Shaun White crashes; Jamie Anderson earns Olympic berth

Shaun White
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Shaun White crashed in his first run and aborted his second run midway through in the third of five Olympic selection events in slopestyle snowboarding in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., on Thursday.

Here is video of White’s crash.

No U.S. man has clinched one of three automatic U.S. Olympic spots in slopestyle yet. White fell from first place to fourth place in Olympic selection standings but can clinch his spot with a win in either of the final two events later Thursday and Saturday.

Even if he does not automatically qualify, White can be named to the Olympic Team in slopestyle as a discretionary selection. White has also yet to qualify in halfpipe, whose competitions also wrap up in Mammoth Mountain this weekend.

Jamie Anderson clinched the first U.S. Olympic berth in slopestyle snowboarding by winning the third of five women’s events earlier Thursday.

Anderson, 23, is the two-time reigning Winter X Games champion and a gold-medal contender in Sochi.

She won Friday with 92.7 points in her first of two runs, edging Karly Shorr by 2.9 points.

Shorr was a surprise, scoring her first top-four result of Olympic selection events. A top-four result is needed to have a chance at automatically qualifying for the Olympic Team.

Ty Walker was third to remain in second place in the Olympic selection standings, which add up the two best results by riders.

Ryan Stassel won the men’s event with 95 points in his second run. Sage Kotsenburg was second with 92.6 points. Chas Guldemond was third and moved to the top of Olympic selection standings with his first top-four result.

Guldemond was the top American finisher and the second American finisher in the first two Olympic selection events, but he was not among the top four overall when including non-American finishers in those events.

Three men’s riders and two women will earn automatic spots on the Olympic Team, but as many as four men and four women could be named when adding in discretionary selections.

The fourth of five selection events was to take place later Thursday in Mammoth Mountain. The fifth and final event is Saturday.

Here are the updated Olympic selection standings, counting only snowboarders with top-four results:

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Three automatic Olympic spots
1. Chas Guldemond — 1,800
2. Ryan Stassel — 1,600
3. Sage Kotsenburg — 1,600
4. Shaun White — 1,320
5. Eric Beauchemin — 900

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle — Two automatic Olympic spots
1. Jamie Anderson — 2,000 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Ty Walker — 1,600
3. Karly Shorr — 1,300
4. Jordie Karlinski — 1,100

Preview of marathon snowboard/freeskiing weekend

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.”