Parkour group urges IOC to reject their sport from Olympics

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Organizers of the sport of parkour urged the IOC on Tuesday to reject adding the obstacle course-style street-running event to the 2024 Paris Olympics because of a dispute with the governing body of gymnastics.

The Parkour Earth group has for years opposed what it calls a “hostile takeover” of the sport by the International Gymnastics Federation, known as FIG.

“Unfortunately, FIG’s encroachment and misappropriation of our sport continues,” Parkour Earth wrote Tuesday in an open letter to the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC executive board will meet on Monday and on the agenda is finalizing the sports program for the Paris Games. Requests to add new medal events or modify existing ones are expected from governing bodies.

FIG, which will have 18 medal events at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, is expected to ask again for parkour’s inclusion. Paris is where parkour was developed in the 1990s.

Parkour’s spectacular tricks in an urban setting has clear appeal at a time when the Olympics is targeting a younger audience.

Skateboarding, 3-on-3 basketball and sport climbing will make their debuts in Tokyo, though the IOC declined FIG’s proposal of parkour. Breakdancing will be an Olympic sport in Paris in 2024.

What counts against parkour for the Paris Games is the IOC’s policy of adding medal events that involve only the existing pool of athletes. The IOC does not want to increase the overall quota of 10,500 athletes competing in 2024, and parkour competitors are separate from FIG’s Olympic disciplines of artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline.

Despite the dispute with Parkour Earth, FIG plans to stage its first parkour world championships in March. Events in parkour speed and parkour freestyle are scheduled to be held in Hiroshima, Japan.

“The collaboration is a natural fit,” the Lausanne-based gymnastics body has said, “as several national gymnastics federations affiliated with the FIG already offer parkour activities.”

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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.”