Emanuel, Brazil Olympic beach volleyball legend, set to retire

Emanuel Rego
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Emanuel, the most successful beach volleyball player since the FIVB tour began in earnest 20 years ago, will retire at age 42 later this month, according to Brazilian reports.

Emanuel will reportedly make next week’s FIVB World Tour Grand Slam in Rio de Janeiro his final event.

Emanuel and veteran partner Ricardo were passed over in September when Brazil named its two Olympic men’s beach volleyball teams for the Rio Olympics.

Emanuel competed in all five previous Olympic beach volleyball tournaments, taking gold in 2004, bronze in 2008 and silver in 2012. He also won World Championships in 1999, 2003 and 2011 with three different partners.

He also won a record 76 FIVB international tour events in a record 254 appearances going into this season, the last title in 2012.

That’s 19 more tour titles than the leading woman, active Brazilian Larissa. Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings has 50 wins in 106 appearances.

Karch Kiraly, who captured Olympic indoor gold in 1984 and 1988 and beach gold in 1996, won 122 domestic AVP tournaments during his career.

MORE: Kerri Walsh Jennings returns, motivated by Karch Kiraly

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.”