U.S. skiers connect with Winter 4 Kids, Share Winter to bring change

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U.S. Ski and Snowboard athletes are acting on a goal to create a more inclusive winter sports community, connecting with groups including Winter 4 Kids and Share Winter.

Olympic Alpine skier Laurenne Ross said current and alumni U.S. athletes formed a diversity, equity and inclusion working group last spring around the time of social justice movements nationwide.

“We all kind of agreed that we wanted to do something, but we all realized that we didn’t know what that was,” Ross said.

Research and learning led to a connection with Winter 4 Kids. The New Jersey-based organization provides healthy meals, equipment and mentoring and uses winter activities as a means to change the lives of children who traditionally don’t have access.

It acquired a dormant ski facility and repurposed it as a space for kids with opportunities for Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding starting in 2015.

By 2020, it had more than 3,000 kids participating. Sixty percent are Black and Latino. A majority were on free- or reduced-lunch programs. Ross said Winter 4 Kids has brought groups in from as far as New Orleans.

“When you give kids something new, you instill the fires of opportunity,” Winter 4 Kids CEO and President Schone Malliet said. “They are engaged to pursue things that may or may not have been readily available or accessible to them or within their sphere of vision.”

It’s more difficult to make a personal impact during the coronavirus pandemic, but Ross is working with the organization to create virtual visits with kids who come to ski. Malliet said Mikaela Shiffrin has been a supporter, and Ted Ligety a board member.

“The Olympics is an event, a big event, but it’s not the end of it,” Malliet said.

Olympic freeskier Julia Krass, a leader of the U.S. athlete group, has supported Share Winter, which works with grantees to make winter sports accessible to a more diverse community.

“The overall goal is to get as many kids and people of color and underserved youth out on the hill as possible,” Ross said.

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Katie Ledecky out-touches new rival at swimming’s U.S. Open, extends streak

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It was a rare sight: Katie Ledecky being matched stroke for stroke in a distance race in an American pool. She was up for the challenge.

Ledecky out-touched emerging 16-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh by eight hundredths of a second in the 400m freestyle at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday night.

Ledecky and McIntosh were tied at the 300-meter mark. Ledecky ended up clocking 3:59.71 to McIntosh’s 3:59.79 to extend a decade-long win streak in freestyle races of 400 meters or longer in U.S. pools.

“I know we’ll have a lot more races ahead of us,” Ledecky said on Peacock. “We bring the best out of each other.”

The U.S. Open continues Friday with live finals coverage on Peacock at 6 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

At the Tokyo Olympics, McIntosh placed fourth in the 400m free at age 14.

She accelerated this year, taking silver behind Ledecky at the world championships and silver behind Tokyo gold medalist Ariarne Titmus of Australia at the Commonwealth Games.

Then in October, McIntosh outdueled Ledecky in a 400m free — also by eight hundredths — in a short-course, 25-meter pool at a FINA World Cup meet in Toronto. Long-course meets like the Olympics and the U.S. Open are held in 50-meter pools.

McIntosh also won world titles in the 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley, becoming the youngest individual world champion since 2011.

A potential showdown among Ledecky, Titmus and McIntosh at the 2024 Paris Games is already being compared to the “Race of the Century,” the 2004 Olympic men’s 200m free where Australian Ian Thorpe edged Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband and Michael Phelps.

In other events Thursday, Regan Smith, an Olympic and world medalist in the backstroke and butterfly, won a 200m individual medley in a personal best 2:10.40, a time that would have placed fifth at June’s world championships. She beat 16-year-old Leah Hayes, who took bronze in the event at worlds.

Olympic 400m IM champ Chase Kalisz won the men’s 200m IM in 1:56.52, his best time ever outside of major summer meets. Frenchman Léon Marchand won the world title in 1:55.22 in June, when Kalisz was fourth.

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Eliud Kipchoge, two races shy of his target, to make Boston Marathon debut

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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World record holder Eliud Kipchoge will race the Boston Marathon for the first time on April 17.

Kipchoge, who at September’s Berlin Marathon lowered his world record by 30 seconds to 2:01:09, has won four of the six annual major marathons — Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago.

The 38-year-old Kenyan has never raced Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897, nor New York City but has repeated in recent years a desire to enter both of them.

Typically, he has run the London Marathon in the spring and the Berlin Marathon in the fall.

Kipchoge’s last race in the U.S. was the 2014 Chicago Marathon, his second of 10 consecutive marathon victories from 2014 through 2019.

He can become the first reigning men’s marathon world record holder to finish the Boston Marathon since South Korean Suh Yun-Bok set a world record of 2:25:39 in Boston in 1947, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

In 2024 in Paris, Kipchoge is expected to race the Olympic marathon and bid to become the first person to win three gold medals in that event.

The Boston Marathon field also includes arguably the second- and third-best men in the world right now — Kipchoge’s Kenyan training partners Evans Chebet and Benson Kipruto. Chebet won Boston and New York City this year. Kipruto won Boston last year and Chicago this year.

American Des Linden, who won Boston in 2018, headlines the women’s field.

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