Grand Prix of France the latest figure skating event canceled due to coronavirus

Grand Prix France
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Internationaux de France, an annual Grand Prix figure skating event held in November, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

France’s skating federation canceled the event after President Emmanuel Macron announced last week a curfew for Grenoble, host city for the competition.

The federation “closely monitored the health authorities position on COVID-19, but given the evolution of the health crisis and their prudence for the health and safety of the athletes, coaches, officials, and volunteers, the appropriate course of action was for the [federation] to cancel the event.”

Top skaters who were scheduled to compete were world ice dance champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France and Japanese singles stars Shoma Uno and Rika Kihira, who train in Europe.

It’s the fourth top-level skating competition this season to be postponed or canceled due to the pandemic.

Previously, Skate Canada in late October and the Four Continents Championships in February were canceled. The Grand Prix Final, originally scheduled for Beijing in December, has been postponed indefinitely.

The abbreviated Grand Prix season starts with Skate America in Las Vegas on Friday, without ticketed fans and limited to mostly U.S. skaters due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel restrictions.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

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

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.”