Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson undergoes reconstructive knee surgery

Sarah Hendrickson
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World champion ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson underwent right knee surgery Thursday after a training crash last week.

The U.S. Ski Team said it’s too early to issue a specific return to snow date. The women’s ski jumping competition at the Sochi Olympics is Feb. 11.

Hendrickson, 19, needed ACL reconstruction, MCL and meniscal repair after crashing on a training jump in Oberstdorf, Germany, on Aug. 21. Hendrickson was jumping on the large hill in Oberstdorf and set a new personal record of 148 meters. Women’s ski jumping competitions are usually done on the normal hill, where they jump around 100 meters.

“Life has a crazy way of working out and this is definitely not the path I had planned,” Hendrickson said in a press release. “I’m determined to make my coaches, friends, family, country and myself proud by working as hard as I can on my recovery.”

If healthy, she’s considered a co-gold medal favorite in the first women’s ski jumping competition at the Olympics.

Her rival is Japan’s Sara Takanashi, 16, who beat Hendrickson for the 2012-13 World Cup season title. Hendrickson, however, edged Takanashi at the World Championships last February.

At last week’s crash, U.S. teammate Jessica Jerome said she was at the top of the ski jump, didn’t witness the impact but did see the aftermath.

“It kind of looked like every other ski jumping crash, where people are laying in the outrun,” she said. “The sad thing is it’s super unfortunate. We are all really bummed out and trying to be supportive as we can, and unfortunately the injury side of things are a part of sports.”

Hendrickson has appeared in good spirits on Twitter since suffering the injury.

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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.”