U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Centers close facilities

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The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s two main training centers in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid, N.Y., have closed their training facilities due to coronavirus concerns.

Resident athletes in Colorado Springs will be allowed to stay and use the dining and medical facilities, but all athletic operations are shut down.

“(B)eginning tomorrow, Wednesday March 18, all training venues (pool, velodrome, gymnasiums, strength and conditioning) will be closed,” Colorado Springs officials told athletes in an email. “This closure will remain in effect for 30 days per the Governor’s orders.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday that all restaurants and gyms must close on Tuesday. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued a nearly identical order.

The Colorado Springs dining operation is closed for sit-down meals but will provide to-go meals to any athletes who stay at the center.

The closures will add to the scramble for training options leading up to the Olympics.

“Out of training for a month,” gymnast Sam Mikulak posted on Instagram. “I know I’m not alone on this, how is everyone else dealing with their Olympic preparation in these times?”

Pole vaulter Sandi Morris replied: “all facilities at U of Arkansas where I normally vault are closed up, probably going to go stay in Austin or Atlanta and train at private clubs for a few weeks. UA says they will reconsider opening facilities April 15, but I’m not betting on it. So for now … getting a plan together and doing workouts in my backyard for a few days.”

BMX racer Connor Fields responded with an emoji for beer.

USA Gymnastics is attempting to help.

“”We are we are working with athletes and their coaches to find safe alternative solutions for our athletes to train,” USA Gymnastics said in an email statement.

Athletes elsewhere have voiced similar concerns. British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson said on Twitter that a training camp in the U.S. has been canceled and she’s unable to train in France.

The Lake Placid center opened two years after the 1980 Olympics were held in the upstate New York village. It specializes in winter sports but also trains athletes in several summer sports.

Colorado Springs is the home of several national governing bodies as well as the training center itself.

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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.”