McMorris wins X Games slopestyle; White finishes fifth

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Gold medalist Shaun White, the king of the superpipe, was unable to transfer those talents to the slopestyle event Saturday, finishing fifth as defending champ Mark McMorris of Canada took gold, again.

“I proved myself the way I wanted to and I’m just a happy camper,” McMorris said after his historic run. “I landed a run I don’t think I’ve ever done, really.”

McMorris led from the start, earning a 94.66 in his first run and then upping his score to 98.00 on what was effectively a victory lap after he had already secured gold. He capped the best slopestyle performance in X Games history by landing the difficult triple cork, as the other seven competitors failed to do the same, or weren’t willing to try.

White, who landed a triple in practice Wednesday, finished with just 71.00 points on his first run and was unable to improve his score, earning 20.00 points, and then only 14.00 in his other two attempts.

In fact, McMorris was the only top-five rider to increase his score after his first time down the hill, as silver medalist Max Parrot earned a 90.00 and Seppe Smits chalked up an 85.00 to make the podium, but fell on their second and third tries when they were forced to attempt difficult tricks in order to play catch-up.

Snowboarding slopestyle makes its Olympic debut in Sochi next February.

Check out McMorris’s third run here:

No NHL players means more mistakes and goals at Olympics

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Hockey is a game of mistakes and it’s on display in fine form at the Olympics.

It doesn’t look beautiful, of course, with players all outside the NHL turning the puck over for point-blank scoring chances or leaving opponents wide open in front. The talent level is lower, so the risk factors and the entertainment level are up. Goaltenders have to be on their toes for unexpected, game-saving stops even more than usual.

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“It’s a short tournament: A few mistakes can decide your fate,” Finland goaltender Karri Ramo said Saturday. “You try to create more than carry it out of the zone, so obviously teams are trying to keep the puck and create scoring chances, so those mistakes happen. You’re not going to win if you play safe.”

There’s not a whole lot of safe, low-risk play so far, and scoring has increased as a result. After each team played twice, games were averaging 5.1 goals, up from 4.7 in Sochi with NHL players on the rosters.

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Ligety exits quietly, Hirscher brilliant again

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Marcel Hirscher, the Austrian ski god, is finally having his moment. King of the World Cup tour for the past seven seasons, on Sunday Hirscher won his second Olympic gold, in the giant slalom.

Hirscher had won a grand total of no Olympic medals, nada, zip, zero in two prior Games. Now he might — could, should — win three here at PyeongChang. The slalom, another Hirscher specialty, is due to be run Thursday.

To watch Hirscher ski is to watch one of the great athletes of our — or any — time. Like being courtside in Chicago to see Michael Jordan back in the day. At Wimbledon for a Roger Federer volley. At the Water Cube in Beijing in 2008 when Michael Phelps was swimming the butterfly.

In Sunday’s race, Kristoffersen finished second, 1.27 seconds back of Hirscher. Pinturault finished third, 1.31 behind.

American racer Ted Ligety used to own this event: the Sochi 2014 giant slalom gold medalist, he was world champion in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Pinturault took Sochi 2014 bronze.

Considering his relatively low slalom ranking and the pounding that slalom demands, Sunday’s GS was — just like that, that quickly, that quietly — likely the final race of Ligety’s outstanding Olympic career.

“This is probably it for me at these Games,” he said after run two, adding that he is planning to head back to Europe, to race the remainder of the World Cup season.

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