IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES KEYWORDS Mao Asada SOCHI, RUSSIA – Former two-time world champion Mao Asada arrived in Sochi in the early hours of Thursday morning confident a recurrence of a lower back problem will not affect her bid for her first Grand Prix Final title in four years.Mao, who has won two events on the Grand Prix series this season at the Cup of China and the NHK Trophy, has been suffering from back pain during practice in Japan. But the figure skating star, “I will be practicing less now that I have arrived here and I think I will be OK.”Mao had the world’s highest score of the season in the short program en route to victory at the NHK Trophy, but had an error-strewn free skate.“Hopefully I won’t make the same mistakes again this time,” she said.The prestigious Grand Prix Final is doubling up as a test event for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and Vancouver Olympic silver medalist Mao said she saw footage of the venue on her way to Sochi.“It makes me realize that the Olympics are getting closer,” she said.
- News / Maersk Line sails into the red in Q4’s ‘perfect storm’, but Damco is back in the black
Mr Anderson said Maersk Line’s average freight rate had plummeted by 25% between October and December, versus 2014.“We had a very bad quarter,”he said. “Our trade mix means we have been hit quite hard.”Moreover, with trades, especially to Europe, Latin America and West Africa, still under intense freight rate pressure, he did not suggest recovery was likely in the short-term, accepting that there was a further move towards the spot markets from the better-paying and less-volatile contracts.“We have a long list of very loyal long-term customers that we will endeavour to close contracts with at reasonable rates,” he said, but added that if rates could not be agreed, “we would probably prefer to move towards spot”.Maersk Line carried 19m teu last year, compared with 18.9m in 2014, at an average rate per 40 ft of $2,209 – down from 2014’s $2,630 – but the average rate had dropped to $1,941 per 40 ft by Q4 15.The carrier paid an average of $315 per tonne for its bunker fuel in 2015, compared with $562 the year before, but this saving was passed back to shippers in the form of rate discounts to fill ships.To mitigate weak demand and low freight rates, Mr Anderson said, Maersk Line would continue the capacity management strategy that saw the carrier close four services and cancel around 110 sailings last year.He expected more chartered-in containerships would be returned to owners this year, as agreements expired, to be replaced by owned tonnage – 84,000 teu was returned in 2015. He said that it was the policy of the line to agree relatively short-hire periods in order to enjoy this flexibility.Maersk’s outlook for its container line this year is a result “significantly below” 2015, based on weak global growth forecasts of between 1% and 3%.Meanwhile, there was a robust performance from APM Terminals, which delivered a net profit to the group of $626m, compared with $849m in 2014, despite a throughput decline of 5.9% to 36m teu – mainly the result of lower import volumes into West Africa, Russia and Brazil.But perhaps the most pleasing result, said Mr Anderson, was from forwarder Damco, which, following a painful restructure, achieved a profit of $15m last year, following two years of losses. © Vladimir Serebryanskiy By Mike Wackett 10/02/2016 Maersk Line sailed into the red in the final quarter of last year, posting a net loss of $165m for the three months, compared with a profit of $631m in the same period of 2014.However, a good performance in the first half of the year helped the carrier record a profit of $1.3bn in 2015 – against $2.2bn earned the year before.“We call it the perfect storm for the group,” said chief executive Nils Anderson in a teleconference this morning, describing the twin impact of plunging oil prices and container freight rates at all-time lows.Maersk Group’s 2015 profit sank 82% on the year before, to $925m, due to low oil prices, sub-economic freight rates and a $2.6bn impairment hit on its oil assets.
- ITU World Triathlon Series season preview
Related The ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) will kick off this week, effectively launching the International Triathlon Union’s (ITU’s) competitive season. The 2015 year promises to be an exciting one, with 10 WTS and World Paratriathlon Events (WPE) on the calendar, in addition to eight World Cup races, the Rio 2016 Test Event, Mixed Relay World Championships in addition to triathlon featuring at two major games.Here’s a look at how the 2015 triathlon season will unfold…ITU World Triathlon SeriesThe series will feature more events than ever before and will get underway this coming weekend in Abu Dhabi on 7 March, marking the first time the series will be held in the Middle East. It will touch down in a total of 10 cities before concluding with the Grand Final on 15-20 September in Chicago.Gold Coast returns to the series for the first time since 2009, and both Cape Town and Stockholm will feature new twists to their courses.Prize moneyAthletes will vie for almost US$3 million over the 2015 ITU triathlon season, which is a 5% increase on 2014. Each World Triathlon Series race will offer a total of US$150,000, while the bonus pool will again offer a total of US$755,000.With the addition of two WTS races on the calendar, the overall prize pool has increased to US$2.385 million. As last year, the bonus pool will again extend to the top 35 athletes, with the male and female World Champions each taking home US$40,000. The World Cup circuit offers a total of US$480,000, while a sum of US$70,000 is up for grabs at the Mixed Relay World Championships.Paralympic qualification kicks offParatriathlon’s long awaited debut at the Paralympic Games is now just over a year away. The hunt for qualification points will start on 1 July this year, with the Iseo – Franciacorta ITU World Paratriathlon Event the first race to put points on the board.All of the WPE races from then until 30 June 2016 will serve as critical races to clench one of the 60 available spots. The WPE season will be held on every continent over 10 races before concluding with the World Championships in Chicago in September.Olympic qualification continuesOlympic qualification will be on everyone’s mind this season as they look to secure their spots well in advance of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Set to be contested on the same course as the Olympic Games, this summer’s Rio Test Event will offer the maximum level of Olympic qualification points available, putting it on par with the World Triathlon Series Grand Final. The races are slated to be held on 1-2 August.Two major international events will take place this summer with triathlon featuring at both the 2015 Baku European Games and the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games. Triathlon will take place from 13-14 June at the first ever European Games, and will serve as Europe’s Olympic quota place competition, meaning someone will punch their ticket to Rio in Baku.Just one month later, triathlon will again take to the international stage, this time at the Pan American Games in Toronto from 12-13 July. Like European Games, Pan American Games provide an Olympic quota place.Mixed RelayBack in action yet again will be the Mixed Relay World Championships. Last year, young French and Hungarian teams announced their speed to the world when they blasted past handfuls of veteran teams for podium finishes. Set to be held in conjunction with World Triathlon Hamburg, fans will be on the lookout for quick change overs, unexpected lead changes and some gravity defying dives.Athletes to watchThroughout the 2014 season, we saw flashes of brash new talent on the rise when stellar French and German teams boasted head-turning speed. Although these young bucks have spirit and energy to boot, some superstar veterans look ready to return to the WTS and will be tough to defeat. So far there appear to be no hints of injury for the lethal Alistair Brownlee, and Olympic medallists Nicola Spirig and Lisa Norden will also likely appear in races throughout the season.www.triathlon.orgwts.triathlon.org