Kelly Slater’s idea to help surfing get into Olympics

Kelly Slater
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Kelly Slater may never compete in an Olympics, but he would welcome surfing’s inclusion in the Olympic program.

Slater, 42, is an 11-time world champion and regarded as one of the greatest athletes ever across all sports. Surfing has never been part of the Olympics (though something called “surf lifesaving” was reportedly a demonstration sport in 1900).

Surfing is, however, one of many non-Olympic sports “recognized” by the International Olympic Committee. You may recall American football joining that list last year.

The earliest a sport could be added to the Summer Olympics would be for 2024. Slater will be 52 years old.

The final vote for 2024 sports will come in 2017. Surfing has not been close to joining the Olympics in recent IOC sessions, but Slater has an idea that could help his sport’s cause.

“If we get the right wave pool technology, that is probably the go-to for having surfing at the Olympics,” he told the Daily Telegraph in Australia. “Nothing replaces nature but is could be a good supplement.”

Slater said surfers are divided about whether they want the sport in the Olympics, bringing to mind the snowboarding community’s views of joining the Winter Olympics 16 years ago.

The International Surfing Association president was in Sochi lobbying for his sport’s inclusion, according to the Daily Telegraph.

“We have a world tour that each year determines who is the best, but as far as the Olympics go you are surfing for your country,” said Slater, a Cocoa Beach, Fla., native. “There is national pride involved.

“It would add a completely different element to the sport, pressure and criticism and all that.

“I would probably welcome it.”

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.”