Phelps not counting out comeback; happy to “no longer smell chlorine”

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Despite the rumors from top competitors and men in the know, swimming legend Michael Phelps has yet to dive in a pool competitively since London, and told a German paper Wednesday that he thinks top rival Ryan Lochte is trying to deflect some attention away from himself.

Phelps, of course, says he’s happy with the life of leisure he’s enjoyed since London, and he’s happy to “no longer smell chlorine,” but he still won’t entirely count out a comeback.

“All I can say: I am very happy with my current life, I enjoy my retirement, I enjoy playing golf.” Phelps explained (with some help from Google Translate). “I will be still be seen at the edge of the pool at the World Championships and I will of course watch Rio 2016. Will I come back? I do not know. It is a matter of time. At the moment, I’m happy the way it is.”

Phelps also admitted that his “belly” wasn’t quite the same as when he was training, since he apparently has a sweet tooth, and added that mastering golf was even harder for him than swimming.

“Golf is one of the hardest sports I’ve ever done. It’s still frustrating… I know now what I am doing wrong and what I should change, in theory. I want to be good. Golf is my new challenge.”

Phelps’s golf coach, Hank Haney said Tuesday that Phelps has come a long way since they worked together for a Golf Channel reality show earlier this year, and that he’s confident that the swimmer will do well when he tees off at the American Century Championship Celebrity Pro-Am in Tahoe next month.

“He’s a proven golfer,” Haney told reporters. “When we started our show he was pretty much a beginner, and then he just jumped right out and played in the pro-am for The Ryder Cup…

“I think he’ll hit some good shots. I think he’ll hit some bad shots. But I think overall, I think he’s going to do pretty good. He’s a passionate golfer. It’s just great to have him in the game of golf.”

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

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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.”