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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.

 

UCI looks for new host for 2020 World Road Cycling Championships

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The International Cycling Union (UCI) is looking for a new host for the 2020 World Road Cycling Championships due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Switzerland can no longer host the week-long event in late September after a national decision to extend a ban on events with more than 1,000 people through next month.

Amid reports the competition has been canceled, the UCI clarified Wednesday that it still hopes to hold it in some form, perhaps without some of the junior or senior races.

It now seeks an “alternative project,” preferably still in Europe and on the same dates (Sept. 20-27).

Worlds were due to start in Switzerland on the same day that the rescheduled Tour de France ends, though the senior elite men’s races are typically not on the first three days.

The Tour de France is still scheduled to start Aug. 29.

Last year, American Chloe Dygert starred at road worlds, winning the time trial in dominant fashion. Other world champions in Olympic events: Annemiek van Vleuten (road race), Rohan Dennis (time trial) and Mads Pedersen (road race).

MORE: Chloe Dygert had the most dominant ride in history. It still drives her nuts.

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Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15 in 2000

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In the biggest race of his young life, a 15-year-old Michael Phelps turned for the last 50 meters in fourth place of the U.S. Olympic Trials 200m butterfly final on Aug. 12, 2000.

His mom, Debbie, couldn’t watch. She turned away from the Indianapolis Natatorium pool and stared at the scoreboard. Both Debbie and Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, mentally prepared their consolation speeches for the rising Towson High School sophomore outside Baltimore.

Then Phelps, fueled by nightly Adam’s Mark chicken sandwich-and-cheesecake room service and amped by pre-race DMX on his CD player, turned it on. He zoomed into second place, becoming the youngest U.S. male swimmer to qualify for an Olympics since 1932.

Phelps had “come out of nowhere in the last six months” to become an Olympic hopeful, NBC Sports swimming commentator Dan Hicks said on the broadcast. True, Phelps chopped five and a half seconds off his personal best that March.

“He doesn’t know what it means to go to the Olympics and how it’s going to change his life,” Tom Malchow, the 1996 Olympic silver medalist who held off Phelps in that trials final, said that night, according to The Associated Press. “He’s going to find out soon.”

Phelps, who did his trademark arm flaps before the trials final, made Bowman look like a prophet. Four years earlier, the coach sat Debbie down for a conversation she would not soon forget.

“Told me what he projected for Michael,” Debbie said, according to the Baltimore Sun‘s front-page story on a local 15-year-old qualifying for the Sydney Games. “He said that in 2004, he would definitely be a factor in the Olympics. He also said that he could be there in 2000, to watch out for him. At the time, he was only 11.”

The trials were bittersweet for the Phelps family. Whitney, one of Phelps’ older sisters, withdrew before the meet with herniated discs in her back that kept her from making an Olympics after competing in the 1994 World Championships at age 14.

After Phelps qualified for the Olympics, one of the first people to embrace him was Whitney on the pool deck.

The next week, Phelps, still with bottom-teeth braces, did his first live TV sitdown on CNN, swiveling in his chair the whole time, according to his autobiography, “Beneath the Surface.”

The next month, Phelps finished fifth in his Olympic debut, clocking a then-personal-best time that would have earned gold or silver at every previous Olympics.

Following the Olympic race, gold medalist Malchow patted Phelps on the back, according to “No Limits,” another Phelps autobiography. What did Malchow say?

“The best is ahead of you.”

MORE: Meet Arnie the Terminator, Katie Ledecky’s top rival

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