GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — As South Korea’s national soccer coach prepared to play Japan in a 1954 World Cup qualifier, President Syngman Rhee, who’d been liberated, with the rest of Korea, from Japan’s brutal colonial rule in 1945, had some advice should the Koreans lose: “Don’t think about coming back alive,” he supposedly told the coach. “Just throw yourself into the Genkai Sea.”
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There are sports rivalries, and then there’s Korea vs. Japan — an often toxic mix of violent history and politics, with a (un)healthy dose of cultural chauvinism and envy mixed in.
The fierce grudges over historical persecution and a thousand perceived national and cultural slights cannot be untwined from the sports for many Koreans. These swirling emotions were front and center Wednesday as a combined team of North and South Koreans played regional power Japan in women’s hockey.
Both had yet to win a game these Olympics. Both desperately wanted that win to come against their rival. But Japan pulled it out in the end, defeating the joint Korean team 4-1.
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