Getty Images

What to know about the men’s curling gold medal game

Leave a comment

Team USA upset Canada on Thursday morning to earn a spot in the Olympic men’s curling championship game, where they will face Sweden.

Here’s everything you need to know heading into Saturday’s matchup (live stream here at 1:35 a.m. ET / 10:35 p.m. PT).

How the U.S. reached the title game

The United States had finished back-to-back Olympic tournaments completely out of medal contention with a 2-7 record. They appeared to be heading for a similar result in PyeongChang.

Team USA began tournament competition with a win against South Korea but followed with losses in four of their next five games, dropping their record to 2-4.

But, the United States rebounded when skip John Shuster delivered a perfect final shot to give his team a 9-7 victory over pre-tournament favorite Canada.

“It was fun to go out there and be the team and the player that got us here and that we’ve worked so hard to be,” Shuster said after that game.

The United States followed with wins over Switzerland and Great Britain to advance to the Olympic semifinals for the first time since 2006.

“It’s a little surreal right now still, just coming off of where we were to where we are now,” U.S. vice skip Tyler George said after his team clinched a playoff spot. “It feels like two different tournaments. One’s a dream and one’s a reality. Fortunately for us the winning streak is the reality, but we’re trying not to get too excited.”

The third-seeded United States faced second-seeded Canada in the semifinal round and captured another upset win. Shuster again delivered a game-winning shot, this time to move the United States into the gold medal game.

“We always want more,” U.S. team member John Landsteiner said about the championship game. “We’re going to play our hearts out.”

How Sweden reached the title game

Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin, proved it was one of the top teams in the Olympic field early in round robin play.

Edin’s team opened competition with six straight wins, including victories over Great Britain and Canada, before falling to Switzerland.

“If we play at our best, I know we can beat every team in here,” Edin said after an 11-4 win over Japan moved his team’s record to 6-0. “We have been lucky in a couple of games, played terrifically well in a couple of the games… We are collecting facts and making sure of every shot before we play it. It’s made for a solid performance so far”

Sweden earned the playoff’s top seed after finishing round robin play with a win over Italy and a loss to Norway.

Sweden then cruised to a 9-3 win over Switzerland in the semifinals.

“Being in the Olympic final is the chance of a lifetime and we’re going to try to grab it,” Edin said to reporters following the victory.

Last time the teams met

Sweden registered a convincing 10-4 win over Team USA in round robin play.

In that game, the Swedish team scored four times in the first end and added a pair of points in two others, forcing the United States to concede following the eighth frame.

“We played really, really focused from the start,” Edin said after the win. “We made pretty much all our shots from the beginning, and the (U.S.) had a rough start…We just talked about focusing really hard on making the shots and not looking at the scoreboard too much, and trying to keep that lead.”

Numbers to know

Edin will earn his second Olympic medal regardless of the championship game’s outcome. He captured a bronze in Sochi after just missing the podium in 2010.

Shuster will become the first American to win multiple Olympic curling medals Saturday. He was a lead on the U.S. team that won bronze in 2010.

Shuster had struggled throughout the Olympics but made a game-clinching shot to lead the U.S. to an upset victory over Canada.
Read More +
Canada had won the last three Olympic gold medals entering PyeongChang and had played in the championship game at every winter games since 1998.

Sweden has scored 25 more points than its opponents in Olympic play, tops in the field. The United States has outscored opponents by six.

The United States registered an 80 percent shot success rate in round robin competition. Sweden finished at 87 percent in that category.

Brigid Kosgei beaten as another world record smashed in Nike shoes

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh broke the half marathon world record by 20 seconds, beating new marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Nike-sponsored runners lowered the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records since September 2018, each appearing to race in versions of the apparel giant’s scrutinized Vaporfly shoes.

Yeshaneh, a 28-year-old who finished 14th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, clocked 1:04:31 for 13.1 miles to better Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s world record from 2017.

Kosgei, a 26-year-old Kenyan, also came in under the old world record but 18 seconds behind Yeshaneh.

Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly shoes, including the prototypes worn by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub-two-hour marathon, were deemed legal by World Athletics’ new shoe regulations last month, according to Nike.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic trials

Olympic, world champion lugers pull out of World Cup event over safety

Getty Images
Leave a comment

U.S. Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and other top lugers are skipping this weekend’s World Cup stop in Winterberg, Germany, citing unsafe track conditions and a growing frustration with the international federation over athlete concerns.

“This was brought to the attention of the FIL [International Luge Federation] and yet again we were told that everything is ok,” was posted on Mazdzer’s Instagram. “I realize that a boycott is a lose-lose situation and there are no winners. But I have no other option at this point. I feel personally that this track is not safe for doubles sleds or for athletes who do not have adequate numbers of runs.”

Mazdzer said by phone Friday that he noticed significant bumps on the track in his first training run earlier this week.

“I couldn’t drive because I’m being thrown everywhere,” he said. “When you’re going 130 kilometers an hour [80 miles per hour], you don’t really want the track to be bad.”

An FIL spokesperson said Friday that Mazdzer’s choice was “his individual decision” and declined further comment ahead of races scheduled Saturday and Sunday. Mazdzer said that he was told the race starts will be moved down.

USA Luge said in a Friday statement that it will not participate in the World Cup and would communicate its concern for athlete safety to the FIL.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Summer Britcher said she was boycotting via Instagram, calling it “a farce of a World Cup.” Top lugers said athletes suffered serious injuries in training runs.

“I love this sport, but after too many decisions too many times that disregard 1-the safety of the athletes, and 2- the integrity and fairness of our sport, I have grown a great disdain for the International Luge Federation, and those who make these decisions,” was posted on Britcher’s account. “I will not race this weekend. I do not believe the track is safe, I do not believe it has been prepared to a World Cup standard, and I do not believe that the International Federation and Winterberg World Cup organisers should get away from this with no consequences.”

Britcher’s post noted that her team notified coaches and the technical director that the track was unsafe after her first training run Wednesday.

“Our concerns, and the concerns of the rest of the athletes from other nations throughout the day were not taken seriously,” Britcher posted.

Britcher said that several coaches attempted to fix the track for several hours on Thursday after athletes refused to train.

Olympic champion David Gleirscher of Austria and World Cup standings leader Roman Repilov of Russia and the top doubles teams of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany also posted on Instagram that they’re skipping the Winterberg World Cup, the penultimate stop of the season, for safety reasons.

Mazdzer estimated a 20 percent crash rate in training, but that the track condition has improved since Wednesday. He still plans to race next week at the last World Cup in Königssee.

“There’s a lot of problems with Winterberg,” he said after detailing the situation between athletes and the FIL, “and it’s not just the track.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: World Bobsled, Skeleton Championships TV Schedule