Jenny Simpson to miss USATF Outdoor Championships for first time since 2006

Jenny Simpson
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Jenny Simpson, the U.S.’ most decorated female miler in history, will not compete at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships for the first time since 2006.

Simpson, after being inducted into the USTFCCCA Collegiate Hall of Fame in Eugene, Oregon, on Monday, said in an email that, sadly, she will not be in the nationals field in Eugene in two weeks. She did not provide additional details or say if or when she plans to race on the track again.

Simpson, 35, made her first Olympic team in 2008 in the 3000m steeplechase. She is the lone U.S. woman to win a world 1500m title (2011) or an Olympic 1500m medal (bronze in 2016).

From 2007 through 2019, Simpson finished in the top three in one of the 1500m, 5000m or 3000m steeplechase at all 13 annual national championships. Last year, she was 10th in the Olympic Trials 1500m in a bid to become the oldest U.S. Olympic 1500m runner in history, according to Olympedia.org.

Since, she raced once, in the Cherry Blossom 10-mile road race in Washington, D.C., last Sept. 12, according to World Athletics.

Simpson has focused much of her time this year helping her Colorado community heal and rebuild from a late December fire.

The top three at nationals are in line to make the world championships team, should they have the qualifying standard time.

Elle Purrier St. Pierre was the top U.S. miler last year, winning the Olympic Trials and posting the best finish in Tokyo of the American trio in 10th place.

Sinclaire Johnson, who was 12th at Olympic Trials, was the top American at the Pre Classic two weeks ago in fourth place, two spots ahead of Purrier St. Pierre with the best 1500m time by an American this year.

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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.”