Football Sports

All eyes on Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will be in familiar territory on Feb. 11.

The defending Super Bowl-champion Chiefs find themselves in the big game for the fourth time in five years. The 49ers will attempt to avenge their 31-20 loss to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV just four years ago.

This was perhaps the toughest road to the Super Bowl the Chiefs have faced with Patrick Mahomes at the helm. Following their 26-7 victory over the feisty Miami Dolphins in the Wild Card Game, the Chiefs met a new challenge unseen in the Mahomes era: road playoff games.

If marching into Buffalo and coming away with a 27-24 victory wasn’t hard enough, the Chiefs headed south to Baltimore to face likely MVP-winner Lamar Jackson and the top-seeded Ravens for a spot in the big dance.

The Chiefs came away with a 17-10 victory and now sit one win away from consecutive Super Bowl victories.

Usually known for explosive offence, it was the Chiefs defence that did the heavy-lifting this postseason. They never eclipsed 27 points on offence, but the defence held top quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson to a combined 657 passing yards and three touchdowns in three postseason games.

If the Chiefs defence is on their game again, then the 49ers will have their hands full as they attempt to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

The 49ers are no slouches themselves. In the past five seasons, they have made the Super Bowl twice and the conference championship game four times.

As the top seed in the postseason, they received a bye to the divisional round, and were guaranteed to play all their playoff games at home leading up to the Super Bowl. But their journey wasn’t a cake walk.

San Francisco’s 24-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round required some late-game heroics. Their reward? Facing the upstart Detroit Lions who were riding the highest of highs following their first playoff victories in over 30 years.

Once again, the 49ers scraped by with a 34-31 victory to qualify for the Super Bowl. While quarterback Brock Purdy has put up two solid performances in the postseason, the 49ers offence has lived and died by running back Christian McCaffrey. He led the NFL in regular season rushing by nearly 300 yards. Nobody has been able to stop CMC, and that has only continued into January.

In the 49ers’ two postseason matchups, McCaffrey has amassed 188 rushing yards and a whopping four rushing touchdowns. He will be a problem for the Chiefs’ defence.

Both teams are battle-tested, having fought through several close games to get to this point. They will leave it all on the field at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The Lombardi Trophy awaits.

Hockey Sports

No surprises for the Canadiens through 49 games

The Montreal Canadiens are where they should be in the standings after the season’s unofficial first half.

The all-star break has arrived, and the Canadiens currently sit in seventh in the Atlantic division and 26th in the NHL with a 20-21-8 record through 49 games. The Habs held a 20-25-4 record through 49 games in 2022-23. Injuries have been feasting on the team, as has been the case for the past several seasons.

Promising centre Kirby Dach tore his ACL in the second game of the season and is expected to miss the entire season. Centre Alex Newhook sustained a high ankle sprain in December and was slated to miss 10-12 weeks. Centre Christian Dvorak and defenceman Chris Wideman have also missed significant time.

Nevertheless, the Canadiens have persevered and look rather similar to the 2022-23 team in several categories. The team’s 2.78 goal-per-game pace through 49 games in 2023-24 mirrors its 2.83 goals per game clip from last season.

According to NaturalStatTrick’s expected goals model—how many goals a goaltender should allow based on the quality of shots that they face—Habs goaltender Samuel Montembeault is having another solid season. He has saved 7.76 goals above expected over the course of the season according to the model, meaning the average goalie would allow roughly eight more goals than Montembeault has this season. He is already approaching his 2022-23 performance, where he finished with 8.3 goals saved above expected in 40 games.

As they did in 2022-23, young players continue to lead the team. Captain Nick Suzuki (24) is the team’s leading scorer with 42 points in 49 games. He notched a career-high 66 points last season and is currently on a slightly better pace at 70 points over 82 games.

Winger Cole Caufield (23) is the team’s leading goal scorer with 17. It’s a step down from his 26 goals in 46 games last season, where his unfortunate injury likely prevented him from becoming the franchise’s first 40-goal scorer in 31 years. However, he has touched twine more often as of late, scoring six goals in his past eight games.

One reason for the 2023-24 Canadiens to be cautious is the 2022-23 team’s second-half collapse, going 11-18-2 record in their final 31 games following the all-star break. But this iteration of the Habs could look much different soon with the Mar. 8 trade deadline rapidly approaching. Centre Sean Monahan, defenseman Mike Matheson, and goaltender Jake Allen have all been heavily involved in trade rumours. With the team well outside of playoff contention, general manager Kent Hughes and his colleagues could be looking to get valuable returns for those players.

Right now the Habs would hold the seventh overall pick in the 2024 NHL draft. Barring any major turnaround, they should not shift more than one or two places in the overall standings down the home stretch.

Baseball Sports

Baseball United gets off the ground with inaugural draft

Former MLB names included in an initial crop of players.

Dubai-based Baseball United held their inaugural player draft on Oct. 24. Of the first 32 selections, 29 of the total selections were former Major League Baseball players, according to the league. That’s a 45 per cent ratio.

The league currently consists of four teams: the Mumbai Cobras, Karachi Monarchs, Dubai Wolves, and Abu Dhabi Falcons. It is the first-ever professional baseball league in the Middle East. “Our mission is to inspire one billion new fans to fall in love with baseball,” the Baseball United website reads.

The league was founded in July 2022 with hall-of-famers Barry Larkin and Mariano Rivera forming the initial ownership group. Former shortstop Elvis Andrus joined ownership in April 2023 and former first baseman Ryan Howard joined the group in Sept. 2023. Former players Adrian Beltre and Felix Hernandez soon followed suit.

The first overall selection by the Mumbai Cobras was pitcher Karan Patel, who was drafted in the seventh round—200th overall—of the 2019 MLB draft by the Chicago White Sox. He was the first player of Indian descent drafted into the MLB. His father is from Mumbai.

Notable former MLB players such as Didi Gregorius, Pablo Sandoval, Robinson Canó, Andrelton Simmons and Bartolo Colón were also drafted into the league. There were players from 25 different countries selected in the draft, including three players from Canada.

“Putting players on teams makes everything much more real for everyone involved,” Chairman and CEO of Baseball United Kash Shaikh said about the draft. “We have All-Stars, former top draft picks and a mix of veterans and younger guys to help carry the game across the world. I’m very happy for all our players.”

The league is quickly growing in popularity. Its official Instagram account already has over 59,000 followers and that number is only growing. The league will debut with its All-Star Showcase on Nov. 24 and 25. As of now, it is unclear if the showcase will be televised or streamed, but it will be a two-game series between two all-star teams at Dubai International Stadium.


Double-check what you read while scrolling

Don’t believe everything you see on social media, especially when it comes to athletes.

Social media has evolved into an array of platforms where people cannot know for sure if they are seeing the truth. Many users spin a big situation differently to make it fit their own narratives, and, like most societal problems, it finds its way into the sports world.

Athletes are always under the spotlight with so many people paying close attention to their lives. When something big happens to an athlete, hordes of people take to the keyboards to give their two cents. The biggest consequence is that a lot of unverified information and claims appear on an easily accessible public forum, and they can be misinterpreted by other users.

The most recent case of spreading misinformation is the discussion surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and its possible effects on different athletes. A very glaring instance of this occurred in January 2023, when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suddenly collapsed on the field during an NFL game. 

Before doctors confirmed that a rare cardiac condition called commotio cordis had affected Hamlin, the public was delving into conspiracy. As National Public Radio’s Lisa Hagen reported after the incident, while fans were scrambling to learn the cause, “…on the internet, anti-vaccine activists filled in the silence with unfounded theories that Hamlin’s collapse was brought on by COVID vaccines.”

The social media discussion became so loud and turbulent that the player’s health seemed to take a back seat, which is rather ironic. In fact, someone even went as far as altering the headline of a CNN article in a screenshot to make people believe that a doctor determined the cause to be a COVID-19 booster shot. Everybody and their mother had something to say about the incident. 

Ten days after the false rumour circulation, USA Today felt the need to publish an article clarifying that there was no evidence that Hamlin’s condition was caused by the vaccine. “Doctors said a connection is highly unlikely given the list of cardiac issues that have long been observed as causing such incidents of cardiac arrest in athletes,” the article reads.

Hamlin was resuscitated on the field, and has now returned to playing football after recovering fully. But this incident remains a reminder of how important it is that people independently verify the information they read, especially on a public forum where anyone can say anything that’s on their mind.

More recently, Bronny James (son of NBA star LeBron James) went into cardiac arrest during a workout at the University of Southern California. When Elon Musk took to Twitter (now called X) and implied that the COVID-19 vaccine must have been partially or completely at fault for the incident, many impressionable people have believed it. Once again, it is more likely that James’ cardiac arrest was exercise-induced, since it is not an uncommon problem in teenage and young adult men.

So, the next time you read an outlandish claim, make sure you double-check its sources.


Concordia Stingers Defeat Bishop’s Gaiters 5-1 to Take 1-0 Series Lead

The Stingers’ women’s hockey team pulled out a victory in Game 1 of the RSEQ semi-finals on Thursday

The Ed Meagher Arena was rocking from the get-go for Game 1 of the Stingers’ best-of-three series. Many Concordia student-athletes were in attendance, setting the atmosphere in the building all night by chanting loudly and booing the Gaiters any chance they got.

“The crowd was the real MVP of this game,” said Stingers’ defender Alexandra-Anne Boyer, who scored the game-winning goal in the second period. “Getting into the other team’s head, encouraging us, getting us pumped. It was insane. I loved it.”

Stingers’ head coach Julie Chu agreed that the crowd was a big advantage for her team.

“It was special to see our student section really come out,” she said. “The different teams, the different people around the community that came out to support our players. I think that was a difference-maker for us as well.”

It was a very tight game from the start. The fourth-place Gaiters came to play, and they proved that the first-place Stingers will have to work hard to beat them.

The teams traded power-play goals in the first period. Concordia forward Rosalie Bégin-Cyr blew the roof off of the arena by opening the scoring off a feed from forward Emmy Fecteau. Less than a minute later, Gaiters’ defender Marie-Camille Théoret blasted a point-shot past Stingers’ goaltender Alice Philbert to tie the game at one.

“Scoring the first goal helped calm down the younger players,” Bégin-Cyr said. “We were getting shots. It was just a matter of putting the puck in the net,” she added. Bégin-Cyr finished the game with a goal and two assists.

Concordia took the lead for good in the second period, when Boyer took a shot from the boards. It found its way through traffic and beat Gaiters’ goaltender Aglaé René de Cotret, putting the Stingers on top 2-1.

“There was a little hole and I saw it,” Boyer said. “I heard someone say ‘shoot’. I had an incredible screen. I took the shot and, showtime!”

The Stingers did not slow down in the third period. Concordia forward Justine Yelle extended the lead to 3-1 as she skated around a Gaiters’ defender and tucked it home on the backhand. Second-year forward Jessymaude Drapeau added two power-play goals to punctuate the 5-1 victory.

“We’ll celebrate it tonight,” Bégin-Cyr said. “Tomorrow, we’ll re-focus for Saturday.”

Although it was a one-goal game until midway through the third period, Chu was not bothered since the Stingers were still getting scoring opportunities.

“Early on, we had some chances. We hit a couple of posts. We had a chance in the second that was a wide-open net that we found a way to miss,” Chu said. “I think it’s really easy… to think about what we missed versus focusing on what we can do on our next shift.”

Even after winning a national championship, the Stingers were excited to win Game 1 of the playoffs.

“The national championship [was] a long time ago,” Chu said. “We actually haven’t talked about last year’s team… Now, we’re just thinking about Game 1 and giving our best there and now they’ll enjoy this.”

She added that it’s no use to compare themselves to last year’s team. All they can do is compare themselves to this year’s team and focus on how they can improve.

The Stingers are now one win away from advancing to the RSEQ final. Game 2 of the semi-final will take place at Bishop’s University on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.


Meta-musical One Day showcases at Segal Centre

The Montreal-based musical, which has been a work-in-progress for six years, showcased before a sold out audience

The musical is made up of four main characters — all of whom are queer men. Two of the characters are writers collaborating on a musical. Throughout their entire process, they are focused on writing what they know. Their musical is based on their lived experiences. 

“The way the two in the play were writing was basically my experience writing this show,” said writer and director Trevor Barrette. In the show, the two writers are scrambling to make a deadline to submit their musical, which Barrette says was precisely his experience when he was presenting the musical. But the musical has evolved into more than that.

“Over six years, we’ve turned it into the piece it is today, which I think is a really solid play,” Barrette said. “But it’s gone through a lot of change.”

Barrette started by writing the two characters of the musical within the musical, who were based off of characters he had written previously, and then he added the writers of the musical as characters later.

“I was finding the writing experience really fun,” he said. “It actually started with the characters and then going ‘No, I’m more interested in me writing for them than their own story.’”

The two writers within the musical often bring up the theme of ‘writing what you know,’ which was important for Barrette in the production process, but it was only a starting block.

“Sometimes you start off by trying to make some parallels with your own life,” he said. But a lot of the meaning in what he produced was only clear to him after the fact. “Sometimes you write something and people come up later and [say] ‘it’s so interesting you went that way or talked about this or made those connections’ and you [think] ‘oh I didn’t think I did, but I guess I did.’”

Barrette said that the feedback he has received since the showcase has been nothing but positive. “Everybody is finding different ways to relate, to connect to the story,” he said. “That’s been really, really exciting for me.”

He wanted to hold the showcase to get an idea of how his work is being perceived. “The audience is such an important part of theater, that’s why we do it,” he explained. “We’ve spent so much time making this piece what it is now, and we were so eager to share it with an audience. This is really the last big moment of development for us for the next little while.”

The musical contains many specific mentions of Montreal, which makes it more interesting if the musical were to showcase elsewhere. “I want to start it in Montreal but then I also think the play can be very easily translated to other places,” Barrette assured, joking that “there’s always a West Island.”


Concordia Stingers Defeat Queen’s Gaels 5-0 in Final Playoff Tune-Up

The Stingers’ men’s hockey team has won their final six regular season games, finishing with a 19-7-0 record

It was a meaningless game for the Stingers, who were locked into second place in the OUA East Division and guaranteed a first-round bye. Other than keeping their winning streak alive, they had nothing to play for. Stingers’ head coach Marc-André Elément said he healthy scratched several key players in order to avoid injuries before the playoffs.

“I’m happy that one is done,” he said. “I’m happy there were no injuries and we’re ready for the playoffs.”

Elément was not worried about the result of this game going in, but he wanted his team to play the right way and hone its game for the postseason. The Stingers certainly accomplished that.

“We did the little details. We did enough to win that game,” he said.

The night started on an emotional note for the Stingers. Forward Alexander Katerinakis and defenceman Marcus Tesink were honoured by the Stingers’ coaching staff before Concordia’s last regular season game. They are both scheduled to graduate in the spring.

The Stingers started the game slowly, putting up just two shots on goal in the opening period. But goaltender Jonathan Lemieux stood tall, making several tough saves, and the Stingers escaped the first period tied 0-0.

Concordia dominated the rest of the way, outshooting the Gaels 28-13 in the final two periods. Stingers’ forwards Julien Anctil, Charles Tremblay, and Tyler Hylland all scored in the second half of the middle frame to give the Stingers a 3-0 lead with 20 minutes to play. Stingers’ forward Émile Hegarty-Aubin and defenceman Samuel Desgroseilliers added insurance markers in the third period to clinch the 5-0 win.

Lemieux ended his spectacular rookie season on a positive note, making 21 saves for his third shutout of the season. In his 21 appearances between the posts this season, Lemieux allowed more than two goals only five times. He finished the season with a 16-4-0 record and a 0.933 save percentage. But he had high praise for his team.

“The guys blocked a lot of shots tonight,” he said. “We wanted to finish strong. On my part, it was really about keeping it simple and playing my game.”

He emphasized that the team’s character is just as important as the team’s talent.

“We have a lot of talent, but when we don’t work as hard, it doesn’t go so well,” he explained. “We have certain older guys, Katerinakis, [Phélix] Martineau, Hylland…they are going to lead by example in the playoffs.”

Anctil was named the first star of the game after registering a goal and two assists, bringing his totals to three goals and 13 points in 22 regular season games.

“I think it’s an important win at the end of season before starting the playoffs,” he said. “We’re starting the playoffs on the right foot.”

But Anctil said that the Stingers, despite winning six straight games, still have aspects of the game to work on during their bye week.

“We have two weeks to work on small details,” he explained. “We were lacking a bit of execution in zone exits and things like that,” he added.

Elément said the coaching staff will “make sure we keep the guys sharp in practices” so the long layoff does not make the team rusty. He also noted that the bye week will help his injured players recuperate in time for their second-round matchup.

The OUA playoffs consist of three rounds of best-of-three series followed by one final game to decide the Queen’s Cup champion on March 11.

The Stingers now await the winner of the first-round series between Ontario Tech and Carleton University, who sit in fourth and fifth place in the OUA East Division respectively. The Stingers’ second-round series will begin no earlier than Feb. 22.


Author and CNN journalist Marissa Miller sees a glass half-full

Her book Pretty Weird highlights all of her experiences

An eating disorder, a miscarriage, and mental health issues: Marissa Miller has persevered through all these, and more. Now she has collected all her negative experiences and used them to create something positive.

In her book  Pretty Weird, Marissa highlights all of her painful memories to let her readers know that they are never alone.

Marissa studied journalism at Concordia from 2010 to 2013. Since then, she has grown a large platform and hopes to use it to act as a beacon of hope for others who are going through tough times.

“I’ve always been very much an open book in the literal sense, and I use that to my advantage to make others feel less alone in their struggles,” Marissa said.

Knowing that she is helping people allows her to get past the difficulty of publicizing her experiences. “It becomes less ‘things that have humiliated me in the past,’ and more so ‘things that I can use to be a beacon for other people,” she explained.

One such experience was her struggle with impostor syndrome. But transforming her negative feelings into sentences helped her overcome them, while also comforting her readers. “It really robs the pain of its power,” she said. “It’s almost like using my mental health issues as a way to masquerade the fact that you can be broken and imperfect and also of service to others.”

She started her career as a freelance journalist, working for big outlets such as CNN Style, The New York Times, and NBC News. Now, she works full-time at CNN as a contributing editor writing mostly product recommendations and lifestyle advice. She is also a certified personal trainer and outlines all her work on her blog.

Sheldon Miller, Marissa’s father, admits that her determination and affinity for writing not only gave her confidence, but allowed her to always excel in her work. “I don’t know if she is always the most aggressive-type person…but when it comes to her career, she’s on top of everything.” 

Many people have reached out to Marissa since her book’s publication to tell her that she took the thoughts right out of their heads. “These are universal feelings that I’m putting on the page,” Marissa confirmed. She is very direct in discussing her rejections, fears, anxieties, and relationships in her book. “They might seem very crude and maybe a little bit too raw at times, but this is the human experience that we are all going through,” she asserted.

One of the biggest lessons that Marissa has learned from everything she’s gone through is that there is always something better out there. “That rings true for everything, not just your relationships,” Marissa explained.

“A lot of our depression and our anxiety will tell us that we are only deserving of what’s presented to us and what’s in front of us. But really one of the best things you can do for yourself is aspiring for more and aspiring for better because you deserve it,” she said.

On top of helping others, Marissa was also thinking of her younger self when writing her book, attempting to give herself the “older sister figure, best friend figure” that she never had as a child and teenager. Though her younger sister, Michelle, is one of the only people who knew about Marissa’s experiences.

“I’d say 90 per cent of it I knew about, either as it was happening or she would open up to me a few years later,” Michelle said. Marissa consulted her sister throughout the writing process to ask for her opinion on editorial choices. Michelle was the only person who knew about several moments mentioned in the book as the two sisters have always been extremely close. “We were so tight and open about everything,” Michelle added. “We’ll be on the phone [for] hours a day. Sometimes we’re not even talking on the phone. It’s just on, but we know that [the other person] is there,” Michelle continued.

Marissa’s parents were always very loving and attentive towards her, she mentions in Pretty Weird, but they were not as informed on her experiences as Michelle. “A lot of the stuff in the book, I didn’t really realize,” Sheldon said. “We knew as she got a bit older, there were some struggles and this and that…but until I read the book, I don’t think I realized it [to that extent],” he continued, adding that it was difficult to read about Marissa’s troubling moments. 

More than anything else, he wants Marissa to write the truth, which is what she did. This included some unfortunate stories about Sheldon’s sister, who was close with Marissa and passed away due to health issues related to long-term drug use. But Sheldon wanted Marissa to keep those stories in her book. “I knew she was writing an honest account of her experiences and thoughts,” he explained. “If Marissa was able to grab onto something in a good way or a bad way…for someone to maybe enjoy the book or learn from the book, that’s part of journalism,” he said.

While Marissa always has her family at home, she often chooses to work alone. She enjoys working on her own more than working with a team. “It makes me doubly proud to reflect on my accomplishments because I didn’t have to rely on anyone for them,” she affirmed. Marissa always took charge of group projects when she was in school, so being the only one in charge of her career “is a continuation of that.”

Much of her work as a journalist focuses on lifestyle advice and mental health. She says that she enjoys doing service journalism the most. “One of the only things that give me a sense of purpose is giving advice to other people,” Marissa explained.

In her career she has covered a wide variety of topics, such as finance and real estate when she was starting. As time went on, she gravitated toward lifestyle topics and product recommendations. “People need to know that the products they use in everyday life have more of an impact on their well-being than they think,” she asserted. Marissa is currently doing service journalism for CNN and loving every moment of it.

Pretty Weird, which is still available on Amazon, has been a huge success for Marissa. She hopes to write another book in the future. She is looking towards that, but doesn’t think that now is the right time. “I feel like I have so much I want to say. I need some breathing room,” she asserted. For now, she is very happy where she is. “I do hope to rise the ranks at CNN and stay there forever.”


The Concordia Stingers come out on top of the Montreal Carabins 2-1

Goaltender Alice Philbert shines for the Stingers this weekend as the women’s hockey team improves to 7-2

Though forward Emmy Fecteau scored the overtime winner for the Concordia Stingers, goaltending was the highlight story on both sides in the Stingers’ win over the University of Montreal Carabins on Friday, Nov. 18 at the Ed Meagher Arena.

“Montreal has a great goaltender. We have a great goaltender. There isn’t a team in this league that doesn’t have a good goaltender,” affirmed Stingers’ head coach Julie Chu after the win. “We have to get traffic to the net. That’s how we’re going to be able to beat them.”

The Stingers started the game slowly, getting outshot 13-7 in the opening frame, largely due to taking three penalties. They rebounded after that however, and outshot the Carabins 27-16 the rest of the way.

Stingers’ forward Émilie Lavoie and Carabins’ forward Raphaëlle Pouliot traded power-play goals in the first period, and the game was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes. Stingers’ goaltender Alice Philbert kept the game tied for her team in the first period, making 12 saves.

Both teams’ goaltenders stole the show after that, as Philbert and Carabins goaltender Aube Racine shut the door for the following 40 minutes, making 14 and 26 saves respectively.

But Philbert was not intimidated by her counterpart’s performance.

“In our league, there are some really good goalies. It’s like this in every game,” she explained. “For me, it’s just a motivation to push even harder, and be ready for the next shot every time.”

Fecteau finally broke the deadlock with 15 seconds remaining in the first overtime period. She rushed down the right wing and snapped a shot over Racine’s right shoulder, earning the Stingers’ a 2-1 victory.

“There were several moments where it was going well for our team,” Fecteau said. “We were putting on good pressure. I think the goal was coming.”

The Stingers made a point of getting in the Carabins’ shooting lanes and blocking shots in this game. Chu was impressed with her team’s courage in that respect.

“I emphasize it a lot because I’m a big believer in it,” Chu explained. “We’ve worked on it in practice, they’ve embodied it and they want to do it, which are huge momentum moments for us.”

Philbert also thought her team’s effort was a big factor in the win.

“They worked really hard,” she said. “The first period was not the best, but we bounced back in the second and third.”

Chu thinks that the Stingers need to figure out how to play a physical game without taking too many penalties.

“The last two, three games we took a lot of penalties and we’ve got to find that balance,” she noted. “We want to play aggressive, we want to play physical, but we don’t want to stay in the box all day.”

The Stingers improved to a 6-2 record with this win over the Carabins. They defeated the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees 2-0 on Sunday, Nov. 20 to improve to 7-2. The Stingers now sit in first-place in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec standings.

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