Nils van der Poel sets retirement plan from speed skating

Nils van der Poel
Getty Images

Nils van der Poel, who swept the Olympic 5000m and 10,000m speed skating titles, then gave one of his gold medals to the daughter of a Swedish citizen who was detained in China, said he will retire from elite racing after the final two major competitions this season, according to Swedish media.

Van der Poel, 25, reportedly told Swedish news agency TT that he will compete at this weekend’s world allround championships in Norway (broadcast schedule here) and the World Cup Finals in the Netherlands next week, then retire. He could still attend speed skating competitions in the future to see friends, while also skating recreationally.

Van der Poel teased retirement at the Olympics, reportedly saying it was his “conviction” to leave the sport after this season and that he closed a chapter at the Games. He also cautioned that he twice tried to quit in previous years, only to return.

The more recent break was after the 2018 Olympics, when he placed 14th in the 5000m, after which he went nearly three years without racing.

“When you’re a professional athlete in a sport that sucks as much as speed skating sucks, you’ve got to find a way to make it suck a little less,” van der Poel said at the Olympics. “I did 20 ultras, 1,000 skydives, I served in the army for a year, I do a lot of parties. I went snowboarding a lot. I went ski mountaineering. I biked the whole of Sweden. I made it adventurous, because I knew there was a time when I would lock myself up, enduring it. I had to build up a mountain of motivation.”

Van der Poel returned to international competition in December 2020. Two months into his comeback, he broke the 10,000m world record at the world championships, which he lowered again at the Olympics. He also broke the 5000m world record three months ago.

After his Olympic success, van der Poel published a 62-page journal outlining his training regimen, titled, “How to skate a 10K and also half a 10K.”

“This is the hardest flex I’ve ever seen in speedskating,” NBC Olympics analyst Joey Cheek tweeted.

This week’s world allround speed skating championships mark one of the most storied sports competitions, predating even the modern Olympics.

First held officially in 1893, it has been 49 years since a Swedish skater won the men’s allround, which adds results from the 500m, 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m over two days of racing. A Dutch skater won the last nine men’s titles.

The world allround was not held in 2021, so this is van der Poel’s first time competing in it since 2018, when he was fifth.

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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.”

Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss


One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.


Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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