interviewers who surrounded him were choking back tears.

What is cyclocross, exactly? For starters, itís one of the fastest growing cycling disciplines in the country.

"It's referred to as the steeplechase of cycling," Powers said. "It's always about an hour-long race. It's very fast; it has a lot of corners. It's typically raced in the winter, typically in muddy, cold conditions that make for pretty epic racing on a closed circuit. It's good for spectators, since they can see us slogging by, so it's much easier to enjoy, it's more of a festival."

Becoming the highest-ranked American cyclocross rider in the world and a two-time US Grand Prix of Cyclocross champion, as well as an accomplished road rider, was a long time in the making. Powers, 28, has been racing professionally for eight years, and is currently with the Rapha-Focus cycling team. Before going pro, he distinguished himself as a junior with a World Cup win in 2001.

The victory at the nationals, however, was more important.

"It's the one victory that eluded me for the last ten years. I'd been second and third lots of times, but didn't get the win for a lot of reasons: crashes, illness, or someone just being one percent better," he said. "It was really, really special ... dreams do come true, and I had been dreaming about it for so many years. I'd been trying to crack my own DNA and find a template that works. On that day in Madison, Wisconsin, to actually do it, I was very emotional."

In cycling, pros often compete in the same races, albeit different categories, as amateurs.

"Cycling is really unique to fans: people can come up and shake our hands, it's really close. It's like tailgating a football game for that hour of racing, but instead of being in the parking lot, you're right on the field with all the action."

And yes, there's beer.

Powers has high hopes for the future of the sport.

"I think the future is that we get some coverage on TV to showcase the events and sponsors. And World Championships being in the US next year is going to be big. So I do see the trend in cyclocross in the US growing."

Molly Hurford is online editor of Cyclocross Magazine

Report: Red Sox inviting Varitek to spring training

Posted by Jason Tuohey January 13, 2012 05:02 PM

It looks like Jason Varitek's tenure with the Red Sox may not be over just yet. According to a report by CBS Sportsí Jon Heyman on Friday, the team has invited Varitek to spring training as a non-roster player, giving the 39-year-old a chance, however slim, at making the 2012 roster.

Citing "people familiar with his situation," Heyman reported:

"The Red Sox fairly have made clear to him that if he did come to camp, he'd serve mostly as 'protection' in the event one of their two catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Kelly Shoppach, is hurt. Ryan Lavarnway is seen as Boston's catcher of the future but is expected to start the year in Triple-A Pawtucket."

The Red Sox have yet to confirm the report, and in a message to The Globe's Nick Cafardo Red Sox GM Ben Cherington texted that the team has yet to formally offer Varitek anything at this time.

Varitek, who has played his entire major-league career with the Red Sox, is said to be weighing his options. If Varitek does not return to the Red Sox, it's expected he will retire rather than look for a catching job with another team.

Varitek batted .221 for the Red Sox last season, with 11 home runs and 36 RBI, though his biggest impact was behind the plate. In games that Varitek caught, the Red Sox were 42-22 with an ERA of 3.57. When Varitek was out of the line-up, the team went 48-50 with a 4.62 ERA.

Video: Canada goalie makes amazing save

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 6, 2012 11:19 AM

Team Canada goalie Mark Visentin pitched a shutout in the bronze-medal game of the world junior hockey championship yesterday, but wouldn't have gotten the clean sheet without one of the most amazing saves ever.

Visentin plucked the puck out of the air behind his back with his catching glove, after the puck rang off the goalpost and hit the back of his jersey. Canada beat Finland, 4-0.

Of course, Boston fans know a little bit about amazing saves. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was the star of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and his stick-save against the Lightning in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals was as jaw-dropping as they come.

So we put forth the evidence in the videos embedded and ask: Which one was better? Cast your vote.

What sport has best postseason?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 6, 2012 07:51 AM

With the NFL playoffs about to kick off, Globe columnists Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy got to talking -- on Globe 10.0 -- about which sport's postseason is the best.

While pretty much anything in a championship format is exciting and compelling, the four major pro sports are the subject of this debate, even though Ryan can't help but go off on a little tangent about the NCAA Tournament.

Watch their opinions, then cast your vote. While their debate was limited to the four pros, we've added some other options just for fun.


Boston Cannons schedule includes hosting MLL championship weekend

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 4, 2012 02:17 PM

The Boston Cannons will be the host of Major League Lacrosse's championship weekend Aug. 25-26 at Harvard Stadium.

The Cannons announced their 2012 schedule today. The defending MLL champs open the 14-game regular season April 28 at home vs. the Rochester Rattlers.

Schedule
Saturday, April 28: vs. Rochester Rattlers, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 5: vs. Charlotte Hounds, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 12: vs. Hamilton Nationals, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 19: at Denver Outlaws, 9 p.m.
Friday, June 1: at Rochester Rattlers, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 9: vs. Long Island Lizards, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 16: at Charlotte Hounds, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 23: at Chesapeake Bayhawks, 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 7: at Hamilton Nationals, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 14: at Long Island Lizards, 7 p.m.
Thursday, July 19: vs. Denver Outlaws, 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 28: vs. Chesapeake Bayhawks, 2 p.m.
Saturday, August 4: vs. Ohio Machine, 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 11: at Ohio Machine, 7 p.m.

For ticket info, go to the Cannons' web site or call 617-746-9933

New Balance Indoor Grand Prix features star-studded field

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 4, 2012 08:01 AM
Three athletes ranked No. 1 in the world will join an American world champ and another American making his pro debut at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Feb. 4 in Roxbury.

Mo Farah of Great Britain, ranked No. 1 in the 5,000 meters and an expected gold-medal contender at the Summer Olympics in London, will headline the event along with top-ranked Americans Jenn Suhr (pole vault) and Morgan Uceny (1,500 meters).

New Balance had previously announced that 1,500 meters world champ Jenny Simpson of the US will make her 2012 season debut at the event, and college star Matthew Centrowitz will make his professional debut.

Centrowitz was the NCAA and US outdoor champ at 1,500 meters.

The New Balance Indoor Grand Prix will be held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College. Tickets are available at nbindoorgrandprix.com or by calling 1-877-849-8722.

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