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On The Fly: A Snowboarding Monster At Fenway

Crews are at work in Fenway Park building a 140-foot ski and snowboarding ramp — more than three times the size of the Green Monster — as part of the Big Air at Fenway snowboarding and freeskiing U.S. Grand Prix tour event Feb. 11-12. Some athletes featured will be Olympic slopestyle skiing gold medalist Joss Christensen, slopestyle snowboarding Olympic gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg and Olympian Ty Walker from Stowe, Vt. Big Air skiing and snowboarding, where athletes perform a single trick off a snow-covered ramp, will make its Olympic debut in 2018.

Two state athletes — Emily Sweeney of Suffield and Tucker West of Ridgefield — are competing this weekend in the luge world championships in Konigssee, Germany. West, a 2014 Olympian, is fourth in the World Cup rankings and Sweeney is seventh. They have been part of a breakout season for American lugers — who have a record 16 medals on the World Cup circuit this year — and the Americans are hoping to win medals for the first time at the world championships since 2009.

For the first time in 31 years, a Shula is back in the Super Bowl. Don Shula's son Mike is the Carolina Panthers' offensive coordinator and he is as old (50) as the Super Bowl. He was playing at Alabama when he went to the last Super Bowl game his dad coached in 1985, the Dolphins losing 38-16 to Joe Montana and the 49ers. ... None of the seven Patriots selected for Sunday's Pro Bowl will compete because of injuries, they say, but it's likely most just don't want to be there, don't want to get hurt or want some time off. They're not alone. In all, 36 players (including 14 from the Super Bowl-bound Broncos and Panthers) who were selected for the trip to Hawaii won't go, including quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers. There were 133 players either invited or added as alternates, the highest in the history of the game.

Novak Djokovic holds a 23-22 edge over Roger Federer after beating him in the Australian Open semifinal Thursday, 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Their rivalry started almost 10 years ago and now Djokovic is in his sixth Australian Open final. ... Two former UConn baseball pitchers who graduated in 2011, Kevin Vance and Greg Nappo, will play in the World Baseball Classic qualifying tournaments in February and March. Vance was in six games last year for the Reno Aces, the Diamondbacks' Triple A team, and Nappo appeared in 33 games last year out of the bullpen for the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Marlins' Triple A team. The World Baseball Classic is in March 2017. ... Former major leaguer Walt Williams has died at 72; everyone knew him as "No Neck."

lriley@courant.com

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