A reflective Vonn on her Olympic life: ‘I gave it absolutely everything I had’

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Contemplative and reflective, Lindsey Vonn on Friday wrapped up her competitive Olympic life by saying, “I gave it absolutely everything I had.”

NBCOlympics.com: Lindsey Vonn scatters grandfather’s ashes in PyeongChang

Describing her two races at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, she said, “I didn’t ski nervous. I skied with passion and with my heart.” In a reference to the bronze medal she won in the downhill, she said, “A bronze honestly does feel like gold to me.” And, she said, “It has been an amazing Olympics and a great way to close out my career — in the Olympics.”

Vonn, 33, is assuredly going to keep ski racing. She is five wins behind the all-time mark for World Cup victories, 86, held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark. She said she plans to race next in mid-March at Are, Sweden. “I’m not going to stop ski racing until I break it,” she said of Stenmark’s record.

The age thing got a lot of play at Friday’s meeting with the press. “You’re not getting any younger,” one reporter started — “Come right out and say it, why don’t you?” Vonn interrupted with a laugh. Another pointed out that Vonn was a “veteran” of the U.S. team. Again, Vonn, laughing, interrupted — “Veteran, see?!”

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

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

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.”