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PyeongChang late night roundup

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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

 

Swim meet canceled after FINA’s threat to ban athletes

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GENEVA (AP) — Amid growing conflict between swimmers and their world governing body, an international swimming meet was canceled on Thursday after threats to ban athletes who took part seeking better prize money.

The Italian swim federation called off the Dec. 20-21 competition it was organizing in Turin, saying it acted to protect athletes from FINA.

The Turin meet was linked to a proposed International Swimming League, a privately run operation which aims to operate outside FINA’s control and pay higher prize money.

“FINA declared the event ‘non-approved,’ threatening sanctions against the participating athletes,” Italian officials said in a statement.

FINA, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Olympic champions have long criticized FINA, believing swimmers should be better rewarded, have more say in decisions, and could create their own union.

Olympic champion Adam Peaty of Britain wrote on Thursday on Twitter he was “incredibly disappointed” by the cancellation.

The politics involved will “galvanize swimmers, not break them,” wrote Peaty, who holds 50m and 100m breaststroke world records.

Peaty has previously supported Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu in her public criticism of FINA, and calls to create a swimmers’ union.

Italian organizers said Peaty, Hosszu and other Olympic champions including Chad le Clos of South Africa and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden were due to take part in their 25-meter pool event. It was scheduled days after the short-course world championships being staged in Hangzhou, China.

The clash of events seemed to provoke FINA into finding more prize money for its worlds event in the smaller pool.

On Nov. 6, FINA added to its promised prize fund for China by almost doubling the total to $2.07 million.

FINA wrote to member federations on Oct. 30 warning of bans of up to two years for taking part in Turin.

However, a European Commission decision last year suggests swimmers could successfully challenge any attempt to limit their right to race and earn money.

The European Union’s executive arm ruled the International Staking Union in breach of anti-trust laws by threatening severe bans for speed skaters who wanted to compete in a South Korean-organized event in Dubai.

The ISU’s threats “also serve to protect its own commercial interests,” the European officials said.

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Simon Ammann believes ski jumping career end is near

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Simon Ammann, the most decorated active ski jumper with four Olympic gold medals, said it is hard to imagine competing beyond this season, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.

Ammann, 37, swept the individual Olympic titles in 2002 and 2010 to join retired Finn Matti Nykänen as the only four-time Olympic ski jumping champs.

In PyeongChang, his sixth Olympics, Ammann placed 11th and 13th, one month after making his first World Cup podium in nearly three years. He decided after those Winter Games that he would continue at least one more season, but has no plan to go all the way to a seventh Olympics in 2022, according to Blick.

Ammann has teased retirement since at least 2011 and even said going into the 2014 Sochi Olympics that he was “99 percent sure” they would be his final Games.

The now-father of two first gained crossover celebrity with his surprise Salt Lake City 2002 gold medals, his first wins in top-level international competition. The bespectacled Ammann’s victory screams and resemblance to Harry Potter helped land him on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and one of Europe’s biggest shows, sitting next to Shakira.

Fellow ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan holds the Winter Olympic record of eight appearances. Kasai, 46, has said he plans to go for a ninth participation at Beijing 2022.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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