93-year-old to compete in U.S. Olympic table tennis trials

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Bill Guilfoil is not about to become the oldest Olympian of all time, but the 93-year-old will be competing in his second straight U.S. Olympic table tennis trials next month.

“Table tennis is a lifetime sport,” Guilfoil said in a phone interview. “I feel good. Here I am at my age, and I don’t have any back problems or shoulder problems.”

Guilfoil, a Kansan who lost in the first round of qualifying at the February 2012 Olympic trials, is eligible to compete with the best players in the nation because the trials are open to everyone that pays the entry fee and is a good-standing member of USA Table Tennis.

The trials are Feb. 4-7 in Greensboro, N.C., but nobody makes the Olympic team at the event.

The top four men’s and women’s singles players advance to a North American Olympic qualifier in Toronto in April.

“I’m not expecting a miracle or anything,” said Guilfoil, who has family in North Carolina. “It’s like a little vacation.”

Guilfoil, who has been playing table tennis since age 13, owns a lifetime USA Table Tennis membership. He said he’s also played tennis, including nearly 60 years ago against Alex Olmedo, who went on to win Wimbledon in 1959.

Guilfoil wasn’t sure if he would be able to participate in the Olympic trials in late December but was confirmed as an entry during a phone call with USA Table Tennis on Friday, the organization said.

He said he spoke with Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer George Brett before the 2012 trials, telling Brett, “I don’t want to be a celebrity.”

MORE: First athlete makes 2016 Olympic table tennis team

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.”