With the Opening Ceremony in one week, NBC Olympic primetime host Bob Costas went on The Dan Patrick Show on Friday to preview the first Games in South America.
“Everywhere you look, this place is a picture postcard,” Costas said. “Is it blighted, especially in the waters, by sanitation problems? Are there favelas that make what we consider poverty in the United States see opulent? Yes. But there are also soaring structures, beautiful mountainscapes, beautiful waterways, all of that, plus the world’s greatest athletes are bound for Rio. And many of them are going to do miraculous and wonderful things, and we just have our fingers crossed that the array of problems, that everyone’s aware of, don’t intrude upon what we came here primarily to document, which is this great competition.”
Costas was also asked to name his favorite Olympic sport.
“Track events are the most classic events,” he said. “Of course, swimming has moved way up there. It always was one of the premier Olympic events, and now in the [Michael] Phelps era even more so.”
But gymnastics may prove the most enduring sport of the Rio Games.
Costas said it could turn out that “Simone Biles of the United States has delivered the greatest performance of any female gymnast in the history of the Olympics, and Kohei Uchimura of Japan is the greatest male gymnast in the history of the Olympics. Now that’s if it all works out for them.”
The full interview is here.
MORE: Complete U.S. Olympic team roster
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.
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!
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.”