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Korean hockey team ready to play, not worry about politics

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — All the protests and ceremonies surrounding the first combined Korean team in Olympic history are about to take a pause, at least for a few hours.

The Korean women’s hockey team, its every move watched and dissected since North Koreans were added to the roster just a few weeks ago, will make its Olympics debut in a sold-out game against Switzerland on Saturday night. It will be an extraordinary moment for Koreans, and it comes just 24 hours after the opening ceremony.

Tuning out all the politics will be impossible.

“Obviously, it’s in the back of our heads that this goes bigger than just hockey and this combined team,” defenseman Marissa Brandt said Friday. “But we just focus on the game and focus on what we can control.”

Playing hockey is all they can do. Rumors swirled Friday as the Koreans practiced that Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, might attend the game and be among the capacity crowd of 6,000 at the Kwandong Hockey Center. She arrived Friday as the first member of her family to visit South Korea since the Korean War in 1950-53.

Read the rest of the story and get more hockey news at NBCOlympics.com

Exhibition gala closes out figure skating program in PyeongChang

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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 

Double gold: Germany’s Friedrich wins 4-man bobsled

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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.

Results: 

Gold: Germany (Friedrich sled)
Silver: South Korea (Won sled)
Silver: Germany (Walther sled)

Read the full recap and watch bobsled highlights by clicking here