February 28, 2021

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In match number 37 of this European Cricket Series (ECS) Spain 2021, Raval Sporting will be up against Barcelona Gladiators in a Group C fixture. The Montjuïc Olympic Ground in Barcelona will continue to be the venue.Raval Sporting have had an inconsistent start to the season. They were comprehensively beaten by Minhaj (74 runs). The batting let Raval Sporting down as they could muster just 56/7 while chasing 131.They did come back strongly in the second game, hunting down 93 with eight balls to spare.On the other hand, Barcelona Gladiators were outplayed by Kharian in their first game.Barcelona Gladiators batted decently as they got 97 batting first but faltered with the ball and lost with 13 balls to spare. Thus, they will be looking to bounce back quickly.Squads to choose fromRaval Sporting: Gurwinder Sidhu, Amit Das, Karan Datta, Gaurang Mahyavanshi, Gurpreet Singh, Ishan Patel, Kishitij Patel, Manish Manwani, Muhammad Rizwan, Nandan Bathani, Naveen Kumar, Rohin Kumar, Yudhvir Singh, Lovepreet Singh, Numan Ali, Unnatkumar Patel, Davinder Singh, Sawood Masood, Sonu Jangra, Irfan Muhammad, Faizan Ahmad, Zain Abideen, Ravi PatelBarcelona Gladiators: Shahid Nazir, Ali Raza, Babar Basharat, Iqbal Muzzamil, Malik Nabeeb Iqbal, Mohammad Ur Rehman, Muhammad Ali Khan, Zahid Akbar, Usman Asghar, Harsoon Salik, Ihsan Ullah-Asda, Ameer Taimur, Muhammad Umar, Farooq Ahmed, Arslan Yousaf, Sagar Shahbaz, Nadeem Muhammad, Tahir Nawaz, Arslan Muhammad, Farhan Inayat, Amad Muhammad

Predicted Playing XIsRaval Sporting: Kishitij Patel (wk), Karan Datta (c), Davinder Singh, Manish Manwani, Amit Das, Muhammad Rizwan, Dawood Masood, Gaurang Mahyavanshi, Nandan Bathani, Sonu Jangra, Irfan MuhammadBarcelona Gladiators: Tanzeer Ur Rehman, Shahid Nazir, Arslan Muhammad, Babar Basharat (c), Haroon Salik, Sagar Shahbaz, Ali Zafar Khan, Nadeem Muhammad, Muhammad Umar, Ali Raza, Ihsan Ullah-AsdaMatch DetailsMatch: Raval Sporting vs Barcelona GladiatorsDate: February 17, 2021, 3 PM ISTVenue: Montjuïc Olympic Ground, BarcelonaPitch ReportThe track at the Montjuïc Olympic Ground in Barcelona has been an excellent one to bat on and batters have enjoyed these conditions. Teams have racked up big scores regularly and 110-115 has become the par score.There is not much on offer for the bowlers. Hence, a similar track is likely to be on offer for this game and the team winning the toss might want to bat first.ECS Spain Dream 11 Fantasy Suggestions (RAS vs BAG) Dream11 Team for Raval Sporting vs Barcelona Gladiators – ECS Spain 2021.

Fantasy Suggestion #1: Shahid Nazir, Karan Datta, Kishitij Patel, Haroon Salik, Amit Das, Davinder Singh, Tanzeer Ur Rehman, Arslan Muhammad, Ali Raza, Manish Manwani, Gaurang MahyavanshiCaptain: Arslan Muhammad Vice-captain: Kishitij PatelFantasy Suggestion #2: Shahid Nazir, Kishitij Patel, Ali Zafar Khan, Amit Das, Davinder Singh, Tanzeer Ur Rehman, Arslan Muhammad, Sonu Jangra, Ali Raza, Manish Manwani, Gaurang MahyavanshiCaptain: Tanzeer Ur Rehman Vice-captain: Davinder Singh
Published 16 Feb 2021, 18:25 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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Karachi: Lahore Qalandars have appointed pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi as the vice-captain for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season six.
The 20-year-old Shaheen has been with the Qalandars since the third edition of the PSL and has emerged as the core member of the franchise.
Aaqib Javed, LQ’s director of Cricket said that Shaheen Shah Afridi is face of Lahore Qalandars. His dedication towards Qalandars’ mindset is remarkable.
“Shaheen Afridi is a world class cricketer with exceptional bowling skills, his commitment and dedication for the team is unmatched and he is keen to take the team to the next level” said Aqib Javed.
Shaheen Afridi, in his message, thanked the Lahore Qalandars management and aimed to contribute towards team’s success.
“I am thankful to Lahore Qalandars’ management for this opportunity and really looking forward to play my part in success of Lahore Qalandars team” said Shaheen Afridi in his message.
Shaheen has taken 34 wickets in 27 matches. He was Qalandars’ leading-wicket taker of PSL 2020.
Read: Multan Sultans announce Mohammad Rizwan as captain for PSL 6
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Alexander Zverev’s ex-girlfriend Brenda Patea has slammed the German for using their unborn child to boost his own public image despite not being in contact with her during her pregnancy.Patea, a German model, announced in October 2020 that she was pregnant with Alexander Zverev’s daughter. She was in a relationship with Zverev until July of last year, and is currently 36 weeks into the pregnancy.Patea had declared at first that she had no plans of sharing custody of their child with Zverev, before subsequent public statements made it seem like the two were on amicable terms.But in her recent interview with German tabloid ‘Bild’, Patea revealed that the pair have had no contact for two months. The 27-year-old claimed that they last spoke when another ex-girlfriend, Olga Sharypova, accused Zverev of domestic violence during their relationship.”I’ve been reading many of Alex’s (Zverev) interviews and I ask myself what he wants to achieve by saying these things,” Patea said. “‘Highlight of his life’? ‘He’s extremely happy’? ‘Highest priority’? I can hardly believe that because we aren’t in contact thus far and he hasn’t reached out.”(Patea’s interview with Bild was in German, and the quotes were translated into English by Twitter users fluent in both languages).Someone asked me to translate this so I’ll share it here too. Brenda is asked in her latest stories about Zverev. I translated her answers. In the background she shows excerpts of his latest interview. My summary: Zverev is full of lies and he’s shown it time and time again. pic.twitter.com/Xq2H1pYuXW— Nawal (@NawalNadal) February 15, 2021Brenda Patea was further asked if she shares the details of the pregnancy and of their unborn daughter with Alexander Zverev. But the model said there had been no contact of any kind and no initiative from Zverev’s side. Patea added that she was tired of people assuming otherwise based on the tennis star’s interviews.

“I just wanted peace and quiet. But so many people are telling me, ‘It’s great that you’re in contact (with Zverev) and that he’s interested’. I’ve had enough of his ‘perfect’ interviews. Be honest for once,” Patea added.”If Alexander Zverev is saying these things in interviews then I can finally say something about it too” – Brenda Patea Brenda Patea cheers on Alexander Zverev during the couple’s happier timesJust hours after Brenda Patea announced her pregnancy in October, another of Alexander Zverev’s ex-girlfriends – Olga Sharypova – accused the US Open finalist of being physically and emotionally abusive towards her during their time together.Sharypova dated Zverev for a year before the NextGen star got together with Brenda Patea. The Russian claimed that Zverev had been physically abusive several times, and specifically mentioned an episode during the 2019 Laver Cup. The incident, in her words, drove Sharypova towards an attempt at ending her life, before she was rescued by hotel staff.Also read: Djokovic’s sympathetic support of Zverev, and the silence of Federer & Nadal, highlight tennis’ insensitivity towards abuse

At the time, there was speculation that Brenda Patea’s refusal to share custody of their future child with Alexander Zverev was an indication that he had been unpleasant towards Patea too. But the German model quickly denied any such rumors.Following the denial, there was a tacit understanding in the media that Alexander Zverev and Brenda Patea were planning to raise their daughter together. That, however, was a misconception, as revealed now by Patea.”We had contact two months ago when the thing with his ex (Sharypova) came out but that was it,” Patea said. “It’s stupid to do this in the media. But if he’s saying these things in interviews then I can finally say something about it too.”If the tone of Patea’s answers is anything to go by, it seems like Alexander Zverev has been using his “happiness” on becoming a father as a way to repair his public image after Olga Sharypova’s accusations. It remains to be seen how the 23-year-old reacts to this new development, especially since he is still alive in the ongoing Australian Open.
Published 16 Feb 2021, 12:22 IST

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It was widely presumed toward the end of their disastrous 2020 season that the Houston Texans would look to pull off a J.J. Watt trade. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has regressed in recent seasons. Houston is headed for a full-scale rebuild, especially if the Texans are forced to trade Deshaun Watson.
That’s why it was a surprise last week when Houston outright released the future first ballot Hall of Famer rather than pull off a trade and acquire needed draft assets.

Embattled owner Cal McNair attempted to explain the Texans’ decision. To say that it is the latest example of this organization falling flat on its face would be an understatement.Texans owner attempts to explain not pulling off a Watt trade

“There are several reasons (for not trading J.J. Watt. But suffice it to say, we evaluated those, and we’re confident that this is the right one for J.J. and for us,” McNair said, via MMQB’s Albert Breer. “And it’s one we mutually came to and agreed on. And we felt that it was really the right one for J.J. Not every decision is easy or easy to understand. But we always want to do right by our players and our fans. And we want to focus on bringing a championship to Houston.”
On one hand, giving Watt the pick of his litter when it comes to a new NFL city did paint the Texans in a good light after the drama we’ve seen from the organization and former players.
On the other hand (and this is is the point of the article), Houston could have still traded Watt to a team of his choosing while recouping draft-pick assets.

Following the 2012 NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers let Alex Smith give them a list a few teams to which he would like to be traded after Colin Kaepernick won the starting job. In the end, Smith was dealt to his preferred destination — Kansas City — for two second-round picks.
Doing right by a franchise player and attempting to build up a weak roster are not mutually exclusive. McNair and The Texans failed big-time in this regard.There was interest in a Watt trade

A number of teams were interested in a Watt trade. Heck, McNair went on record recently indicating that Houston had taken some calls.
For good reason. Despite some injury issues, the future Hall of Famer is just two years removed from recording 25 quarterback hits, 18 tackles for loss, 16 sacks and a resounding seven forced fumbles. He’d have been of interest to several contending teams.

Instead, a Houston Texans team that is reeling after Deshaun Watson’s trade request and doesn’t boast a pick in the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft opted to give Watt up for nothing. In the process, he could even sign with a division rival.
This is yet another example of the Texans’ organization failing its fan base on a near never-ending loop. It’s pretty gross.

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Pic credits: @rashidkhan_19/Twitter
PSL 2021 | Rashid Khan geared up for PSL debut- Afghanistan T20 captain and spin sensation Rashid Khan is all set to make his presence felt in his debut season in Pakistan Super League. The 22-year-old will play for Lahore Qalandars in PSL 5. Rashid on Monday arrived in Karachi to join his PSL franchise ahead of the sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League.
 
The Afghanistan legend Rashid Khan said that he is looking forward to his first season in PSL.
 
“Having players like Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hafeez, and Shaheen Shah Afridi, Qalandars look a very strong squad. We will enter the ground with a positive mindset to give our best and provide quality entertainment to our fans,” he told Geo TV.
 
“I’ve received a lot of love from Qalandars’ fans since I was picked by them in the draft. I am so excited to be here. I will try to produce results that LQ fans want from me. I hope once this COVID-19 scenario is over so that I can get a chance to meet the fans as well,” Rashid added.
 
Rashid Khan went to say that his experience will help him bowl against top batsmen in the league. His main goal is to be economical throughout the tournament.
 
Lahore Qalandars is yet to win PSL title in its all five seasons. They were runners-up in 2020. Rashid Khan can turn the stats in the favour of Qalandars this season.
 
Lahore Qalandars squad for PSL 2021:
 
Ben Dunk, David Wiese, Dilbar Hussain, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hafeez, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Akhtar, Rashid Khan, Joe Denly, Samit Patel, Tom Abell, Zeeshan Ashraf, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Faizan, Maaz Khan, Zaid Alam, Ahmed Danyal
 
Lahore Qalandars fixtures
 
February 21 – Peshawar Zalmi,
February 22 – Quetta Gladiators,
February 26 – Multan Sultans,
February 28 – Karachi Kings,
March 3 – Islamabad United,
March 6 – Peshawar Zalmi,
March 11 – Quetta Gladiators,
March 12 – Islamabad United,
March 14 – Karachi Kings,
March 16 – Multan Sultans
For more sports news and updates from PSL 2021, follow us at insidesport.co

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There could be an interesting battle in the Europa League on Thursday evening, as Manchester United and Real Sociedad meet in Turin in the first leg of their round of 32 clash.

Europa League Preview
Manchester United would have been disappointed to drop into the Europa League after strong showings in their first two Champions League group stage fixtures. However, defeat against RB Leipzig in the final group stage match left the Red Devils in third place in their group. Their route for European glory hasn’t been made any easier after being drawn against La Liga side Real Sociedad. However, United will be optimistic regarding their chances, as there have been strong showings by the side over the past 12 months. Their away record is certainly outstanding, as they haven’t lost a domestic game on the road for over 12 months. United will be looking to finally break the mental block that they have endured over recent seasons when it comes to semi-finals, as they have lost their last four across the Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup.

Sociedad will not be an easy game for the Red Devils, as the Spanish side have once again been able to find their best form. For a long time, Sociedad looked certainties to finish in a Champions League spot this season, and when the draw was made for this stage of the Europa League, they were sitting in the top two. After a patchy run of form, Sociedad have been able to rediscover their best form over recent games, as they have picked up two wins on the bounce. That is the kind of form that they will need to come into this game with to stand the best chance of progression.
Real Sociedad vs Manchester United Head To Head
This will only be the third time that Manchester United and Real Sociedad have locked horns. They last met in the 2013-14 Champions League campaign, with United winning once and drawing the game that was played in Spain. United’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford came courtesy of an own goal from Martinez Berridi.
Real Sociedad vs Manchester United Prediction
Avoiding defeat in the first leg of a European tie is always the pivotal factor when it comes to knockout football. United will be happy to come away from Spain with a draw, and that also wouldn’t be the worst result for Sociedad.
Make sure to bet on Real Sociedad vs Manchester with 22Bet!

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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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Chennai: India captain Virat Kohli said Tuesday his side showed more “grit” and “determination” to thrash England in the second Test, playing down complaints about the difficult pitch.
With local hero Ravichandran Ashwin claiming eight wickets in the match and scoring 106 in the second innings, India completed a 317-run victory inside four days in Chennai.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel claimed a five-wicket haul on his Test debut as England were out for 164 while chasing an unlikely 482 on day four.
Some said the Chennai pitch, which crumbled from nearly the first day, was not fit for a Test.
But England made no public complaint and Kohli rejected the criticism and said his side played a “perfect game”.
“I think our application with the bat was outstanding,” said the India captain.
“The conditions were challenging for both sides but we showed more application and grit and determination to battle it out.
“We didn’t panic out there looking at the hard turn and bounce on that pitch.”
Kohli highlighted that India scored 600 runs over two innings despite the conditions, and winning the toss made no difference.
“So if you put up that kind of batting performance and you string in those important batting partnerships then we know that our bowlers are going to do the job.”
England ‘outplayed
England captain Joe Root conceded that his side were “outplayed in all three departments this week” and had to learn quickly before the third Test in Ahmedabad.
But he added: “I would say it was a challenging wicket. I do think that it was an important toss to win.”
England, he said, now have to be “honest” and learn quickly to adapt to conditions in India.
England, struggling since the opening day, kept losing wickets after resuming on 53-3 on day four.
Root departed for 33 soon after lunch, falling to Patel.
Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav joined in to finish off the innings, taking Moeen Ali after he smashed 43 off 18 balls.
The last wicket partnership of 38 between Ali and Stuart Broad, unbeaten on five, was England’s highest of the match.
England, who have been resting and rotating players, said Ali would be returning home after the Test.
Ali had coronavirus in Sri Lanka but recovered to take a total of eight wickets in the second Test against India.
Ashwin’s five wickets to help bowl out England for 134 in the first innings in response to India’s 329 set the tone for the host’s dominance.
England conceded a lead of 195 and then struggled on a pitch that offered turn from day one.
“This wicket was very different to the one we played on in the first game,” Ashwin conceded, but he added that the wickets had not fallen from the balls he expected.
“It was the mind of the batsmen that got us wickets.”
Opener Rohit Sharma hit an attacking 161 to set up India’s big innings after they won the toss and elected to bat first.
Sharma’s seventh Test century and his first against England raised the pitch of the returning Indian crowd — present in a stadium for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.
Kohli made 62 in the second innings, putting on a key 96-run seventh-wicket partnership with Ashwin on day three.
Both sides need to win the series to take the second place in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand later this year.
The third Test — a day-night match — will begin in Ahmedabad on February 24.
Authorities have not said if fans will be allowed into the world’s biggest cricket stadium — with a 100,000-plus capacity — for the game.
Read: England thrashes India by 227 runs in first Chennai Test
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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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