Should Ironmen (and women) become Olympians?

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On Saturday, 84 professional athletes and a couple thousand age groupers will push their bodies to the limit at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Some say it’s the ultimate test – a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride along the windy Hawaiian coast and then a 26.2-mile run in the heat.

The top athletes will finish in less then nine hours; some of the amateurs in the field will take 18 hours. Some won’t finish at all.

There are Ironman and Iron-distance races throughout the year, but Kona is the big one. It’s where the best male and female triathletes in the world are named each October.

So here’s a thought: Why not add an Ironman triathlon event to the Olympics? There’s already an Olympic distance triathlon, which consists of a 1500-meter swim, a 40-kilometer bike ride and a 10-kilometer run. The next logical step might be to add a half-Ironman, but we’d like to skip over that one and move to the big kahuna.

Five reasons why we think Ironman should be in the Olympics:

– We’re pretty sure it would be the longest one-day event at the Olympics (ahead of the road cycling race)
– Spectators can watch it for free
– It would provide these athletes a bigger stage than Ironman Kona
– With 34 sports, the summer Olympics need another sport
– If golf gets in, why not Ironman?

Golf has an established schedule of tournaments and majors throughout the year. Ironman does too. The IOC added golf to the Olympics starting with the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

At any rate, you can watch Saturday’s race live on UniversalSports.com starting at 11:30 a.m. ET or catch NBC’s coverage on Oct. 27.

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”