Paralympics: Kendall Gretsch wins biathlon gold after triathlon gold; Ukraine sweeps

CHINA-ZHANGJIAKOU-WINTER PARALYMPICS-PARA CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING -WOMEN'S LONG DISTANCE SITTING(CN)
Getty
0 Comments

Kendall Gretsch won a Paralympic biathlon gold medal in China on Tuesday, just over six months after winning a Paralympic triathlon gold medal in Tokyo.

Gretsch, 29, won the 10km sitting biathlon event, edging countrywoman Oksana Masters by 8.7 seconds despite having one shooting miss to Masters’ none over 20 shots.

Four years ago, Gretsch won the first U.S. gold of the PyeongChang Paralympics, marking the first U.S. women’s biathlon medal of any color at the Olympics or Paralympics. She later added a cross-country skiing title at those Games, two years after taking up Nordic skiing.

In her first event at this year’s Games, she took bronze while Masters won the first U.S. gold last Saturday.

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, it would not include Gretsch’s classification. Still wanting to compete at a Games, she became a biathlete and cross-country skier. Gretsch’s triathlon classification was added for the Tokyo Games.

PARALYMPICS: Broadcast Schedule | Team USA medal count | Viewer Guide | FAQs

Masters now has three medals in three Nordic skiing races at the Paralympics, with the opportunity for four more medals to break two major U.S. records.

Masters owns 13 career Paralympic medals among four sports between the Summer and Winter Games. Masters has gone a perfect 30 for 30 in shooting in her two biathlon races, in addition to a cross-country skiing silver medal.

Like Gretsch, Masters won gold at the Summer Games six months ago. Two in cycling.

It’s her winter medals — now 10 — that are the focus for history this week.

Masters is halfway to the record for most medals for an American at a single Winter Paralympics AND halfway to matching the most career Winter Paralympic medals in U.S. history. Gretsch can also get to a record-tying six medals at these Games if she earns a medal in her last three individual events, plus on a relay.

If Masters wins a medal in all of her individual remaining biathlon and cross-country events the rest of this week, plus a cross-country relay, she will hold both records by herself.

Fellow Nordic skier Dan Cnossen broke the U.S. record for medals at a single Winter Paralympics four years ago, taking six between biathlon and cross-country skiing. Masters won five in 2018, competing weeks after suffering a broken elbow.

The career U.S. medals record is shared by Alpine skiers Sarah Billmeier and Sarah Will, who each competed in four Paralympics from 1992-2002 and earned 13 medals out of a possible 16. Alpine skiing has four events per classification at the Games.

Gretsch, Masters and Cnossen have more medal opportunities because they compete in two sports. Alpine skiing is the only current Winter Paralympic sport other than biathlon and cross-country skiing with more than two medal events per classification.

The overall record for most Winter Paralympic medals is held by Norwegian Ragnhild Myklebust, who from 1988-2002 earned 27 medals (22 gold) across cross-country skiing, biathlon and ice sledge speed racing, which is no longer on the program.

Later Tuesday, Ukraine posted its second and third biathlon medals sweeps of the Games.

“I am happy, but you know the situation in Ukraine,” bronze medalist Dmytro Suiarko said, according to the Olympic Information Service. “Very hard concentration is needed in biathlon, and I missed twice [shooting] because yesterday my house where I live, it was bombed and destroyed.”

Ukraine, which ranked in the top four in total medals at each of the last four Winter Paralympics, ranks second at these Games with 17 medals, trailing China, which has 27 medals. Before these Games, China had one Winter Paralympic medal in history versus 1,229 Summer Paralympic medals.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included a quote from Masters calling Gretsch the “queen of biathlon.” Masters was referring to bronze medalist Anja Wicker of Germany.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

0 Comments

Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
Getty
0 Comments

Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!