U.S. water polo player details South Korea balcony collapse

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One moment, Kaleigh Gilchrist was celebrating an unprecedented third straight world championship for the U.S. women’s water polo team.

In the next moment, she was headed to a hospital in South Korea.

Gilchrist was partying with teammate Paige Hauschild and other competitors from the world championships when a balcony at a nightclub near the athletes’ village collapsed early Saturday morning, killing two people and creating a chaotic scene in the southern city of Gwangju.

“We were having the best night ever celebrating our win, and somehow, a freak accident happened,” Gilchrist told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Gilchrist, a 27-year-old attacker from Newport Beach, Calif., who also was part of the United States’ gold medal-winning team at the Rio Olympics, sustained some deep lacerations on her left leg and got some stitches for cuts on her left thigh. But she said she had no broken bones or nerve damage.

Gilchrist had surgery later Saturday morning. She remained in the hospital Monday while doctors monitored her recovery, but she hoped to return to the U.S. on Tuesday.

She was counting her blessings, too.

“We are the lucky ones and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones,” she said.

Gilchrist, who also has traveled the world as an accomplished surfer, remembers only parts of the harrowing night.

Hours after the Americans’ 11-6 victory over Spain in the final, Gilchrist was on the balcony with Hauschild, U.S. men’s attacker Johnny Hooper and other athletes when it went down.

“It was all pretty quick, I think,” Gilchrist said. “But I remember falling and I talked to Johnny and we kind of thought the same thing: It’s like, we felt like (we were) falling for 10 seconds, which it probably ended up being one or two seconds. But everything kind of slowed down.”

Gilchrist said the railing of the balcony was lined with glued-down beer bottles that shattered when it collapsed. She thinks she was helped up before she made her way out of the nightclub with Hauschild.

When Gilchrist got outside, she realized the extent of her injuries and laid down on the sidewalk. She then got some help from some players on the U.S. men and Australian water polo teams, and Christopher Bates, a trainer for the U.S. men’s team, joined the group.

“Chris was kind of just the biggest blessing,” Gilchrist said. “He came, he’s a trainer, he put his belt around my leg as a tourniquet and he came in the ambulance with me.”

Gilchrist face-timed with her parents, Jenny and Sandy, and sister, Ali, right after she got hurt, and Bates and her U.S. teammates also provided updates. Larnie Boquiren, a trainer for the women’s team, and team doctor Seth Schmoll also helped take care of Gilchrist.

“My mom wanted to fly out, but I said ‘Don’t worry. I’m here with our trainer, Larnie, and Dr. Seth,’” Gilchrist said. “They’ve been so great to me, so I told my mom don’t worry and I’ll be home in no time.

“She still wanted to come, but it’s all good.”

Hauschild, Hooper and U.S. center Ben Hallock also got hurt. Hauschild got stitches on her right arm and Hooper needed stitches for cuts on his left hand. Hallock had some minor scrapes on his legs.

Gilchrist said she should know more about her recovery after she returns to the U.S., but she is hoping to be back in the pool with the team in a few months. The U.S. became the first team to win three straight world water polo titles with the victory in South Korea, and it is a big favorite to win a third consecutive gold at the Olympics next year.

“It’s awesome to be a part of history and I think there’s something special about our team,” Gilchrist told the AP. “It’s just a bummer that an incident like this has to bring headlines to our team and not just the way we play the game and the way we work and grind. I think there’s something to be said of the success and I think a lot of people could learn from us.”

MORE: Most experienced Olympian in history retires at 72

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Mikaela Shiffrin ties world Alpine skiing championships medals record

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin took silver behind Italian Marta Bassino in the super-G for her 12th world Alpine skiing championships medal, tying the modern individual record.

Bassino edged Shiffrin by 11 hundredths of a second in Meribel, France, for her second world title after taking the parallel in 2021.

“That was the best run I can do on this track,” Shiffrin told Austrian broadcaster ORF. “I had one turn … coming off the [final] pitch where I almost lost it all.

“I’m so happy with my run.”

Austrian Cornelia Huetter and Norwegian Kajsa Vickhoff Lie tied for bronze, 33 hundredths back in a discipline where five different women won this season’s five World Cup races.

Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami, the reigning Olympic and world champ, led at the last intermediate split but lost 44 hundredths to Bassino in the final 18 seconds of the course and ended up sixth.

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

With her 12th world medal, the 27-year-old Shiffrin tied Kjetil Andre Aamodt, a Norwegian star of the 1990s and 2000s, for the most in individual events since World War II. Aamodt earned his 12th and final medal in his 27th world championships race. Shiffrin matched him in her 15th worlds start.

Swede Anja Pärson holds the overall record of 13 modern medals. She won two in the team event.

Shiffrin has six gold medals, one shy of that modern record.

Shiffrin, the greatest slalom skier in history, is selective when it comes to the speed events of downhill and super-G. She has never raced the downhill at worlds and will not enter Saturday’s race.

In the super-G, she now has a world championships medal of every color and is one of two skiers in history to make the super-G podium at three consecutive worlds. The other is Austrian legend Hermann Maier.

“I’m emotional because I don’t really feel like I should be winning a medal in super-G right now,” said Shiffrin, who had a win and a seventh place in two World Cup super-G starts this season and was sixth in the super-G run of Monday’s combined. “There are so many women who are strong and fast.”

Shiffrin rebounded from Monday’s first race of worlds, where she was in line for combined gold before losing her balance with five gates left and straddling the third-to-last gate in her slalom run. That snapped her streak of a medal in 10 consecutive world championships races dating to 2015.

Worlds continue with the men’s super-G on Thursday. Shiffrin’s next race is expected to be the giant slalom on Feb. 16.

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2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships results

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Top 10 and notable results from the 2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships in Meribel and Courchevel, France …

Women’s Combined
Gold: Federica Brignone (ITA) — 1:57.47
Silver: Wendy Holdener (SUI) — +1.62
Bronze: Ricarda Haaser (AUT) — +2.26
4. Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT) — +2.48
5. Franziska Gritsch (AUT) — +2.71
6. Michelle Gisin (SUI) — +3.43
7. Laura Gauche (FRA) — +3.71
8. Emma Aicher (GER) — +3.78
9. Elena Curtoni (ITA) — +4.05
10. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) — +4.91
13. Bella Wright (USA) — +6.21
DSQ (slalom). Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
DNS (slalom). Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI)
DNS (slalom). Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR)
DNS (slalom). Sofia Goggia (ITA)
DNF (super-G). Marta Bassino (ITA)
DNF (super-G). Breezy Johnson (USA)
DNF (super-G). Tricia Mangan (USA)

ALPINE WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

Men’s Combined
Gold: Alexis Pinturault (FRA) — 1:53.31
Silver: Marco Schwarz (AUT) — +.10
Bronze: Raphael Haaser (AUT) — +.44
4. River Radamus (USA) — +.69
5. Atle Lie McGrath (NOR) — +.72
6. Loic Meillard (SUI) — +1.20
7. Tobias Kastlunger (ITA) — +2.99
8. Albert Ortega (ESP) — +3.50
9. Erik Arvidsson (USA) — +4.43
10. Ryan Cochran-Siegle (USA) — +5.25
DNF (slalom). Johannes Strolz (AUT)
DNF (slalom). Luke Winters (USA)
DNS (slalom). Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR)
DNS (slalom). James Crawford (CAN)
DSQ (super-G). Marco Odermatt (SUI)

Women’s Super-G
Gold: Marta Bassino (ITA) — 1:28.06
Silver: Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — +.11
Bronze: Cornelia Huetter (AUT) — +.33
Bronze: Kajsa Vickhoff Lie (NOR) — +.33
5. Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR) — +.36
6. Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI) — +.37
7. Alice Robinson (NZL) — +.54
8. Federica Brignone (ITA) — +.55
9. Tessa Worley (FRA) — +.58
10. Michelle Gisin (SUI) — +.69
11. Sofia Goggia (ITA) — +.76
24. Breezy Johnson (USA) — +2.09
DNF. Tricia Mangan (USA)
DNF. Bella Wright (USA)

Men’s Super-G (Feb. 9)
Women’s Downhill (Feb. 11)
Men’s Downhill (Feb. 12)
Team Parallel (Feb. 14)
Men’s Parallel (Feb. 15)
Women’s Parallel (Feb. 15)
Women’s Giant Slalom (Feb. 16)
Men’s Giant Slalom (Feb. 17)
Women’s Slalom (Feb. 18)
Men’s Slalom (Feb. 19)

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