Kerri Walsh Jennings out until March

Kerri Walsh Jennings
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Kerri Walsh Jennings will have right shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and a torn capsule Thursday and hopes to return to beach volleyball competition in mid-March, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion and a 37-year-old mother of three, dislocated the shoulder twice in competition this season — May 27 and July 10. She will have surgery on her right shoulder for the fifth time in her career.

“They always say six months, but I’ve always been back in four, maybe four and a week,” Walsh Jennings said, according to the report. “That’s plenty of time — even if I didn’t expedite my rehab — to come back stronger than ever.”

Walsh Jennings missed at least one month of competition following each of her two shoulder dislocations this season.

She and Olympic silver medalist partner April Ross returned from the first one at the World Championships and were eliminated in the round of 16.

They were better after the second layoff, reaching the final of the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach Calif., last month, with Walsh Jennings serving underhand and swinging primarily with her left arm. They lost the final to Brazilians Larissa and Talita, who are looking like the Rio Olympic favorites.

Walsh Jennings said that last week’s Rio Open would be her final tournament of the season. She and Ross lost in the round of 16.

Walsh Jennings and Ross must play at least five tournaments before June 12 to be eligible to qualify for the Rio Olympics. The 2016 FIVB World Tour schedule has not been released, but the 2015 schedule had six tournaments from March to June 12.

More Beach Volleyball: Kerri Walsh Jennings on brain games, her Super Bowl commercial, more

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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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

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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.”