Missy Franklin fails to qualify for 200 free final; Ledecky second

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After winning five medals, four being gold, in London four years ago American swimmer Missy Franklin arrived in Rio de Janeiro hoping to add more medals to her collection. Unfortunately for Franklin one event in which she won’t medal is the 200 meter freestyle, as she finished eighth in her semifinal heat (tied for 13th overall) with a time of 1:57.56.

That time was well off the pace set by heat winner Shen Duo of China, who finished the race with a time of 1:56.03. Franklin has the 200 meter backstroke and 4×200 meter freestyle relay races remaining on her schedule for Rio, so there’s the potential for medals there. But not at the very least qualifying for the 200 freestyle final is a surprise.

The United States still has a medal hopeful in the 200 free, with Katie Ledecky finishing second in the second semifinal heat. Ledecky’s time of 1:54.81 was bested by Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, who won gold in the 100 meter butterfly in world record time Sunday.

Ledecky has already won a gold medal in these Olympics, as she shattered the world record in winning the 400 meter freestyle Sunday night. She was also on the 4×100 meter freestyle relay team that won silver.

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.”