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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.

 

IOC group proposes Olympic ‘host’ can be multiple countries

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International Olympic Committee members will decide next month whether to tweak the definition of an Olympic host to make it clear that it does not necessarily refer to a single city but can also mean multiple cities, regions and even countries, IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday.

“It’s not an encouragement to spread the Games out as much as possible,” Bach said in announcing the IOC’s executive board approved the measure. “It may be preferable to have a region as a signatory or an additional signatory of the host city contract rather than just a city, and therefore, we wanted to enjoy this flexibility. This, on the other hand, does not change our vision, our request and our focus on having not only an Olympic Village, but to have an Olympic center.”

It’s one of six proposed changes by a working group chaired by Australian IOC member John Coates to examine the bid process. Another is to make the timing of Olympic host city elections more flexible. Typically, hosts are elected seven years before the Games, though two years ago an exception was made in the double awarding of the 2024 and 2028 Games to Paris and Los Angeles.

Bach repeated that the proposals are “to avoid producing too many losers as we had it in the past candidature procedures.”

The IOC previously said in 2014, in announcing Agenda 2020, that it “will allow events held outside the host city or, in exceptional cases, outside the host country, notably for reasons of geography and sustainability.”

This shift manifests in Stockholm’s 2026 Winter Olympic bid plan to have sliding sports in Sigulda, Latvia, home of the nearest existing track for bobsled, luge and skeleton, rather than building a costly new track in Sweden.

IOC members will vote to choose the 2026 Winter Games host next month. The finalists are Stockholm and a joint Italian bid of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, after five other potential candidates were dropped for various reasons.

There is precedent for events held far from the Olympic host city. In 1956, Melbourne held the Summer Games and had equestrian events in Stockholm due to quarantine laws in Australia. Similarly, equestrian at the 2008 Beijing Games was held in Hong Kong.

Soccer matches are often held in cities across the host country. Recent Winter Olympics have had mountain events in a different city or area than arena events.

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IOC board recommends AIBA suspension, boxing stays in Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee executive board recommended that AIBA has its recognition as boxing’s international federation suspended but that the sport remains on the Olympic program at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

An IOC decision on the recommendation will be made next month. The IOC created a group to organize 2020 Olympic boxing qualifying and competition if AIBA will not be allowed to run it.

“We want to ensure that the athletes can live their dream and participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 while drawing the necessary consequences for AIBA,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in a press release. “At the same time, we offer a pathway back to lifting the suspension, but there needs to be further fundamental change.”

The IOC said in October that boxing’s place in the Olympics was “under threat” after being introduced at the 1904 St. Louis Games and held at every Games since except Stockholm 1912.

In November, the IOC ordered an inquiry into AIBA, which has been in financial turmoil, faced claims of fixed bouts at the Rio Games and elected a president linked to organized crime.

That president, Uzbek Gafur Rakhimov, stepped aside in March to let an interim leader take charge but said he was not resigning. Rakhimov is on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list for suspected links to an organized crime group in former Soviet Union republics involved in heroin trafficking. He denies any wrongdoing.

“Serious governance issues remain, including breaches of the Olympic Charter and the IOC Code of Ethics regarding good governance and ethics, leading to serious reputational, legal and financial risks for the IOC, the Olympic Movement and its stakeholders,” the inquiry committee concluded. “AIBA has been unable to demonstrate a sustainable and fair management of refereeing and judging processes and decisions, increasing the lack of confidence that athletes can have in fair competitions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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