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

Nick Goepper opens Olympic qualifying on podium; contenders crash out

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BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — U.S. Olympic men’s ski slopestyle qualifying is underway with Sochi bronze medalist Nick Goepper delivering the first blow.

Goepper finished second at Dew Tour Breckenridge, taking the early edge in Olympic qualifying.

With a victory at any of the remaining selection events, Goepper would be looking good for one of up to four spots on the team for PyeongChang.

“I was really hoping to ski my best today, and I think I skied 98 percent,” Goepper said. “The Olympic selection podium is a bonus and eases the pressure a little bit for the next couple, but the pressure wasn’t really there. I’m just thinking of these as individual events [instead of Olympic qualifiers].”

Alex Hall (fifth place) and Sochi silver medalist Gus Kenworthy (sixth place) also got their Olympic qualifying attempts off to a decent start, but in order to be automatically nominated to the Olympic team, skiers need a minimum of two top-three finishes among five selection events.

Goepper was the only U.S. skier able to crack the podium in Breckenridge.

Sweden’s Henrik Harlaut (first place) and Norway’s Oystein Braaten (third place) played the role of spoiler for the rest of the U.S. team. Harlaut and Braaten are both considered medal contenders for PyeongChang.

Crashes took their toll on several U.S. Olympic hopefuls.

McRae Williams, the reigning world champion, was forced to drop out after crashing on his first run. Colby Stevenson and 2014 Olympian Bobby Brown also did not finish the contest after taking spills of their own.

The contest also missed the reigning Olympic gold medalist. Joss Christensen sat out the event as he rehabs from a torn ACL but plans to return in January for the final four selection events.

On the women’s side, Maggie Voisin remains on track for a nomination to the U.S. Olympic team.

She finished fourth, best among Americans, in the Olympic qualifier at Breckenridge on the strength of a run that featured three 900s.

Voisin won the first qualifier for women’s slopestyle, which was held last season.

She still needs one more top-three finish at any of the three remaining selection events to be eligible for an automatic nomination, but she has consistently been the top performer among the U.S. women.

With two-time X Games gold medalist Kelly Sildaru sidelined with a knee injury this season, the field looks wide open for PyeongChang.

Voisin, then 15, was slated to make her Olympic debut in Sochi as the youngest American in any sport but was injured just days before the competition.

As long as she stays healthy, she will be a medal contender in PyeongChang, as will Norway’s Johanne Killi and France’s Tess Ledeux.

Killi narrowly edged out Ledeux, who recently turned 16, for the victory in Breckenridge. Sarah Hoefflin of Switzerland rounded out the podium.

Four U.S. selection events remain for the men, and three events remain for the women. Olympic qualifying resumes in January with a series of contests in Aspen, Colo., and Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Ski Slopestyle 
(women through two of five events; men through one of five)
1. Maggie Voisin — 150*
2. Devin Logan — 82
3. Darian Stevens — 81
4. Taylor Lundquist — 52
5. Nadia Gonzales — 28

1. Nick Goepper — 80*
2. Alex Hall — 45
3. Gus Kenworthy — 40
4. Bobby Brown — 32
5. Cody LaPlante — 29

**Has automatic qualifying minimum of two top-three results.
*Has one top-three result.

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MORE: List of athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team

Maame Biney, J.R. Celski join U.S. Olympic short track team

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Maame Biney will become the second African-born athlete to compete for the U.S. at the Winter Olympics and the first black woman on a speed skating team.

J.R. Celski, a three-time medalist, is going to a third Winter Games.

Biney, Celski and Aaron Tran qualified in short track at the Olympic Trials in Kearns, Utah, after the 500m on Saturday.

The team is now at five skaters — John-Henry Krueger and Lana Gehring qualified on the first night Friday.

Three more skaters will qualify Sunday after 1000m races — two men and one woman.

One of Katherine Reutter-Adamek and Jessica Kooreman, the top U.S. women at the last two Olympics, is guaranteed to miss the PyeongChang team.

Neither could keep up with the 17-year-old Biney, who moved to the D.C. area from Ghana with her father at age 5, on Saturday.

Biney swept the 500m finals, taking leads from the start and holding off more experienced women. She actually fell — while celebrating after crossing the finish line in the last race.

Afterward, NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce told Biney that eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno believes Biney doesn’t know how good she is.

“People have been telling me that forever, and I think right now I’m kind of seeing it, but I feel like I have a long ways to go, but thanks Apolo,” said Biney, who won a junior world championships bronze medal last season.

Celski did not win the men’s 500m, where he is the world-record holder. Krueger did, with Tran in second.

But the fact that Krueger finished in the top two in Friday’s 1500m and the 500m means that Celski gets on the team via his second-place finish in the 1500m.

Celski won two bronze medals at the 2010 Olympics and another relay silver in Sochi.

He took a full season off after Sochi — undergoing hip surgery — and overcame further knee and back injuries the last two years to return to the World Cup podium this season.

Celski is the only American to earn an individual World Cup medal this season (a bronze) in 24 total races.

Celski won’t be able to race the 500m in PyeongChang if Thomas Hong makes the Olympic team on Sunday.

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MORE: U.S. Olympic short track skater gets 4-year doping ban

U.S. Olympic Short Track Trials

Day Time (ET) Events Network
Friday 6:45-8 p.m. 1500m rounds STREAM LINK
8:30-10 p.m. 1500m finals NBCSN | STREAM LINK
Saturday 12-1:45 p.m. 500m rounds STREAM LINK
2:30-4 p.m. 500m finals NBC | STREAM LINK
Sunday 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. 1000m rounds STREAM LINK
1-3 p.m. 1000m finals NBC | STREAM LINK