Bob Costas passes Olympic primetime torch to Mike Tirico

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Bob Costas is passing the NBC Olympic primetime host torch to Mike Tirico for PyeongChang, ending a U.S.-television record of 11 Olympics in that role.

“It has been both a privilege and an incredible personal and professional experience to have been part of NBC’s Olympic coverage all these years,” Costas, who made his Olympic debut in 1988 and primetime debut in 1992, said in a press release. “I’m especially appreciative of all the talented and dedicated people I worked for and with on those broadcasts. I always felt that, in a certain sense, I was carrying the ball for them. It’s been a wonderful run, but I just felt now was the right time to step away and I’m grateful that NBC left that decision to me.”

Tirico joined NBC Sports last year and helped cover the Rio Olympics as host of daytime coverage and the Closing Ceremony. Rio marked Tirico’s first Olympics as a broadcaster.

“The level and longevity of Bob’s tenure have left an indelible mark on American television and the Olympic Games,” Tirico said in a press release. “I am honored to call him a friend, humbled by this opportunity, and thankful to the many people who have helped make this possible.”

Costas, who has been with NBC for 37 years, will continue to have noteworthy roles in NBC Sports and NBC News programs.

“They’ve been kind enough to call it the Brokaw phase of my career, so I’ll be to sports what Tom has been for the last several years to news,” Costas said on TODAY on Thursday. “I’ll show up when it’s appropriate for me to show up, including sometimes on the Olympics or the Kentucky Derby or the Super Bowl, or on this show.”

Costas’ record 11 Olympics as primetime host surpassed legendary Jim McKay‘s eight times for ABC.

“You have to mention Jim McKay,” Costas said on TODAY. “There’s a 1 and 1A [for Olympic primetime hosts], and I think I’m 1A because Jim McKay invented the role and distinguished himself so much.”

MORE: One year out: PyeongChang Olympic storylines

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.”