PyeongChang late night recap

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Cross-Country Skiing: Diggins, Caldwell advance to sprint semifinals 

Americans Jessie Diggins and Sophie Caldwell put themselves in good standing to challenge for an American medal in cross-country skiing.

The two members of team USA, as well as Sadie Bjornsen, all made the top 30 qualification cut to advance to the quarterfinals. Caldwell, who finished 12th in the qualification phase, finished behind Norway’s Maiken Falla to advance to the semifinals.

The American’s success perhaps gave some inspiration for Diggins, as she too surged to the front of the pack in her respective quarterfinal before finishing in second behind Sweden’s Hanna Falk.

Bjornsen failed to advance to the semifinals, having finished third in her quarterfinal group.

Update 7:30a.m. EST: Diggins finishes sixth overall in women’s sprint, Sweden’s Nilsson wins gold. Caldwell eliminated in first semifinal heat.

Short Track: Biney eliminated from 500m 

Maame Biney’s debut Olympics ended on Tuesday morning, as she finished fourth in her quarterfinal heat. The young track star was simply outclassed by more experienced competition. Medal favorite Fan Kexin finished second in Biney’s heat, behind OAR’s Sofia Prosvirnova.

NBCOlympics.com: WATCH: Maame Biney eliminated from 500m

The U.S. men finished third in their qualification group in the Men’s 5,000m Relay, finishing a distant third behind South Korea and Hungary. South Korea, led on by a raucous home crowd, skated an Olympic record 6:34.510.

Ice Hockey: CAN def. FIN 4-1 

Canada steamrolled past Finland, booking their much-expected place in the semifinals. The Canadians got off to a quick start and were in control for the entire game. Meghan Aghosta gave her nation the lead just over 30 seconds into the first period, continuing to climb up the Canadian all-time Olympic scoring record.

If the USA beat Olympic Athletes from Russia, then Finland will drop into the classification stage.

Full recap: Canada vs. Finland

Alpine Skiing: Ligety just misses out on medal

He certainly put up a good fight. Though he wasn’t considered to be a medal favorite this year, Ted Ligety made a good showing, finishing fifth overall. The American excelled in the slalom, placing fourth with a time of 46.61 seconds. That effort, though, fell just short of a podium placing.

Marcel Hirscher of Austria, whose victory was a long time coming, took home the gold. The six-time World Cup champion won gold with a combined time of 2:06:52.

Full recap and highlights here 

Luge: Germany sitting in gold and silver heading into final run, Hamlin on the outside

Erin Hamlin sits on the outside looking in heading into the final run of the women’s individual luge. After three runs, the American still finds herself standing in fifth as the medal contenders continued to maintain good form.

Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Huefner of Germany currently sit atop the standings heading into the fourth and final run.

 

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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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record; David Wise wins first title in 5 years

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, American David Wise earned his first major ski halfpipe title since repeating as Olympic champion in 2018. Wise landed back-to-back double cork 1260s to end his winning run, according to commentators.

“I wouldn’t still be out here if I didn’t think I had a chance,” Wise, 32 and now a five-time X Games Aspen champ, said on the broadcast. “I’m not going to be the guy who just keeps playing the game until everybody just begs me to stop.”

U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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