Aly Raisman expects to keep Mihai Brestyan as coach

Aly Raisman
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When Aly Raisman returns to training, she expects to continue working with longtime coach Mihai Brestyan, even though Brestyan is now the Australia women’s national team coach.

Raisman discussed the news last week while appearing at the LPGA Tour’s ANA Inspiration Women in Sports Conference at Rancho Mirage, Calif.

“I think I’d still, obviously, work with Mihai,” said Raisman, who said in September she would take a full year off and then return to training. “He’s not moving to Australia. I would never want to be with any other coach, but he’s still living in Boston and Massachusetts, and so the gym’s still in Burlington. He’s still there all the time. He’s going to go off to Australia, obviously, and be at their national-team training camps, but I also train a lot with his wife [Silvia]. His wife is my coach. She’s with me every single day. She’s an international judge, so having the combination of both of them is very, very key. So being able to have both of them, when he’s away, I’ll work strictly with her. Most of the time, I’ll be with both of them, unless he’s away at training camp.”

Raisman said in her most recent conversation with Brestyan before he got the Australia job, he told her that he didn’t think it would happen.

“It was like six months since the [Rio] Olympics, so I thought they would have already hired someone sooner,” Raisman said.

Raisman also said that Brestyan was at first hoping to succeed Martha Karolyi as U.S. women’s national team coordinator. That job went to Valeri Liukin.

“It was between Mihai or Valeri,” Raisman said. “[Brestyan] had opportunities to go anywhere. … I think [Australia] was a no-brainer for him.”

Raisman said she had not spoken with the Brestyans about who will be her coach on the floor at international meets, or when Mihai is away in Australia. Not surprising given it’s still a while before she’ll be competing again.

“I’m guessing it would have to be my coach Sylvie, because I’m not sure exactly what the rules are,” Raisman said. “I mean, Gymnastics Australia, they’re very nice and very understanding, so I’m sure if I needed Mihai for something, they’ll be very accommodating, but I’m sure there must be some rule that maybe Sylvie will have to definitely be down there with me, but Mihai will probably already be down there on the floor with the Australian gymnasts. I can see and talk to both of them. It might actually work out better.”

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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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.”