Katie Ledecky drops 200m freestyle from swimming worlds slate

Katie Ledecky
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Katie Ledecky dropped the 200m freestyle from her world swimming championships schedule, according to an updated USA Swimming event-by-event roster.

Ledecky, who has not commented publicly on the change, won the 200m free at last week’s U.S. swimming trials, along with the 400m, 800m and 1500m frees.

She entered those four individual events at every Olympics, world championships and Pan Pacific Championships dating to 2014 (though she scratched the 200m at 2019 Worlds due to illness).

As in past major meets, the 200m free and 1500m free overlap at worlds in Budapest in June. The 200m free semifinals and 1500m free final are in the same session.

Ledecky’s last major international title in the 200m free was at the 2016 Olympics.

She then took silver at the 2017 Worlds, bronze at the 2018 Pan Pacs and placed fifth at the Tokyo Olympics while taking eight golds and one silver among the 400m, 800m and 1500m frees at those meets.

Ariarne Titmus, the Olympic 200m and 400m free champion, is among the Australian stars who plan to skip June’s worlds to focus on the Commonwealth Games later this summer. Ledecky and Titmus are tied for the world’s fastest 200m free time this year.

The U.S. entrants in the 200m free are now trials runner-up Claire Weinstein, who is 15, and Leah Smith, who was third in the 200m free and runner-up to Ledecky in the 400m and 800m frees. Ledecky is still expected to headline the 4x200m free relay.

Ledecky is four individual world titles shy of Michael Phelps‘ record 15. By dropping the 200m free, she cannot match that total this year. There are two more world championships before the next Olympics — in July 2023 in Fukuoka, Japan, and January 2024 in Doha.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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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.”