U.S. in medal position after Day 2 of team figure skating

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Team USA started Day 2 of the inaugural Olympic team figure skating competition facing elimination. But by the end of the day, the Americans had clawed their way back into the medal picture.

Going into tomorrow’s final day (men’s/women’s free skate and free dance), they sit third in the overall standings with 34 points, looking up at leaders Russia (47 points) and Canada (41 points).

Meryl Davis and Charlie White kick-started the American comeback by topping the short program in ice dancing with a score of 75.98, beating out defending Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada to earn a full 10 points.

That pushed the U.S. to third in the standings, and that’s where they’d stay for the rest of the afternoon. Ashley Wagner finished fourth in the ladies’ short program with a score of 63.10, while the Russian crowd was brought to their feet by Julia Lipnitskaia, who finished first with a score of 72.90 ahead of Italy’s Carolina Kostner and Japan’s Mao Asada.

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With all the short programs completed, Russia, Canada, the U.S., Japan, and Italy all moved on into the free program portion of the competition, which began with the pairs.

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, who did the pairs’ short program on Thursday, got the call again for the U.S. in free skate and wound up finishing fourth with a score of 117.94 (7 points).

WATCH: Japanese skater Asada falls, but still hopeful

Russia once again showed its strength as Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, the final pair to skate this afternoon, took home 10 points for the host nation after posting a score of 135.09. Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch were second (129.74, 9 points) and Italy’s Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek were third (120.82, 8 points).

TEAM FIGURE SKATING – STANDINGS
(After five events)
1. Russia – 47
2. Canada – 41
3. United States – 34
4. Italy – 31
5. Japan – 30
Eliminated after short programs
6. France – 22
7. China – 20
8. Germany – 17
9. Ukraine – 10
10. Great Britain – 8

John Shuster, 30 pounds lighter, rallies for 4th Olympic curling berth

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John Shuster is going to a fourth Olympics. It’s one more chance to prove Urban Dictionary wrong.

Shuster, 30 pounds lighter since his second straight Olympic failure in Sochi, led a team that beat Heath McCormick‘s squad at the U.S. Olympic Trials finals in Omaha on Saturday night.

Shuster, Tyler GeorgeMatt Hamilton and John Landsteiner lost the opener of a best-of-three finals series on Thursday.

They came back to deliver in a pair of must-win games, 9-4 on Friday night and 7-5 on Saturday, after spending each day at the Omaha Zoo.

The new-look Shuster — leaner and, at least this weekend, clutch — would astonish those who know him by scenes at the last two Olympics.

After taking bronze in 2006 as a role player, he led the last two U.S. Olympic teams to 2-7 records in 2010 and in 2014. Last place in Vancouver, where he was benched after an 0-4 start. Next to last place in Sochi.

After the last Olympics, the former bartender from Chisholm, Minn., was left off USA Curling’s 10-man high performance team.

He took it as motivation to get in shape.

Shuster, a father of a 2- and a 4-year-old who once said, “If I don’t have pizza three or four times a week, I’m not happy,” now totes meal replacement shakes. He’s starting to enjoy Olympic lifting.

Shuster, George, Hamilton and Landsteiner, all absent from that USA Curling high performance list, formed their own team. They became Team USA in their first season together and represented the Stars and Stripes at worlds in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Their results — fourth, third and fifth —  marked the best string of U.S. men’s or women’s finishes at that level in a decade.

Shuster is set to join Debbie McCormick as the only Americans to curl at four Olympics. The sport was part of the first Winter Games in 1924, then absent as a medal sport until 1998.

“I don’t think it’s about the four Olympics for me,” Shuster said on NBCSN. “What this is about — and what I’m about — is getting my teammates to now. I have two new Olympians on this team, and I know how special that is.”

George, the 35-year-old vice skip for Shuster, led a team that lost to Shuster in the 2010 Olympic Trials final. The liquor store manager from Duluth, Minn., is going to his first Winter Games.

As is the 28-year-old Hamilton, whose younger sister qualified for PyeongChang earlier Saturday.

Landsteiner, a 27-year-old corrosion engineer, played with Shuster since 2011, including in Sochi.

Alternate Joe Polo can go 12 years between Olympic appearances after taking bronze on that Torino team.

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MORE: U.S. Winter Olympic Trials broadcast schedule

Katie Ledecky wins race by 54 seconds, breaks record

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Katie Ledecky is back at Stanford and back to pulverizing distance races.

The sophomore and five-time Olympic champion won a 1,650-yard freestyle by 54.45 seconds at a meet at Texas A&M on Saturday night.

The runner-up was in a different heat; Ledecky won her heat by 1:02.16.

Ledecky lowered her own American record, clocking 15:03.31. She had the previous mark of 15:03.92 set last Nov. 20.

Ledecky had every swimmer lapped in the 25-yard pool before the halfway point and ended up lapping everyone twice.

The men also raced a 1,650 on Saturday. The winner clocked 15:18.95, which was 15.64 seconds slower than Ledecky’s time.

Full results are here.

The 1,650 is the longest race on the NCAA program, while the longest race at the Olympics and world championships is the 1500m.

The No. 2 woman all-time in the 1,650 is triple 2008 Olympic medalist Katie Hoff, a full 21.04 seconds slower.

Ledecky owns the 1500m world record, too, 13.4 seconds faster than any other woman in history.

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MORE: Michael Phelps’ discussion with Katie Ledecky after 2017 Worlds