Previewing the final week in PyeongChang

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The Olympics have already provided some remarkable storylines. From Shaun White redeeming himself in the men’s snowboard halfpipe, to John-Henry Krueger ending the U.S.’s medal drought in short track, memorable storylines have certainly developed.

The international field, too, has certainly had its own flair for the dramatic. Look back at Ester Ledecka, a snowboarder, stunning the world by winning the alpine skiing super-G. Or look at Simen Hagsted Krueger’s improbable comeback to win the men’s cross-country 30km skiathlon.

Here at OlympicTalk, we’ve compiled six of the best events that are still to be featured in PyeongChang. There are more storylines to be written, more heroes to emerge, and plenty of heartbreak to be endured.


Ladies Downhill: Feb. 21 (9:00p.m. EST / 6:00p.m. PST)

Lindsey Vonn has hinted that this will probably be her last Olympics. The downhill is her best event, and she’ll surely be looking to fix the mistakes that she made on the slalom. She’s even started the competing in the training runs. Cheeky as ever, Vonn admitted to playing “mind games” with her competitors, allowing them to best her training run times. She doesn’t want to win training; she’ll save that for when it actually matters.

It’s been a long road for Shiffrin these past several years, having to pull out of Sochi because of a knee injury. She’s returned in good form, though, despite that disappointing performance in the giant slalom.

With Mikaela Shiffrin pulling out of the event, all eyes will be on Lindsey Vonn as she attempts to become the undisputed queen of the downhill.

Women’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal Match: Feb. 22 (11:10p.m. EST / 8:10p.m. PST)

The United States and Canada have met in three of the past four gold medal matches at the Olympics, and Canada have won all three of those meetings. The 2014 gold medal match was heart breaking for the Americans in particular, losing in overtime.

The Americans have made it abundantly clear that not a day has passed since they lost that game, and we got to see some of that anger when these two teams met in the group stages. Canada came on top of that one, 2-1, but it was by far the highest quality game and also the most physical.

There is no clear favorite in this game, no telling what the scoreline will be. The only known certainty is that it will be the most physically demanding game that either of these teams will play.

Figure Skating, Ladies Singles: Feb. 21, 23 (8:00p.m. EST / 5:00.m. PST) 

Mirai Nagasu already made history in the team event when she became the first American woman to land a triple Axel. With the ladies singles event coming up, her focus looks razor sharp. She faces stiff competition for the gold, though.

To get a glimpse into what the ladies singles event could hold, look at the team event earlier in these Games. The athletes from OAR and Canada are going to be fighting amongst themselves for the medal haul. Yevgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova won both of their skate programs, with Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman finishing third in theirs.

Speed Skating Mass Start: Feb. 24 (6:00a.m. EST / 3:00a.m. PST)

Making its debut on the Olympic stage, the Mass Start is sure to be a thrilling conclusion to the speed skating competition. Up to 16 athletes compete at a time, pushing each other out of the way to win those sprint points. Short track is unpredictable because of the four skaters who are all jostling for that inside lane. What happens then when you add 12 more to the field?

The Koreans love speed skating, and they’ll certainly create the buzz during the Mass Start. Just listen to the roar from the crowd whenever a Korean skater makes a move for the front.

Click here to read more on the Mass Start 

Cross-Country Men’s 50k Mass Start: Feb. 24 (12:00a.m. EST / 9:00p.m. PST)

This event may not have any Americans in this event (at least any who have any chance at a medal), but that doesn’t mean you should skip this event. These skiers will be in the thick of it for approximately 30 tortuous miles. Cross-country skiers literally collapse at the end of a 10km or 15km race. How could they possibly go on for another 40km?

So who are the favorites? “Super” Dario Cologna is probably the man to beat as he has one a couple of Olympic gold medals already, but the Norwegians did sweep the men’s 30km skiathlon. Simen Hegstad Krueger has been the standout athlete for Norway this season, and Denis Spitsov has been performing well for OAR.

Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game: Feb. 25 (11:10p.m. EST / 8:10p.m. PST) 

Okay, so we don’t know who’s going to be in the final yet. As things stand the quarterfinals haven’t even begun. OAR are still the favorites, but Sweden are sitting in the no.1 seed in the bracket stage.

The men’s hockey final has always proven to be a memorable way to end the Olympics. Canada and Sweden have traded the gold medals the past few years. There aren’t any NHL players this time around, though, and that’s already provided for some surprising resutls.

Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

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Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.

Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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