It’s not a mascot. It’s a unique performance character.
bobbycaputo:

Watch Nine Years of Olympic Preparation in Six Seconds
Before July 2005, when Russia bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi was one of the country’s largest resort towns, sitting on the Black Sea just 27 miles north of Georgia. These DigitalGlobe satellite images provided to TIME—snapped between April 2005 and January 2014—show what happens when $50 billion is suddenly invested to transform into an Olympic host city.

bobbycaputo:

Watch Nine Years of Olympic Preparation in Six Seconds

Before July 2005, when Russia bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi was one of the country’s largest resort towns, sitting on the Black Sea just 27 miles north of Georgia. These DigitalGlobe satellite images provided to TIME—snapped between April 2005 and January 2014—show what happens when $50 billion is suddenly invested to transform into an Olympic host city.

test reblogged from bobbycaputo

Seattle Seahawks beat Denver Broncos, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII

The Seahawks scored 12 seconds into each half, and their defense didn’t give up a first down until the 20th minute of the game. “The Seahawks emphatically proved in a league in which offense and scoring is on the rise annually, defense still wins championships,” reporter Brad Biggs writes.

This is the Seahawks’ first NFL championship and its second-ever Super Bowl appearance. (Incidentally, L.A. Times NFL columnist Sam Farmer predicted this Super Bowl matchup and outcome back in September.)

Photos, from top: Seahawks mascot Taima the Hawk celebrates after the win. Credit: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, right, dumps Gatorade on head coach Pete Carroll during the second half of the game. Credit: Erik S. Lesser / European Pressphoto Agency. Wilson holds up the Vice Lombardi Trophy after the game. Credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images. Fans Annicka and Janet Pollack cheer as the Seahawks score a touchdown during the third quarter. Credit: Sofia Jaramillo / Associated Press. More photos from the game.

Building a hockey rink in Dodgers Stadium

Saturday, right in the middle of Dodgers stadium, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks will face off in the first NHL regular season game held outdoors west of the Rocky Mountains.

But beyond the technical feat of having an ice rink in the middle of a warm L.A. January, there’s an intangible joy to the project.

As Dan Craig, the man leading the icy project put it:

"The satisfaction for me will be when the guys skate out there. Nobody has to tell me.

I’ll know well ahead of them what they’re going to feel, and I’ll know from how I see them skate and how I see their eyes and the expression on their face. When you get guys from 19 to 39 just grinning from ear to ear and loving being out there, that’s what we do.”

Read columnist Helene Elliott’s full story right here.

Photos: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times, Nick Ut / Associated Press

The rise of futsal: A miniature form of soccer

To be honest, we had no idea what futsal was when we saw that reporter Paresh Dave’s story was in the pipeline. But now we’re hooked and need to give it a shot.

Just peek at the intro of Dave’s story:

he amber lights flicker on above the tennis courts at DeForest Park in Long Beach. The nets have disappeared. Tennis balls are nowhere in sight. This evening, people are playing with a different kind of ball.

On the chain-link fence that surrounds the courts, spray paint marks the goals. Shots whiz by like cars on a freeway.

English and Spanish blend as players chant “Corre! Corre!” (“Run!”) and “Mira! Mira!” (“Look!”). The murmurs from onlookers — “nice” and “wow” — swell after each dazzling play.

The matches on this concrete court are quick. The first team to score wins. Losers retreat to wooden benches, ceding to the next challenger.

Read more on the numerous demographic, financial and athletic reasons for futsal’s increasing popularity right here.

Photos: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

Meet the dentist salvaging an entire hockey team’s teeth

Dr. Bao-Thy Grant has a tricky job: Caring for the mouths of a crew of guys whose jobs include being smashed in the face on a regular basis. She’s responsible for injuries from the face up for the Anaheim Ducks, and that includes their frequently-busted teeth.

Goals and assists mean little to her. When the television shows highlights of players bashing into each other, drawing cheers from the crowd, she looks away. The Ducks who wear their mouth guards and clear plastic face shields are her favorites.

Grant seems more excited about Selanne’s use of protective gear than the goal he scores against the Oilers late in the second period.

Read reporter David Wharton’s profile of Grant in our latest Column One feature.

Photos: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times, Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

Meet the orthopedic surgeon to the stars
Dr. Neal ElAttrache has a simple practice - all he does with his surgical talents is regularly operate on athletes like Kobe Bryant and Zack Greinke, as the hopes and dreams of fans, and millions in team investment, sit anxiously in the waiting room.
And he isn’t limited to current athletes. Former governor, body builder and T-800 Arnold Schwarzenegger has strongly endorsed ElAttrache:

"Dr. ElAttrache is the real deal — one of the most talented surgeons I’ve met. He can fix what others say is unfixable. He is the ultimate asset for any athlete who goes to him because they need their bodies to perform at their best, whether it is on a football field or in the movies."

Learn how ElAttrache ended up as L.A.’s preeminent orthopedic surgeon in reporter Diane Pucin’s latest story here.
Photo: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Meet the orthopedic surgeon to the stars

Dr. Neal ElAttrache has a simple practice - all he does with his surgical talents is regularly operate on athletes like Kobe Bryant and Zack Greinke, as the hopes and dreams of fans, and millions in team investment, sit anxiously in the waiting room.

And he isn’t limited to current athletes. Former governor, body builder and T-800 Arnold Schwarzenegger has strongly endorsed ElAttrache:

"Dr. ElAttrache is the real deal — one of the most talented surgeons I’ve met. He can fix what others say is unfixable. He is the ultimate asset for any athlete who goes to him because they need their bodies to perform at their best, whether it is on a football field or in the movies."

Learn how ElAttrache ended up as L.A.’s preeminent orthopedic surgeon in reporter Diane Pucin’s latest story here.

Photo: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

The Cardinals beat the Dodgers for a place in the World Series

The Dodgers’ season ended with tonight’s 9-0 loss in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

The Cardinals won the series, 4-2, and will play the winner of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. (The Red Sox currently lead the series, 3-2.)

Game 1 of the World Series is scheduled for Wednesday.

Top photo: The Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Dodgers. Credit: Elsa / Getty Images. Bottom photo: Dodger Mark Ellis walks away after striking out to end Game 6. Credit: David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Dodgers top Braves, move on to NLCS

imageIt’s been a team effort, but obviously, plenty of credit has to be given to Juan Uribe for turning two failed bunts into a climactic two-run home run to win the game last night, sealing at least another playoff series for the Dodgers. And to think everyone was worried about Clayton Kershaw pitching on short rest.

For all your Dodgers news, check out our recap of last night’s game, see what columnist Bill Plaschke had to say about the team’s stunning win and check out r/Dodgers, where the amazing gif above originated from.

The story behind the Dodgers’ celebratory swim

When the Dodgers celebrated their playoff-clinching victory in Arizona, photographer Wally Skalij was right beside them:

Midway through the locker room celebration, a player called for a celebratory swim. The next thing I know, I am running with at least 15 players toward the swimming pool in Chase Field, where the Dodgers had just beaten the Diamondbacks to clinch a playoff spot. Yasiel Puig does a swan dive; Hyun-Jin Ryu does a cannon ball. My feet are soaked and I am stressed about making deadline, but I am fairly certain the photos will work well.

See more of the team’s controversial dip over at Framework.

Photos: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

With a playoff berth clinched, here’s all you need to know about the Dodgers’ crazy season so far.

With a playoff berth clinched, here’s all you need to know about the Dodgers’ crazy season so far.

Hut, Hut! The NFL is back!

The reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens face off against the Denver Broncos tonight in the first game of the brand-new football season. Tonight’s game concludes a summer filled with Tim Tebow, a tentative $765 million concussion settlement and the optimistic hopes of fans nationwide that maybe, just maybe, their team will take the Ravens’ place as Super Bowl champs.

NFL columnist Sam Farmer has offered his own predictions about who will be the top team by the season’s end (the Seahawks), what team is ripe for a comeback (the Steelers) and whether Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson can repeat his stunning performance last year (maybe).

And of course, left out of Farmers’ crystal ball is the question of whether something incredible will happen and the NFL decides L.A. will once again have its own team. (Don’t count on it.)

Read through all of Farmers’ predictions and analysis here, or sound off on your own predictions about the upcoming season.

Photos: Stephen Brashear, Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Genevieve Ross, Tony Avelar / Associated Press

Dwight Howard is not returning to the Lakers; he’s agreed to a deal with the Houston Rockets. Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan reports:

He joins an up-and-coming team with one of the NBA’s most dynamic young players while becoming the biggest free-agent name to ever turn his back on the Lakers.
Howard ditched them despite their very public campaign to retain him, including numerous billboards around Los Angeles with his image and the simple slogan “STAY.”
But he left, rejecting pitches from Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and a team of Lakers executives in a lengthy meeting Tuesday in Beverly Hills.

Howard had met with five teams, including Atlanta, Dallas and Golden State, earlier this week.
Photo: Howard dunks during a Lakers/Golden State Warriors game in L.A. on Nov. 9, 2012. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Dwight Howard is not returning to the Lakers; he’s agreed to a deal with the Houston Rockets. Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan reports:

He joins an up-and-coming team with one of the NBA’s most dynamic young players while becoming the biggest free-agent name to ever turn his back on the Lakers.

Howard ditched them despite their very public campaign to retain him, including numerous billboards around Los Angeles with his image and the simple slogan “STAY.”

But he left, rejecting pitches from Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and a team of Lakers executives in a lengthy meeting Tuesday in Beverly Hills.

Howard had met with five teams, including Atlanta, Dallas and Golden State, earlier this week.

Photo: Howard dunks during a Lakers/Golden State Warriors game in L.A. on Nov. 9, 2012. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A new face joins the Los Angeles Clippers

Say what you will about the weirdness surrounding the negotiations between the Clippers and Boston Celtics, as rumors and speculation shot back and forth over who would be traded and whether the league would even allow the exchange in the first place.

And maybe the inclusion of Doc Rivers won’t turn the Clippers, who were bounced from the playoffs in the first round this year, into a championship team.

But at least, as you can see above, the man makes some amazing faces during games.

Read more on the deal here, or hear from columnist Bill Plaschke’s analysis of the Clippers’ new coach.

Photos: Jared Wickerham, Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images, David Zalubowski, Duane Burleson / Associated Press

The greatest Dodger of all time: Sandy Koufax

What began with a simple question from sports writer Houston Mitchell: “Who are the 10 greatest Dodgers of all time?” turned into a massive wave of feedback, with 12,231 ballots surging in. And after a lengthy wait, we can finally reveal that the top Dodger of all time is legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax.

What made Koufax so great (beyond his victory on our ballot):

Koufax was the first pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards (1963, ‘65 and ‘66), as well as the first pitcher to win a Cy Young Award by a unanimous vote (1963, when he went 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA). Many people will tell you that the greatest pitcher in baseball history was Sandy Koufax on four days’ rest. Second greatest? Sandy Koufax on three days’ rest.

As for the rest of the top three, the groundbreaking Jackie Robinson came in second, and the longtime voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully, took third.

Many thanks to everyone who sent in a ballot, and feel free to check out the rest of the top-ranking Dodgers here!

Photos: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times, Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images