February 26, 2021

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Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. TuesdayAndrey Rublev vs. Daniil MedvedevAndrey Rubley and Daniil Medvedev secured the ATP Cup for Russia earlier this month, with neither player losing a singles match throughout. In their three meetings on the ATP Tour, Medvedev has come out on top each time, including in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in September.This may be Rublev’s chance to finally overcome his friendly rival. He has looked particularly dominant, not dropping a set throughout the tournament. His match against Casper Ruud ended after only two sets when the Norwegian withdrew with an injury. Going into the quarterfinals, Rublev has led the field in both percentage of first service points won and second service points won, a sign of how hard it has been for opponents to break his serve.Medvedev has also been playing well, aside from a chaotic, disorganized third round match against Filip Krajinovic. He has now won 18 matches in a row, with his last loss coming in October at a tournament in Vienna. Although the fast surface fits Medvedev’s flat baseline shots, Rublev’s open stance is well suited in defense, and we’re sure to see many dynamic, aggressive point.Rod Laver Arena | 3:30 a.m. WednesdayRafael Nadal vs. Stefanos TsitsipasRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has moved smoothly through the first four rounds, no surprise for a player with 20 Grand Slam titles. Although Nadal won his only Australian Open title over a decade ago, he has reached the finals on four other occasions since, and is a clear favorite in his half of the draw to do so again. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots are well-suited to clay courts where he can drag opponents around with tightly angled shots. Nadal’s ability to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses with relentless pressure can break most players on their best days.Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP finals winner in 2019, is a study in unpredictability. The fifth seed has a capable all-court game, but lacks the consistency to execute match after match. The 22-year-old has worked to improve this aspect of his game, but needed five sets to push back unseeded Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. After receiving a walkover in the round of 16, Tsitsipas will be well rested and hoping for an advantage against one of the most mentally tough players on tour.

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Epic Games has been on a roll with Fortnite this season.The Fortnite 15.40 update is an important one that comes to the game today. And it’s expected to bring in a lot of interesting new content with it.Chapter 2 Season 5 will be concluding in a month, so the publisher might begin tying all the loose ends to move forward from this point.The villain for this season hasn’t been disclosed yet, but that’s not the highlight of this update. There’s a possibility that the pump-action shotgun might finally return. Fortnite 15.40 update release time and other detailsKnock knock. 🚪The v15.40 update is scheduled to release on February 16. Downtime for the update will begin at approx. 4 AM ET (09:00 UTC). pic.twitter.com/W54TynVlZQ— Fortnite Status (@FortniteStatus) February 15, 2021As per the above tweet, the downtime for the Fortnite 15.40 update is scheduled to begin at 4 AM ET (9 AM UTC/9:30 AM IST on Wednesday). Although the patch notes for this update is still missing, just like the other update, Epic gave users a heads up of what they could expect.v15.40 brings:✅Blast back with an unvaulted favorite!✅Fun for the whole squad! Characters will have more Exotics in stock for allies (or enemies) to acquire.✅LTMs coming soon: Air Royale ✈️+ Floor is Lava 🌋✅Adjust object/build level of detail in PC Perf Mode alpha— Fortnite Status (@FortniteStatus) February 15, 2021

The very first line of the tweet reads: “Blast back with an unvaulted favorite.”This has led fans to assume that the pump-action shotgun is returning. Many took to Twitter to look for answers that would satiate their curiosity.

The entire community has been asking the developer to unvault the pump-action shotgun for a while now. With Epic saying that a favorite will be unvaulted, some people cannot remain calm.However, there’s another speculation doing the rounds. Since the first line of the tweet says: “Blast back with an unvaulted favorite,” players believe that it’s the Flint Knock that will be returning to the game with the Fortnite 15.40 update today.

since when did you get blasted back with the pump? its the flint knock.— FlameZ (@lachie204) February 15, 2021

While the internet argues on this matter, the Fortnite 15.40 update drops in a few more hours. And once it drops, everyone will know which weapon was unvaulted.Epic has been into heavy teasing as of this season with interesting wordplay as well, so there’s a high chance that it might be the Flint Knock that returns with the 15.40 update.
Published 16 Feb 2021, 12:32 IST

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It has been more than a year of inaction for Roger Federer now. He last played at the Australian Open 2020, where the Swiss maestro saw a straight-set loss against the Serbian Novak Djokovic. It was a tough series for him where he had to test his physical limits in 2 five-setters.  The 20-time grand slam champion later in the same year underwent double knee surgeries. All of this kept him away from the tennis court even after various countries lifted lockdown and the sport made a much-awaited return. However, the latest news is a big positive for the Federer camp. Martina Navratilova reflected on the comeback of Roger Federer The Swiss great will make his return to the ATP Tour at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. Also, the latest development suggests that he can then play an ATP 500 tournament in nearby Dubai.  In a recent interview, a jovial Martina Navratilova learned the news and reacted with some humor. The 18-time women’s Grand Slam champion expressed, “I think he just wants to stay in Burj Al Arab again, but amazing! “It’s great to see Roger back, it’s about time for him sitting for over a year. So I’m glad he’s healthy and playing again.”  That he is coming back with an ATP 250 will ensure that he does not have to put too much pressure on himself for advancing deeper in the event. Prior to this, there were headlines that alleged Roger was fit enough to return for Australian Open 2021 and that he decided against it because of family reasons. Can the Ninjafed make a successful return? Roger Federer gestures to the spectators before hitting signed tennis balls into the stands during the 2019 Hopman Cup. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)Well, it might be an ATP 250, but it has participation from some of the best ATP players. The 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem, the ATP Cup 2021 hero Andrey Rublev, and of course King Roger himself will stay in the highlight of the event. Apart from these names, there are six players from the Top-20 that’ll make the competition juicier. From Roger’s Swiss companion Stan Wawrinka to Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, and others, it will not be an easy draw for the legendary 39-YO. However, the rusty Federer is also the mighty Federer, and he has always dominated all the aforementioned names with his stinging play. Also notably, his participation in the Dubai event will depend on how his body reacts to the Qatar event. The event will kick off on March 8th and the world will cheer for the arguable GOAT. READ MORE- Why is Roger Federer Considered the GOAT?

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February 16, 2021
Matthew Pitt

Tetris® combines with Spin & Go tournaments at PokerStars in a fun promotion that sees $1.5 million paid out between February 15 and March 28.
Head to the Spin & Go lobby in the PokerStars client and you’ll see there are Tetris® Spin & Go games with buy-ins of $0.25, $1, $2, $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $250, and $500. They all play out the exact same way as a traditional Spin & Go, meaning they’re three-handed hyper-turbo tournaments where the prize pool is randomly determined before the first hand is dealt.
It’s still possible to win up to $1 million in some of these game, but there are a few notable differences.
First, the virtual felt is made up of Tetris® blocks, which actually looks pretty cool. Also, the dealer button is now a Tetris® block too, and other blocks fall down the screen.
The Tetris® part of the promotion comes in the form of leaderboards. There’s a separate leaderboard for each Tetris® Spin & Go buy-in level, so 10 in total. You need to opt-in and then fire up some Tetris® Spin & Go tournaments.
Play your tournaments as you would ordinarily, but do so knowing the aim of the game is to clear lines, just like in Tetris®. The number of lines you clear depends on your Spin & Go multiplier and your finishing position in the tournament.
Your level increases each time you clear five lines. This results in you earning even more points so you can climb up your leaderboard faster.
The 2021 Guide to PokerStars Spin and Go Poker
How Many Lines Do I Clear?
 1st2nd3rd

2×432

3×321

Over 3×211

As you can see from the table above, finishing in 1st place in a Tetris® Spin & Go that has a 2x multiplier clears four lines. Just playing a tournament earns you points.
How Do You Earn Points?
The number of leaderboard points you earn is based on your finishing position and your current level. You start off earning 40 points for clearing one line when you’re at Level 0, but this increases to 840 points if you manage to climb to Level 20, which is the highest level you can achieve.
It is possible to earn up to 25,200 points per Tetris® Spin & Go tournament, as you can see in this table.
LevelPoints for 1 LinePoints for 2 LinesPoints for 3 LinesPoints four 4 Lines

0401003001,200

1802006002,400

21203009003,600

31604001,2004,800

n=40*(n+1)=100*(n+1)=300*(n+1)=1,200*(n+1)

208402,1006,30025,200

Tetris® Spin & Go Payout Table
The leaderboards payout $33,000 every day throughout the promotion making for a combined total of $1,500,000 just for playing Tetris® Spin & Go tournaments.
The $0.25, $1, $2, and $5 leaderboard payout the top 100 points earners, so you have a decent chance of walking away with a cash prize. The prizes don’t have any restrictions on them meaning you’re free to do with them as you wish.
 $0.25$1$2$5$10$25$50$100$250$500

1$50$150$250$400$500$500$750$1,000$1,500$3,000

2$40$100$200$300$400$400$600$800$1,000 

3$30$75$150$250$350$350$500$600$750 

4$20$50$100$200$300$300$400$500$500 

5$15$25$50$150$250$250$300$400$500 

6-10$10$20$40$100$150$150$150$200  

11-20$5$10$20$50$100$100$100$100  

21-50$5$5$10$25$50$50    

51-100$5$5$5$10      

Spin & Go Your Way to a PokerStars Sunday Million Seat
The Tetris® Playing Field – Avoid Hitting Game Over
There’s an extra element to this promotion that you have to be aware of at all times. PokerStars calls it the Playing Field.
Just like in a game of Tetris® where it is Game Over when the blocks reach the top of the screen, it can be game over for you if you go on a streak of out of the money finishes!
Finishing in first place either improves your Playing Field status or makes zero change to it. Finish in second place, however, and your Playing Field status either stays the same or actually worsens, which is also the case when you finish in third place.
Your table, or playing field, is green in color when your Playing Field is in a good state. It turns amber when it is worsening and turns red when you’re in big trouble. Failing to win when your playing field is red could see you reach Game Over which means you cannot earn any more leaderboard points until the next day!
The changes to your playing field status depend on your current level.
 1st place 2nd place 3rd place  

LevelImproveNo ChangeNo ChanceWorsenNo ChangeWorsen 

0-1100%0%100%0%100%0% 

2-580%20%80%20%50%50% 

6-960%40%60%40%40%60% 

10-1340%60%40%60%30%70% 

14-1720%80%20%80%200%80% 

18-2020%80%20%80%10%90% 

Get Involved in the Tetris® Spin & Go Promotion
With $33,000 waiting to be won every day until March 28 there’s no time to waste if you want to win some free cash.
Download PokerStars via PokerNews, enter the bonus code “STARS600” when making your first deposit and PokerStars will match your deposit 100% up to $600. In fact, your first three deposits in a 90-day window are matched 100% up to a combined maximum of $600.
All you need to do then is opt-in and fire up some Tetris® Spin & Go tournaments and see if you can pad your bankroll with some of the $1.5 million that’s guaranteed to be won. That and try not to spend the rest of the day humming the famous Tetris® tune!
The Stars Group is a majority shareholder in Oddschecker Global Media, the parent company of PokerNews.

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Chelsea have been drawn against Atletico Madrid in the Women’s Champions League last 16 while Manchester City face Fiorentina.WSL leaders Chelsea will come up against a familiar face in Toni Duggan with the England international helping Atletico knock Manchester City out of the tournament at the same stage last season.
Emma Hayes’ side have been in stunning form over the past year, going on a record-breaking 33-game unbeaten run which was only recently ended by a shock home defeat to Brighton.Meanwhile, Gareth Taylor’s City side will also play their first leg at home, against a Fiorentina side that finished second in Serie A last season but is off the pace this term, lying fourth and 16 points off pacesetters Juventus.Holders Lyon, who have won a record seven titles and made it five in a row last season, face Norwegian side Brondby.
First legs are scheduled to be played between March 3 and 4, with the return fixtures expected to take place between March 10 and 11.

Image:
Manchester City were knocked out of the competition at the Round of 16 stage by Atletico Madrid and Toni Duggan last season

Full draw as follows:
Wolsburg (GER) vs LSK Kvinner (NOR)Barcelona (ESP) vs Fortuna Hjørring (DEN)Rosengård (SWE) vs St. Pölten (AUT)BIIK-Kazygurt (KAZ) vs Bayern München (GER)Manchester City (ENG) vs Fiorentina (ITA)Sparta Praha (CZE) vs Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)Lyon (FRA) vs Brøndby (DEN)Chelsea (ENG) vs Atlético de Madrid (ESP)More to follow….Watch the Women’s Football Show on Friday at 6pm on Sky Sports Football.

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At 23, Rublev is two years younger than Medvedev and grew up playing junior tournaments against him in Russia. For a long time Rublev, seeded No. 8, and Karen Khachanov, 24, the third member of Russia’s latest golden generation, were better than Medvedev. The rise for Medvedev came in 2018 and 2019, when he nearly beat Rafael Nadal in the 2019 United States Open final.“He reads the game really well,” Rublev said of Medvedev. “It’s amazing, the patience he has to stay so long in the rallies, to not rush, to take the time, because in the end these little details, they make him who he is.”Russia is the only country with two players in the top 10. Khachanov gives it three in the top 20. Aslan Karatsev, 27, another Russian ranked No. 114, came out of nowhere to make the quarterfinals here in his first Grand Slam tournament.Medvedev comes into the quarterfinal on perhaps the best roll of his career. He has won 18 consecutive singles matches. He won the ATP Tour finals in London in November, pulling off the nifty trick of beating the world’s top three players — Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Dominic Thiem — in a single tournament. For Russia at the ATP Cup, he beat Alexander Zverev of Germany, a 2020 U.S. Open finalist, in a tight, three-set match in the semifinal round.Medvedev spent his early childhood in Moscow and played few sports other than tennis growing up. He worshiped Russia’s last golden generation, which included Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who were in their prime when he was a young child. He moved to France to train as a teenager and became fluent in English and French.Medvedev could be heard screaming at his coach, Gilles Cervara of France, in French during his third-round match against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, as he frittered away a two-set lead before recovering to win the final set, 6-0.

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Team Ignite’s Jalen Green. G LEAGUE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines — Jalen Green sustained his torrid start to lead Team Ignite’s comeback win over the Iowa Wolves, 97-90, in the NBA G League Tuesday at AdventHealth Arena in Florida.
The 6-foot-6 Fil-American fired a career-high 22 points as Ignite stretched its unbeaten run to four games. He has now scored at least 20 points for the third straight game.
Green, who also collected six rebounds and five assists, capped off his solid outing with a layup for a 96-90 lead with 12.2 seconds left.

#GLeagueIgnite remains undefeated at 4-0
take a look inside its hot start as told by head coach Brian Shaw pic.twitter.com/MVggNlGLR7
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) February 16, 2021

Ignite trailed by as many as 11 early in the fourth quarter before going on a 25-7 run to take control of the game.
Donta Hall added 12 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks for Ignite, which still awaits the arrival of Filipino center Kai Sotto.
UNCERTAIN
However, coach Brian Shaw said he doesn’t have a say yet on whether Sotto will be able to play right away when he returns.
“That’ll be something that will be determined by the people that are above my paygrade,” said Shaw during a media availability.
Sotto came back to the Philippines hoping to suit up for the national team in the third and final window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers in Doha this month.
But the tournament was postponed again with the Philippines back as the host.
The 7-foot-3 Sotto is expected to rejoin Ignite in the G League’s bio-secure facility in Orlando as soon as he clears strict quarantine measures.

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Lionel Messi scored two goals of the highest quality in La Liga this weekend to take his tally to 15 for the season.Both of the Argentine’s goals were scored from outside the box in superb fashion, as he helped Barcelona on their way to a 5-1 win against Alaves.Messi may now make our leaderboard, but he is still some way off reaching the runaway leader, Robert Lewandowski.The Bayern striker scored again on Monday in the German side’s rearranged Bundesliga match versus Arminia Bielefeld which was moved due to their Club World Cup exploits over the weekend.Lewandowski now has 25 goals and 50 points.His nearest rival for the Golden Shoe is fellow Bundesliga striker Andre Silva, who has now scored 18 for the season.Liverpool may have lost against Leicester, but Mohamed Salah still scored a lovely goal to take his tally to 17.Georgios Giakoumakis of Venlo has scored an impressive 22 goals and is the highest player on our list who doesn’t feature within one of Europe’s top five leagues.A talented group on 16 goals for the campaign includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Romelu Lukaku, and Luis Suarez.2020/21 EUROPEAN GOLDEN SHOE STANDINGS 2020/21 European Golden ShoeA reminder: The five elite leagues – Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 – all carry a weighting of 2, meaning that a player will be awarded two points for every goal they score in these competitions. For the leagues ranked sixth to 30 in Uefa’s coefficients rankings goals scored are given a weighting of 1.5, and goals scored in a league outwith the top 30, goals are given a weighting of 1. Ciro Immobile won the 2019/20 European Golden Shoe, scoring 36 goals for Lazio in a tremendous Serie A season. 2020/21 EUROPEAN GOLDEN SHOE (Summer Leagues) 2020 European Golden ShoePlayerTeamGoalsPointsKasper JunkerBomo/Glimt2740.5Amahl PellegrinoKristiansund2537.5Philip ZinckernagelBodo/Glimt1928.5Christoffer NymanNorrköping1827Rauno SappinenFlora Tallinn2626Veton BerishaViking1624Astrit SelmaniVerbergs1522.5Mushaga BakengaOdds BK1522.5Moses OgbuMjallby1421Anders ChristiansenMalmo1319.5Leke JamesMolde1219.5Maksim SkavyshBATE Borisov1919This is the 2020/21 European Golden Shoe race. If you want to see the final standing for the 2019/20 European Golden Shoe, follow this link.

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As Americans continue to weather the pandemic, the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and spending bill passed by the federal government in December brought an unexpected and lasting gift: a new national park.The 5,593-page spending package included a raft of provisions authorizing little-known projects — the construction of the Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota, for one — and giving lawmakers a chance to advance a variety of long-delayed initiatives. Among them was the elevation of the New River Gorge, in southern West Virginia, to the status of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the country’s other most renowned outdoor spaces. The designation of the area — roughly 72,000 acres of land flanking 53 miles of the gorge — as a national park and preserve creates the 63rd national park in the United States and completes a multigenerational effort, started in the mid-twentieth century, to transform a tired industrial area into a national landmark.“Towards the end of this year, with these big bills coming down, I decided to strike,” said Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican and the state’s junior senator, who, along with Senator Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, introduced the New River Gorge legislation in 2019.“This was the right opportunity,” she said.A draw for rafters, kayakers and other outdoor enthusiastsThe gorge and its surroundings have been prized for decades as one of southern West Virginia’s more spectacular natural places.In 1963, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution seeking to designate the New River Gorge as a “national playground,” preparing to send the proposal to President John F. Kennedy, whose primary campaign was lifted substantially through support from West Virginia voters. But momentum to create a national recreation area stalled after Mr. Kennedy’s assassination later that year.Though the gorge remained a curiosity among rafters and outdoor enthusiasts, the area only received federal protection from the Interior Department in 1978, when it was designated a national river.Now, the outdoor offerings in the gorge have come to define the area as a premier destination for adventure sports in the East.The New River plunges 750 feet over 66 miles, resulting in long stretches of violent rapids that can reach a class five level, generally considered the most difficult that can be navigated by white-water boaters. (Licensed outfitters operate in several towns near the river, providing rentals and tours for rafting and kayaking.)The canyon walls, which soar as high as 1,600 feet, offer miles of cliffs that rank among the best in the East Coast for rock climbing. Sheer faces in the gorge made of robust Nuttall sandstone provide both traditional and sport-climbing routes across the difficulty spectrum.Bike routes are scattered throughout the park on both sides of the river, with options for both technical mountain biking and more casual pedaling along former railroad beds.A glimpse back in timeAccording to the National Park Service, geologists believe the New River — its name a misnomer used by early American explorers who often assigned the same name to any river they came upon for the first time — was a segment of the preglacial Teays River. This larger river, which traversed much of the current Ohio River watershed, was later diverted and broken up by glaciers. The age of the Teays is uncertain, but fossil evidence suggests it could be as much as 320 million years old, leaving its remnant, the New River, as quite possibly the second oldest river in the world.Beyond the millions of years of geological history on display, the gorge is also filled with signs of the region’s heritage as a major coal production hub.Miners once capitalized on the easy access to rich deposits of high-quality bituminous coal in the canyon, where the river had already shorn through hundreds of feet of rock. Especially after the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway linked the New River coal fields to markets in 1873, dozens of boom towns popped up along the river’s edge, thriving well into the 1920s.In 1963, a coal mine was still operating in the gorge, said Dave Arnold, a state tourism commissioner who operated a rafting company for more than 40 years.“In ’76 or ’77, if you were in my boat, we’d have been floating down the river and I would have been showing you, ‘here’s an old coal tipple, here’s the old hotel at Caperton, here’s this and that,’” he said.The demand for coal around the turn of the twentieth century was so high that towns existed every half mile along up the river, according to the Park Service. As the industry went into decline, however, by the 1950s many were already abandoned, leaving ghost towns scattered throughout the gorge. Additionally, logging during the late nineteenth century stripped vast portions of the gorge bare, clearing enormous swaths of virgin forest.The park contains the remnants of communities such as Nuttallburg and Kaymoor, which still stand near the riverbank and are accessible from points higher up. Seams of exposed coal are visible along some trails leading into the gorge and its towns, where abandoned mine portals and the foundations of coke ovens remain.Restoring an ecosystem with diverse wildlifeDespite the environmental degradation and pollution that industry unleashed, some unique ecological features make the gorge well-suited to a diverse combination of wildlife, which has slowly reappeared as time has passed.The river lies at the center of a migration corridor where plants and animals that typically range further north or south come together, including several federally endangered and threatened species, such as the Virginia big-eared bat and the Allegheny woodrat.According to Lizzie Watts, the park’s superintendent, the river itself is also notably warmer than surrounding areas, making it a popular warm-water fishing destination with more than a dozen public access points. The river is one of the premier spots for smallmouth bass fishing on the east coast, and muskellunge and walleye are common in the park today.“The next generation will have the opportunity to see what, in the last 150 years, it looks like when an area goes from being logged and mined to left alone,” Ms. Watts said. “The ecosystem has come back to full trees and mature forests.”As federal protections took effect after the Park Service began overseeing the area as a national river in 1978, wildlife has largely recovered, and many see an opportunity to showcase the region’s natural elegance.“To show off our rock climbing, our extreme sports availabilities in that area, is just really exciting,” said Ms. Capito of what she described as a “kind of wild and wonderful part of our state.” ‘The cream of the crop’The National Park Service, created in 1916, oversees more than 400 areas across the country, including national monuments, seashores and battlefields as well as parks, which together total more than 85 million acres.While the new title for New River Gorge does not fundamentally alter the area’s day-to-day operations, both lawmakers and the Park Service tend to view “national parks” as the crown jewels of the park system — a protection granted to some of the largest and most prized tracts of the country.“National Park status is usually considered like the cream of the crop,” Ms. Watts said. “But it really is just another one of those names.”The New River Gorge does not match the scale of many national parks in the western United States, where Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone sprawl over more than 1 million acres each.Nevertheless, officials expect the new designation to bring a substantial influx of travelers, boosted in part by a dedicated set of enthusiasts who strive to visit every national park.In typical years, around 1.3 million travelers visit the gorge, according to the Park Service’s tourism data. Based on studies of other areas that received national park status, Ms. Capito said she expects to see visitors increase by as much as 20 percent.“It does feel like the very beginning stages of transformation for the whole area,” said Becky Sullivan, the executive director of the New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I’ll be very, very interested to see where we are in about 10 years.”Maintaining the community and its favored pastimesAs unique outdoor attractions throughout the Appalachian region have gained more national visibility, some concern has grown over the idea of a wealthy and mobile set from out of state trampling the communities adjacent to these places.West Virginia remains the second-poorest state in the country in terms of median household income, according to data collected by the United States Census Bureau. And while tourism has brought a needed injection of wealth to areas all around the gorge, it has also changed the makeup of neighboring communities, as more people have come to visit the park or settle down near it.Interest in the natural offerings around the park has brought slow but measurable change for small towns nearby like Fayetteville. Officials say that the advent of remote work during the pandemic has only hastened a trend of properties in the area being repurposed for vacation rentals and outsiders snapping up second homes.“You cannot find a house for sale in Fayetteville, because they’re just in such high demand,” said Sharon Cruikshank, the town’s mayor. “So that definitely changed the budgeting of the town as well as the county.”When legislation was first introduced to designate the area as a national park, pushback came from some locals. Hunters have long enjoyed access to secluded sections of woods around the gorge, and with hunting prohibited in federal parks, some protested the potential loss of thousands of acres of hunting grounds.In a compromise, more than 65,000 acres of the total area were designated as a nature preserve where hunting can continue as before, and only roughly 7,000 acres directly within the canyon are officially off limits as national parkland. A provision was included to empower the park to acquire more than 3,000 acres of private land around its current boundaries as well, to expand the size of the preserve and add public hunting grounds.In a nod to tradition, the legislation also enshrines the right for visitors to continue to make use of one of the park’s most famous features — the New River Gorge Bridge — at least once a year.BASE jumping, an extreme sport in which jumpers parachute from elevated structures or cliffs, is banned in every other national park.But, since 1980, BASE jumpers have been permitted to plunge from the top of the 876-foot-high bridge and parachute down toward the river once a year, on Bridge Day, held one Saturday in October. The legislation designating the area as a national park allows that tradition to continue.As many as 100,000 people typically come to watch the jumpers plunge, according to Ms. Sullivan, providing a major boost for businesses in the region. The event has only been canceled twice, including last year because of the coronavirus.Bridge Day’s organizers advise jumpers that the only dependable way to touch down safely is to plan to land directly in the river. In normal years, hundreds do so, often multiple times that day, gliding down and softly hitting the New River’s waters.

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