Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon before Olympics

Eliud Kipchoge
London Marathon
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World-record holder Eliud Kipchoge races his next marathon on April 11 in Hamburg, Germany, his last 26.2-mile race before defending his Olympic title at the Tokyo Games on Aug. 8.

It’s not a mass marathon, but an elite-only event with an estimated 100 invitees on a 10.5-kilometer loop. Every major city marathon scheduled for the winter and spring has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“In these challenging times and with the road race calendar for the first half of 2021 decimated by the pandemic, the involved parties were keen to arrange the race to provide a much-needed competitive opportunity for the athletes,” according to a press release.

Kipchoge, a 36-year-old with the fastest time in history of 2:01:39, will return to the site of his marathon debut in 2013. He made the move from the track after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic team.

In eight years, he has won 11 of his 13 marathons, plus run the only sub-two-hour marathon in history in a non-world-record-eligible event.

Kipchoge’s 10-race win streak ended at his last outing, the London Marathon on Oct. 4. He placed eighth, citing a blockage in his right ear over the last 10 miles and leg and hip cramping, but didn’t blame the rainy, 50-degree weather.

“In Hamburg, I am going back to the genesis of my marathon career,” Kipchoge said in a release.

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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.”