Olympic Year in Review: Headlines

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
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OlympicTalk takes a look back at the year in Olympic sports this week. Today, we review enduring news stories.

U.S. Ski Team Prospects Die in Avalanche

Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, two U.S. development-level Alpine skiers, died in an avalanche while freeskiing in Austria on Jan. 4.

Their deaths shocked the winter sports community and led to an outpouring of remembrances and support from U.S. skiers such as Olympic champions Ted Ligety and Lindsey Vonn.

Boston 2024 becomes Los Angeles 2024

The U.S. Olympic Committee announced Boston as its 2024 Olympic bid city Jan. 8, ending a domestic competition since the USOC sent letters to 35 cities gauging interest in potential bids in February 2013.

However, setbacks plagued Boston’s first-ever Olympic bid, most notably a lack of public support and most importantly the refusal of Boston mayor Marty Walsh to sign a document that could put taxpayers at risk if there were cost overruns.

The bid ended July 27.

Los Angeles, one of the other three finalist cities, stepped in quickly. That city’s bid became official Sept. 1, two weeks before an International Olympic Committee bid submission deadline.

L.A. 2024 is up against Budapest, Paris and Rome as it seeks to end a U.S. drought of hosting the Olympics that’s dated to 2002 (Winter Games) and 1996 (Summer Games). The IOC will vote to choose the 2024 host city in September 2017.

Miracle on Ice Reunion

All living members of the Miracle on Ice team gathered in Lake Placid, N.Y., for the first time since the 1980 Winter Olympics for a 35-year reunion in February.

The event came together after the team lost its first player, Bob Suter to a heart attack Sept. 9, 2014.

On Feb. 21, the remaining 19 players sat and spoke during a chronological ceremony at Herb Brooks Arena, spliced with video of the Miracle on Ice, the 2004 film “Miracle” and the coach Brooks saying before the Olympics that the U.S. was unlikely to win a medal.

Ronda Rousey Becomes a Superstar

Rousey made more headlines in a matter of seconds in the UFC Octagon this year than during her entire judo career that included a 2008 Olympic bronze medal, the first medal earned by a U.S. female judoka.

She won two fights in a combined 48 seconds before being upset by Holly Holm on Nov. 15 with a vicious kick to the head for a knockout. Rousey had not lost on such a big stage since the Beijing 2008 Games.

Camille Muffat Dies in Helicopter Crash

Muffat, the French 2012 Olympic 400m freestyle swimming champion, died along with French Olympic bronze medalist boxer Alexis Vastine and eight others while filming a reality TV show in Argentina on March 9.

Marathon Oddities

St. Louis: Winner DQ’d for cheating.
Boston: Runner finishes the following morning.
San Diego: Oldest woman to finish a marathon.
World Championships: First teenage gold medalist.
Berlin: Eliud Kipchoge misses world record by 63 seconds after shoe malfunction.
Nairobi: Runner-up DQ’d for cheating.
Bangkok Half: Wrong distance.
London 2016: A British astronaut plans to run the 26.2-mile race in space.

Lindsey Vonn, Tiger Woods split

The 2010 Olympic downhill champion and 2016 Olympic hopeful ended a nearly three-year relationship, announcing their breakup May 3.

Vonn and Woods were often seen together at Woods’ golf tournaments, Vonn’s ski races (notably Woods missing a tooth while at Vonn’s most notable victory of the year) and at least one Denver Broncos football game.

Vonn started her 2015-16 season off well with four December victories. Woods has fallen outside of the top 400 in the Official World Golf Ranking, has no return date from a back injury and is extremely unlikely to qualify for the first Olympic golf tournament in 112 years.

Rio Olympic Countdown

Rio Olympic organizers unveiled the 2016 Olympic competition schedule, torch design and torch relay details this year.

They also spent plenty of time dealing with issues such as water quality and athlete air conditioning.

Beijing 2022

The IOC chose Beijing over Almaty, Kazakhstan, to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in a close July 31 vote. Beijing will become the first city to hold a Summer Games and a Winter Games.

It will mark the third straight Olympics in East Asia, following the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Russian Doping

The prevalent use of performance-enhancing drugs in Russian track and field was a story throughout the year, from the bans of Olympic and World track and field champions in January to the entire nation being banned by the IAAF on Nov. 13.

Russia has plenty of work ahead if it’s to be reinstated before the Rio Olympics.

Oscar Pistorius Appeal

The first double amputee to run in the Olympics was released after serving less than a year in prison in October, to spend the remainder of a five-year term under house arrest.

However, Pistorius was convicted of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in an appeals court Dec. 3 and was released on bail ahead of an April sentencing date.

Retirements
Kaitlyn Farrington
, Snowboarding
Haile Gebrselassie, Track and Field
Dominique Gisin, Alpine Skiing
Katie Hoff, Swimming
Nicole Hosp, Alpine Skiing
Hannah Kearney, Freestyle Skiing
Cindy Klassen, Speed Skating
Steven Langton, Bobsled
Liu Xiang, Track and Field
Mario Matt, Alpine Skiing
Nick McCrory, Diving
Paula Radcliffe, Track and Field
Benjamin Raich, Alpine Skiing
Maëlle Ricker, Snowboarding
Abby Wambach, Soccer
Jordyn Wieber, Gymnastics
Lauryn Williams, Bobsled

Olympic Year in Review: Winter Sports | Summer Sports | Photos | Social Media

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.”