Thick smoke hung over Ukraine’s capital Kiev on Friday as forest fires smoldered on in the Chernobyl nuclear zone, while city officials said no radiation spike had been detected.The acrid haze hindered visibility all over the city of three million and the smell of smoke was noticeable even inside homes.The city on Friday topped the global ranking for high air pollution compiled by IQAir Group, outdoing places in China including Shanghai, as the coronavirus pandemic has led to cleaner air worldwide. The smog came with strong winds blowing in smoke from dozens of forest fires in surrounding regions, including the nuclear exclusion zone around Chernobyl power plant.A fire broke out almost two weeks ago close to the reactor that exploded in 1986 in the world’s worst nuclear accident.On Tuesday, Ukrainian authorities said the blaze had been largely extinguished thanks to heavy rain.But on Friday a thousand firefighters with two planes and three helicopters were still battling a number of small fires in the wooded area some 80 kilometers north of Kiev, the emergency service said. Topics : Kiev authorities assured residents there was no danger of radiation.”In Kiev, smoke and air pollution are being observed as a result of fires… but there is no radiation,” Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a video address.Officials nevertheless urged locals not to go out without urgent need and to keep their windows shut.The air pollution hit a city already under lockdown due to the coronavirus epidemic, with 4,662 confirmed cases in Ukraine and 125 deaths.In Kiev, people are allowed to walk outside but only wearing masks and not in groups of more than two.
BEN SMIDT/Herald photoComing off an impressive performance against Vermont last weekend, the Badgers travel to Mankato, Minn., this weekend, where they will square off against WCHA counterpart Minnesota State-Mankato. The Mavericks (3-1-0) are coming off a two-game sweep of North Dakota and are currently undefeated in WCHA competition. Minnesota State, who has given up an average of 1.75 goals per game this season, has been successful because of its stellar defense and superb goaltending.Mavericks sophomore goaltender Brit Kehler is 3-0 this season, with a goals-against average of 1.00. Last season, as a freshman, she accumulated six victories, including three shutouts. Defensively, Minnesota State is led by senior defender Jen Jonsson and sophomore standout Andreanne Thibault.The Badgers, who have thrived offensively this season, play a wide open, pass-happy brand of hockey that’s led to 16 goals on the year. This week, on a smaller rink, against a strong defensive opponent, Wisconsin will have to play a more defensive style of hockey.The Badger offense is averaging four goals per game this season and is coming off a weekend series in which it netted 10 goals against a struggling Vermont defense. Nevertheless, the Badgers are confident they can continue to produce against a more formidable opponent in Minnesota State.”We’ve been good offensively all season long,” junior forward Sara Bauer said. “We’re starting to build that team chemistry, which is very important. We’ve been working real hard and I think we’re taking strides in the right direction every game and it should be no different this weekend.”Offensively, the Mavericks have been efficient this year, averaging 2.5 goals per contest. Freshman sensation Maggie Fisher leads the attack with four goals in four games to start the year.After some early season struggles, the Badger defense stepped up their game last weekend, accumulating back-to-back shutouts. Bobbi-Jo Slusar and Mikka Nordby have combined for a +11 rating and lead a stingy defense that has allowed a total of eight goals on the year.The Badgers, who are used to playing on the large Kohl Center rink, will be playing on a much smaller surface in Mankato this weekend. Head coach Mark Johnson has been preparing his team for the adjustment that will certainly take place.”The rink is my biggest concern, we’re used to playing on a larger ice sheet. We’ve practiced the last couple days doing things in small areas to get the kids to understand they’re not going to have a lot of time with the puck compared to what we’re used to at home,” Johnson said. “Things are going to happen a lot quicker, but in essence we should be able to create some more scoring opportunities on the smaller sheet. I would anticipate us having a lot of scoring chances and hopefully our chances are better than their goaltender’s chances of making saves.”After a season-opening split against Minnesota-Duluth, Wisconsin is 1-1 in WCHA competition this year. The perennially competitive WCHA is as tight as ever at the top and the Badgers know the importance of an early season road series against a conference opponent like MSU.”Any conference game is really important for our team,” Forward Jinelle Zaugg said. “We have to make sure to win all those for tiebreakers, so numbers add up at the end of the season.”Both the Badgers and Mavericks enter the weekend set with momentum following strong performances to start the year. This weekend’s series should prove to be a big test for both teams as they face off against near mirror images of each other. Head coach Mark Johnson is confident in his team and has his players revved up and ready to go.”Obviously we need to be successful in conference situations because it’s going to help you in the power rankings,” Johnson said. “All the league games are important and the league is tighter than it’s ever been this season. When you go on the road, you have to play well and get as many points as you can.”