Janet Evans on what she admires most about Katie Ledecky (video)

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For more than 15 years, Janet Evans simultaneously held the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle world records.

Now, those records have belonged to Katie Ledecky for nearly two years. She has a long way to go to match Evans’ longevity, but Ledecky’s talent is simply overwhelming in Evans’ opinion.

“She swims an 800 freestyle like it’s a 200 freestyle,” Evans told Michele Tafoya on NBC Sports’ coverage of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials. “What I appreciate the most is that she literally takes a race out like it’s a 100-meter freestyle or a 200-meter freestyle, and then she keeps that pace going for 800 meters or, even though it’s not in the Olympics, the 1500 meters.”

Ledecky, 19, swept the 200m, 400m and 800m frees in Omaha this week. The 1500m free is not on the Olympic program for women (it is for the men, but the men don’t have the 800m free).

Ledecky has entered 15 finals at major international meets and won all of them. She will likely be in at least four more in Rio, including the 4x200m free relay.

Evans, 44, has joked that she’s old enough to be Ledecky’s mother. But they actually swam in the same meet in 2012, when Evans entered the U.S. Olympic Trials for the first time since 1996.

Evans saw the competitive drive in Ledecky’s eyes four years ago, when Ledecky made the team in the 800m free but missed in the 400m free, finishing third.

“I remember seeing how disappointed she was when she didn’t make the team [in the 400],” Evans said in 2014. “I remember thinking, oh, yeah, she wants this. She’s pretty hungry. Then I remember watching her 800, where she just took it out and took no prisoners.”

MORE: The code to Katie Ledecky’s goals in Rio

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.”