Anna Veith sets return from major injury

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Two-time World Cup overall champion Anna Veith is slated to race for the first time since March 2015 on Tuesday.

Veith announced her comeback from major right knee injuries suffered before the 2015-16 season. She is on the Austrian entry list for a World Cup giant slalom in Semmering, Austria, on Tuesday.

The Sochi Olympic super-G champion cautioned expectations, saying the result in her first race back is secondary.

“I feel ready for a comeback,” Veith said, according to an Agence France-Presse translation of a statement through the Austria Ski Federation. “Physically I am still some way below the level before my injury, but there has been clear progress in training in recent weeks and I want to return.”

Veith tore two knee ligaments and the patellar tendon in an Oct. 21, 2015, training crash. It occurred three days before the World Cup season opener and caused her to miss the entire season.

Veith had been the world’s best racer since the Sochi Winter Games, winning the 2014 and 2015 World Cup overall titles as Anna Fenninger before her marriage.

Veith is the first of three Olympic champions expected to return from major injury in the next month. Americans Julia Mancuso (hip) and Lindsey Vonn (arm) are expected back before the world championships in February.

MORE: Lindsey Vonn hopes for quick return from ‘most painful injury’

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

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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.”