Mikaela Shiffrin leads ESPY-nominated Olympians


Olympic Alpine skiing champion Mikaela Shiffrin was nominated for the Best Female Athlete ESPY to be handed out July 16, leading a bevy of Sochi stars on the award candidate lists.

Shiffrin, at 18, became the youngest Olympic slalom champion in Sochi. She also won the World Cup season title in the discipline.

Her competition for the Best Female Athlete award includes reigning WNBA Finals MVP and 2012 Olympic champion Maya Moore, 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey, who extended her MMA unbeaten record to 9-0, and NCAA Player of the Year Breanna Stewart, who led 40-0 UConn to the national title.

The last Winter Olympian to win the Best Female Athlete ESPY was another U.S. Olympic champion Alpine skier, Lindsey Vonn, in 2010 and 2011.

The last Best Male Athlete to win primarily off of Olympic achievements was Michael Phelps in 2009. No Winter Olympian has won Best Male Athlete.

Shiffrin was also nominated for Best Female Olympian. The other nominees were Olympic champions Jamie AndersonMeryl DavisMaddie Bowman and Kaitlyn Farrington.

The Best Male Olympian nominees are Olympic champions Joss ChristensenSage Kotsenburg, Ted LigetyCharlie White and David Wise.

Phelps and Missy Franklin won the Best Male and Female Olympic Athlete titles in 2013.

Wise, Anderson, Bowman and Kelly Clark were nominated for Best Male and Female Action Sports Athlete.

Best Male and Female Athlete with a Disability nominees include Sochi Paralympic medalists Mark BathumDeclan FarmerMike SheaEvan Strong and Tatyana McFaddenOksana Masters and Laurie Stephens.

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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.”