Switzerland wins its first women’s hockey medal in bronze comeback vs. Sweden


Entering the third period, it looked like Sweden would finish the Olympics with its third medal in women’s ice hockey. Instead, Switzerland stormed back to win its first, beating the Swedes 4-3 thanks to a spirited final frame.

As NBC’s Daniel Marrazza notes, it’s been ages since any Swiss Olympic team earned an ice hockey medal regardless of gender:

It’s also been some time since there has been some variety in women’s teams earning medal. Before Thursday, only four nations have reached the podium since the sport debuted in 1998.

Switzerland’s game-winning goal ended up being an empty-netter, while their third goal came from Jessica Lutz (pictured wearing No. 17), who makes coffee for a living, as this Washington Post story details.

Her boss knew. Some co-workers and maybe a few of the regulars did, too. But it’s safe to say most passed through the small coffee shop in Northwest Washington, ordered their Americanos and macchiatos and had no clue the smiley barista was bound for the Olympics. And they surely would have never guessed that Jessica Lutz — born in the United States, raised in Rockville, educated in Connecticut — would be representing a country 5,000 miles away.

In a tournament where competitive balance was regularly questioned, the Swiss showed that hockey results are rarely preordained.

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

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

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.”