Volleyball World Championships trophies stolen in Rio de Janeiro

FIVB volleyball trophy

The indoor volleyball World Championships trophies were stolen while on a tour in a mall parking lot in Rio de Janeiro, according to the FIVB.

The trophies were previously on display at a fan promotional event on Copacabana Beach, according to The Associated Press.

The FIVB Men’s World Championship is Aug. 30-Sept. 21 in Poland. The Women’s World Championship is Sept. 23-Oct. 12 in Italy.

The FIVB hoped to have the trophies present for the Opening Ceremony and first men’s match in Poland next Saturday. Now, it won’t wait to see if the trophies can be found. It has contacted the Swiss company that made the original trophies for replacements.

“This situation is lamentable as the FIVB worked very hard to create a unique trophy for both World Championships,” FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça said in a press release. “The FIVB will work with the local authorities to attempt to recover these iconic pieces of silverware, but in the meantime will act quickly to create new ones so that a trophy will be guaranteed to be present at both finals of the World Champs.”

Brazil is known as a soccer nation, but it is excellent in both beach and indoor volleyball as well. Brazil’s men won the last three indoor World titles, while the women were runners-up to Russia in the last two.

“Contrary to the World Cup trophy, which is worth a lot because it is made of gold, the volleyball trophies don’t have any market value. No one will profit from their sale,” Brazilian confederation superintendent Neuri Barbieri told the AP.

(h/t Surto Olimpico)

Jamaica eyes Winter Olympics in ice hockey

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.”