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PyeongChang late night round up

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If you go to the results page for the men’s cross-country 15km freestyle competition, you’ll see Dario Cologna at the top. The Swiss skier became one of the most decorated athletes in his field after he won his third straight gold medal.

But, if you scroll down a little more, and a little more still, you’ll see five athletes who finished 111th, 113th, 114th, 115th, and 116th. Those five athletes are Samir Azzimani of Morocco, Kequyen Lam of Portugal, Pita Taufatofua of Tonga, Sebastien Uprimny of Colombia, and German Madrazo of Mexico. They teamed up last year in an attempt to qualify for the Olympics, renting out a cabin in Austria and training for 10 hours a day to qualify. Taufatofua qualified for the Olympics on the last possible day.

That they finished so low in the rankings isn’t a surprise, nor is it the story. Their pride as they took the final strides heading to the finish line, and the way they greeted each other at the finish line, is. In true Olympic spirit, Cologna (who nearly finished a half hour in front of them) was the first to embrace the skiers. 

Those tremendous athletes won’t leave PyeongChang with a medal, but they’ll walk away carrying the pride of their nations on their shoulders.

Hockey: OAR, USA back on track 

The USA and Athletes from Russia both responded well following disappointing starts to their Olympic Games.

The USA were led by Ryan Donato’s two goal effort to take a 2-1 victory over Slovakia. The U.S. learned from their previous game and continued to be aggressive for the entirety of the 60 minutes.

The Athletes from Russia posted a resounding 8-2 thrashing over Slovenia in their second game. Team OAR literally dominated the game from the first minute until the last, scoring their first goal 90 seconds into play. Ilya Kovalchuk and Kirill Kaprizov both recorded hat tricks.

USA def. SVK 2-1 

OAR def. SLO 8-2

Cross-Country Skiing: Super Dario wins third straight gold in 15km freestyle

Was there any doubt that Dario Cologna would win his third consecutive gold medal? The Swiss skier finished 18.3 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, Norways’ Simen Hegstad Krueger.

Full recap available here 

Curling: Canadians continue to struggle

Canada have been sent to the bottom of the standings in the women’s competition after being beaten by 2014 cellar dwellars Denmark. The Canadians entered PyeongChang as the clear favorites to retain gold, but time is quickly running out for them to rebound.

With Canada slipping up, a vacuum now exists at the top. Sweden and Great Britain will most be the teams most likely to fight for the gold medal should Canada miss the latter stages, but don’t sleep on Japan and South Korea. The latter continued to impress tonight with a victory over Switzterland.

DEN def. CAN 9-8

KOR def. SUI 7-5

SWE def. OAR 5-4

Full recap available here 

Freestyle Skiing: Huskova wins gold as others stumble 

Madison Olsen was the sole American to make it to the finals of the women’s aerials competition. Olsen slim medal hopes faded though as she couldn’t complete the landing.

She wasn’t the only one to tumble, though. A total of four women (including Olsen) out of the six finalists, all fell during their routines.

Hanna Huskova of Belarus took home the gold with a score of 96.14.

Speed Skating: Dutch maintain dominance

Another day, another medal for the Dutch speed skater. Today it was Esmee Visser who took the gold, finishing well ahead of the competition. Her compatriot, Annouk van der Weijden, was pushed down to fourth as the final pair of skaters – Czech Republic’s Martina Sablikova and OAR’s Natalya Voronina – finished second and third, respectively.


Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

WORLDS: TV Schedule | Pairs Preview | Nagasu’s Outlook

Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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