Houston’s Marlen Esparza sets record with 9th U.S. Championship


Marlen Esparza, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, won a record-setting ninth title in her weight class Saturday at the USA Boxing Elite National Championships in Spokane, Wash., scoring a unanimous decision over fellow Houston-area boxer Ginny Fuchs.

Saturday’s bout marked the third straight year Esparza, 25, and Fuchs, 26, have met for the championship in the women’s 112-pound flyweight division.

Both boxers had already qualified for the 8-person U.S. Olympic Trials to be held later this year.



Custom Saddlery Partners With Rising Dressage Rider Ayden Uhlir

World Dressage News

Accomplished young dressage rider Ayden Uhlir is poised to move up the ranks to make a place for herself at the top of the sport. The nineteen-year-old is bringing her Dutch Warmblood gelding Sjapoer (Contango-Jenia, Woldgang) out in the FEI U25 classes at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in South Florida this season, and Custom Saddlery will be there to help.

Custom Saddlery has a knack for choosing top riders to represent the brand and, as the company’s newest partner, Uhlir is no exception. Custom Saddlery, the favorite saddle maker of some of the top dressage riders in the world, produces handcrafted products made of the finest materials with superior fit for horses and riders. Recently being named the USEF Official Saddle of the U.S. Dressage Team has further enhanced the saddle maker’s stellar reputation.

Uhlir has an impressive number of wins under her shadbelly, including capturing the gold medals in the Young Rider Individual and Freestyle at the 2013 North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. (NAJYRC). She was also a silver medal winner in the NAJYRC Team division. She earned the championship title in Young Riders at the 2013 Festival of Champions, and was the junior champion there in 2012.

Custom Saddlery approached Uhlir when she was training with Christine Traurig, who also rides in a Custom saddle. Traurig loaned the saddle to the young rider to try it and Uhlir was hooked. “What I loved about her saddle and why I love my new saddle is that it isn’t like a big sofa,” she said. “When I was in the lower levels, I really liked the security of more leather and cushion in a saddle. I needed to have a saddle that gave me direction as well, for example with leg rolls. But as I become more trained, I want less and less between me and the feel of the horse. Custom gives me that option.”

Uhlir’s goal is be a member of a Nations Cup team in 2015; and with quality riding equipment like Custom Saddlery saddles, she could be well on her way. “After working towards the Nation’s Cup, I hope to be part of any first U25 team to Aachen,” Uhlir plans. She recently moved from Southern California to Wellington, Florida, and is a working student at Kim Boyer’s Hampton Green Farm. Uhlir said that Boyer, who is a generous sponsor of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and Dressage4Kids, has given her many opportunities and Uhlir has a renewed respect for the boost that sponsors give to the sport of dressage. “They do so much helping riders and horses purely for a love of the sport,” she said.

Custom Saddlery is proud to be a part of Uhlir’s rise to the top. As the choice of high-performance riders and amateurs alike, Custom Saddlery saddles feature the right blend of fit, style, and craftsmanship using the most advanced methods and techniques available. Based in Aiken, South Carolina, Custom Saddlery offers specialized saddles for both dressage and jumping. The Official Saddle of the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team is devoted to supplying high-quality, customized saddles that are perfect matches for dressage’s most talented riders.


Winter X Games: Nick Goepper wins 3rd consecutive ski slopestyle gold

Denver Post

Heading into Saturday’s X Games ski slopestyle finals, two-time gold medalist Nick Goepper was prepared to watch from the finish corral. He had missed the top-eight qualifying spots Thursday.

But Canadian Alex Beaulieu-Marchand bowed out Saturday morning because of an injury and Goepper made the most of his last-minute ticket, punching it for a three-peat slopestyle gold, a first since Tanner Hall’s 2002-04 reign.

“I just feel like I got a gift here today to get into finals, and I didn’t want to waste it,” said the 20-year-old from Indiana.

He didn’t waste any time either, stomping a wildly technical run on his first time down the course’s three rail sections and three jumps. Spinning, grabbing and flipping, Goepper’s leftside triple cork 1440, spun in his least comfortable direction, earned a 93.66 that lasted through all three runs by the eight finalists. Last year Goepper won gold with 95 points.

“The last couple days have been pretty stressful,” said Goepper of his wait while Beaulieu-Marchand weighed his ability to ski in the finals.


From Sochi to the world: US Olympians Langton, Dudek compete in ‘The Amazing Race’

Fox Sports

They’ve raced on the track at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and now two American medalists are taking their competitive spirit — and their ability to get along with each another — on the road in the upcoming season of “The Amazing Race.”

Double bronze medal-winning bobsledder Steven Langton has teamed up with 2010 Vancouver speedskating bronze medalist Aly Dudek in Season 26 of the reality TV competition.

They will compete against 10 other dating couples — including New Kids on the Block’s Jonathan Knight and partner Harley Rodriguez — in an all-dating edition of the Emmy-winning CBS reality TV juggernaut, in which pairs race around the world for a $1 million prize.

Boston native Langton, 31, and Wisconsinite Dudek, 24, have been dating for seven months.
In an additional twist to the duos who are already in relationships, five couples competing are meeting for the first time at the starting line in what is touted as “the most extreme blind date ever.”

See whether Langton and Dudek can improve their podium finish when Season 26 of “TAR” premieres at 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 25.