Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, the most decorated ski jumper in World Cup history, will return to competition this weekend after a year break.
Schlierenzauer announced on his 26th birthday last January that he would take an indefinite break from the sport.
“I want out of the spotlight,” Schlierenzauer said then, according to an International Ski Federation (FIS) translation. “Right now I simply don’t know what the future brings, I want to spark the passion again and become clear about how my way shall continue without any pressure.”
Then in March, Schlierenzauer suffered a torn ACL while skiing recreationally in Canada.
Schlierenzauer owns rock-star status in Austria, where he’s been known by a nickname — “Schlieri” — since he was a teen.
He owns a record 53 World Cup victories and individual gold or silver medals at each of the last four world championships. But he has not performed as well at the Olympics, picking up two bronze medals in 2010 and no medals in 2014. He also earned team gold in 2010 and silver in 2014.
Schlierenzauer’s last World Cup win was Dec. 6, 2014.
The new ski jumping stars are Poland’s Kamil Stoch — who swept the normal and large hill events in Sochi and just won his first Four Hills Tournament title — German Severin Freund and Slovenian brothers Domen and Peter Prevc.
MORE: Austrian ski jumper partially paralyzed after crash
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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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.”