Norway’s Marit Bjorgen wins the women’s skiathlon

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The “Iron Lady” has struck gold again in Sochi, as Norway’s Marit Bjorgen has won the women’s skiathlon.

Bjorgen claimed her fourth Olympic gold and eighth Olympic medal overall by a margin of 1.8 seconds over silver medalist Charlotte Kalla of Sweden and by 13.2 seconds over bronze medalist Heidi Weng of Norway.

Jessie Diggins, one-half of the reigning world team sprint champions with Kikkan Randall, finished eighth at just more than a minute and a half behind Bjoergen to lead the Americans.

“Normally in pursuit races, I fall so far behind in the classic [portion] that I take myself out for the race because I’m a strong [free] skater,” Diggins said to NBC after her first Olympic race.

“But today, I…had a great plan from the coaches and fantastic skis, and I was able to hang on in the classic part. Then in the skate – just systematically work and ramp it up, picking people off one by one. Luckily, at the end, I had just enough energy for a strong finish.”

MORE: Sage Kotsenburg wins slopestyle gold; first medal of Sochi Olympics

WOMEN’S SKIATHLON
1. Marit Bjorgen (NOR), 38:33.6
2. Charlotte Kalla (SWE), +1.8 seconds
3. Heidi Weng (NOR), +13.2 seconds
4. Therese Johaug (NOR), +14.6 seconds
5. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), +15.3 seconds

8. Jessie Diggins (USA), +1:31.9
12. Elizabeth Stephen (USA), +1:36.0
31. Sadie Bjornsen (USA), +2:36.1
47. Holly Brooks (USA), +4:00.4

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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