GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — One by one, some of the biggest names in figure skating tumbled to their backsides inside Gangneung Ice Arena, the opening day of their Pyeongchang Olympics program going nothing like planned.
Patrick Chan of Canada hit the deck first. Nathan Chen of the U.S. followed him. Russian skater Mikhail Kolyada was next, falling twice during his short program as part of the team competition.
They all had a readily available excuse: early-morning starts.
“I did a few simulations in the morning and I was like, ‘That was rough,'” said Adam Rippon, who will tackle the team free skate for the U.S. on Monday. “I’ve been getting to bed really early and waking up a few hours before practice, just to kind of move the day forward.”
Competition is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. local time, so that means athletes are setting their alarm clocks and coffeemakers for 5 a.m. That gives them about an hour to wipe the sleep from their eyes, get dressed and board the bus to the arena for 7 a.m. practice.
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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.
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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