PyeongChang late night recap

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Plenty of happenings occurred around the Olympic grounds in the late hours on Saturday and into Sunday morning. Most notably, the American women’s ice hockey team got off the mark to their competition, edging Finland in Group A play.

Elsewhere, American athletes have been setting themselves up for a chance at Olympic glory. Chris Mazdzer currently sits in second in the luge competition with one final run to go, whilst Morgan Schild leads a field of three American women into the women’s individual moguls final.

Women’s Ice Hockey: USA holds of Finland 3-1

Canada, Finland, and the USA were all pegged as medal contenders entering the Olympics. But these three teams find themselves in the same group, and only two could advance.

The USA placed tremendous pressure on Finland in the first period and were on the front foot for much of the opening 20 minutes, yet it was Finnish starlet Jenni Hiirikoski who struck in the closing seconds of the period. The Americans piled on even more pressure against the Finns in the second period and forced Finland to put too many defenders near their net, giving Monique Lameroux-Moranda enough space to beat GK Noora Raty.

Kendall Coyne gave the U.S. the go-ahead goal just a few minutes later, capitalizing on a power play.

 

Luge: Mazdzer in contention for U.S. medal 

American Chris Mazdzer placed himself in prime position to be the first American individuals luge Olympic medalist. Finishing at the top of the class on Run 3 with a time of 47.534 seconds, Mazdzer is only looking up to Germany’s Felix Loch in the podium. The German is poised to win his third straight Olympic gold medal.

NBCOlympics.com: Chris Mazdzer sets course record on Run 3 to move into 2nd

Freestyle Skiing: Johnson joins Schild in finals 

Tess Johnson has joined American teammate Morgan Schild in the finals of the women’s individual moguls, finishing first in her heat with a score of 75.33. Sochi silver medalist Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, a medal contender again for 2018, barely scraped through in the heat after two disappointing runs. Still, enough time to potentially regroup for the final.

Cross Country Skiing: Norway sweep men’s 30km Skiathlon

A strong team effort saw Norway sweep the podium in the men’s 30km skiathlon. Simen Hegstad Kreuger overcame a spill at the start of the race to win his first Olympic gold medal in 1:16:20. A late surge by the Norwegian saw him set the tone for a decisive second half of the race, winning by eight seconds. His compatriots Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Hans Christer Holund won silver and bronze, respectively.

Speed Skating: Sven Kramer sets new OR record in Men’s 5,000m

Dutch speedster Sven Kramer won gold in the Men’s 5,000m event with an Olympic-record time of 6:09.76. Ted-Jan Bloeman of Canada and Norway’s Sverre Lunde Pedersen picked up the silver and bronze, respectively.

His third successive gold medal, Kramer is now the most decorated men’s speed skater in history.

Biathlon: Surprise medalists stand on podium in Men’s 10km sprint

Simply put, this was an odd day. Shooting failed many of the favorites entering this competition, including Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe and 11 time world champion Martin Fourcade.

With the heavy hitters firmly out of contention early on in their races, someone had to step up. That man was Arnd Peiffer, one of only two competitors to shoot clean the entire race. The other, Czech Republic’s Mikhal Krcmar, finished second. Italy’s Dominik Windisch claimed the bronze.

 

Elena Fanchini, medal-winning Alpine skier, dies at 37

Elena Fanchini
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Elena Fanchini, an Italian Alpine skier whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.

Fanchini, the 2005 World downhill silver medalist at age 19, passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.

Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in the combined.

Sofia Goggia, who is the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, dedicated her World Cup win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini.

Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.

Fanchini won her world downhill silver medal in Italy in 2005, exactly one month after her World Cup debut, an astonishing breakout.

Ten months later, she won a World Cup downhill in Canada with “Ciao Mamma” scribbled on face tape to guard against 1-degree temperatures. She was 20. Nobody younger than 21 has won a World Cup downhill since. Her second and final World Cup win, also a downhill, came more than nine years later.

In between her two World Cup wins, Fanchini raced at three Olympics with a best finish of 12th in the downhill in 2014. She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.

Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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