After a 16-year drought, the Japanese women’s hockey team finally got back on the Olympic scoreboard today against Russia in round-robin play.
Just 33 seconds into the third period, Ayaka Toko launched a long-range shot through heavy traffic and past Russia goalie Anna Prugova to tie the contest at 1-1.
You can check out the long, or rather, very long-anticipated goal from Japan over on NBCOlympics.com.
Until Toko’s goal today, the most recent Japanese goal in an Olympics had come in a 6-1 loss to China on Feb. 11, 1998 during the Nagano Games (which they qualified for as the team from the host nation).
That was the last time the team – popularly known as “Smile Japan” – had been in Olympic competition prior to Sochi.
But it can be argued that Toko’s goal should have been more than an equalizer versus the Russians, who took the game, 2-1, and eliminated Japan from medal contention.
Earlier, toward the end of the first period, Japan appeared to have pulled even when Prugova mishandled the puck following a shot and it wound up crossing the goal line.
But the referees whistled the play dead, apparently believing that Prugova had covered the puck, and didn’t award Japan a goal. You can also visit NBCOlympics.com to see the controversial call.
Fenway Park will host some of the world’s best freeskiers in the one-of-a-kind Big Air at Fenway, live on NBC Sports Live Extra on Friday night.
Big air skiers will descend from a ramp that’s four times higher than the Green Monster inside the hallowed Boston Red Sox home.
Ski big air is most like slopestyle of the current Olympic disciplines, except skiers get one jump per run.
WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET
On Thursday, Canadian Max Parrot and American Julia Marino won the snowboard big air competitions at Fenway Park.
Big Air at Fenway coverage will conclude with an NBC show on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.
MORE: Olympic champ suffers concussion at Big Air at Fenway practice
In an homage to the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics, Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway lit the Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympic cauldron to cap the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.
The princess’ father, Crown Prince Haakon, lit the 1994 Olympic cauldron in a very similar fashion (video here). Princess Ingrid Alexandra was born in 2004.
The Opening Ceremony, held outdoors at a ski jump (same venue as 1994) in sub-freezing temperatures, included a speech from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.
“I’m just a little bit too old to compete in the YOG,” Bach said, urging listeners to use the hashtag #IloveYOG during the nine-day Winter Games.
The ceremony included Olympic legends, such as 2010 figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim and eight-time Olympic cross-country champion Bjorn Daehlie carrying the Olympic flag.
Marit Bjoergen, a 10-time Olympic medalist cross-country skier, handed the Olympic flame to the princess.
NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. ET, plus daily coverage throughout the Winter Games. A full broadcast schedule is here.
MORE: Two years to Pyeongchang: Updates on U.S. Olympic medalists from Sochi