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The early bird: Breaking down late night action in PyeongChang

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If you were asleep anytime between midnight and 6:00a.m. EST in the United States, then it’s fair to say that you probably missed a couple of events in PyeongChang. Here at OlympicTalk, we’ll take you through the evening’s stories and results.  Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla won the first gold medal of the Olympic Games, as she cruised in the final four kilometers of the women’s skiathlon. But perhaps the bigger story of that race belongs to the silver medalist: Marit Bjorgen. By reaching the podium in the skiiathlon, the Norwegian has officially become the most successful female Winter Olympian.

Watch: Marit Bjorgen makes Olympic history

Snowboarding: USA’s Gerard emerges as serious contender

It was a big day for Norway and Canada as the two nations continue to dominate the sport. Norway and Canada combine for eight of 12 slopestyle finalists.

In Heat 1, it was all about X Games champion Markus Cleveland as he overcame a poor Heat 1 performance to land atop the standings. He was joined by compatriots Mons Roisland and Torgeir Bergrem.

Heat 2 provided some of the biggest names in the sport with Mark McMorris and Max Parrot of Canada leading the standings. Team USA’s Red Gerard took one step closer to being one of the youngest American Olympic medalists, finishing third. Meanwhile, Belgium’s Seppe Smits barely held onto the final qualification spot.

With the two giants of the sport competing, and with Gerard looking to steal their thunder, the slopestyle final is bound to be dramatic.

Watch snowboarding recaps and highlights

Ice Hockey: Sweden hold off Japan

The Japanese women’s ice hockey team proved to be an unexpected challenge for Sweden. This is only the third time that the island nation qualified for the Winter Olympics (1998, 2014), and only scored a single goal in Sochi. Known for being a doormat team for the other competitors, Japan seemed to turn the switch after conceding within the first three minutes of their opening game.

Rather than fold, the Japanese were able to withstand the pressure put on by the Swedes and were eventually able to squeak the puck past GK Sarah Grann late in the second period to draw level. The second intermission gave Sweden an opportunity to regroup following Japan’s sudden pressure, and managed to grab another early goal in the third period off a tight angle by Sarah Hjalmarsson.

NBCOlympics.com: Japan’s Women’s hockey team eyes next step 

Cross Country Skiing: Diggins in fifth as Kalla claims first PyeongChang gold

Norway’s Marit Bjoergen led the field in the first 7.5km of the skiathlon, pushing the pace up through the transition into the ski change. Swede Charlotte Kalla made a bursting move from the pack around the 12km mark, creating a nine second gap between her and the 10 time Olympic medalist. Kalla’s stunning move at the 12km mark proved to be the decisive break that was necessary to defeat the legendary Norwegian skiier, as Kalla won with a time of 40:44:9.

America’s Jessie Diggins finished fifth, 14.7 second behind the leader.

Freestyle Skiing

Qualifying continued for the men’s moguls, with Michael Kingsbury cementing his place as the man to beat for the competition.

Short Track

18 year-old Maame Biney advanced out of her 500m heat with a time of 43.665 seconds. She will be joining Britain’s Elise Christie, who posted a new Olympic Record time of 42.872 seconds.

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