Kelly Slater open to surfing in 2020 Olympics at age 48

Kelly Slater
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Kelly Slater, an 11-time World champion surfer, is not ruling out trying to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at age 48, should surfing be added to the Olympic program.

“If we finally do get into the Olympics, and I’m physically fine, if I don’t have injuries and I get chosen by the States to surf in that, it’d be a huge honor,” Slater said in a March 1 interview on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” that will air this weekend. “I think, especially at that age, it would be a huge honor.”

Slater, whose world ranking has fallen in recent years, has backed surfing’s inclusion in the Olympics for years, even though he said he’s not officially lobbying on the sport’s behalf.

Last September, Tokyo 2020 announced surfing as one of five proposed sports to add for its edition of the Olympics. The others are baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding and sport climbing.

The International Olympic Committee will decide this summer as to if any of the sports will be added for the Tokyo Olympics.

Slater said IOC officials have watched surfing’s World Championships in person as far back as 1984. And he thinks Japan could be a viable surfing competition host, with a wave pool.

“There’s a pretty strong surf culture there,” he told Bensinger. “I think a wave pool in Japan makes a lot of sense. … You can have exact start times, and you know how to control your field and that kind of thing. … The summer time in Japan can have really slow surf or no surf. … It would be really interesting if a wave pool was a way to display surfing the first time in the Olympics.”

MORE: Tokyo 2020 proposes adding baseball, softball, 4 more sports to Olympics

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.”