Sochi Olympic Daily Recap & Medal Count: Day 7

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After going through so much both on and off the ice, U.S. skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace finally has her Olympic medal.

The U.S. skeleton racer won the silver today in the women’s skeleton behind gold medal winner Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain. Pikus-Pace, a former world champion, has battled through injuries from a bobsled crash, a fourth-place finish in Vancouver and a miscarriage two years ago. But today, her Olympic dream was realized.

“This is everything I could have imagined and more, just to have my family here with me and all of the love and support and cheers we’ve had, and all of the trials we’ve had to overcome to come to this moment,” she said afterwards. “This is as good as gold.”

VIDEO: Complete Team USA recap for Day 7

Her emotional breakthrough shared top billing today with a men’s figure skating final that was supposed to feature a sizzling battle between Yuzuru Hanyu and Patrick Chan for the gold medal.

But while those two did indeed duel for victory, they were both far from flawless in their free skates. In the end, Hanyu emerged victorious while Jason Brown of the U.S., after being in medal contention to start the day, wound up finishing ninth…

The men’s Alpine skiing super combined was not a good day for Bode Miller and Ted Ligety. Both Americans finished outside the Top 10 in the downhill section, and were unable to make up ground in the slalom and finished out of the medals. Miller shared his frustration over his result on Twitter but did congratulate the podium finishers, led by gold medalist Sandro Villeta of Switzerland…

Here’s a quick rundown of the other medal events this afternoon in Sochi:

In hockey, the women had the day off while the men’s side featured four contests, including Team Canada taking a 6-0 win over Austria. Here were the other contests:

Out of competition, U.S. Speedskating has reportedly asked for the option to switch out of their current suits after a tough series of opening races…

An Irish skeleton racer went for a jaw-dropping ride in men’s skeleton

Vladimir Putin stopped by Team USA’s headquarters…

Team USA athletes celebrated Valentine’s Day

There was a bit of monkey business going on at the men’s super combined…

TODAY’s Meredith Vieira is the next one to step in for Bob Costas as NBC Olympics host…

And snowboard slopestyle gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg palled around with Jimmy Fallon.

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 14
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)

1. Germany – 7/2/1 – 10
2. Switzerland – 5/1/1 – 7
3. Canada – 4/5/2 – 11
T-4. Norway – 4/3/6 – 13
T-4. United States – 4/3/6 – 13
6. Netherlands – 4/3/5 – 12
7. Belarus – 3/0/1 – 4
8. Russia – 2/5/5 – 12
9. China – 2/2/0 – 4
10. France – 2/0/2 – 4
11. Poland – 2/0/0 – 2
12. Austria – 1/4/0 – 5
13. Japan – 1/2/1 – 4
14. Slovenia – 1/1/2 – 4
T-15. Great Britain – 1/0/1 – 2
T-15. Korea – 1/0/1 – 2
17. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
18. Sweden – 0/5/2 – 7
19. Italy – 0/2/2 – 4
20. Czech Republic – 0/2/1 – 3
21. Australia – 0/1/1 – 2
T-22. Croatia – 0/1/0 – 1
T-22. Finland – 0/1/0 – 1
24. Latvia – 0/0/2 – 2
T-25. Kazakhstan – 0/0/1 – 1
T-25. Ukraine – 0/0/1 – 1

IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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