Sochi Olympics Alpine Skiing Men

Sochi Olympic Daily Recap & Medal Count: Day 12

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Ted Ligety’s victory in the Olympic men’s giant slalom this morning was a breakthrough on several fronts for U.S. Alpine skiing.

Ligety not only became the first American man to grab the gold in the event, but he also became the first American man to earn two Alpine skiing Olympic golds (he won in combined at Torino in 2006).

Prior to today, Andrea Mead Lawrence had been the only other U.S. skier to pull off that feat (Oslo 1952, slalom and giant slalom)…

It was the highlight of a three-medal day for Team USA, which also got a silver and a bronze from women’s bobsled.

Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams narrowly missed out on the gold by one-tenth of a second to now two-time reigning Olympic champions Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse of Canada.

Right behind Meyers and Williams were Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans, who earned the bronze in the Americans’ No. 2 sled.

Meyers is now the seventh U.S. bobsledder – and the first woman among that group – to win multiple Olympic medals, while Williams is now the fifth Olympian ever to win medals in both a Winter and Summer Games (she won gold as part of the U.S. 4x100m relay in London two years ago)…

Beyond Team USA, the top story was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who helped Norway earn the inaugural Olympic gold in the biathlon mixed relay and won a record 13th Winter Olympic medal.

Bjoerndalen lived up to the title he’s earned: “The Biathlon King.” Running the third leg for the Norwegians, Bjoerndalen was a perfect 10-for-10 in shooting and built a big lead for his team before letting Emil Hegle Svendsen bring it home.

With the 13th medal, Bjoerndalen broke a tie with Norwegian cross-country skiing legend Bjorn Daehlie. But now, he’s got one more tie to break with Daehlie – they both have a record eight Winter Olympic golds.

OEB will have one shot to take the gold record for himself: Saturday’s men’s relay, the final men’s biathlon event of these Games…

The always highly-anticipated ladies’ figure skating competition got underway and the defending Olympic champion, South Korea’s Yuna Kim, looked every bit ready to contend again.

But while Kim leads after the short program, it’s only by a narrow margin over Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova, who now appears to be the host nation’s big hope for gold after Yulia Lipnitskaia’s fall in her program.

As for the U.S., Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner both earned berths into the final group for tomorrow’s free skate with top-six results (Gold 4th, Wagner 6th). Polina Edmunds was also impressive in her first senior-level international competition and currently sits seventh…

In snowboarding, Russian husband-and-wife duo Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina both came away with medals in parallel giant slalom. The American-born Wild, who gained Russian citizenship after he married Zavarzina three years ago, won the gold on the men’s side, while Zavarzina claimed the women’s bronze…

Finland and Norway won the men’s and women’s cross-country team sprints respectively, and Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic briefly interrupted the “Oranje crush” of Dutch speedskating in Sochi with a win in the women’s 5000m

It was quarterfinals day in men’s hockey, and it was marked by a major shocker from Finland as they bounced the host Russians out of the playoffs with a 3-1 win. The loss will likely resonate for some time to come with Team Russia, which was unable to overcome several obstacles. The Finns head for a semifinal matchup with Sweden, who ended Slovenia’s impressive run with a 5-0 result.

Meanwhile, the Americans got goals from five different forwards in their 5-2 win over the Czechs. They’ll face off in the other semifinal against archrivals and defending Olympic champions Canada, which needed a late goal from Shea Weber to finally vanquish Latvia in a tight 2-1 decision

Two more Canadian squads advanced onward as well today – in curling. The Canadian men and women will both be playing in their respective gold medal matches; the women tomorrow, the men on Friday…

Out of competition, the Sochi Polar Bear was in a sad mood following Russia’s exit from the men’s hockey playoffs…

Meryl Davis and Charlie White became the latest U.S. Olympians to earn themselves a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box

And figure skaters in men’s, women’s, and pairs’ disciplines are preparing to have the option of using vocal music with lyrics for their programs

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 19
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)

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

Laurie Hernandez explains wink, nervous Olympic moments in book excerpt

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09:  Lauren Hernandez of the United States prepares ro compete on the balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Two of Laurie Hernandez‘s most memorable moments in Rio were mouthing “I got this” before her team final balance beam routine and winking at judges before her floor exercise.

The former became the title of her book, “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond,” due out Tuesday. The latter she also details in the book’s pages.

Hernandez, the first U.S. female Olympian born in the 2000s, is the third member of the Final Five to pen a book.

Hernandez took team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, becoming the youngest individual U.S. Olympic gymnastics medalist since 1992 (Shannon Miller).

She then became the youngest winner of “Dancing with the Stars,” which she also reviews in the book.

Here’s an excerpt from “I Got This,” where Hernandez looks at her Rio Olympic experience:

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is that you feel so many different emotions in the span of a few days, and they are all intense. So it was nice to have at least one totally playful moment. For me that moment happened during my floor routine in the team finals, just before we won. I spontaneously winked at one of the judges and everyone there, and at home, seemed to love that. But honestly I don’t know what came over me. Right before I went on, I was so nervous I looked at the team and said, “Guys, I’m so scared. It’s the last event, what if I mess up?” Any time you are competing as a team you have those worries—I know I had certainly felt the same way at international meets. Thankfully, the girls assured me that wasn’t going to happen. They said, “No, no, no, you’re fine. Don’t worry about it. We’re a few points ahead, so just go out there and enjoy yourself.”

I made my way toward the warm-up area. I was feeling pretty good by then, so I stood to the side and took a deep breath. I wanted to soak in everything around me, because it was definitely a major moment. I scanned the cheering crowd and all I saw was a sea of green. Brazil’s colors are yellow, blue, and green, and the entire arena was decked out in green. The mats were green, the logos were green, everything around me was green, and for a split second, I found it kind of intimidating because in the United States, all our equipment is blue. Even a seemingly small difference like that can be jarring.

Then all of a sudden I heard this beep. It was coming from the little TV screen in the warm-up area that lists your name, your country, and the event you’re about to compete in. My screen read Lauren Hernandez, USA, Floor Exercise. After I heard the beep, the screen switched to GO, which meant I had to go salute the judges and begin.

When I stood up on the floor, I could see one of the out-of-bounds judges in my line of vision. That is the judge who checks to make sure your foot never crosses over the white line. Well, I looked straight at her and suddenly felt this surge of confidence to wink. After I did that, I went on to do an amazing routine. When it was done, I was so proud of myself! Later, a woman came up to me while I was watching Simone and Aly compete in their all-around finals and she said, “Wow, I just want you to know that when you winked at the judge, it really worked.” I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, “Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.” That’s when she told me she was the out-of-bounds judge! All I could say was “Oh my goodness.”

When I think back on the Olympics, there were only two times I was anxious for myself or for one of my teammates. In my beam routine, I always find the triple series (or what is called a flight series) a little nerve-racking. That’s when I have to perform three moves in a row backward: I do a back handspring, followed by a layout step-out, followed by another layout step-out. I had a good feeling before I was going to compete that I would hit it, but it’s something I’m always slightly worried about in the back of my mind. The other thing that had me holding my breath was Aly’s first tumble, because she does so much in that pass. I don’t think she’s ever worried about it, because in her head she’s doing everything she needs to do to execute it beautifully. But as you watch, there’s a lot going on, so you fear something might go wrong. She basically does a round off, a backward one-and-a-half twist, and then she steps out of that to connect to another round-off, a back handspring, and then she does this spring called a double Arabian and basically goes up in the air to do a half turn and double front flip connected to a front layout, which is a front flip with a straight leg where her whole body is open. It’s incredible! It’s so insane. It wows me every single time.”

MORE: Hernandez discusses her 2017 plans

Laurie Hernandez

How to watch U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Thursday

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U.S. Figure Skating Championships coverage begins Thursday, live on NBCSN and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app, starting at 5:30 p.m. ET.

The pairs and women’s short programs are scheduled in Kansas City.

The NBC Sports All-Access page will provide live scoring and more all week.

Pairs short program
5:30-7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
STREAM LINK | SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

Women’s short program
9:30 p.m.-midnight ET, NBCSN
STREAM LINK | SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

In pairs, defending champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea take on a field including two-time Skate America silver medalists Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier as well as 2014 Olympians Marissa Castelli and Nathan Bartholomay, each skating with different partners since Sochi.

The women are headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner, seeking to become the oldest U.S. women’s champion in 90 years at age 25.

She could be challenged by defending champion Gracie Gold, 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Skate America silver medalist Mariah Bell.

The pairs and women’s free skates will be Saturday, on NBC and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: Gracie Gold forgives herself, eight months after worlds failure