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PyeongChang late night recap

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Cross-Country Skiing: Diggins, Caldwell advance to sprint semifinals 

Americans Jessie Diggins and Sophie Caldwell put themselves in good standing to challenge for an American medal in cross-country skiing.

The two members of team USA, as well as Sadie Bjornsen, all made the top 30 qualification cut to advance to the quarterfinals. Caldwell, who finished 12th in the qualification phase, finished behind Norway’s Maiken Falla to advance to the semifinals.

The American’s success perhaps gave some inspiration for Diggins, as she too surged to the front of the pack in her respective quarterfinal before finishing in second behind Sweden’s Hanna Falk.

Bjornsen failed to advance to the semifinals, having finished third in her quarterfinal group.

Update 7:30a.m. EST: Diggins finishes sixth overall in women’s sprint, Sweden’s Nilsson wins gold. Caldwell eliminated in first semifinal heat.

Short Track: Biney eliminated from 500m 

Maame Biney’s debut Olympics ended on Tuesday morning, as she finished fourth in her quarterfinal heat. The young track star was simply outclassed by more experienced competition. Medal favorite Fan Kexin finished second in Biney’s heat, behind OAR’s Sofia Prosvirnova.

NBCOlympics.com: WATCH: Maame Biney eliminated from 500m

The U.S. men finished third in their qualification group in the Men’s 5,000m Relay, finishing a distant third behind South Korea and Hungary. South Korea, led on by a raucous home crowd, skated an Olympic record 6:34.510.

Ice Hockey: CAN def. FIN 4-1 

Canada steamrolled past Finland, booking their much-expected place in the semifinals. The Canadians got off to a quick start and were in control for the entire game. Meghan Aghosta gave her nation the lead just over 30 seconds into the first period, continuing to climb up the Canadian all-time Olympic scoring record.

If the USA beat Olympic Athletes from Russia, then Finland will drop into the classification stage.

Full recap: Canada vs. Finland

Alpine Skiing: Ligety just misses out on medal

He certainly put up a good fight. Though he wasn’t considered to be a medal favorite this year, Ted Ligety made a good showing, finishing fifth overall. The American excelled in the slalom, placing fourth with a time of 46.61 seconds. That effort, though, fell just short of a podium placing.

Marcel Hirscher of Austria, whose victory was a long time coming, took home the gold. The six-time World Cup champion won gold with a combined time of 2:06:52.

Full recap and highlights here 

Luge: Germany sitting in gold and silver heading into final run, Hamlin on the outside

Erin Hamlin sits on the outside looking in heading into the final run of the women’s individual luge. After three runs, the American still finds herself standing in fifth as the medal contenders continued to maintain good form.

Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Huefner of Germany currently sit atop the standings heading into the fourth and final run.

 

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)