Kylian Mbappé eyes Olympics

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French World Cup star Kylian Mbappé said he wants to play at the Olympics, according to RMC Sport.

“With France, I still have the European Championship to win. I would also, why not, like to compete in the Olympics,” Mbappé said, according to reported translations.

Mbappé, the second-youngest player at the World Cup, has age working in his favor.

Tokyo Olympic men’s soccer teams are limited to players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997, with three exceptions. Mbappé, who turns 20 on Dec. 20, easily makes the under-23 cutoff, so France would not have to use one of its over-age spots on him.

However, Olympic football qualifying is much more exclusive than for the World Cup. Only four European nations will qualify for Tokyo via the 2019 UEFA U-21 Championship, and France hasn’t put a men’s team into the Olympics since 1996.

Mbappé may need his club team, currently Paris Saint-Germain, to sign off on him playing at the Olympics, which start less than two weeks after the Euro 2020 final. Mbappé potentially playing in both Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics could create another Neymar situation.

France should receive automatic entry into the 2024 Olympics as the host nation. In that case, Mbappé would have to be one of the nation’s over-age exceptions.

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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.”