Kyle Dake wins fourth straight wrestling world title; U.S. breaks gold medals record

Kyle Dake
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Kyle Dake became the second American wrestler to win four consecutive world titles, pushing the U.S. to its most gold medals ever at a single world championships with one day left in Belgrade.

Dake notched the U.S.’ sixth gold medal this week, breaking the nation’s previous record of five golds in a single year, with a shot at two more on Sunday.

The U.S. is guaranteed to finish worlds with the most medals of any nation, its first time ever doing that outright. Russia, banned this year due to the war in Ukraine, won the most medals at the last three world championships.

Last year, the U.S. topped the Olympic wrestling total medal standings for the first time ever when it hasn’t been host nation.

Dake, a Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist, joined John Smith as the lone Americans to accomplish a four-peat at worlds. Dake won his first two at the non-Olympic 79kg weight class and the last two at 74kg, while Smith won all of his at 62kg (plus two Olympic golds).

Dake defeated Slovakian Tajmuraz Salkazanov 3-1 in a rematch of last year’s world final. Wrestlers from now banned Russia and Belarus earned gold and silver in the Tokyo Olympic 74kg division.

Next, Dake plans to move from Cornell, where he became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four different weights (2010-13), to Penn State to train with a club that includes Olympic champions Kyle Snyder and David Taylor.

The U.S. added silver medals Saturday from Olympic bronze medalists J’den Cox (92kg) and Thomas Gilman (57kg).

Cox was beaten by Iran’s Kamran Ghasempour at a second straight world championships, falling 2-0 in the final. Gilman fell 7-2 to Albanian Zelimkhan Abakarov in his final.

“I already got my tears out of me, and I’m probably going to have some more,” said Cox, who plans to move back up to 97kg in 2023 to challenge Snyder.

Also Saturday for the Americans, Snyder and three-time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis (65kg) advanced to Sunday finals. Seth Gross (61kg) will wrestle for bronze.

If Gross wins his match, the U.S. will win its most-ever total medals at a single worlds, surpassing its 15 from last year.

U.S. men’s freestylers made the gold-medal final in eight of 10 weight classes, a program record (though in many years there have not been that many classes at worlds, and the absence of Belarus and Russia is noteworthy).

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Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

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Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

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