Men clinch curling gold
The United States won its first gold medal in Olympic curling, beating Sweden 10-7. After starting 2-4, the U.S. won its last five games. With the win, the U.S. earned a medal in its 11th different sport in PyeongChang. Eleven medals sets a record for any nation at a single Winter Olympics. It was also the U.S.’ ninth gold medal in PyeongChang, which matches the U.S.’ total from each of the last three Winter Olympics. Curling fever caught on in the U.S., and despite the late start, curling was the top trending hashtag in the U.S. on Twitter, and Shuster was second.
The match was close from the start. The lead changed three times. However, the U.S. sealed the game by scoring five points in the eighth end. Skipper John Shuster, playing in his fourth Olympics, used his final shot to remove two Swedish stones from the house, leaving five American stones and clinching the win.
Sweden wins the silver medal for the second time since curling returned to the Olympics in 1998. Switzerland won the bronze by defeating Canada early Friday morning.
Ester Ledecka made history winning the snowboarding women’s parallel giant slalom. She becomes the first woman to win gold in two different sports at the same Winter Olympics. Exactly one week after shocking everyone by winning the super-G, Ledecka won in her better sport. She is the third athlete ever, and first since 1928, to accomplish the feat.
Two events made their Olympic debut: men’s big air and the Alpine team event. American Kyle Mack took home the silver in the debut of the men’s big air. Canada’s Sebastien Toutant won the gold. Americans Chris Corning and Red Gerard finished fourth and fifth, respectively. In an event where everyone was using their big tricks to get 1600s, Mack used style and finesse to win the silver.
The men’s 1000m speed skating final was on display. Kjeld Nuis won his second gold medal of the 2018 Games. It marks a comeback for Nuis, who dealt with psychological hurdles (anxiety and nerves) earlier in his career that caused him to miss the 2010 and 2014 Games. He worked with a sports psychologist, which helped him have a strong showing in PyeongChang. It marks the seventh speed skating gold medal for the Netherlands.
South Korean Kim Tae-Yun earned the bronze medal. The home crowd advantage was definitely a factor, as medaling was not expected for Kim. He finished 30th in Sochi and has not been a factor at international events. Norway’s Havard Lorentzen, the 500m gold medalist, took home the silver.
American Joey Mantia just missed out on the podium, finishing fourth. Teammate Mitch Whitmore finished tenth. It is likely the last race for the three-time Olympian. Shani Davis finished seventh overall, in what is likely his last race. He is a two-time gold medalist but knows making the Olympics in four years at the age of 39 would be challenging.
Sweden won its first-ever men’s 4×7.5 relay in the men’s biathlon event. It all came down to the final shooting range, where Fredrik Lindstroem managed to avoid the gusting wind and have a clean shoot. The team of Peppe Femling, Jesper Nelin, Sebastian Samuelsson and Lindstroem won by 55.5 seconds over Norway. Norway’s silver medal was its 37th medal of the Games, which tied the U.S. record of 37 in Vancouver.
Team USA tied its best finish in the 4×7.5 relay, coming in sixth overall. The Americans were hoping to win their first biathlon Olympic medal.
Ledecka goes down in history books
Ester Ledecka became the first woman to win gold in two different sports at the same Winter Olympics by winning the women’s parallel giant slalom snowboarding event.
Exactly one week after winning gold in the super-G, Ledecka won in her primary sport. Unlike last time, her gold isn’t a huge upset. She is the No. 1 ranked athlete in women’s parallel giant slalom. She qualified with the fastest time, then won four straight head-to-head races to win gold.
In the big final, Ledecka beat Germany’s Selina Joerg, who will take home a silver medal. Joerg’s teammate, Ramona Hofmeister, won bronze in the small final.
The women weren’t the only ones making history in the parallel slalom event. South Korea’s Lee Sang-Ho won the silver medal, taking home South Korea’s first-ever Winter Olympic medal on snow.
Switzerland’s Nevin Galmarni, the 2014 Olympic silver medalist, upgraded to a gold medal, beating Lee. Galmarini won by .43 seconds.
Slovenia’s Zan Kosir won the men’s small final to take home bronze. It’s his third Olympic medal after earning two medals in the parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom in Sochi.
Big air debut
Canada’s Sebastien Toutant won the snowboarding big air event in its Olympic debut. Everyone thought a Canadian would win, but they thought it would be Max Parrot or Mark McMorris. The big air gold was Canada’s first gold medal in snowboarding at these Games.
The U.S. contingent was all considered medal contenders heading into the event. Kyle Mack ended up winning silver, his first Olympic medal. Unlike some competitors who went for the biggest spins, Mack used stylish and creative grabs on his tricks to earn a combined score of 168.75 for silver.
Mack was making his Olympic debut in PyeongChang. He finished in 7th place in the big air event at the 2018 Winter X Games.
Great Britain’s Bill Morgan took home bronze. Great Britain finishes the Winter Olympics with its biggest medal haul ever (5).
In the final, each of the 12 riders had three attempts to try a trick. The worst score would be tossed, and the top two scores combined for a total score. The top two scores for a rider had to come from different tricks, meaning you couldn’t do the same trick over and over.
Toutant put together his winning combo by landing a cab triple cork 1620 on his first run. His second trick was a backside 1620, which ended up being the highest-scoring attempt of the day.
His teammates, Parrot and McMorris, are heavy hitters in the snowboarding world. They have also excelled at the big air event, winning the last five X Games between themselves. Neither favorite could land two solid tricks to put them in medal contention. Parrot and McMorris both leave PyeongChang with silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the snowboarding slopestyle event.
Mack did not attempt 1620s like most of the other riders. Instead, he embellished two 1440s. On his first jump, he landed a backside triple cork 1440 with a Japan grab. On the following run, he landed a frontside 1440 with a two-handed grab known as a “Bloody Dracula” grab. It was enough to win silver by .75 of a point.
Team USA’s Chris Corning finished in fourth. He landed a frontside 1440 melon and a backside triple cork 1440 melon on his first two runs. On his final run, Corning was sitting in fourth, so he knew he had nothing to lose. He went for a backside quad cork 1800. No one else attempted a quad in the contest, but Corning couldn’t lad it cleanly, resulting in him staying put in fourth.
Red Gerard was still flying high after his gold medal in slopestyle. Big air isn’t really his specialty. After flying to the United States and back for a media tour, he put down two solid runs but didn’t have as high of a score because he didn’t try any big tricks.
The U.S. ends PyeongChang with seven medals in snowboarding. Seven medals is the largest total by a sport for the U.S. The four gold medals in snowboarding is also the best among the Americans.
Alpine team event
Switzerland won the inaugural Alpine team event. Austria claimed the silver, and Norway takes home the bronze.
The team event featured 16 teams of four athletes, with two men and two women. The event is bracket-style: lose and the team is done. It’s a race of head-to-head slalom races.
The U.S. lost to Great Britain in the opening round. Both teams had two points, but the tiebreaker of combined time gave Great Britain the advantage. Megan McJames, Nolan Kasper, Tricia Mangan and David Chodounsky represented the U.S. Many of the top competitors opted out of the team event because they have a world cup race next week in Slovenia.
Germany leads the charge
Germany’s Francesco Friedrich’s sled is in first after the first two runs of the 4-man event. Friedrich could win his second gold after winning gold in the 2-man. The German sled leads by .29 seconds with two runs remaining.
The South Koreans are in a strong position to challenge for Gold. Yunjong Won piloted the sled to second. Nico Walther’s German sled is in third, .35 seconds back of the lead.
Codie Bascue piloted the top American sled. They currently are in ninth place, .53 out of medal contention. Nick Cunningham’s sled is 20th and Justin Olsen’s sled is in 21st for Team USA. Olsen notoriously needed an emergency appendectomy before finishing as the top American sled in the 2-man event.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Finland’s Iivo Niskanen won the men’s 50km mass start. He led from the 17km mark and kept the lead for most of the race. He temporarily relinquished it to Alexander Bolshunov, an Olympic Athlete from Russia. The two men were ahead of the pack and in a race of their own from the 17km mark. Ultimately, Niskanen made a decision to change his skies with 8km to go. The change in skies helped give him a boost, and he took back the lead in the final 2km. He crossed the finish line with a time of 2:08:22.1.
Olympic Athlete from Russia Andrey Larkov managed to hold off a pack of four medal favorites to claim the bronze.
American Scott Patterson led the charge for Team USA. He finished 11th overall with a time of 2:13:14.2. It is the 26 year old’s best finish of the season. Fellow Americans Noah Hoffman finished in 33rd place, and Tyle Kornfield finished 48th overall.