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Korea gets big win over U.S.; Americans’ chance at curling semifinals lessens

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Needing a win to keep the hopes of reaching the semifinals alive, Team USA saw the wheels fall off against Korea in the second game Thursday night, losing in six ends 9-1.

Both the U.S. and Korea came into the game 1-2 with four matches remaining.

The U.S. sibling duo of Becca and Matt Hamilton came into the game with the highest shooting percentage among the eight teams in the field, Becca shooting 78 percent and Matt 83 percent. However, through three ends against Korea Matt Hamilton was shooting under 50 percent, and it showed.

After falling 7-1 through four ends, a visibly frustrated Matt Hamilton ditched his hat in a last ditch effort to do anything to change his team’s misfortunes. But not even the hat could help the Hamilton’s recover.

VIDEO: Watch Team USA vs. South Korea

“Didn’t handle the ice this game and it’s tough to stay energetic and hyped up when things aren’t going your way,” Matt Hamilton said to reporters following the game. “But nothing you can but come back the next game and make something happen.”

Playing the power play option in the fifth in hopes of drumming up more offense, the Hamiltons instead had even more mistakes, and couldn’t even finish with a point in the end. Korea stole another to go up seven.

The U.S. has now gone 21 ends without scoring more than a single point, dating back to the first game of the tournament against Team OAR.

The U.S. didn’t start the game with the hammer for the first time in PyeongChang, and gave up two points to Korea in the first end after the Koreans cleared the house on a double-takeout, and landed on the button with the final throw.

The U.S. responded with one point in the second, but Korea again capitalized with the hammer in the third, scoring two more in the end, and three more in the fourth to take a 7-1 lead at the midway point.

NBCOlympics.com: Korea’s Lee proves curling is definitely dangerous

“We like playing under pressure but today Korea just outshot us,” Becca Hamilton said. “They played great.”

The U.S. team will now hope to salvage a win against China Friday morning, and hope other teams falter to have any chance and making the semifinals.

More than anything, the Hamiltons just hope playing with their backs against the wall pushes them more.

“I’m hoping it just motivates us and gets us really hype,” Matt Hamilton said. “We’re excited to get back out tomorrow and show we’re not a 1-3 team.”

Geraint Thomas attacks, takes Tour de France lead ahead of Chris Froome

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British Olympic track cycling champion Geraint Thomas grabbed the Tour de France lead, attacking with three and a half miles to win a summit finish on Stage 11 on Wednesday.

Thomas now leads a Team Sky one-two in the overall standings, 85 seconds ahead of four-time Tour winner Chris Froome, as the three-week Grand Tour passed the halfway mark.

Thomas continues to say he’s riding in support of Froome — who could tie the record of five Tour titles — rather than to win cycling’s biggest event himself.

“Froome is the [Team Sky] leader here, so there’s no pressure on me,” Thomas said Tuesday, according to Cyclingnews.com. “It’s a bonus for me to be up there, and hopefully I can be there for as long as possible.”

The Tour continues Thursday with stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here).

The 109-mile stage features three beyond-category climbs — Col de la Madeleine, Croix-de-Fer and the iconic Alpe d’Huez finish after 21 switchbacks to close out the Tour’s three days in the Alps. The overall standings are sure to change.

Greg Van Avermaet, the Rio Olympic road race champion, went into Wednesday with the yellow jersey and a 2:22 lead, which he had tripled on the first mountain day Tuesday.

But Van Avermaet, who predicted he would lose the yellow jersey before stages Tuesday and Wednesday, cracked on the second of three major climbs Wednesday. He finished in a group 22 minutes after Thomas.

Van Avermaet is a super one-day racer but not a strong climber.

Thomas showed his climbing prowess, finishing 20 seconds ahead of 2017 Giro d’Italia champion Tom Dumoulin and Froome.

“It’s unreal,” Thomas said. “I didn’t expect it at all.”

Thomas dons the yellow jersey for a second straight Tour. The 2008 and 2012 Olympic track cycling gold medalist won the opening time trial in 2017 and wore the maillot jaune four days before Froome took over en route to his fourth title in Paris.

There was talk before and during this year’s Tour that Thomas could challenge Froome as Sky’s team leader, even though Froome has won the last three Grand Tours.

But Thomas and Sky have played that down.

“Whatever happens now is bonus,” Thomas said. “Froomey’s won six Grand Tours. He knows how to race over three weeks. For me, it’s an unknown. … As long as one of us wins, that’s the main thing.”

Dumoulin moved into third overall, 1:44 behind Thomas and 19 seconds back of Froome.

The other top contenders — 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana and Romain Bardet — finished 59 seconds behind Thomas on Wednesday.

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Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics add 7 new events

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Seven new events were added to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic program:

Women’s monobobsled
Short track mixed team relay
Ski jumping mixed team event
Freestyle skiing big air (men and women)
Aerials mixed team event
Snowboard cross mixed team event

The additions bring the Winter Olympic total number of events to 109, an all-time high and nearly double the amount of events at the 1992 Winter Games.

The number of women’s hockey teams will increase from eight to 10 in 2022, but the overall number of athletes is expected to be fewer than the 2,933 in PyeongChang. The International Olympic Committee said athlete quotas will decrease in some sports, but no events have been contracted. Alpine skiing’s super combined events are still under review as to whether they will remain in the Olympic program.

The IOC said the Winter Olympics will have its highest-ever gender balance in 2022, rising from 41 percent female athletes to more than 45 percent.

The IOC had a “long discussion” about adding a women’s event in Nordic combined, the only sport without a women’s event in the Winter Games, IOC sports director Kit McConnell said.

“Nordic combined, and women’s in particular, still need to be developed further in terms of universality [the number of countries with Olympic-level athletes], in terms of the level of the athletes,” McConnell said.

The IOC also weighed whether to add a four-woman bobsled event rather than women’s monobobsled. The Games have two-man and two-woman events and a four-man event.

McConnell said the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation was “very supportive” of monobob, in part because it is already on the Youth Olympic program.

“Woman’s four-man bob costs three or four times of monobob,” McConnell said. “We felt there would be more universality in the women’s monobob. We really didn’t see more than a handful of countries really developing women’s four-man programs because of the costs involved.”

Beijing will mark the third straight Winter Olympics to add mixed-gender events. In 2014, mixed relays in biathlon and luge debuted, as well as the figure skating team event. In PyeongChang, a mixed Alpine skiing team event and mixed doubles curling debuted.

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