Lolo Jones, Lauryn Williams set for final bobsled race before Olympic Team named

Lolo Jones, Elana Meyers
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Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams get one more chance to impress U.S. bobsled Olympic Team selectors Sunday.

Jones and Williams were named as two of three U.S. push athletes for a World Cup event in Igls, Austria. The three Olympic push athletes will be chosen by a selection committee and are expected to be nominated as part of the full Olympic Team on Sunday night.

In Igls, Jones will pair with USA-3 driver Jazmine Fenlator. Williams will pair with USA-2 driver Jamie Greubel. USA-1 driver Elana Meyers is with her usual push athlete, Aja Evans.

The other push athletes in the running to make the Olympic Team are Katie Eberling, who usually races with Greubel, and Emily Azevedo, the only push athlete with Winter Olympic experience.

Jones, a two-time Olympic hurdler, has raced with Fenlator more than any other driver since taking up bobsled last season. Williams, a three-time Olympic sprinter, is in her rookie season of bobsled.

The makeup of the U.S. men’s Olympic bobsled team is also very much in question going into Igls.

The U.S. will very likely qualify three two-man sleds and two four-man sleds for Sochi. That means Cory Butner and Nick Cunningham are essentially vying for one four-man spot behind Steven Holcomb.

Butner is ranked No. 16 in the world in four-man with 652 points, adding up a driver’s six best results this season. Cunningham is ranked No. 17 with 644 points.

The eight-point margin is the difference between one spot in the standings of a single race. It is yet to be determined if the second U.S. sled in the four-man will be based on FIBT rankings or other criteria.

Biathlete gives up Olympic Team spot to sister

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.”