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GOLDENDALE, Wash. – Each year on a long, steep stretch of looping highway in southeast Washington, hundreds of skateboarders test their grit. A helmet, a leather body suit and wicked skill are all that stand between glory and a face full of asphalt. It’s called the Maryhill Festival of Speed near Goldendale.

Maryhill Loop Road is 22 turns and 2.2 miles. And on a skateboard it’s just a fleeting few minutes to the bottom of the Columbia River Gorge.

Nearly 300 young men and just 11 women showed up recently to take on this twisted ribbon of pavement.

Evan Hoover

Kids, coeds and pros. This past weekend more than 250,000 people turned out to the city of Spokane for the twenty-third annual Hoopfest weekend.

More than 7,000 teams took to 458 courts stretching across 42 blocks in downtown Spokane.

"We had to turn away over 200 teams," said Hoopfest Chairman Terry Kelly. "The demand continues to grow each year and the numbers reflect that."

EUGENE, Ore. - Two more runners and two javelin throwers from the Northwest claimed spots in the London Olympics on the final day of competition at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

Runners, jumpers and throwers from the Northwest performed well in these Olympic Trials. In fact, more than 20 percent of the athletes on the U.S. Olympic track and field team have ties to our region.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The Seattle Mariners reach the halfway point of their season this weekend, and find themselves in last place. As KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel explains, the Mariners had low expectations at the beginning of the season, and have yet to live up to them.

EUGENE, Ore. - The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for track and field resume Thursday afternoon in Eugene after a two day rest break. Tonight, more athletes with Northwest ties step to the starting line than on any other day of the event.

In the men's pole vault, Spokane native and former University of Washington Husky Brad Walker attempts to qualify for his second Olympic team.

EUGENE, Ore. – A fourth or fifth place finish tends to bring excruciating disappointment at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Top three qualify for the Summer Olympics, normally. But fourth and fifth place was good enough Monday night for two Olympic hopefuls from the Northwest.

EUGENE, Ore. – A dark horse in the sprints. A mother who’s competed at three prior Olympics. And a former NCAA pole vault champion from the University of Oregon. Those are your three newest U.S. Olympians with Northwest ties.

A little-known sprinter from Salem, Oregon leaned at the tape to edge out more famous track stars in the hundred meter dash. Ryan Bailey struggled to find the words to describe how it felt to finish third and to secure a trip to the London Olympics.

"I don’t even know what to say. I’m still taking it all in," Bailey says.

The federal law that is famous for elevating women’s place in collegiate sports marks its 40th anniversary tomorrow. But Title Nine isn’t just about athletics. It was designed to focus on the overall success of girls and women in school.

For the story, please hit the listen button above.

EUGENE, Ore. - Qualifying action for the 2012 Summer Olympics is happening in three Northwest cities this week. The U.S. Olympic Trials in diving are underway in Federal Way, Washington. Meanwhile, track and field qualifying starts with a hammer throw competition on the Nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon Thursday. The rest of the track team selection unfolds in Eugene starting on Friday. Team USA is likely to be well-stocked with Northwest athletes.

Shizao / Wikimedia Creative Commons

You might not be able to make it to London for the summer Olympics, but this week at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, you can watch some of the nation’s top athletes vie for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Diving team.

Lindsay Lowe / KPLU

The level of intensity around the proposal to build a new NBA arena in Seattle is growing by the minute.

The group of investors – which we learned yesterday includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and the Nordstrom family – drew hundreds to a "bring back our Sonics" rally in Pioneer Square today. It was a well-timed event to put pressure on the Seattle City Council and King County Council to back the deal.

“This is a very carefully orchestrated PR campaign," says KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel. "At the same time, the old Sonics – the Thunder – are in the NBA Finals this week. The angst could not be more intense in Seattle among sports fans who care about this because their 41-year passion is being thrown back in their face, mocked by the Thunder’s presence in the league’s championship series.”

The Associated Press

The team backing a new sports arena in Seattle began coming into focus today, with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom family putting their money behind the proposed venue. They’re the first to go public as part of hedge fund manager Chris Hansen’s team of private investors.

The 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year player draft got underway today, and the Seattle Mariners were afforded the luxury of the 3rd overall pick as a result of their poor finish last season.

With that pick, the Mariners chose catcher Mike Zunino, a junior from the University of Florida. The 21 year old was ranked as the top catcher in the draft, and has been touted as a strong, athletic catcher with excellent power as a hitter. In 62 games with Florida this season, Zunino had a batting average of .312, hitting 18 home runs and 60 runs batted in.

EUGENE, Ore. - Elite Northwest runners and throwers tested themselves against Olympic-caliber competition this weekend in Eugene. Some athletes found the experience sobering, while others drew encouragement with about two months to go before the Summer Olympics.

KPLU

A study has found that Seattle's SoDo neighborhood can handle the traffic that may come from building a third sports arena in the area.

The study was released Wednesday by the City of Seattle and paid for by Chris Hansen, the developer who wants to build an 18,000-seat facility that could house an NBA and an NHL franchise near where the Mariners and Seahawks play.

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