Amanda Kessel is a little more than one month into her competitive comeback from a life-changing concussion, but she’s reportedly already planning on playing hockey at least another two years.
Kessel will “set her sights” on the 2018 Olympics after she graduates from the University of Minnesota this summer, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Kessel, a 24-year-old who sat out nearly two years after the Sochi Olympics, scored the first hat trick of her comeback in her final game at the University of Minnesota’s Ridder Arena on Saturday.
“I didn’t picture ever really being able to come back at first,” Kessel said, according to the newspaper. “So I guess to get another opportunity at that, I’m champing at the bit.”
The 6-2 win over Princeton moved the Golden Gophers into this weekend’s NCAA Frozen Four.
“Here’s a kid who thought her hockey career was over, and now she’s got a second shot at it,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said, according to the newspaper. “So you can see the passion she’s playing with.”
Meanwhile, many of Kessel’s 2014 U.S. Olympic teammates are preparing for the World Championship, in two weeks in Kamloops, B.C.
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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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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.”