GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Four years can be an eternity in figure skating. Injuries, ennui, growth spurts, coaching changes, even rules alterations play a role in getting from one Olympics to another.
NBCOlympics.com: The best moments from figure skating at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics
So who is well positioned to handle all of that, and which countries already are taking aim at the 2022 Beijing Games?
A young Russian squad finished second in the team event, but the only individual medals came in the women’s competition from teenagers Alina Zagitova and Yevgenia Medvedeva.
Still, Russia could have a loaded team for Beijing. The Russians always find strong pairs and ice dance couples, and their failures in Pyeongchang probably are an anomaly; Russia or the Soviet Union won an ice dance medal in every games since the discipline became part of the schedule in 1976, and in all but one Olympics in pairs since 1964.
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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The Germans stood on the ice scowling as the Russians celebrated a gold medal that was so nearly theirs.
Recap: OAR def. GER 4-3 (OT)
They were 56 seconds away from Olympic gold before losing 4-3 to the “Olympic athletes from Russia” in overtime Sunday. After no one outside their locker room gave them a chance in a tournament where the NHL stars stayed away, the Germans came within a minute of clock time from gold for a country playing in the men’s final for the first time.
“I think if you are that close, you are disappointed right after,” forward Gerrit Fauser said. “But it will take a few hours to realize what we have done here. Obviously it is a big success for Germany, but right after a loss, when it is a close game like that, it is tough.”
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The Olympic Athletes from Russia triumphed in the no-NHL tournament where they were favored, winning the men’s hockey gold medal at a Winter Olympics where they couldn’t even be called Team Russia, use their colors or celebrate while listening to their anthem.
Kirill Kaprizov scored the game-winner as “Team Olympic Athlete From Russia” came back to beat underdog Germany 4-3 in overtime Sunday in an instant classic that saved a men’s tournament lacking buzz not only in South Korea but back in North America, where the NHL season went on during the games for the first time since 1994.
It’s the first Russian gold medal in hockey since 1992 in Albertville when the team also played under a neutral flag as the Community of Independent States. Russian flags — the team barred from using them by IOC sanctions for state-sponsored doping — hung behind the bench as the team awaited their gold medals.
NBCOlympics.com: Canada defeat Czech Republic to win bronze in men’s hockey
Constantly saying it doesn’t matter that they had to wear nondescript red and white uniforms that lacked the Russian Coat of Arms, players gave the Russians their second gold and 17th total medal of the Olympics.
Russian goal song “Those Were The Days” blared over the Gangneung Hockey Centre speakers as fans clad in red, white and blue and holding flags celebrated. They later sang the national anthem as the medal ceremony got under way.