Russian pairs skating dominance is unlike anything we have seen in the United States. Here is how they stack up against America’s most dominant teams.
Dating back to 1964, pair skaters – from what was then the Soviet Union – have dominated their discipline within figure skating. Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov were the first of five straight teams who would combine to win seven gold medals until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Belousova and Potopopov began their reign by winning three straight silver world championships from 1962-1964, before winning Olympic gold at the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck. After Innsbruck, the married duo simply known as “the Protopopovs” was unstoppable, winning four straight world championship golds and adding another Olympic gold in 1968. Belousova passed away in September 2017.
Soviet dominance stretches past the Olympics and includes the world championships in pairs skating. From 1965-1991 the Soviet Union won 23 of 26 Worlds gold medals, never placing worse than silver during this stretch. During this era, the Soviets earned gold and silver in the same competition 12 times and swept the Worlds podium twice (1969 and 1988).
“For decades, Soviet or Russian pairs could be counted on for dominant performances built on great speed, unison, strength, emotion and classic ballet line, their blades whispering across the ice on swift and nearly silent crossover moves,” recalled writer Jere Longman from the New York Times.
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For the first time in history, the United States won the Olympic gold medal in curling.
A week ago, it didn’t seem like that would happen. Sitting at 2-4 and with a game against behemoth Canada coming up, John Shuster captained the United States to three consecutive wins (over Canada, Switzerland, and Great Britain) to squeak into the semifinals. From there, they took down Great Britain before completing the run against Sweden in the gold medal game.
Tied at 5-5 in the eighth end, Shuster was able to hit both of Sweden’s rocks out of the house, giving the United States an incredible five points and a 10-5 lead heading into the ninth.
NBCOlympics.com: Watch: Team USA scores five points in eighth end
After that, it was all about protecting the lead. Just a few minutes later Swedish skip Niklas Edin conceded the game, and it was the United States standing on top of the podium for the first time ever in the sport of curling.
Click here to read the full recap from the gold medal game
One week after shocking the world by winning a gold medal in Alpine skiing, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic strapped back into a snowboard and won a gold medal in her primary sport.
Ledecka, the No. 1 ranked athlete in women’s parallel giant slalom snowboarding, qualified for the finals of that event with the fastest time, then won four consecutive head-to-head races to claim her second gold medal of the PyeongChang Olympics.
With the win, Ledecka is the first woman to win gold medals in two different sports at the same Winter Olympics.
Results: Women’s Parallel Giant Slalom
Gold: Ester Ledecka (CZE)
Silver: Selina Joerg (GER)
Bronze: Ramona Hofmeister (GER)
4. Alena Zavarzina (OAR)
5. Benjamin Karl (AUT)
6. Stefan Baumeister (GER)
7. Roland Fischnaller (ITA)
8. Edwin Coratti (ITA)
Click here to catch up on all of the snowboarding action from PyeongChang