Nicole Hosp retires from Alpine skiing, impacts overall title race

Nicole Hosp
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Austrian Nicole Hosp, a three-time Olympic medalist, retired from Alpine skiing on Monday.

“The fire has gone out,” Hosp said, according to Agence-France Presse. “I am ending my career as healthy and successful as I was when I started.”

Hosp, 31, earned 2006 Olympic slalom silver at age 22, missed the 2010 Olympics due to injury and came back to take combined silver and super-G bronze in Sochi.

Her biggest title was capturing the World Cup overall in 2007, making her the youngest woman to do so over the last decade. Hosp also bagged six individual World Championships medals.

Last season, Hosp ranked fifth in the World Cup overall standings behind winner Anna Fenninger, Tina MazeLindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin.

Maze announced on May 7 she will take next season off. Hosp and Maze’s announcements only bolster the probable two- or three-way chase among Fenninger, Vonn and Shiffrin for next year’s overall title, which will be the season’s biggest prize with no Olympics or World Championships.

Austria’s Fenninger is the two-time reigning champion. Vonn will have a full offseason of training under her belt for the first time since her two major knee surgeries. Shiffrin is training in speed events again and possible to add to her repertoire of slalom and giant slalom with super-G next season.

Upcoming milestones for Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin

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.”