‘Broomgate’ proves costly as Norway misses European curling semifinals

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A controversial forfeit that spurred debate over the role of off-ice officials in curling wound up affecting the final outcome of the European Curling Championships, as the Norwegian team skipped by Thomas Ulsrud missed the playoffs.

Norway finished round-robin play with a 5-4 record, landing in a four-way tie for third place. Denmark and Scotland ranked ahead of Norway and Italy on tiebreakers and claimed the last two semifinal spots.

Switzerland took the second seed. The Swedish team skipped by Niklas Edin, known to U.S. fans as the team John Shuster and company defeated to win Olympic gold in 2018, finished round-robin play unbeaten.

On Sunday, Norway had comfortably defeated England, which had just been promoted to the top division this year, by a 9-5 score. But after the game, officials informed Norway they would forfeit because a substitute who entered the game did not use the same broom head as the player he replaced.

READ: Curlers speak up for self-officiating tradition after forfeit

The forfeit was England’s only win of the event.

Had the on-ice result stood and the rest of the round robin played out as it actually did, Norway would have finished at 6-3, tied with Switzerland for second place and comfortably in the semifinals.

The good news for Norway is that the team easily qualified for the World Championships. Scotland automatically qualifies as host, leaving seven spots open for the rest of the field.

Coverage of the European championships will continue on the Olympic Channel through the weekend (all times ET):

  • Thursday, 1 p.m.: Men’s semifinal
  • Friday, 8 a.m.: Women’s semifinal
  • Friday, 1 p.m.: Women’s bronze medal game
  • Saturday, 4 a.m.: Men’s bronze medal game
  • Saturday, 9 a.m.: Women’s gold medal game

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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

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.”