Freestyle Skiing - Winter Olympics Day 11

Sochi Olympic Daily Recap & Medal Count: Day 11

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Through the falling snow at Rosa Khutor, a Wise man flipped, jumped, and soared into Olympic history.

23-year-old U.S. halfpipe skier David Wise, already a multi-time X Games champion and the 2013 world champion, is now the inaugural Olympic men’s ski halfpipe champion. The devoted family man cranked out a 92.00-point first run in the finals that was able to stand up.

Wise’s performance brings Team USA its sixth gold of the Sochi Olympics and its second in as many days after Meryl Davis and Charlie White won gold in ice dancing yesterday.

This afternoon, Wise thanked his supporters and hailed silver medalist Mike Riddle of Canada and bronze medalist Kevin Rolland of France…

The U.S. also got a bronze medal this morning in snowboard cross as Alex Deibold, a wax tech for the U.S. snowboarders four years ago in Vancouver, broke through for a spot on the podium. He would dedicate the bronze to Chelone Miller, the late brother of U.S. Alpine skiing star Bode Miller and his former snowboarding teammate. France’s Pierre Vaultier was also impressive in claiming gold on what he termed as a “broken” ACL

Mikaela Shiffrin – considered by many to be the future of U.S. Alpine skiing – made her Winter Olympic debut today in the giant slalom and finished a solid fifth, while Slovenia’s Tina Maze won her second gold so far in Sochi over super-G winner Anna Fenninger (silver) and defending Olympic GS champ Viktoria Rebensburg…

The men’s biathlon mass start was finally settled after two days of postponements, and the ending was worth the wait as Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway won a photo finish over France’s Martin Fourcade. Adding to the excitement was that Svendsen actually slowed down and raised his arms in victory before crossing the finish line, just as Fourcade made a desperate lunge to beat him…

The Dutch speedskaters continued their rampage in Sochi as they swept the medals for a fourth time. Today, it was in the men’s 10,000m, which saw Jorrit Bergsma defeat world-record holder Sven Kramer for the gold…

Also victorious was Norway’s Joergen Graabak in Nordic combined (individual large hill 10km) and the South Korean women in the short track 3000m relay

In men’s hockey, the U.S. found out who their quarterfinal opponent would be: The Czechs, who knocked off Slovakia, 5-3, to earn a date tomorrow with the Americans. Meanwhile, Canada will play Latvia after they defeated Switzerland, 3-1, to earn their first-ever trip to the quarterfinals.

Russia also moved into the quarters with a 4-0 win over Norway, and surprising Slovenia will also make its first-ever quarters appearance after blanking Austria by the same score.

Finnish women’s hockey goalie Noora Raty may be done with the Olympics, but if so, she went out a winner as her team beat Russia in the fifth-place game. Germany also beat Japan, 3-2, for seventh…

J.R. Celski of the U.S. moved into the quarterfinals of the short track men’s 500m by finishing second in his heat race today…

And after the first day of women’s bobsled, Team USA’s top pairing of Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams find themselves halfway to a gold medal; they hold a .23 of a second edge over Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse going into the final two runs tomorrow…

Out of competition, the word is out about a heirloom “coin” that’s actually an amazing piece of Olympic history – a participant’s medal from the first modern Olympics in 1896

Recently retired figure skating star Yevgeny Plushenko may not be done competitively after all

Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who share a coach with new champions Davis and White, aren’t sure said coach was in their corner

The Finnish men’s hockey team is signing the bikes they’ve used to get around Sochi and auctioning them off for charity

Will U.S. skier Julia Mancuso be back for Pyeongchang in 2018? In her words, “we’ll see”

Vladimir Putin gave his two cents on the disallowed Russian goal from last weekend’s U.S.-Russia men’s hockey epic…

And slopestyle snowboard gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg’s wish for a bacon medal is going to come true

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 18
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)

1. Germany – 8/3/4 – 15
2. Norway – 7/4/7 – 18
3. Netherlands – 6/6/8 – 20
4. United States – 6/4/10 – 20
5. Russia – 5/8/6 – 19
6. Switzerland – 5/2/1 – 8
7. Belarus – 5/0/1 – 6
8. Canada – 4/9/4 – 17
9. Poland – 4/0/0 – 4
10. China – 3/2/1 – 6
11. France – 3/1/5 – 9
12. Austria – 2/6/1 – 9
13. Sweden – 2/5/2 – 9
14. Slovenia – 2/1/3 – 6
15. Korea – 2/1/1 – 4
T-16. Czech Republic – 1/3/2 – 6
T-16. Japan – 1/3/2 – 6
18. Great Britain – 1/0/1 – 2
19. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
20. Italy – 0/2/4 – 6
21. Australia – 0/2/1 – 3
22. Finland – 0/2/0 – 2
23. Latvia – 0/1/2 – 3
24. Croatia – 0/1/0 – 1
T-25. Kazakhstan – 0/0/1 – 1
T-25. Ukraine – 0/0/1 – 1

U.S. Olympic Committee to hire infectious disease specialists for Zika

Christ the Redeemer
AP
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The U.S. Olympic Committee will hire two infectious disease specialists to advise potential Olympians who are worried about the Zika outbreak in Brazil.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun sent a letter Wednesday to all possible Olympians, acknowledging the growing worries over the virus.

“I know that the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil is of concern to many of you,” Blackmun wrote. “I want to emphasize that it is to us, as well, and that your well-being in Rio this summer is our highest priority.”

The letter goes on to spell out much of the information that’s already been relayed by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The virus is spread by mosquitoes. About 20 percent of those infected display mild symptoms, including body aches and rash. But pregnant women and those considering getting pregnant have greater reason for concern because the virus can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by an abnormally small head.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this week, U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo said if the Olympics were being held now, she wouldn’t go.

Blackmun told The Associated Press that Solo’s comments “made us realize we need to provide concise and accurate info for our athletes.”

At least one of the two infectious disease specialists will be a woman, Blackmun said.

In addition to those two hires, the USOC will post updates to its website at USOC.org/RioTravelUpdates.

The USOC’s decision to hire the specialists was first reported by USA Today.

The letter, addressed to prospective members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic delegation, says “no matter how much we prepare … there will always be risk associated with international competition. Each country, each venue and each discipline will present different risks and require different mitigation strategies.”

Blackmun said the USOC is monitoring the frequent updates regarding Zika. The letter makes note that “rapid testing to determine if an individual is infected is expected in the near future.”

“First and foremost, we want to make sure our athletes have accurate information because they’re concerned,” Blackmun said. “Based on what we know now, the primary threat is to unborn children.”

MORE: Zika won’t stop Olympics; only war has done that, historian says

Alex Morgan scores 12 seconds into U.S. Olympic qualifying romp (video)

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Alex Morgan wasted no time igniting the U.S. women’s soccer team’s Olympic qualifying campaign.

The striker scored the first of her two goals 12 seconds into the Americans’ CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament-opening 5-0 rout of Costa Rica on Wednesday in Frisco, Texas.

It’s believed to be the fastest goal in U.S. Soccer history, according to U.S. Soccer.

“I think we shocked Costa Rica’s confidence a little bit,” Morgan said on NBC Sports Live Extra. “We’ve been working on that play, so I’m glad that we executed it perfectly.”

Crystal DunnCarli Lloyd and Christen Press also scored for the Americans, who are ranked No. 1 in the world. Costa Rica is ranked No. 34.

“Overall, we brought the fight,” Lloyd said on Live Extra. “We’ve got to put this one to bed and move on.”

The first three goals came in the first 15 minutes.

GOAL VIDEOS: Dunn | LloydMorgan’s second | Press

The U.S. is in one of two CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament groups with Costa Rica, Mexico (ranked No. 26) and Puerto Rico (No. 108).

It plays Mexico next on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra. Mexico crushed Puerto Rico 6-0 earlier Wednesday.

The top two nations per group will advance to the tournament semifinals, and the Feb. 19 semifinal winners advance to the Rio Games in August.

The U.S. is heavily favored to qualify for Rio, where it would go for its fourth straight Olympic title. The next-best North American team is ranked No. 11 (Canada, which is in the opposite CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament group).

If the U.S. and Canada win their respective groups, they would not have to play each other to qualify for the Olympics.

The U.S. roster for Olympic qualifying includes 13 of the 23 players from the World Cup, led by Olympic champions Morgan, Lloyd and Hope Solo, who blanked Costa Rica on Wednesday.

All 15 matches of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament will be streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra.

MORE: No Olympics for Messi, but another Argentine star striker possible

2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Schedule

Frisco, Texas – Toyota Stadium
Houston, Texas – BBVA Compass Stadium
Times U.S. Central (U.S. Eastern in parentheses)

FIRST ROUND
Group A: USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica
Group B: Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana

Wednesday, Feb. 10 (Frisco)
Mexico 6, Puerto Rico 0                                 5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA 5, Costa Rica 0                                    7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 11 (Houston)
Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago                  5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guyana                                           7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Saturday, Feb. 13 (Frisco)
Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico                              12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
USA vs. Mexico                                                 3 p.m. (4 p.m.) NBCSN at 9:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, Feb. 14 (Houston)
Guyana vs. Guatemala                                     12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
Trinidad vs. Canada                                          3 p.m. (4 p.m.)

Monday, Feb. 15 (Frisco)
Mexico vs. Costa Rica                                       5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA vs. Puerto Rico                                          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) LIVE on NBCSN

Tuesday, Feb. 16 (Houston)
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guyana                         5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guatemala                                      7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

SEMIFINALS

Friday, Feb. 19 (Houston)
Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up          4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m.) ***
Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) ***

FINAL

Sunday, Feb. 21 (Houston)
Semifinal winners                                            4 p.m. (5 p.m.) NBCSN at 11 p.m.

***USA’s semifinal, should the USA advance, will air LIVE on NBCSN