The Olympic Athletes from Russia triumphed in the no-NHL tournament where they were favored, winning the men’s hockey gold medal at a Winter Olympics where they couldn’t even be called Team Russia, use their colors or celebrate while listening to their anthem.
Kirill Kaprizov scored the game-winner as “Team Olympic Athlete From Russia” came back to beat underdog Germany 4-3 in overtime Sunday in an instant classic that saved a men’s tournament lacking buzz not only in South Korea but back in North America, where the NHL season went on during the games for the first time since 1994.
It’s the first Russian gold medal in hockey since 1992 in Albertville when the team also played under a neutral flag as the Community of Independent States. Russian flags — the team barred from using them by IOC sanctions for state-sponsored doping — hung behind the bench as the team awaited their gold medals.
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Constantly saying it doesn’t matter that they had to wear nondescript red and white uniforms that lacked the Russian Coat of Arms, players gave the Russians their second gold and 17th total medal of the Olympics.
Russian goal song “Those Were The Days” blared over the Gangneung Hockey Centre speakers as fans clad in red, white and blue and holding flags celebrated. They later sang the national anthem as the medal ceremony got under way.
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — It was a feel-good love story about snowboarders that made Russia smile.
Four years later, Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina are still married and still riding.
But boy did this get complicated.
Wild, the American-born rider who now competes for Russia, finished out of the medals, same as his wife, at the parallel giant slalom Saturday, closing a sad chapter to a journey that began as a fairy tale but turned into a drama about cheating, doping and figuring out who was to blame.
It was a small part of a much larger story about the strained, scandal-tainted relationship between Russia, the Olympics and the rest of the world.
“For 18 months, the IOC never told me anything,” Wild said after losing in the round-of-16 in a contest taken by Switzerland’s Nevin Galmarini. “No one would tell me if, somehow, some way, I was involved. That definitely put some gray hairs on my head.”
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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Bjorn Krupp’s journey started at the Duluth IceForum in suburban Atlanta.
Brooks Macek piled up the points in Bantam hockey in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the Notre Dame Hounds.
Men’s Gold Medal Final: OAR vs. CZE, Stream LIVE HERE 11:10p.m. EST / 8:10p.m. PST
Now they’re in the Olympic gold-medal game for Germany, having advanced further than the teams from their home countries. The U.S.-born Krupp and Canadian-born Macek have German fathers and now call Germany home with no apologies for beating or scoring against the countries of their birth.
When Macek scored a go-ahead power-play goal in what turned out to be a remarkable upset semifinal win against Canada, he pumped his fist and never felt conflicted about beating a team with the Maple Leafs on its jerseys.
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