U.S. cross-country skiers bring ‘Uptown Funk’ (video)

Cross-country skiers
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U.S. cross-country skiers showed off their dance moves to “Uptown Funk” in a music video that was played more than a half-million times on Facebook in the first 24 hours.

It conjured memories of the U.S. swim team’s “Call Me Maybe” rendition from 2012 and USA Luge’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” from 2013.

The skiers created the video over three weeks in Switzerland and Sweden with choreography by reigning World team sprint champion Jessie Diggins, who said the team wanted to “share our passion with the rest of our fans back in the U.S,” according to The Associated Press.

Diggins and the team are in Falun, Sweden, for the World Championships that began Thursday.

“It’s great team bonding, especially when people are getting nervous about Worlds,” Diggins said, according to the AP. “We’d have dance practice in the hallways and meeting rooms for weeks. I’d wake up and come outside in the morning and the boys would be out in the hallway on their own practicing. It was so cool.”

Skylar Diggins reflects on getting cut from World Championships team

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.”