Richard Carapaz wins Giro d’Italia, first Ecuadorian to claim Grand Tour

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VERONA, Italy — Richard Carapaz became Ecuador’s first Grand Tour champion as he won the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, while American Chad Haga was fastest on the final stage’s individual time trial.

Carapaz, who rides for Movistar, keeled over his handlebars with emotion inside the Arena di Verona after the 17-kilometer (10.5-mile) route.

The 26-year-old Carapaz has worn the leader’s pink jersey since winning the grueling 14th stage on May 25.

“This is the biggest moment of my sporting life,” Carapaz said. “In this final time trial I just suffered from start to finish until I reached the arena of Verona. It’s fabulous to win the Giro d’Italia.”

The Ecuadorian finished the three-week race one minute, five seconds ahead of home favorite Vincenzo Nibali and 2:30 ahead of Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic, who leapfrogged Mikel Landa into third spot.

“I don’t have any regrets, we all had a good Giro d’Italia, which was very hard-fought,” Nibali said. “I had great rivals, Carapaz showed he is strong and that he deserved it … Carapaz didn’t steal anything, he was really strong.”

Both Carapaz and Nibali took their children onto the podium with them as they collected their trophies.

Carapaz’s parents had also flown over from Ecuador and revealed it was the first time they had been on a plane.

Haga had told his wife to stay at home.

“Maybe that was a mistake,” the Team Sunweb cyclist said as he smiled through tears of joy in a post-race interview. “This is for everyone who believed in me and supported me and sacrificed for me.

“I gave everything today and to finally win … it’s very special.”

Haga had thought about quitting cycling after he and five other teammates were hospitalized after being hit by a car while they were training in Calpe, Spain. The incident happened in January 2016, when he was part of Team Giant-Alpecin.

It was Haga’s first stage victory in a Grand Tour. He was four seconds faster than Victor Campenaerts and six faster than Thomas De Gendt.

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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.”