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With bobsled, luge and skeleton racers rocketing down a winding, ice-covered track, sled racing will be one of the most exciting events at the Winter Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia.

The first thing you have to know about sled racing is that it's a little like NASCAR: It's all about speed. And the tracks, built all over the world — including the new one in Sochi — are really different, according to Steve Holcomb, who won a gold medal in four-man bobsled four years ago.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Safety: the word in sports in 2013. The NFL playoff spots may go to the last players standing; Major League Baseball wants to ban collisions at home plate; and an especially vicious hit in hockey - and that's saying a lot in hockey - renews calls to try to ban violence. Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine joins us now from the studios of New England Public Radio. Thanks very much for being with us, my friend.

On Saturday, Army and Navy will take the field to renew their legendary football rivalry for the 114th time. The teams are playing in Philadelphia, which is also where they faced off in 2001, just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. The players that year faced a sobering new reality: The nation was at war, and they'd soon leave the football field behind for the battlefield.

It's one of baseball's "most traditional and most violent plays," as NPR's Tom Goldman says.

Starting as soon as next season, though, Major League Baseball will move to ban intentional collisions at home plate involving runners trying to score and catchers trying to tag them out.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has been fined $100,000 for interfering with a kickoff return in a Thanksgiving Day game with the Baltimore Ravens.

ESPN writes:

"The league said Tomlin's actions — he was standing on the white stripe that borders the playing field and took a step onto the field during Jacoby Jones' kickoff return — should have resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty."

Vitali Klitschko is best-known to the world as "Dr. Ironfist," towering over opponents at a full 6 feet 7 inches, with a punch that delivered 45 victories, including 41 knockouts and only two defeats.

Now 42, Klitschko is the current World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, but he has his eye on a bigger title — president of Ukraine.

Their paths repeatedly crossed on the way to the World Series. And now retired managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox are headed to the same place: the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hall's Expansion Era committee announced its selection Monday.

Together, the trio won eight World Series titles and led teams that were perennial threats to play in October. They account for a combined 7,558 victories.

The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest discoveries.

This week, Watson tells NPR's Arun Rath about about a rising star in soccer who could turn things around for England in the World Cup, and a Bahraini woman who calls herself an "accidental activist." He also shares a clip from an Ozy interview with President Bill Clinton regarding Nelson Mandela's legacy.

The final draw of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was announced Friday. The U.S. team will face Germany, Portugal and Ghana in Group G; host Brazil will face world No. 16 Croatia in Group A. Only the top two teams of each group advance to the next round.

The draw puts the U.S., currently ranked as the world's No. 14 team, in the same group with the world's No. 2 (Germany) and No. 5 (Portugal). Ghana is ranked 24th. The showdown with Germany has the potential to be bittersweet for Jürgen Klinsmann, the coach of the U.S. team who was a star for German World Cup teams in the 1990s.

The online retailer Newegg has lost a patent case centering on Web encryption, after a Texas jury rejected its argument that a claim from the company TQP Development was invalid. The jury ordered Newegg to pay $2.3 million — less than half the damages TQP had sought.

Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls guard who missed all of last season after knee surgery, has injured his other knee and will miss the rest of the current NBA season. The Bulls say Rose had "successful surgery" Monday morning to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.

Rose hurt his knee during the third quarter of Chicago's loss at Portland Friday. Here's how the Bulls' official blog describes the play:

Nicholas Dawidoff's Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football may be the best book I've ever read about football. It is certainly the most detailed account of the players inside the helmets and the coaches obscured from an enthralled public by large, laminated playsheets.

Competition and compassion meet on the field in Springfield, Ill., Saturday, when two central Illinois high school football teams face off for a spot in the state championship. One team is a perennial powerhouse, but the other is from a town that was all but leveled by a tornado.

Last week, linebacker Kevin Scott and the rest of the Washington Community High School Panthers were celebrating. They'd just made school history with a 12-0 record, capped off with a Saturday win that sent them to the semi-finals.

In Norway, it's "Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, all of the great days" rolled into one: That's because 22-year-old Magnus Carlsen has beaten the defending champion, India's Viswanathan Anand, to be crowned chess world champion.

The world No. 1's victory Friday over Anand, the world No. 8 and an Indian fan favorite, came after 10 games in Chennai, India. Carlsen won three and drew seven, and earned the highest rating of all time with the 6.5-3.5 win.

College basketball seems to get started sooner every year, like puberty in American children. Why does everything have to begin so early now, before you have time to get ready for it?

Things move so fast in college basketball that there are three players this year who are being called "the next LeBron James. " In the NBA, most of the talk is already about where the superstars will be next season.

OK, by now you've hopefully heard that the Boston Red Sox are Major League Baseball's champions thanks to a 6-1 win Wednesday night over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Sox won the best-of-seven World Series in six games.

With the headline out of the way, here's a cheat sheet for those of us who need to be ready with something to say about this year's Fall Classic:

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks tripped Allen Craig for a game-ending obstruction call on Jon Jay's ninth-inning grounder, giving the St. Louis Cardinals a bizarre 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night and a 2-1 World Series lead.

Boston had tied the score with two runs in the eighth, and Yadier Molina singled with one out in the ninth off loser Brandon Workman. Allen Craig pinch hit and lined Koji Uehara's first pitch down the left-field line for a double that put runners on second and third.

As the NASCAR season climaxes, America's prime motor sport continues to see its popularity in decline. For several years now, revenues and sponsorship have plummeted, leaving an audience that increasingly resembles the stereotype NASCAR so desperately thought it could grow beyond: older white Dixie working class.

Both ESPN and the Turner Broadcasting Co., longtime NASCAR networks, took a look at the down graphs and the down-scale demographics and didn't even bother to bid on the new TV contract.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, open in February, just 100 days from now.

The games have already given rise to some superlatives: most expensive (at more than $50 billion), most heavily guarded and, potentially, most controversial.

Here are key questions surrounding the Sochi games, and some answers:

An Islamist militant leader has called on Muslim fighters to attack the Olympics. Can Russian officials keep visitors and athletes safe?

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