PyeongChang late night roundup

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Freestyle Skiing: Four Americans in halfpipe final

All four of the United States’ athletes reached the final of the men’s freeski halfpipe. Aaron Blunck led the field, with two of his compatriots rounding out the top three.

Blunck fell on his first run, but managed to perform well in the second to post the top score of the day. The Americans swept the podium in the X Games just a month ago, and are now on track to do so again.

Full freeski halfpipe recap available here 

Hockey: Unified Korea finish tournament

The Unified Korean hockey team were media darlings during these Games. Tonight they played their final game, losing 1-6 to Sweden. It wasn’t a surprise to see the team so clearly outmatched throughout these Games, but they put on a good effort and always drew in a very positive crowd. The first puck that they scored their first-ever goal with is already en-route to the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Slovenia suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of Norway, who failed to record a win until tonight until Alexander Bonsaksen scored in overtime. Slovenia’s opening night 3-2 win over the USA seems long ago as they’re dumped out of the tournament. Norway, on the other hand, advance to the quarterfinals where they face OAR.

Men’s Tournament

NOR def. SLO 2-1 (OT)

Women’s Tournament

SWE def. COR 6-1

SUI def. JPN 1-0

Curling: South Korea clinch spot in semifinals

South Korea booked their place in the semifinals with a 9-6 victory at the expense of the United States. The USA got off to a hot start, but a four point steal by South Korea in the fifth end put the States on the back foot.

Wins for Great Britain and China also make Team USA’s path more difficult. Great Britain are now sitting at 5-3, in fourth place. The USA and China are 4-4 heading into their final games. The U.S. must defeat Sweden in their final round and get a lot of help if they’re to advance.

Women’s Tournament

KOR def. USA 9-6

GBR def. JPN 8-6

CHN def. CAN 7-5

Full curling recap available here 

Speed Skating: South Korea win relay gold as Christie suffers more heartbreak 

South Korea won the gold in the women’s 3000m relay. The South Koreans and Chinese were clear in front after a South Korean skater collided with a Canadian and Italian. Both China and Canada received penalties.

Since Canada and China were both disqualified, the winner of the B Final, the Netherlands, were promoted to the bronze medal. The Netherlands set a new world record in their final.

In the individual 1000m, Elise Christie again faltered in dramatic fashion. She collided with a Chinese skater in the 1,500 last week and badly hurt her right ankle in the process. Her status was questionable heading into this event, of which she is the World Champion.

Christie crashed no later than three seconds after the opening gun, grabbing that right ankle again and looked in visible pain. After a brief discussion with her coach she again took to the starting line, only to limp out of the first turn.

The Briton managed to finish the race in the replay before having to be carried off, but alas Christie was disqualified for bumping her Hungarian opponent in the third lap.

Nordic Combined: Frenzel in the hunt after large hill 

Erik Frenzel, who won the first Nordic Combined event last week, is currently sitting within striking distance after the large hill portion. Akito Watabe, Jarl Riber, and Wilhelm Denfil occupy the top three spots leading into the 10km cross-country segment.

Full recap available here

Bobsled: Nigerians, Jamaicans complete run; USA in first 

Seun Adigun and Akuoma Omeoga made their Olympic debuts tonight, becoming the first representives from their country to compete in the sport. They currently sit in the bottom of the table at 52.21 seconds.

The Jamaican team of Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell also completed their first run in a time of 51.29 seconds. Jamaica faced a scare last week when one of their coaches quit, threatening to take their bobsled and equipment back. Red Stripe, a Jamaican beer company, offered to pay for a sled so that the Jamaicans could compete. 

The American team of Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs are currently leading the pack after the first run.

Biathlon: Fourcade anchors France to mixed relay gold 

Martin Fourcade capitalized on a couple of missed shots from Germany’s Arnd Peiffer to bring home the gold in the team mixed relay. Anais Bescond brought France back into contention in the second leg of the race before Simon Desthieux brought France within 30 seconds of Germany. Fourcade’s brilliance on the skis was more than capable of surpassing Peiffer in the final leg.

Norway and Italy finished second and third, respectively.

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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