MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin dismissed talk of an Olympic boycott after some of Russia’s top athletes were barred from competing at the PyeongChang Winter Games.
Several of the country’s top medal hopes, including six-time short track speed skating gold medalist Viktor Ahn, were barred from the Olympics amid the country’s ongoing doping scandal, which has already forced Russia to compete under a neutral flag.
Asked whether the Kremlin might consider a boycott in light of the new restrictions, Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said “right now it is important to avoid words like ‘boycott.'”
Peskov said the Russian government is going to focus on communicating with the International Olympic Committee to defend its athletes.
The IOC is vetting Russian athletes before issuing invitations for them to compete in PyeongChang.
The Russian Hockey Federation said Wednesday its women’s team had been allowed to compete, though one player, forward Lyudmila Belyakova, was refused.
The Russian women’s hockey team was disqualified from the 2014 Olympics for involvement in doping and cover-ups. Nine players were banned from the Olympics for life.
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!
PHOTOS: Russia neutral Olympic uniform designs
Without the pressure of racking up points to land on the medal podium, the figure skating exhibition gala is a chance for the athletes to express themselves. There aren’t rules about jumping sequences, and instead, skaters can use props and silly concepts, if they want.
Figure skaters who win medals at the Olympics are typically among the invite list, plus up-and-coming skaters from the host country and other fan favorites.
Here are some of the best performances of the evening:
Ice dance bronze medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani reprised last season’s “That’s Life” short dance by Frank Sinatra featuring Jay-Z for this year’s exhibition.
Ladies’ gold medalist Alina Zagitova performed her “Priestess of Fire” exhibition, which included a fake candle prop glowing on the ice.
Watch performances from the figure skating gala by clicking here
Two-man? Check. Four-man? Double check. Francesco Friedrich piloted his German sled to gold in the four-man bobsled, becoming the sixth pilot to win gold in both the two- and four-man bobsled in the same Olympics on the final day of competition in PyeongChang.
After tying with Canada’s Justin Kripps in two-man, Friedrich made no doubt in four-man, sliding to a dominant win. The German sled was clear of second by 0.53 seconds. And in second? Another tie on the bobsled course — just like the tie for gold in two-man. South Korea and Germany shared the silver medal.
NBCOlympics.com: Remembering team USA bobsled star Steve Holcomb
South Korea’s medal was historic. Won Yun-Jong delivered for the home nation, bringing the country its first medal in the bobsled. Yun Sung-Bin won the country’s first medal in a sliding event by taking gold in skeleton earlier in the games. Germany’s Nico Walther piloted the sled that tied.
Codie Bascue piloted the top American sled to a ninth-place finish. Nick Cunningham and Justin Olsen improved in Runs 3 and 4 to finish 19th and 20th, respectively.
Gold: Germany (Friedrich sled)
Silver: South Korea (Won sled)
Silver: Germany (Walther sled)
Read the full recap and watch bobsled highlights by clicking here