Ted Ligety suffers DNF on last slalom run; Austria’s Mario Matt wins

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Giant slalom winner Ted Ligety of the U.S. (pictured) was unable to come up with a second medal at the Sochi Olympics.

Ligety was one of multiple big names that failed to finish the second run of today’s men’s slalom as the world’s best found the Rosa Khutor course especially problematic.

The American had finished sixth after the first run at just .11 of a second off the bronze medal position.

With Ligety’s DNF, the U.S. Alpine skiing squad will end their Sochi Olympics with five medals: The golds from Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin in women’s slalom, the silver and bronze in super-G from Andrew Weibrecht and Bode Miller respectively, and the bronze from Julia Mancuso in the super combined.

Afterwards, Ligety told NBCOlympics.com’s Alan Abrahamson that he wasn’t too upset over the outcome:

Austria’s Mario Matt, who’s won two world titles but did not qualify to compete four years ago in Vancouver, won the gold with a second run that helped him knock off countryman Marcel Hirscher by .28 of a second on two-run aggregate time.

Matt, who will turn 35 in April, is now the oldest Olympic champion ever in Alpine skiing. He’s taken that distinction from Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who won the 2006 men’s super-G at 34 years, 170 days.

Prior to Matt’s breakthrough today, the Olympics had not been kind to him. He didn’t compete at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games either due to injury, and while he made the 2006 Torino Games, he finished 34th in the combined and skied out of his first run in the slalom.

Poor performances kept him out of Vancouver, but he’s come back in recent years. He claimed bronze in the slalom at the 2013 worlds, and became the oldest to win a World Cup slalom event last December.

Hirscher, the reigning world champion in the slalom, now has his first Olympic medal after two near-misses in Vancouver (fourth, giant slalom; fifth, slalom) and an earlier one in these Sochi Games (fifth in GS).

Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, 19 years and 235 days old, won the bronze to become the youngest-ever men’s medalist in Olympic Alpine skiing.

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ALPINE SKIING – MEN’S SLALOM
1. Mario Matt (AUT), 1:41.84

2. Marcel Hirscher (AUT), 1:42.12
3. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR), 1:42:67

Yevgenia Medvedeva wins season opener in rout

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Olympic figure skating favorite Yevgenia Medvedeva, imperfect by her standards, still won her first international competition of the season by a whopping 36.74 points on Saturday.

The Russian tallied 146.72 points in her free skate at Nepela Trophy in Slovakia — lower than her median score over her two-year winning streak — and 226.72 points overall. 

Video is here. Full scores are here.

Medvedeva had a wrong edge call on her triple Lutz, stepping out of the landing. 

Judges gave her a negative grade of execution for it, snapping a streak of more than 60 straight jumps with positive grades dating to December.

No matter, the 17-year-old still had the highest free skate by 23.23 points.

It was 13.72 points shy of her world record set at the last competition of the 2016-17 season.

She distanced Japanese Rika Hongo and countrywoman Yelena Radionova, the only woman to beat Medvedeva in senior international competition in November 2015.

Medvedeva entered the free skate with a 13.51-point lead in the low-level event. That was via recording the second-highest short program tally under a 13-year-old judging system on Thursday.

Her flawed free skate still earned more points than any of her rivals racked up last season. 

All of her jumps except a double Axel were in the second half of her program to earn bonus points.

However, another Russian posted a higher free skate score last week.

That’s 15-year-old training partner Alina Zagitova, who was .45 better at a low-level event in Italy. 

It’s not entirely fair to compare scores from different judging panels at these early season competitions, though.

The first of six Grand Prix series events is Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in four weeks, featuring Medvedeva and Radionova.

Medvedeva and Zagitova could go head-to-head at the Grand Prix Final in December and should definitely both be at the Russian Championships later that month.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. 

North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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VIDEO: Nathan Chen makes more history at season opener

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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