Sochi gold medalists eliminated from Canada Olympic curling trials

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Brad Jacobs‘ reign as Olympic curling champion will end in February.

His team that won gold in Sochi was eliminated from the Canada Olympic Trials on Thursday night.

Jacobs, Ryan Fry, E. J. Harnden and Ryan Harnden are 3-4 at the trials in Ottawa with one game left.

Jacobs cannot mathematically get back into the top three (out of nine teams) to advance to the winner-goes-to-Pyeongchang playoffs.

“We came out here knowing that our fate was in our own hands and didn’t perform,” Jacobs said, according to the Canadian Press.

The Canadian Olympic curling team is one of the hardest to make of any Winter Games sports.

Three different Canadian skips won the last three Olympic titles and then lost the Olympic Trials four years later. In 2013, Jacobs’ team became the first to go undefeated at a Canada Olympic Trials.

Brad Gushue, who skipped gold-medal teams at the 2006 Olympics and 2017 Worlds, has clinched one of two spots in Saturday’s semifinal.

The semifinal winner will face a team skipped by Kevin Koe, who also skipped world champion teams in 2010 and 2016. Koe’s team is undefeated through seven games at trials.

Jacobs and Co. can do no more than watch Sunday’s final to see who will succeed them as Canada’s Olympic team.

“It’s a big surprise, it’s an incredible surprise,” Team Jacobs coach Caleb Flaxey said, according to the Canadian Press. “We didn’t expect to be in this situation.”

In the women’s tournament, Sochi gold medalist Jennifer Jones and world champion Rachel Homan play each other in the final round-robin session Friday night. Both are likely to make the three-team playoffs.

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MORE: List of Russia Olympic medals stripped; new Sochi medal standings

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

Kyle Smaine
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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.”