Gabriella Papadakis, Guillaume Cizeron top figure skating worlds rhythm dance, hit record

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French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are halfway to following their first Olympic title with their fifth world title.

The crowd favorites delivered a 92.73-point rhythm dance in Montpellier, France, on Friday, taking a 3.01-point lead into Saturday’s free dance.

They broke their world record score of 90.83 from the Olympics.

“It was magic,” Papadakis said. “It was even better than the Olympics.”

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Americans are second and third, as expected. Olympic bronze medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are followed by Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Both recorded personal bests.

“The goal of tomorrow for myself is to not cry before or during the performance,” Hubbell said of what will be her and Donohue’s last competitive skate.

The U.S. is in position to win a world medal in dance for the seventh consecutive time and for the 17th time total in the last 17 years if both make the podium. The last gold was in 2013.

Papadakis and Cizeron, who won the Olympics by a record margin for dance, can move one title shy of the world championships record six by a single couple earned by Liudmila Pakhomova and Aleksander Gorshkov in the 1970s.

Nobody in this field has beaten the French in more than seven years. Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, the Olympic silver medalists and only couple to beat the French since the 2018 Olympics, aren’t at worlds due to the Russian ban.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

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

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.”