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PyeongChang late night round up

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If you go to the results page for the men’s cross-country 15km freestyle competition, you’ll see Dario Cologna at the top. The Swiss skier became one of the most decorated athletes in his field after he won his third straight gold medal.

But, if you scroll down a little more, and a little more still, you’ll see five athletes who finished 111th, 113th, 114th, 115th, and 116th. Those five athletes are Samir Azzimani of Morocco, Kequyen Lam of Portugal, Pita Taufatofua of Tonga, Sebastien Uprimny of Colombia, and German Madrazo of Mexico. They teamed up last year in an attempt to qualify for the Olympics, renting out a cabin in Austria and training for 10 hours a day to qualify. Taufatofua qualified for the Olympics on the last possible day.

That they finished so low in the rankings isn’t a surprise, nor is it the story. Their pride as they took the final strides heading to the finish line, and the way they greeted each other at the finish line, is. In true Olympic spirit, Cologna (who nearly finished a half hour in front of them) was the first to embrace the skiers. 

Those tremendous athletes won’t leave PyeongChang with a medal, but they’ll walk away carrying the pride of their nations on their shoulders.


Hockey: OAR, USA back on track 

The USA and Athletes from Russia both responded well following disappointing starts to their Olympic Games.

The USA were led by Ryan Donato’s two goal effort to take a 2-1 victory over Slovakia. The U.S. learned from their previous game and continued to be aggressive for the entirety of the 60 minutes.

The Athletes from Russia posted a resounding 8-2 thrashing over Slovenia in their second game. Team OAR literally dominated the game from the first minute until the last, scoring their first goal 90 seconds into play. Ilya Kovalchuk and Kirill Kaprizov both recorded hat tricks.

USA def. SVK 2-1 

OAR def. SLO 8-2

Cross-Country Skiing: Super Dario wins third straight gold in 15km freestyle

Was there any doubt that Dario Cologna would win his third consecutive gold medal? The Swiss skier finished 18.3 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, Norways’ Simen Hegstad Krueger.

Full recap available here 

Curling: Canadians continue to struggle

Canada have been sent to the bottom of the standings in the women’s competition after being beaten by 2014 cellar dwellars Denmark. The Canadians entered PyeongChang as the clear favorites to retain gold, but time is quickly running out for them to rebound.

With Canada slipping up, a vacuum now exists at the top. Sweden and Great Britain will most be the teams most likely to fight for the gold medal should Canada miss the latter stages, but don’t sleep on Japan and South Korea. The latter continued to impress tonight with a victory over Switzterland.

DEN def. CAN 9-8

KOR def. SUI 7-5

SWE def. OAR 5-4

Full recap available here 

Freestyle Skiing: Huskova wins gold as others stumble 

Madison Olsen was the sole American to make it to the finals of the women’s aerials competition. Olsen slim medal hopes faded though as she couldn’t complete the landing.

She wasn’t the only one to tumble, though. A total of four women (including Olsen) out of the six finalists, all fell during their routines.

Hanna Huskova of Belarus took home the gold with a score of 96.14.

Speed Skating: Dutch maintain dominance

Another day, another medal for the Dutch speed skater. Today it was Esmee Visser who took the gold, finishing well ahead of the competition. Her compatriot, Annouk van der Weijden, was pushed down to fourth as the final pair of skaters – Czech Republic’s Martina Sablikova and OAR’s Natalya Voronina – finished second and third, respectively.

 

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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