It was a terrific ending for the Olympic curling tournament. The U.S. men’s team defied all odds by upsetting Sweden in the final 10-7. Buoyed by John Shuster’s double take out in the eighth end, the United States all but assured gold at 10-5 up.
On the night that the United States won its ninth gold medal during these Olympic Games, Finland won its first. Cross-country skier Livo Niskanen outpaced the rest of the 50 man field in the 17th kilometer. OAR skier Alexander Bolushnov gave him a fight in the final kilometers, but he too was eventually left behind.
Curling: USA wins first-ever curling gold
The USA men’s curling team’s improbable Olympic run has concluded in glory. John Shuster’s squad looked like they were in control from the very onset of the match, forcing Sweden to make errors. The highlight of the match: Shuster’s final stone in the eighth end to put the USA well out of reach with a 10-5 lead.
The United States started competition 2-4 and looked well out of contention to make the playoffs, but an incredible run of three wins saw them get into the playoffs on the final day.
The USA weren’t the only surprise medal winners today. Japan won the country’s first-ever Olympic medal after defeating Great Britain.
It all came down to two steals from Japan in the final two ends, with Briton skip Eve Muirhead missing her final stone to give the victory to Japan.
USA def. SWE 10-7
JPN def. GBR 5-3
Cross-Country: Niskanen wins men’s 50km
Finnish skier Livo Niskanen’s pace was too much for nearly the entire field on Friday night. The Finn broke from the pack, along with Alexey Poltoranen, in the 17th kilometer and continued to stay out front. After Poltoranen ran out of gas, it was OAR athlete Alexander Bolushnov who erased a 30 second gap to challenge the Finn.
It wasn’t until the last kilometre that a seemingly-fatigued Niskanen made his final move to brush of Bolushnov to cross the finish line.
It was a very disappointing day for the Norwegians, who’ve dominated the sport this year. Not one Norwegian landed on the podium, including gold medal favorite Martin Sundsby.
Speed Skating: Takagi, Lee win inaugural mass start
Making its Olympic debut, the speed skating mass start proved to be an erratic event as several skaters collided and crashed out of the competition.
The final race is simple: first three skaters to cross the finish line win the medals.
Estonia’s Saskia Alusalu made the initial burst of energy in the race, but was caught up to in the final three laps. The women’s champion was decided by a final sprint, when Japan’s Nana Takagi beat world champion Kim Bo-Reum and Irene Schouten.
Lee Song-Hoon won the men’s tournament, ensuring that the speed skating program would not have as sour an ending as the short track. Unlike the women’s race, the men’s skaters stuck together as a train for most of the race until the final three laps.
In the end, Lee came in with too much speed to be overtaken by any of the chasing competitors.