PyeongChang late night roundup

Getty Images
0 Comments

She had to wait a while, but Mikaela Shiffrin finally was able to ski in PyeongChang. With the women’s alpine skiing competition behind set increasingly back, the American was able to maintain her composure to win her first Olympic gold medal of these Games.

Shiffrin wasn’t the only American in action tonight. The U.S. women’s hockey team fell to Canada in a tense encounter. In a game that featured plenty of momentum swings, Canada scored two in the second period to seal the deal. The U.S. continued to put increasing pressure on the Canadians, but couldn’t get the job done.

In other news from the evening, Marit Bjoergen won her 12th overall Olympic medal and Pierre Vaultier won his second straight boardercross gold medal.

Alpine Skiing: Shiffrin wins gold in giant slalom

Mikaela Shiffrin sat in second position after her first run in the giant slalom, behind Italian Manuela Moelgg. The American, though, unlike her Italian counterpart, put on a masterful second run of 1:09.20, launching her into the gold medal position ahead of Moelgg, whose second run pushed her all the way down to eighth.

The Olympics could not have gone off to a better start for Shiffrin, who could leave PyeongChang with multiple medals.

Watch Shiffrin’s gold medal run 

Hockey: CAN def. USA 2-1 

Women’s Tournament

If that was a preview of what the gold medal game could look like, then it’s bound to be another classic between these two rivals. From the first puck drop until the final whistle, these two teams battled it out in a cagey affair that certainly lived up to expectations. Meghan Acosta and Sarah Nurse both scored for Canada.

CAN def. USA 2-1

FIN def. OAR 5-1

To read a full recap and to watch highlights, click here

Men’s Tournament

Finland’ s 18-year old young star Eeli Tolvanen stole the show on Wednesday night as the Finns eased to victory. Voltanen had a hand in four of five goals for his nation, scoring once and claiming three assists. With some traditional powerhouse teams looking a bit shaky at the start, he could become a huge difference for Finland as the tournament progresses into the knockout phase.

FIN def. GER 5-2

SWE def. NOR 4-0

Cross-Country Skiing: Haga dominates women’s 10km

Jessie Diggins again just finished outside the podium places in the women’s 10km free, finishing four seconds behind joint-third place finisher Marit Bjoergen and Krista Parmakowski.

Bjoergen, who has now won 12 overall Olympic medals in her career, is joined by countrywoman Ragnhild Haga. The Norwegian got off to a lightning-quick start, and eased to a 20.3 second margin of victory over second-placed Charlotte Kalla.

Snowboard Cross: Vaultier repeats as Olympic champ 

Pierre Vaultier was one of the few man to remain standing upright on the boardercross course. This event usually sees its fair share of athletes colliding or stumbling, and in the finals those two athletes were Team USA’s Nick Baumgartner and Mick Dierdorff.

Vaultier himself was part of a collision in his respective semifinal, but was able to recover well enough to advance to the final. This is his second Olympic gold medal in boardercross, mirroring his performance in Sochi.

Full curling recap available here 

Curling: USA fall to Italy 9-10

The U.S. men’s curling team put on a display as they sought to come back from a 6-9 deficit, but Italy stole the final end to take the narrow victory that sees the USA fall to 1-1 in group play.

Elsewhere, Canada defeated another medal contender in a 7-4 victory over Norway.

ITA def. USA 10-9

CAN def. NOR 7-4

GBR def. JPN 6-5

SUI def. DEN 9-7

Full curling recap available here 

Biathlon: Dahlmeier’s streak ends

Laura Dahlmeier missed just one shot in the women’s 15km individual, but it was enough to see her gold medal hopes slip away. Instead, it was 22-year old Hanna Oeberg who completed the race of her life to win the event. Oeberg was just one of two competitors to shoot clear in all of her targets

 

John McFall, Paralympic medalist, becomes first parastronaut in Europe

John McFall
Getty
0 Comments

The European Space Agency made history Wednesday by selecting an amputee who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident to be among its newest batch of astronauts — a leap toward its pioneering ambition to send someone with a physical disability into space.

John McFall, a 41-year-old Briton who lost his right leg when he was 19 and later won a Paralympic 100m bronze medal in 2008, called his selection at Europe’s answer to NASA “a real turning point and mark in history.”

“ESA has a commitment to send an astronaut with a physical disability into space … This is the first time that a space agency has endeavored to embark on a project like this. And it sends a really, really strong message to humanity,” he said.

The newly-minted parastronaut joins five career astronauts in the final selection unveiled during a Paris news conference — the conclusion of the agency’s first recruitment drive in over a decade aimed at bringing diversity to space travel.

McFall will follow a different path than his fellow astronauts because he will participate in a groundbreaking feasibility study exploring whether physical disability will impair space travel. It’s uncharted land, since no major Western space agency has ever put a parastronaut into space, according to the ESA.

Speaking with pride amid flashes of emotion, McFall said that he was uniquely suited to the mission because of the vigor of his mind and body.

“I’m very comfortable in my own skin. I lost my leg about twenty plus years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to be a Paralympic athlete and really explored myself emotionally … All those factors and hardships in life have given me confidence and strength — the ability to believe in myself that I can do anything I put my mind to,” he added.

“I never dreamt of being an astronaut. It was only when ESA announced that they were looking for a candidate with a physical disability to embark on this project that it really sparked my interest.”

The feasibility study, that will last two to three years, will examine the basic hurdles for a parastronaut including how a physical disability might impact mission training, and if modifications to spacesuits and aircraft are required, for example.

ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker said it was still a “long road” for McFall but described the fresh recruitment as a long-held ambition.

Parker said it started with a question. “Maybe there are people out there that are almost superhuman in that they’ve already overcome challenges. And could they become astronauts?”

Parker also says that he “thinks” it may be the first time the word “parastronaut” has been used, but “I do not claim ownership.”

“We’re saying that John (McFall) could be the first parastronaut, that means someone who has been selected by the regular astronaut selection process but happens to have a disability that would normally have ruled him out,” he said.

It will be at least five years before McFall goes into space as an astronaut — if he is successful.

Across the Atlantic, Houston is taking note. Dan Huot, a spokesman for NASA’s Johnson Space Center, home to the American agency’s astronaut corps, told the AP that “we at NASA are watching ESA’s para-astronaut selection process with great interest.”

Huot acknowledged that “NASA’s selection criteria currently remains the same” but said the agency is looking forward to working with the “new astronauts in the future” from partners such as the ESA.

NASA stressed that it has a safety-conscious process for vetting future astronauts who might be put in life-threatening situations.

“For maximum crew safety, NASA’s current requirements call for each crew member to be free of medical conditions that could either impair the person’s ability to participate in, or be aggravated by, spaceflight, as determined by NASA physicians,” Huot added.

NASA said future “assistive technology” might change the game for “some candidates” to meet their stringent safety requirements.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Ilia Malinin in familiar position after Grand Prix Finland short program

Ilia Malinin
Getty
0 Comments

Ilia Malinin landed a quadruple Axel in his free skate to win his first two competitions this season. Less known was that the 17-year-old American had to come from behind to win each time.

An at least slightly injured Malinin looks up in the standings again after the short program of his third event, Grand Prix Finland. Malinin had erred landings on two of his three jumping passes in Friday’s short, where quad Axels are not allowed, then said he had a left foot problem, according to the International Skating Union.

“I’m a little bit injured, I’m playing it safe, protect it to make sure the injury doesn’t get worse,” he said, according to the ISU.

He tallied 85.57 points for second place, which is 3.39 fewer than leader Kevin Aymoz of France going into Saturday’s free skate.

Malinin, the world junior champion ranked No. 1 in the world in his first full senior season, merely needs to finish fourth or better (perhaps even fifth) to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final, which pits the top six per discipline in the world in a preview of March’s world championships.

Grand Prix Finland concludes with all of the free skates on Saturday.

GRAND PRIX FINLAND: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier Friday, world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium led the women’s short with 74.88 points, edging Mai Mihara of Japan by 1.3. Hendrickx and Mihara are in position to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. World champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan, South Korea’s Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito already have spots in the Final.

The world’s top ice dance couple this season, Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, improved on their world-leading rhythm dance score by tallying 87.80 points. They lead Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker by 6.87, with both couples in position to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini topped the pairs’ short program by 4.3 points over Americans Anastasiia Smirnova and Danil Siianytsia. The Italians rank fourth in the world this season behind three teams that aren’t in the Finland field but will be at the Grand Prix Final, including world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier of the U.S.

Smirnova and Silanytsia are competing in their lone Grand Prix this season after withdrawing before Skate America, making them ineligible for Grand Prix Final qualification. Their short program score ranks fourth among American pairs this season, putting them in contention for one of three spots on the team for worlds, to be decided after January’s national championships.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!