Home sweep for Japan at NHK Trophy

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Home favorites Daisuke Takahashi and Mao Asada thrilled the crowd in Tokyo Saturday at the NHK Trophy, winning respective Grand Prix titles.

Takahashi, a bronze medalist at the 2010 Olympic Games, used a strong free skate to run away with the title, scoring a 268.31 overall to countryman Nobunari Oda‘s 253.16, who was second. American Jeremy Abbott, who had been seventh after the short program, finished third.

Herself an Olympic medalist in Vancouver (silver), Asada won by a similar 15-point margin in the ladies event, 14-year-old Russian Yelena Radyonova coming in second. Japan’s Akiko Suzuki was third while 18-year-old American Gracie Gold finished in fourth place.

Abbott vaulted himself into third with a spirited free skate which he punctuated by throwing his hand over his mouth in disbelief once he was finished. The third-place finish in the free skate meant he surpassed countryman Adam Rippon, a 23-year-old who settled for fourth.

Max Aaron, the reigning U.S. champion, fell on one of his planned quadruple jumps and told coach Tom Zakrajsek, “I haven’t had a good one yet,” as he stepped off the ice. Aaron was third behind Rippon at Skate America in October, but looked sloppy in his free skate and settled for seventh out of nine skaters in Tokyo.

It wasn’t good for 2013 World Championships bronze medalist Javier Fernandez, either. The Spaniard was making his Grand Prix debut for the season and dropped from second to fifth following an eighth-place finish in the long program, which featured a series of missteps for the 22-year-old.

For Asada, it’s two gold medals in two Grand Prix events, securing her a spot in the Grand Prix Final next month in Japan. Radyonova’s age disqualifies her from competing in the Olympics, though she captured another Grand Prix medal after winning bronze at Skate America last month.

Gold, a Chicago native, was without veteran coach Frank Carroll, whom she started working with in September. Carroll, who has coached the likes of Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek, did not make the trip to Japan.

Mirai Nagasu, the 2008 U.S. champion and an Olympian in 2010, was eighth.

More: Davis/White lead after short dance, Russian team wins in pairs

Ladies results
1 Mao ASADA JPN 207.59
2 Yelena RADYONOVA RUS 191.81
3 Akiko SUZUKI JPN 179.32
4 Gracie GOLD USA 177.81
5 Satoko MIYAHARA JPN 170.21
6 Valentina MARCHEI ITA 168.95
7 Alena LEONOVA RUS 161.94
8 Mirai NAGASU USA 141.71
9 Elene GEDEVANISHVILI GEO 129.24

Men’s results
1 Daisuke TAKAHASHI JPN 268.31
2 Nobunari ODA JPN 253.16
3 Jeremy ABBOTT USA 237.41
4 Adam RIPPON USA 233.71
5 Javier FERNANDEZ ESP 230.45
6 Takahito MURA JPN 227.22
7 Max AARON USA 223.35
8 Konstantin MENSHOV RUS 221.32
9 Sergei VORONOV RUS 221.18

PyeongChang late night roundup

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Last night belonged to the U.S. women’s hockey team. In the unlikely event that you slept through the game, the USA defeated Canada in a mesmerizing 3-2 shootout to win the USA’s first Olympic gold medal in women’s hockey since 1998.

It was Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson who gave the United States the go-ahead goal in the sixth shootout attempt, and it was Rooney’s block that sealed the victory for the Americans.

That wasn’t the only key event tonight, though. Mikaela Shiffrin got back on the podium in the women’s combined, while Lindsey Vonn posted a DNF in the second run.

Continue reading below to catch up on all the action from PyeongChang.


Hockey: USA win gold, def. CAN 3-2 (SO)

This victory was decades in the making. After narrowly losing to Canada in Olympic finals before, the Americans were finally able to win the gold medal.

The game proved to be a hotly-contested affair and featured the highest quality, and the grittiest, hockey played throughout the course of the tournament. The USA were up 1-0 at the first intermission, before Canada put up two goals of their own in the second. A goal by Monique Lamoureux-Morando brought the U.S. level before they took out the four-time defending gold medalists in the shootout.

Click here for the full recap 

Alpine Skiing: Shiffrin wins silver, Vonn misses out  

Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn had mixed results in the women’s combined. Vonn, two days after claiming bronze in the downhill, posted the best time in the downhill section tonight, while Shiffrin had some work to do after finishing sixth.

Shiffrin, who favors the slalom, sped down the bottom portion of the course to propel herself to a guaranteed medal position. Vonn, who skied the slalom last, saw her quest for gold abruptly end after she hooked one of the gates on the course, resulting in a DNF.

The two favorites of the men’s slalom, Marcel Hirscher and Henrik Kristofferson, both failed to finish their races, which left open a huge opportunity for the field. The man who stepped up was Sweden’s Andre Myhrer, who finished in 1:38.99.

Read the full women’s combined recap here 

Short Track: South Korea stunned in final short track day 

It was a disastrous day for South Korea. Their strategy for this event was to sit back for the majority of the race, and then strike in the last three laps.

Choi Minjeong, a huge favorite to win gold, found herself in fifth place heading into the final two laps and attempted to maneuver her way into the gold medal position. On the final turn, though, Choi tried to move inside the lane but ended up colliding with her compatriot Suk Shim-Hee, leaving the South Korean crowd silent.

Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands won the gold.

In the men’s relay 5000m, the Koreans were expected to win gold as well. There was a lot of contact in the race, but it was an untimely fall from a South Korean skater that ended their dreams – again, leaving the home crowd silent.

Hungary, China, and Canada took home the medals.

Full recap available here 

Biathlon: Belarus wins relay gold on windy evening

A very windy evening made shooting increasingly difficult for the athletes tonight. It reared its ugly head with Germany and Norway, two teams that were supposed to be the front runners for the gold medal. Laura Dahlmeier, who’s been excellent this whole fortnight, didn’t even have a chance to properly anchor Germany because they were already a minute behind before they reached her.

It ended up being Belarus with the gold, powered by six-time Olympic gold medalist Darya Domracheva in the final leg. Sweden and France finished second and third, respectively.

Nordic Combined: Germany powers to gold 

A strong cross-country performance gave Germany another medal in the nordic combined. Austria led entering the event, having finished first in the large hill portion, but Eric Frenzel and company crushed the competition in the 20km relay. The Germans won by a margin of 52 seconds. Norway and Austria came in second and third, respectively.

Full nordic combined recap available here

Miracle re-dub: USA win gold in Olympic hockey

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Feb. 22 has proven to be a day bringing good cheer to American hockey.

Exactly 38 years ago to this day, Herb Brooks guided the United States men’s hockey team to an improbable Olympic gold medal, putting an end to the Soviet Union’s four straight hockey golds.

History does have a way of repeating itself.

Tonight, the U.S. women’s team’s Olympic anguish turned to triumph after they beat arch-rivals Canada 3-2 in a shootout thriller. In doing so, the American women snapped Canada’s streak of four consecutive Olympic gold medals.

It was only four years ago when the Americans suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Canada in Sochi, losing in overtime. They wouldn’t allow themselves to forget it.

It was that memory that pushed Team USA in this tournament, who were destined to take on their bitter northern rivals. Like Herb Brooks’ team, the U.S. women’s team showed tremendous character to fight back in the third period when they were down 1-2, and again when they were down in the shootout.

A beautifully choreographed penalty shot from Jocelyne Lamoreux-Davidson, backed up by 20-year old Maddie Rooney’s game winning save, that sealed Team USA’s historic run.

Four years ago was Canada’s time. Tonight, it’s America’s time.