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

Justin Gatlin wins, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce loses at Pre Classic; American records fall

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Justin Gatlin is still the world’s fastest man — when Usain Bolt is not in the field.

Gatlin won the Prefontaine Classic 100m in a wind-aided 9.88 seconds in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday (video here), while American records fell in two women’s races.

Gatlin beat a field that included two of the other five fastest men of all time — Asafa Powell (9.94) and Tyson Gay (9.98). Canadian Andre De Grasse, the co-World bronze medalist, was last in 10.05.

Powell and fourth-place Mike Rodgers both said they didn’t hear the starter’s gun.

“Justin got such a big jump, it was too far for me to catch him,” Powell said.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion who served a doping ban from 2006 to 2010, moved to 32-2 in individual sprints since the start of 2014, according to Tilastopaja.org.

The only two losses were in the only two races that also included Usain Bolt — the 100m and 200m at the 2015 World Championships. Gatlin and Bolt are not expected to race each other again until the Rio Olympics, should they both qualify at their trials.

The Pre Classic marked the biggest track meet before the U.S. Olympic Trials from July 1-10, also in Eugene.

Full Pre Classic results are here.

In other events, Keni Harrison broke the American record in the 100m hurdles by winning in 12.24 seconds (video here). Harrison matched the second-fastest time ever and was .03 off the world record set by Bulgaria’s Yordanka Donkova in 1988.

Harrison was a revelation in 2015, winning the NCAA title and finishing second at the U.S. Championships. She false started out of the World Championships semifinals Aug. 28.

She elevated to another level this year, clocking the four fastest times in the world so far.

“My coach, he puts it in mind, 12.1 [seconds], 12.1, 12.1, so that’s what I go for in practice,” Harrison said. “I didn’t feel that fast at all.”

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who could become the first three-time Olympic 100m champ in Rio, finished last in eighth place in her first 100m since Sept. 6 (video here).

She clocked 11.18 seconds, competing for the first time in any meet since April 30, recovering from a toe injury. It’s the second instance in three years Fraser-Pryce finished last in her Pre Classic race. Fraser-Pryce was actually faster Saturday than in her first 100m of 2013 and 2015, years she went on to capture World titles.

American English Gardner won in 10.81 seconds, .01 off the fastest in the world this year. Gardner was the second-fastest woman in the world last year but eliminated in the World Championships semifinals while recovering from a reported partially torn right hamstring.

“Nationals last year, I tapered and ran 10.79,” Gardner said. “Loaded, weight room, no taper, 10.81, I can’t be mad at that. I’m not even ready to really run. I haven’t even done really any speed work.”

Meanwhile, perhaps Fraser-Pryce’s biggest sprint rival ran the fastest 200m in the world this year. That’s American Tori Bowie, who was a long jumper until March 2014.

On Saturday, Bowie beat World champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands with a personal-best 21.99 seconds (video here).

“My coach said he is sick and tired of seeing me run 22 seconds,” Bowie, crouching on the track in exhaustion, told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Bowie, who earned World 100m bronze in August and didn’t contest the 200m, now owns the fastest 100m and 200m times in the world this year.

Schippers, who won the 2015 World title in 21.63, was second in 22.11. The field did not include injured Olympic champion Allyson Felix.

In the 400m, Kirani James outdueled American rival LaShawn Merritt for the 12th time in 19 meetings between the last two Olympic champions. James edged Merritt, 44.22 to 44.39 (video here). South African Wayde van Niekerk, who won the 2015 World title in 43.48, was not in the field Saturday.

In the women’s 400m, Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross was seventh in 52.16, well off the time she needs at trials on July 3 to make her fourth Olympic team. Shaunae Miller, who took silver behind Felix at 2015 Worlds, won Saturday in 50.15.

“Definitely behind on training, so hoping a month will be enough time to get it together for trials,” said Richards-Ross, adding that she does not have any health or injury problems.

Vashti Cunningham, the 18-year-old daughter of retired NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Randall Cunningham, was fifth in the high jump. Cunningham, the U.S. and World Indoor champ, could become the youngest U.S. Olympic track and field competitor since 1976 if she finishes in the top three at trials July 3.

Jamaican Omar McLeod remained undefeated in four 110m hurdles races this year, clocking 13.06 seconds in a rout by .32 (video here). McLeod, 22, won the 2015 NCAA title for Arkansas, then went pro and finished sixth at the World Championships on Aug. 28. He’s now the clear Olympic favorite with the four fastest times in the world this year.

David Oliver, the 2013 World champion, was second behind McLeod in 13.38. Olympic champion and world-record holder Aries Merritt was fourth in 13.51, nearly nine months removed from a kidney transplant.

“It was a crappy race top to bottom, aside from Omar,” Oliver said.

Bernard Lagat, who at 41 will try to become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time at trials, dropped out during the 5000m due to a cold. It was the 15th and final Pre Classic appearance for Lagat, who plans to retire later this year.

“After that first mile, I could feel like my chest was burning,” Lagat said. “I can get healthy and come back for the trials.”

World champion Christian Taylor captured the triple jump with his final leap (video here). Taylor’s 17.76-meter mark overtook countryman Will Claye‘s 17.56 meters. Taylor and Claye also went one-two at the London Olympics.

Emma Coburn broke the American record finishing third in the 3000m steeplechase (video here). Her time of 9:10.76 bettered Jenny Simpson‘s mark of 9:12:50 from 2009. Coburn also beat Simpson’s time in July 2014, but she wasn’t drug tested after that race, so it wasn’t ratified as an American record.

On Saturday, Coburn cried multiple times after her record and then made sure to get drug tested.

Boris Berian earned his first Diamond League victory in the 800m, clocking 1:44.20 against a field that didn’t include Olympic and World champion and world-record holder David Rudisha. (video here)

Berian, who was flipping burgers at a McDonald’s inside a Walmart two years ago, raced one week after being served a lawsuit by Nike for breach of a sponsorship contract after he switched from Nike to New Balance this year. Nike sponsors the Pre Classic.

French Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie cleared 5.81 meters to win the pole vault, wearing a University of Oregon jersey. Canadian World champion Shawn Barber was second, also clearing 5.81 meters but with more misses than Lavillenie. American Sam Kendricks, who beat Lavillenie and Barber in Shanghai on May 14, was third at 5.71 meters.

U.S. Olympic medalists swept the 400m hurdles, won by London silver medalist Michael Tinsley in 48.74 (video here). He passed 2008 Olympic silver medalist Kerron Clement (48.87) after the final hurdle. Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Bershawn Jackson (49.04) took third.

Another American, Johnny Dutch, is fastest in the world this year (48.36). Dutch was not in the Pre Classic field.

The Diamond League continues in Rome on Thursday.

MORE: Rio Olympic, Paralympic medals reveal date set

Novak Djokovic plans on Olympics ‘for the moment’; Serena mulls ‘super protection’

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PARIS — Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic says canceling the Olympics “is unthinkable” and, “for the moment,” he is still planning to compete at the Rio de Janiero Games, despite worries about the Zika virus.

Speaking at the French Open on Saturday, Djokovic added that people should not only be concerned about those who are going to Rio for the Olympics, but also the Brazilians themselves — “not talking about them too much.”

Earlier Saturday, the World Health Organization rejected a call from 150 health experts to consider postponing or moving the Aug. 5-21 Olympics.

Says Djokovic: “Honestly, I don’t know what to think anymore.”

The No. 1 women’s tennis player, Serena Williams, says Zika has “been on my mind” and she will have to head to Rio “super-protected, maybe.”

MORE: U.S. Olympic tennis player refuses to answer meldonium questions