Sun Yang beats Kosuke Hagino (linked video), Ye Shiwen wins at Asian Games

Sun Yang

Chinese Olympic and World champion Sun Yang topped the world’s best all-around swimmer, Kosuke Hagino, and South Korean star Park Tae-hwan in the 400m freestyle, the biggest race of the Asian Games on Tuesday.

Sun, the 2013 Swimming World Male Swimmer of the Year, came from behind after 100 meters to win in 3:43.23 (race video here), which was .08 slower than the fastest time in the world this year (Park to win the Pan Pacific Championships).

It was plenty fast enough to beat the 20-year-old Hagino, though. The Japanese finished 1.25 seconds behind, winning his fifth medal of the meet. Hagino had beaten Sun and Park in the 200m free Sunday.

Sun is stronger as the distances are greater. He is the world record holder in the 1500m free.

Park, the 2008 Olympic 400m free champ, won bronze Tuesday but was more than five seconds behind Sun.

Hagino has two more individual races left. He is an overwhelming favorite in the 400m individual medley and also swims the 200m backstroke.

The most recognizable Chinese female swimmer, Ye Shiwen, won her 400m IM on Tuesday. Ye is best known for sweeping the IMs at the London Olympics, including a world record in the 400m IM, where she swam the final 50 meters faster than Ryan Lochte did to win the men’s event gold.

Ye’s time Tuesday was not eye-popping. She posted 4:32.97, more than two seconds slower than her best time this year and four seconds off her world record.

Kosuke Hagino: I’m trying to become like Michael Phelps

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.”