Erik Guay becomes oldest world champion in Alpine skiing history

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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) — Erik Guay led the veteran Canadians over the favored Norwegians in the super-G on Wednesday and became the oldest gold medalist at the world ski championships.

The 35-year-old Guay beat Olympic super-G champion Kjetil Jansrud by 0.45 seconds – his first victory in almost three years.

Guay triumphed less than two weeks after a spectacular crash, when he flew 60 meters (yards) in the air off a jump in a treacherous World Cup downhill.

“It’s incredible. I’m as happy as can be,” said Guay, putting his win down to “forgetting about everything and having a fun race.”

It was a banner day for Canada after Norway seemed sure to also take bronze in an event it dominates. But late-starting Manny Osborne-Paradis edged World Cup champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde off the podium.

On his 33rd birthday, Osborne-Paradis claimed his first career championship medal, trailing Guay by 0.51. He was serenaded by a finish-area crowd, and later was hugged by his mother.

Guay added super-G gold to his downhill title from the 2011 worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It was at the same German course last month that he wiped out in a twisting fall.

“I was lucky to walk away with fairly minor injuries,” said Guay, competing at his seventh worlds. “I can see (the crash) on TV no problem, but in my head I can’t really remember going off the jump and having that fear.”

There were more jumps to handle Wednesday on a hill that launched racers airborne, testing their balance and ability to improvise through an unfamiliar gate-setting.

Though Norway’s men won five of the past seven Olympic titles in super-G, the nation’s winless streak at the worlds was extended to nine.

Jansrud and Kilde were 1-2 in the leader’s box, separated by just 0.09 after Kilde’s wild ride down the final slope, and celebrated by bumping fists in the finish area.

At that moment, Guay was about to start wearing bib No. 14 and raced down leading Jansrud at every time check.

“Erik today showed us how it’s supposed to be done. I’m not feeling any disappointment over that,” said Jansrud, the youngest of the medalists at 31.

Guay took the record for oldest world champion from Hannes Reichelt, who set it by winning the super-G two years ago in Beaver Creek, Colorado. The Austrian placed 10th on Wednesday.

Though it has been seven years since Guay won a season-long World Cup title in super-G, his third-place finish in December in Val Gardena, Italy, hinted at his potential. He also placed third in St. Moritz in a World Cup downhill last year.

Osborne-Paradis has not finished on a World Cup downhill podium in almost two years, and not since November 2009 in super-G. He began this season wearing bib numbers in the 50s as an unconsidered longshot.

Wearing No. 26, still outside the top-ranked group, he was inspired by his long-time friend.

“I got pretty fired up because of Erik,” said Osborne-Paradis, who returned to form three months after becoming a father. “It was more intense having a kid, I can tell you. You can’t unsee those things.”

It was also a sweet result for the Swiss director of Canada’s team, Martin Rufener, the former head coach of his home nation’s men.

Switzerland’s best on Wednesday was eighth-place Carlo Janka, trailing Guay by 0.99. Its main pre-race hope, Beat Feuz, was 12th, and now has Jansrud and the revived Canadians carrying momentum into Saturday’s marquee downhill.

Alpine worlds continue with the women’s super combined featuring Lindsey Vonn on Friday on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

MORE: Alpine Worlds broadcast schedule

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.”