Katie Eberling to try driving after missing Olympics as brakeman

Katie Eberling
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Katie Eberling is pressing on in bobsled, in a new role, after not being named to the U.S. Olympic Team.

Eberling, 25, will give driving a shot in March, according to a blog post linked from her social media accounts. In January, Eberling was not picked as one of three brakemen for the U.S. Olympic Team.

The chosen three were Aja Evans, regarded then as the best brakeman, and track and field converts Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams, in their second and first years in the sport, respectively. Eberling, who helped Elana Meyers to a world silver medal in 2013, was initially “absolutely gutted” by being left off.

She admirably, eventually accepted an offer to be an alternate and traveled to Sochi, assisting the U.S. women’s team that won silver and bronze at Sanki Sliding Center.

She didn’t want to decide on her future while in Sochi, but within a week after the Closing Ceremony decided she didn’t want to be a brakeman anymore given the circumstances of the last two months.

“I no longer want to be the girl who was snubbed by Lolo Jones, because it’s not true,” read the blog post. “What most fail to acknowledge is she had the data to support her selection and worked hard for her spot…but so did other girls. There lies the controversy; all of the brakemen selected and not selected could have been backed by different points of our selection criteria. It’s exactly why I will not move forward in this sport as a brakeman; I can’t deal with the subjective decision making and the lack of control and job security.”

Her options outside of bobsled included trying skeleton or putting her teaching degree to use. For now, she’ll try driving. It could be a tough road if she sticks with it. The other U.S. drivers — Meyers, Jamie Greubel and Jazmine Fenlator — are all continuing with the sport.

“If I don’t at least try driving, I will never truly understand it as an option,” the blog read. “I have an idea of what it takes to be a driver and the responsibilities attached, but I won’t truly comprehend it until I have the “D-rings” in my hands. I may love it or I may hate it. I may be a natural or I may be the worst person to ever try it. Point is-there is only one way to find it out.

“For now, I don’t have to commit to another four years… just to another month.”

Shaun White talks Sochi problems, crashing I-Pod’s party on ‘Tonight Show’

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.”