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Perrine Laffont qualifies first in women’s moguls; USA’s Morgan Schild in third

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After the first round of qualifying, the women’s moguls field is being led by a 19-year-old skier from France.

Thursday’s runs were the first of two qualifying rounds for the mogul skiers. The top 10 skiers from this round have automativally advanced into the first round of the finals, while a second qualifying round yet to take place will determine the rest of the field for the finals.

     NBCOlympics.com: 2018 U.S. Olympic freestyle ski team

France’s Perrine Laffont was the top qualifier, scoring a 79.72 to take the top spot. She made her Olympic debut four years ago in Sochi, where she was the youngest skier in the field (age 15) and placed 14th.

Canada’s Andi Naude was close behind, qualifying in second with a 79.60. She’s been the top performer all season long among a strong Canadian team that also includes reigning Olympic gold and silver medalists Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe.

Justine was fourth in qualifying, securing herself a spot in the first round of the finals. Chloe, however, was just 13th and will have to go through the second qualifying round.

     NBCOlympics.com: Olympic preview: Men’s moguls

The U.S. has four women competing in PyeongChang, and three of them have already assured their spots in the first round of the finals. Morgan Schild (third), Jaelin Kauf (fifth) and Keaton McCargo (eighth) all did what had to be done. In her run, Schild successfully landed her D-spin on the final jump. Only 17-year-old Tess Johnson (who was 22nd) will need to go through the next round of qualifying.

Competition resumes on Sunday with the second qualifying round, followed by the finals.

Results
The top 10 skiers from the first qualifying round have automatically advanced straight to the first round of finals. The remaining 20 skiers will compete in a second qualifying round on Sunday, and the top 10 from that round will also move on to the first round of finals.

Advancing to Final
1. Perrine Laffont (FRA), 79.72
2. Andi Naude (CAN), 79.60
3. Morgan Schild (USA), 77.74
4. Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN), 77.66
5. Jaelin Kauf (USA), 77.45
6. Britt Cox (AUS), 76.78
7. Yulia Galysheva (KAZ), 76.36
8. Keaton McCargo (USA), 75.67
9. Arisa Murata (JPN), 74.13
10. Audrey Robichaud (CAN), 72.48

 

What’s Next?
NBCOlympics.com will be streaming every round of every competition live online. Here’s how to watch all upcoming live streams for moguls.

Men’s Qualifying Rd. 1: Thursday, Feb. 8, 9:45 pm. ET
LIVE EVENT STREAM

Women’s Qualifying Rd. 2: Sunday, Feb. 11, 5:30 a.m. ET
LIVE EVENT STREAM

Women’s Finals: Sunday, Feb. 11, 7:00 a.m. ET
LIVE EVENT STREAM

Men’s Qualifying Rd. 2: Monday, Feb. 12, 5:30 a.m. ET
LIVE EVENT STREAM

Men’s Finals: Monday, Feb. 12, 7:00 a.m. ET
LIVE EVENT STREAM

 

How Arianna Fontana quietly skated into short track history

Arianna Fontana
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Arianna Fontana is silently one of the greatest short track skaters in Olympic history.

Her numbers at the Games speak for themselves; one gold, two silver, and five bronze. Those eight total medals make her the most decorated female short track skater by two medals, and tie her with legends Apolo Ohno and Viktor Ahn for most Olympic medals ever won by a short track skater.

But it is her numbers outside the Olympic stage that really call attention to her Olympic success. She is a 14-time world medalist, which is no small feat, but her podium appearances are spread over a 12-year competitive career. Someone like Elise Christie, for example, has won 12 world championships medals in just five years. And also unlike Christie, Fontana has never won an overall title.

But Christie struggled on the sport’s biggest stage in both Sochi and PyeongChang, and has yet to win her first Olympic medal. Fontana, on the other hand, has become such a consistent podium presence over the last two Games that she almost makes it look easy.

Before retiring from competition, Ohno won 21 world medals, eight of them gold. Ahn, still competing but not one of the athletes invited to competed at the PyeongChang Olympics as an Olympic Athlete from Russia, has to date has won 35 world medals, 20 of which were gold.

Fontana does not come from a short track power like South Korea or China, perhaps another reason why she is not more notorious.

Most of her medals are bronze, which could be used as a strike against her, but just ask Lindsey Vonn how hard she worked to get hers this year.

Fontana’s first medal came at the 2006 Torino Olympics, when she helped the Italian women to bronze in the 3000m relay at just 15 years old. Fontana earned her first individual medal, a bronze in the 500m, four years later in Vancouver.

But in Sochi, she exploded, making the podium in three out of four events: the 500m, where she won silver, and the 1500m and 3000m relay, where she picked up two more bronzes.

“I thought I was going to win a gold medal in Sochi but I still don’t have that,” Fontana said to the ISU in early 2017. “That’s there up in my mind and sometimes it comes out and says, ‘Hey, you still miss me? So come get me!'”.

But after the 2014-15 season, Fontana’s desire for gold was eclipsed by something else: burnout.

“I was pretty tired mentally. My body was ready to race again but my mind was not. It was hard for me. After the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, I had some doubts about whether to keep skating or not,” Fontana said to the ISU. “Maybe it would have been better to take that year right after the Olympic Games off, but I decided to keep going. It is not that I regret it, but I had some hard times that season.”

She stayed active during her time off, learning how to box, which eased the transition back to skating.

Her pursuit for gold was what motivated her comeback, and in 2018 Fontana got what she came back for.

“When I saw I was first, I was just yelling and started crying. I worked for four years and the last four months were really hard for me. I was really focused on getting here in the best shape ever,” Fontana said after earning the 500m Olympic title.

“I was chasing it and finally I got it.”

In addition to her 500m gold medal, Fontana also added a 1000m bronze and 3000m relay bronze.

Fontana has spoken about retirement, but has not made a definitive decision. She will only be 31 years old by the time 2022 rolls around, so she could feasibly add to her medal haul if she competes. What she has made clear is that when she does leave the sport she hopes to become a personal trainer.

Whenever she does retire Fontana should be considered not only one of the greatest Italian athletes or greatest short track skaters, but also one of the greatest Winter Olympians.

How to watch Closing Ceremony of 2018 Winter Olympics

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Another Olympics is in the books.

The PyeongChang Closing Ceremony will cap off the 2018 Winter Games Sunday morning, beginning at 6 a.m. ET / 3 a.m. PT with a live stream of the events.

Jessie Diggins has been named the U.S. flag bearer after an incredibly gutsy performance to take home the country’s first-ever gold medal in Cross-Country.

How, when and where to watch the Closing Ceremony

Stream LIVE on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app: Sunday at 6 a.m. ET / 3 a.m. PT (Stream here)

The live stream will feature all the sights and sounds of the Closing Ceremony without any commentary.

Watch on TV: Sunday at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC (Stream here)

The Olympic figure skating commentating trio of Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir and Terry Gannon will host the Closing Ceremony on NBC in primetime beginning at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.

“It’s a huge honor and privilege,” Lipinski said. “I’m so excited to embark on this new and exciting adventure and bring the Closing Ceremony to the U.S.”

“This is a glorious and unexpected experience that I can’t wait to get fancy for!” Weir said.

Mike Tirico – NBC’s primetime host throughout the PyeongChang Games – hosted the Closing Ceremony for Rio in 2016 alongside Ryan Seacrest and Mary Carillo.

Tirico and Katie Couric hosted the PyeongChang Opening Ceremony in South Korea two weeks ago.

Sunday night’s primetime edition of the Closing Ceremony will also feature simulstreams on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. (Stream here)