Sochi Olympic Daily Recap & Medal Count: Day 11

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Through the falling snow at Rosa Khutor, a Wise man flipped, jumped, and soared into Olympic history.

23-year-old U.S. halfpipe skier David Wise, already a multi-time X Games champion and the 2013 world champion, is now the inaugural Olympic men’s ski halfpipe champion. The devoted family man cranked out a 92.00-point first run in the finals that was able to stand up.

Wise’s performance brings Team USA its sixth gold of the Sochi Olympics and its second in as many days after Meryl Davis and Charlie White won gold in ice dancing yesterday.

This afternoon, Wise thanked his supporters and hailed silver medalist Mike Riddle of Canada and bronze medalist Kevin Rolland of France…

The U.S. also got a bronze medal this morning in snowboard cross as Alex Deibold, a wax tech for the U.S. snowboarders four years ago in Vancouver, broke through for a spot on the podium. He would dedicate the bronze to Chelone Miller, the late brother of U.S. Alpine skiing star Bode Miller and his former snowboarding teammate. France’s Pierre Vaultier was also impressive in claiming gold on what he termed as a “broken” ACL

Mikaela Shiffrin – considered by many to be the future of U.S. Alpine skiing – made her Winter Olympic debut today in the giant slalom and finished a solid fifth, while Slovenia’s Tina Maze won her second gold so far in Sochi over super-G winner Anna Fenninger (silver) and defending Olympic GS champ Viktoria Rebensburg…

The men’s biathlon mass start was finally settled after two days of postponements, and the ending was worth the wait as Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway won a photo finish over France’s Martin Fourcade. Adding to the excitement was that Svendsen actually slowed down and raised his arms in victory before crossing the finish line, just as Fourcade made a desperate lunge to beat him…

The Dutch speedskaters continued their rampage in Sochi as they swept the medals for a fourth time. Today, it was in the men’s 10,000m, which saw Jorrit Bergsma defeat world-record holder Sven Kramer for the gold…

Also victorious was Norway’s Joergen Graabak in Nordic combined (individual large hill 10km) and the South Korean women in the short track 3000m relay

In men’s hockey, the U.S. found out who their quarterfinal opponent would be: The Czechs, who knocked off Slovakia, 5-3, to earn a date tomorrow with the Americans. Meanwhile, Canada will play Latvia after they defeated Switzerland, 3-1, to earn their first-ever trip to the quarterfinals.

Russia also moved into the quarters with a 4-0 win over Norway, and surprising Slovenia will also make its first-ever quarters appearance after blanking Austria by the same score.

Finnish women’s hockey goalie Noora Raty may be done with the Olympics, but if so, she went out a winner as her team beat Russia in the fifth-place game. Germany also beat Japan, 3-2, for seventh…

J.R. Celski of the U.S. moved into the quarterfinals of the short track men’s 500m by finishing second in his heat race today…

And after the first day of women’s bobsled, Team USA’s top pairing of Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams find themselves halfway to a gold medal; they hold a .23 of a second edge over Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse going into the final two runs tomorrow…

Out of competition, the word is out about a heirloom “coin” that’s actually an amazing piece of Olympic history – a participant’s medal from the first modern Olympics in 1896

Recently retired figure skating star Yevgeny Plushenko may not be done competitively after all

Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who share a coach with new champions Davis and White, aren’t sure said coach was in their corner

The Finnish men’s hockey team is signing the bikes they’ve used to get around Sochi and auctioning them off for charity

Will U.S. skier Julia Mancuso be back for Pyeongchang in 2018? In her words, “we’ll see”

Vladimir Putin gave his two cents on the disallowed Russian goal from last weekend’s U.S.-Russia men’s hockey epic…

And slopestyle snowboard gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg’s wish for a bacon medal is going to come true

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 18
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)

1. Germany – 8/3/4 – 15
2. Norway – 7/4/7 – 18
3. Netherlands – 6/6/8 – 20
4. United States – 6/4/10 – 20
5. Russia – 5/8/6 – 19
6. Switzerland – 5/2/1 – 8
7. Belarus – 5/0/1 – 6
8. Canada – 4/9/4 – 17
9. Poland – 4/0/0 – 4
10. China – 3/2/1 – 6
11. France – 3/1/5 – 9
12. Austria – 2/6/1 – 9
13. Sweden – 2/5/2 – 9
14. Slovenia – 2/1/3 – 6
15. Korea – 2/1/1 – 4
T-16. Czech Republic – 1/3/2 – 6
T-16. Japan – 1/3/2 – 6
18. Great Britain – 1/0/1 – 2
19. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
20. Italy – 0/2/4 – 6
21. Australia – 0/2/1 – 3
22. Finland – 0/2/0 – 2
23. Latvia – 0/1/2 – 3
24. Croatia – 0/1/0 – 1
T-25. Kazakhstan – 0/0/1 – 1
T-25. Ukraine – 0/0/1 – 1

World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”

Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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