That’s me for today. Thanks for reading along. See you tomorrow. Bye!
Curling: The Canadians negotiate between themselves until the last possible moment. It’s the draw, dropped carefully on the blue outer ring. Glukhov for the win, then. Right to left - they sweep hard, it looks good.... it is right on the button! The ROC claim the win over Canada in the extra end, by a margin of 7 to 6. That keeps the ROC in touch of a semi-final with a record of 4-4 with Canada dropping back to 5-3.
Curling: I’ll stick with this extra end before setting off. ROC have the hammer but Canada have the shot; three stones to go. The Russian skip, Sergey Glukhov, drives with his penultimate stone to remove the guard - Canada take their time out. Will they set another guard? Or will they draw it in at the button? “The stats say draw,” says one voice from the team as they try and work through making life as difficult as possible for their opposing number with the final stone of the night.
And before I wrap this up and say goodbye, don’t miss the best of today’s pictures from the brilliant photographers at these Beijing Winter Games.
With all the medals decided for today, here’s the updated table. Norway, after another productive day on their cross-country skis, have now jumped to a big lead with 12 gold medals. Germany, after their clean sweep of the two-man bobsleigh, have nine of the best with the USA, after a slow start, now into third with seven.
Curling: Canada with the final stone in regulation needing to turn one shot into two to take the ROC to an extra end! Brad Gushue is the skip and, after consulting with the coach, elects to go straight, threading past his own markers at the top of the house... brilliant! Two shots for Canada - they’re off to an extra end.
Curling: Canada have the hammer for the final end. They need to pick up two points on the ROC here to take it to an extra end with stones all over the house. We’ll go back there as soon as Team GB wrap this up against Sweden, as they should any moment now with Bruce Mouat’s drive clearing the house of all red stones. Nice. Sweden have played their last shot wide, so Team GB gave the entire house to aim for to take the victory. Instead, he takes out the Swedish shot. Job done. That’s a big result for Bruce Mouat’s team, knocking off their undefeated opposition 7-6. Both teams now sit at 6-1 with two matches to play in the round robin stage and have formally qualified for the semi-finals and then the medal round. Nicely done.
Curling: Eight stones left, the phony car continues with plenty of room in the house for both Sweden’s Niklas Edin and GB’s Bruce Mouat. Meanwhile on the other lane, China have seen off Norway 8-6 to win their third match of the competition.
Ice Hockey: Canada’s men lead China 5-2 nearing the end of the second period, almost certain to advance into the final quarterfinal position in that tournament.
Curling: Striaght over to the water cube for the final end of the top-of-the-table clash in the men’s curling, Team GB perfectly placed to knock off the undefeated Swedes if they can hold their nerve with the hammer here, already with a 7-5 lead.
Around the grounds to the other matches, while we wait for that last end to begin:
- (9) Italy 10 v (5) USA 4 - final score
- (7) Norway 6 v (8) China 7
- (6) ROC 6 v (3) Canada 4
Gold, silver and bronze for Germany!
Bobsleigh: Francesco Friedrich is a triple gold medallist! Never in doubt, they win the competition by half a second. It’s a clean sweep for Germany! The first time that has been achieved in this event - what a performance from the magnificent pilot.
GOLD - Francesco Friedrich and Thornsten Margis (GER) 3:56:89
SILVER - Johannes Lochner and Florian Bauer (GER) 3:57:38
BRONZE - Christoph Hafer and Matthias Sommer (GER) 3:58:58
Bobsleigh: Clinical! Johannes Lochner and Florian Bauer do it easily with a 59.53, They confirm their silver but have given Francesco Friedrich and Thornsten Margis plenty of room to work with, only needing to break 60 seconds for gold. Go, go, go!
Bobsleigh: Hafer ensures they will win a bronze at worst with a 59.70! Johannes Lochner and Florian Bauer, in the silver medal position, start half a second behind provisional gold - can they turn the pressure up with something special? They’ll need to break the track record again with 58.something. And here they go!
Bobsleigh: 59.77 from Switzerland’s Michael Vogt - they take the lead but will it be enough to force any of the German teams off the podium? First up is Hafer, who moved from fourth to third with their penultimate run. No nation has ever taken gold, silver and bronze on this event, the TV caller tells me. Well, if any team is taking a clean sweep at the sliding centre it is these outstanding Germans.
Bobsleigh: ROC and Austria both do enough to take the lead but neither blow the lights out, the latter completing the course in over a minute. Monaco’s turn with Rudy Rinaldi in a position to put some real pressure on the three German teams to come. And he does it very well indeed, a 59:59 – they now take the lead with just four teams to come. The grandstand finish?! The Swiss are next.
Figure skating: Sakamoto (JAP) also opts for the double axel into the triple lutz - clean and clean. As are the triple flip/triple toe. Not a lot wrong with that to the naked eye. “A huge performance and it will be a huge score,” declares the commentator. “A beautiful routine to the gladiator theme.” 79.84 - that’s third place, just 0.4 away from second and a couple of marks away from the leader Valieva. And that’s the end of the short programme. After the bobsleigh, I’ll return to the top ten standings before the free skate on Thursday.
Bobsleigh: Seven pairs to go! The Russians, who dropped from third to seventh in their penultimate run, are next to go. We’ll be straight back over there as soon as Kaori Sakamoto has completed her short routine - the final skater in the women’s figure skating.
Figure skating: Time for the world champion and the third Russian of this final group, Anna Shcherbakova. Just a double axel for her instead of the troublesome triple to begin - easy, nice. Triple flip, perfect again. Combination jumps, triple lutz into triple toe - bang, bang! “Her make or break combination,” says the TV caller. “Immaculate!” From there, to the finish line with elegant spins and and a precise step sequence. “That’s the program of the night!” We might have new leader here; over to the judges. “The timing, the precision, the joy. For heaven’s sake, fabulous!” But she doesn’t go to the top: 80.20 moves her into second, two marks behind Valieva.
Figure skating: Three to go, the second Russian loaded with expectation, Alexandra Trusova. And she’s on her back with the triple axel straight away! It’s the undoing of all of them at this stage of proceedings. The triple flip is better; the combination spin is exquisite. Triple lutz/triple toe - sticks them both. Spins and steps to finish, not a foot out of place. Enough for second, even after the fall? Maybe not – she’s been docked for an under-rotation as well. 74.60, into second it is, some seven marks behind the leader Valieva.
Curling: progress scores before we wait for the next round of judges’ scores in the figure skating - seven ends down, three to go:
- (1) Sweden 3 v (2) Great Britain 5
- (9) Italy 6 v (5) USA 4
- (7) Norway 4 v (8) China 7
- (6) ROC 4 v (3) Canada 3
Figure skating: Young You is on fire to begin, making the triple axel Valieva missed look easy. From there, the lutz/toe are a piece of cake. Now for the triple flip - tidy, landing just inside the walls. Nothing will compare to the Russians steps and spins but the Korean has completed her task here in style. Uh oh, reflection, the TV commentators believe the triple axel might be just short of the required rotation - yep, it’s a downgrade. The judges judge her harshly, 70.34 putting her into third position but 12 behind Valieva before the free skate component a couple of nights from now.
Figure skating: The TV commentator wants to stress that he believes Kamila Valieva isn’t to blame for what is happening to her but that’s a discussion we can pause for now while the 15-year-old magician takes the ice. Triple axel to begin... and she doesn’t nail it - a slide upon landing - nobody saw that coming. She recovers quickly with the triple flip and her brilliant combinations. Clean with the triple lutz/triple before the spins to finish, which are quite glorious. She’ll be going into the lead, we’re assured, but by how far? 82.16 - she’s put a gap of nine points between her and the previous leader.
Figure skating: Karen Chen (USA) is the first to go, the Californian 22-year-old. A lovely combination to begin - triple lutz into triple toe. There’s the double axel, into the spins - nice. Oooh! The triple loop is a bridge too far - she’s on the ice, that hurts. A great start but the deductions are coming. “What a shame!” says the TV caller. “She’ll be out of medal contention, she’ll be way, way back.” 64.11 is the score, enough for eighth. Now, find a telly, it’s time for Kamila.
Figure skating: Here come the fifth and final group of six to warm up for their short program routines. Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old in hot water, receives a very supportive ovation from the crowd who are in when her name is read out - she’ll take the ice second. Anna Shcherbaokova (ROC) is second last to go, the world champion.
Bobsleigh: Three runs down, 20 teams left! Teams from Italy, China, The Netherlands, Korea, Not Russia, Austria, USA, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil and Jamaica say goodbye at this stage. We aren’t far away from the business end, which will be in reverse order. So, we’ll have to wait to very end for the three German pairs, sitting in the three medal positions with this fourth and final run to come.
Ice Hockey: In the first period, Canada are already 2-0 up against the winless Chinese team. This should and will be an easy victory to put the Canadians into the quarter-finals of the men’s competition.
Curling: Sweden have are in position to gain one point with two stones to go in the fifth - can Bruce Mouat, Scotland’s favourite son, knock it out of position to make life difficult for his opposing number? He opts for a wide draw, left to right, and is happy to close off the hole to - in theory - block Sweden’s route to a second shot with the final shot of the end. It works: GB are 4-2 up after five.
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Bobsleigh: Some more detail on Team GB’s crash. If you’re just jumping in, both Brad Hall and Nick Gleeson are fine. There are four teams to go in the third heat and then its to the fourth and final run - medal time. As it happens, the British pair are still in 13th spot (the crash was right at the end) so they get another dart later on as a member of the top 20, so long as their sled is up to it.
Curling: Every time I hear Bruce Mouat calling the play behind one of his stones, I want The Just Joans to come on and provide the soundtrack. Sweden have the hammer again, early in the fifth end.
Curling: Team GB are 3-1 up, deep into the fourth end, with the hammer - which means Bruce Mouat has the final stone. The Swedes opt to post a guard at the top of the house before moving into shot with their final stone. Over to Bruce, who has the yellow stones with the Swedish on the reds - dare I say it, that’s going to cause a little bit of confusion. He plays a draw, they sweep it hard - the line looks good... it’s to the button. Tidy curling. Team GB lead 4-1 after four.
In case you missed it, a dramatic wrong turn in the nordic combined. He’ll never live it down, poor thing. Norway still won a gold medal in the event, of course.
Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber has had a Winter Olympics in Beijing to forget. Having tested positive for Covid he has spent two weeks in isolation, unable to train, and was only released on Monday. Cleared to compete today in the Nordic combined large hill/10km he put himself well in contention for a medal.
Having recorded the longest and highest-scoring ski jump earlier in the day, he set off first for the cross-country element with a 44-second time advantage over the rest of the field. And then he took a wrong turn. Unfamiliar with the course, he went the wrong way. He had to turn around, but the time taken virtually wiped out his entire lead, and he eventually faded to finish in eighth place.
Bobsleigh: No surprises after the poor start for Not Russia, back from third to seventh with one run to go, Germany currently occupying all three spots on the provisonal podium. 17 teams down, 13 to go. From there, the top 20 will get a final run to decide the medals.
Curling: Four matches tonight in the men’s tenth round-robin session. Here are the progress scores, with the team’s position coming into this in brackets. A superb start for GB after two ends.
- (1) Sweden 0 v (2) Great Britain 3
- (9) Italy 3 v (5) USA 2
- (7) Norway 1 v (8) China 3
- (6) ROC 1 v (3) Canada 1
Bobsleigh: Team GB crash! Brad Hall and Nick Gleeson are both fine, and they’ve crossed the line, albeit with the sled on its side. “Tough times and a tough watch,” says the BBC commentator. “They need to re-group here for the four-man competition later in the week.”
Figure skating: Three groups down, 12 skaters to go at Capital Stadium. From here we’ll see all three superstar Russians, including Kamila Valierva, two Americans and two Japanese athletes.
Aerial skiing: Before we move on from Genting Park, the six jumpers who made it through from the second men’s qualifying group:
Oleksandr Okipniuk (UKR) 125.00
Pirmin Werner (SUI) 123.45
Ilia Burov (ROC) 120.36
Stanislav Nitkin (ROC) 119.47
Justin Schoenfeld (USA) 105.88
Stanislau Hladchenka (BLR) 115.49
They join the following six from the first group in tomorrow’s final:
Bobsleigh: The ROC’s Rostislav Gaitiukevich and Aleksei Laptev have a chance to jump to second if they nail this but they don’t - 59.8. In turn, the third German duo, steered by Christoph Hafer, can slot into the bronze medal position. And they do! A 59.51 is enough for them to leapfrog Not Russia, ahead by 0.24. And the Austrian sled, with pilot Benjamin Maier, has snuck past the ROC too - by his 59.64 getting them into fourth by 0.01 of a second. Wow. And now the Swiss too - Michael Vogt now into fourth. And now Monaco!
So, the top seven - the only real medal hopes - win one run to go:
1. Francesco Friedrich and Thornsten Margis (GER) 2:57:37
2. Johannes Lochner and Florian Bauer (GER) 2:57:85
3. Christoph Hafer and Matthias Sommer (GER) 2:58:88
4. Michael Vogt and Sandro Michael (SUI) 2:59:06
5. Benjamin Maier and Michael Vogt (AUT) 2:59:11
6. Rudy Rinaldi and Vain Morris (MON) 2:59:09
7. Rostislav Gaitiukevich and Aleksei Laptev (ROC) 2:59:12
Bobsleigh: What a start Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis, our German leaders the first team under 59 to break the track record and extend their lead! It’s a different story for Johannes Lochner, piloting the second German team, clocking a sluggish 59.32. They’re now 0.48 behind with one run to go - that’s a considerable margin.
Freestyle aerials: Two men to go in the second qualifying heat. Wang Xindi (CHN) first, he needs 115.5 to get into sixth. And he’s well short, a 98. To Ilia Burov, who is already in sixth, to complete the night at Genting Snow Park and he hits it nicely; 120.36 earns him third place. I’ll have top six for you shortly. Back to bobsleigh!
Curling: We’re also away in the night’s curling - session ten of the men’s round-robin. A huge opportunity for Team GB, who can pull level with Sweden at the top of the table if they knock them off here.
Bobsleigh: To the sliding centre too for the final two runs of the men’s two-man event. In the third heat, they go in the order that they finished at the end of the second run, which means the three German pairs - first, second and fourth - are coming up shortly.
Figure skating: I’ll be back to check in on the third group of the women’s short program in a moment, but, en route to that, check out Sean Ingle’s analysis piece on the Kamila Valieva farrago.
Aerial skiing: Team GB’s Lloyd Wallace won’t make the top 12 for the final tomorrow with a best jump of 108.41. Miha Fontaine, who was crucial to the Canadian team that won bronze in the team event, is clinging on to that sixth qualifying spot for now but there are still six men to jump a second time - he could miss out. Gosh, but I’m burying the lede here: Maxim Burov (ROC) is in ninth and won’t make the cut despite winning four World Cup events in 2021-22.
Aerial skiiing: We have our six qualifiers from the first men’s group.
- Qi Guanpu (CHN) 127.88
- Jia Zongyang (CHN) 125.67
- Noe Roth (SUI) 123.08
- Eric Loughran (USA) 121.24
- Oleksandr Abramenko (UKR) 120.36
- Christopher Lillis 119.91 (USA)
A very close call for Lillis, falling in by half a point. He was the man who won gold for Team USA on the team event on Friday. This six, plus the next from the second group, make the finals tomorrow.
Figure skating: While we wait for group three, their warm ups are underway now, let’s check in with the latest on the Kamila Valieva story. She’s set to skate second in the final group tonight.
Kamila Valieva’s legal team has claimed that her positive drugs test may have come from a contaminated glass of water that contained traces of her grandfather’s heart medication.
Figure skating: The news for Team GB and Australian fans isn’t any better, still in 9th and 10th from the 11 skaters to take the ice so far. The five skaters guaranteed to progress to the top 24 are:
Anastasia Gubanova (GEO)
Mariah Bell (USA)
Mana Kawabe (JPN)
Olga Mikutina (AUT)
Madeline Schizas (CAN)
China’s Zhu Yi to complete the group and makes an early error with her triple flip bit keeps her feet. She’s racked up the technical points from that point forward - this will be close. The TV commentary notes that she copped an awful time on social media after the team event. 53.44 - enough for ninth but she won’t get through.
Aerial skiing: Popping my head into the men’s aerials and it’s the Chinese pair, Qi Guangpu and Jia Zongyang - both part of China’s silver medal team in the mixed teams event - who have landed the best jumps so far and will advance to the finals tomorrow.
Figure skating: Over to Natasha McKay from Team GB and it’s disappointment here too - she needed to be flawless with a more rudamentary routine but hit the ice with her first jump. She got through the rest unscathed but it’s likely she’ll be in a similar position to Craine after the judges have had their say. Yep - 52.54. So she overtakes the Australian in sixth place but only three from the bottom. A nervous wait to see if she can sneak into the top 24.
Figure skating: A dreadful start for Kailani Craine (AUS), going for a double instead of the required triple - that won’t score, the commentator tells us. She backs it up with a pair of triple loops; that’s better. Skating to a haunting version of Heart of Glass by Blondie, she clears her doule axel without fuss. “But I’m afraid the damage has been done,” the TV caller notes of that initial jump. “You can only put it down to nerves that happened at the start,” he adds as Craine is clearly nearly in tears leaving the ice knowing that she’s coughed up six points at the very start of her routine. Only 24 of the 30 athletes in this competition will progress to the free skate on Thursday - will the judges look after her for the clean jumps that followed? “Thank you to everyone at home for staying up late and watching,” she says as we wait for the scores. It’s not good, 49.93 puts her in second last place - it’s difficult to see her making the cut.
Figure skating: The second of five groups of six are preparing to take the ice, chasing the score of Japan’s Mana Kawabe who posted a 62.69. Team GB’s Natasha McKay is the second to skate - the Scotish five-footer has been national champion in five of the last six years. But it’s Kailani Craine who is the first to go, the 23-year-old Australian, from Newcastle in New South Wales, competing at her second Olympics having won the national title on six occasions.
Cheers, Luke. Brilliant stuff, what a finish there - Norway do it again! Forward into the 11th night session of these Beijing Winter Olympics and a couple of the busiest hours of the Games so far.
Initially, our focus will be at Capital Stadium where Kamila Valieva will capture all the attention as the short program continues in the women’s figure skating short program. From the 30 in the running, the top three are all Russian - Anna Shcherbakova was the 2021 World Cup champion and Alexandra Trusova is just as likely to end up on the podium when the competition concludes on Thursday.
The other medal event on the agenda tonight is the final two runs of the two-man bobsleigh, the penultimate of which begins in just over an over. As has been the case at the sliding centre over the last week, Germans are all over the medal positions – three pair in the top four. Leading the way are Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis, who set track record to get the party started yesterday. But they were shaded in the second run by their countrymen Johannes Lochner and Florian Bauer, the duo who were second in the world last year. It might be a race in two with Rostislav Gaitiukevich and Aleksei Laptev from the ROC currently in third trying to spoil that.
The 25 competitors in the men’s freestyle aerials are just now beginning their first qualifying round – that group will be reduced to an even dozen for the medal rounds tomorrow night. Ukranian Oleksandr Abramenko returns having won gold in 2018, likewise Jia Zongyang (CHN) who took silver in that event. However, it has been Russians dominating the World Cup events since the start of the pandemic, with Maxim Burov successful four times in those outings and looking the man to beat at Genting Snow Park.
For Team GB, a fantastic opportunity at the Water Cube for the tenth session of the men’s curling – a top of the table clash against the undefeated Sweden. If Bruce Mouat can skipper a victory tonight, they will pull level with the Swedes at 6-1 and will almost certainly progress alongside them to the medal matches later in the week.
And in a couple of hours from now at the National Indoor Stadium, in the men’s Ice Hockey, Canada and China are playing off for one quarter final spot. When considering the hosts went winless in the group stage, the Canadians really should get the job done there.
Alright, let’s get busy. Hit me up throughout the session with an email or a tweet.
It’s been a manic few hours of action, and it’s time for me to hand over to Adam Collins. Bye!
Joergen Graabak wins Nordic combined gold for Norway!
Wow! That was some race. Joergen Graabak finds his way back from over two minutes down to overtake the previous leaders and grab another gold for Norway, this time in the Nordic combined – men’s Gundersen Large Hill/10km.
And it’s a one-two on the podium for Norway with Jens Lurås Ofterbro wing silver and Akito Watabe of Japan eventually beaten into bronze.
Riiber (who has been in Covid isolation) started the skiiing with a 44sec lead, following the ski jump, but he went the wrong way at the start of the first lap and eventually finishes eighth! What drama.
Nordic combined – men’s Gundersen Large Hill/10km: Riiber looks spent. He’s dropped down to fifth. Lamparter leads! Watabe second!
Nordic combined – men’s Gundersen Large Hill/10km: Confusion reigns. The live standings on the Olympics site went haywire for a while and had Geiger in the lead. Watabe is in fact fourth behind Lamparter (Austria), Riiber (Norway) and Faisst (Germany).
The confusion and excitement was only added to by Riiber going the wrong way at the start of the first lap.
Nordic combined – men’s Gundersen Large Hill/10km: Akito Watabe of Japan leads the way. Riiber (Norway) second, Faisst (Germany) in third ...
Denis Oswald, the International Olympic Committee’s permanent chair of the disciplinary commission, has defended their decision to allow the Russian skater to compete in the individual competition in Beijing.
Watch the video:
Women’s figure skating – short program: Mana Kawabe (Japan) has registered the score to beat, 62.69.
Men’s ice hockey: Into the third period and Switzerland still hold a 3-1 lead against Czech Republic in their playoff encounter.
The cross-country skiing in the Nordic combined – men’s Gundersen Large Hill/10km is about to begin.
But why is it called ‘Gundersen’? Wiki has the answer:
“The Gundersen method is a method in the Nordic combined developed by Gunder Gundersen, a Nordic combined athlete from Norway, that was first used in the 1980s. This technique turned the cross-country skiing part of the Nordic combined from a points-based system, where all athletes ski in an interval start manner and whoever earned the most points with the ski jumping part of the Nordic combined won the event, to a pursuit race for the cross country skiing part where whoever crossed the finish line first in the cross country skiing part of the Nordic combined event won the competition.”
Exciting format! Good work, Gunder.
The organisers of the Paris 2024 Olympics said on Tuesday they want to make sure the doping case of Russian teenage figure skater Kamila Valieva, which has rocked the Beijing Olympics, does not cast a shadow on their own Summer Games.
“Paris 2024 is 100% committed to the fight against doping and is working in close coordination with all stakeholders to ensure the fairness of the competitions in 2024 and the protection of athletes,” they said in a statement. “We must use this situation [the Valieva case] to make sure that it does not happen again. Our top priority will be the development and execution of an effective anti-doping program that protects the rights of athletes and the integrity of competitions.”
Valieva, 15, has been cleared to further compete at the Beijing Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) ruled in favour of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada)’s decision to lift her provisional ban after a positive drug test that was revealed at the Games, prompting outrage from athletes and officials around the world. (Reuters)
The women’s short program figure skating has begun. Anastasiia Shabotova, of Ukraine, has got things up and running and registered a score of 48.68, and is clearly far from pleased with her performance.
There are 30 athletes – the top 24 qualify – and all eyes will be on Kamila Valieva, of the ROC team, who yesterday was cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to continue at these Games, despite failing a doping test at Christmas.
Valieva is 26th on the list of 30 skaters, so won’t be up for a while yet.
Speaking of big air, the BBC are currently revisiting the snowboarding contest, when the 20-year-old Reira Iwabuchi of Japan came close to landing the first-ever triple cork in a women’s competition. It was an astonishing attempt. Anna Gasser (Austria) won gold, retaining her title, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (New Zealand) took silver and Kokomo Murase (Japan) won bronze. But Iwabuchi (who finished fourth) was the talk of the town, and was mobbed by her fellow competitors after nearly pulling off the historic trick.
“She went for progression and not for the medal today,” Gasser said of Iwabuchi. “She could have played it safe and maybe been on the podium, but she went all out. I hope she gets the same attention from this ride that she would have got for a medal.”
You can keep up with all the latest – live scores, schedule and results – right here:
Can you actually imagine skiing (or boarding) down this ludicrously steep ramp, at top speed, and being launched into high into the air? I have to be honest, I don’t think I’d fancy it.
GOAL! Switzerland bang in a power-play effort from Denis Malgin and it’s 3-1 in the men’s ice hockey.
Just at the moment the men’s ice hockey is the solitary live event. Switzerland continue to lead Czech Republic 2-1, as they battle for a berth in the last eight.
Coming up soon: women’s singles short program figure skating, the cross-country skiing in the Nordic combined, men’s Gundersen large hill/10km, freestyle skiing – men’s aerials qualifying ... men’s curling, bobsleigh, and MORE men’s ice hockey. Phew.
To paraphrase Mario Balotelli, why is it always them?
Was it not enough that Russia corrupted the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi with a devilish scheme that involved Federal Security Service agents passing steroid-riddled urine samples through a mouse hole before swapping them with clean urine? The act was so devious that the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, later called it “a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports and on the Olympic Games”.
Norway, Germany and the USA are first, second and third in the medal table respectively.
Nil points for Great Britain but there is still time.
When Sturla Holm Lægreid handed over to Tarjei Boe in Tuesday’s Olympic biathlon relay he was sure Norway’s hopes of gold were gone, but a collapse by Eduard Latypov and a stunning final leg by Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen delivered a stunning victory. While Latypov, representing the Russian Olympic Committee, missed four of his five shots on his final visit to the range, Christiansen’s five-shot salvo was perfect and he powered home to take the gold medal.
“I was so pumped up when he left the shooting, I was screaming with all I had because it was such an incredible moment for me, to watch him go out there in the lead and the secure the gold,” an elated Lægreid said. There was little to suggest a Norwegian win when Lægreid handed over to the elder Boe brother in seventh place, more than 40 seconds behind the ROC team, but Tarjei and his brother Johannes battled back to get close enough for Christiansen to exploit Latypov’s wayward shooting.
“We weren’t really in the gold fight in the beginning, but when the Russian started with these mistakes, there was a chance for the gold,” Lægreid said. “It was still unbelievable to watch Vetle hit every target in the last standing shoot and just go for it.”
The Norwegians are enjoying a stellar Games at the National Biathlon Centre, picking up five gold, one silver and four bronze medals, and Lagreid said the team would be celebrating. “We have to suit up tonight and maybe we will have something else for dinner, other than pasta and water,” he said.
Men’s ice hockey: Killian Mottet restored Switzerland’s lead against Czech Republic. The Swiss lead 2-1 in the second period of their playoff.
Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud soared to gold in the Olympic women’s freeski slopestyle final after holding off another last-gasp charge by Eileen Gu, the American-born emerging superstar representing China, who settled for silver by the narrowest of margins but stayed on course for a historic treble at the Beijing Games.
Italy’s Sofia Goggia won a remarkable silver medal in the women’s downhill just three weeks after partially tearing a knee ligament in a crash in Cortina. The reigning Olympic champion revealed she battled through the pain barrier to take second place, 0.16sec behind Corinne Suter of Switzerland, with Goggia’s compatriot Nadia Delgado taking bronze.
“The path to come here after the crash in Cortina was tough, but I had no room for doubts,” said Goggia. “I really did believe that I could make it, and this is why I did it.” Goggia established an early lead and was only eclipsed by Suter, despite revealing she was far from fully fit after damaging her anterior cruciate ligament. The American Mikaela Shiffrin’s difficult Beijing Olympics continued as she finished 18th.
“This has been really tough on me mentally,” said Goggia. “I took painkillers before the race. It was really painful at the top of the course, but it was for less than a second. I would have loved to have had 80 per cent of my strength. Of course it is getting better every day, but I cannot bend the knee and I can barely do a squad. But skiing in the last days was pretty much OK.” (PA)
Kamila Valieva’s legal team has claimed that her positive drugs test may have come from a contaminated glass of water that contained traces of her grandfather’s heart medication.
Speaking after the daily media briefing in Beijing, International Olympic Committee member Denis Oswald confirmed the 15-year-old Russian’s explanation for her positive test for the banned angina drug trimetazidine was “contamination which happened with a product her grandfather was taking”.
Canada won gold in the women’s speed skating team pursuit after a mishap by the Japanese team cost them the top prize. The defending champions Japan started strong as they raced at the National Speed Skating Oval, keeping a steady half-second lead ahead of their Canadian rivals.
But a slip by Japan’s Nana Tagaki, who was third in the train as they coasted towards a gold medal with the finish line in sight, cost them their title. She lost her balance as the team sped around the last corner and banged into the trackside wall. Her teammates slowed as they realised she had fallen, raising their hands in despair before crossing the finish line 11 seconds behind the Canadians, who finished the race in an Olympic record time of 2min 53.44sec.
Tagaki could be seen putting her hands together in apology towards her teammates as tears streamed down her face. The Canadians cheered after crossing the finish line and looking up to see that they had clinched their country’s first gold medal in the event. Their win marks the first podium since Canada won silver in Turin 2006. The fancied Netherlands team, which counts gold medallists Irene Schouten and Ireen Wüst in their ranks, won the bronze medal after crashing out in the semi-finals in a race they lost to Canada. (Reuters)
Women’s round robin curling: Switzerland have closed out a 9-6 win against USA. ROC beat China 11-5 and Sweden beat Denmark 9-3. As I mentioned earlier, Great Britain defeated Japan 10-4 with a convincing performance that only required eight ends.
That all means that Switzerland top the round robin (P 7 W6), Sweden are second (P 7 W5). Great Britain, Japan and USA are all played seven, won four, with Great Britain sitting third in the table on their head-to-head record. Great Britain have two matches remaining, against China and ROC, and they know if they win both they will progress.
Men’s ice hockey: Czech Republic lead Switzerland 1-0 in the first period of their playoff match. Lukas Klok got the goal. His teammate Jan Kovar has just got two minutes in the sin-bin for a cynical foul, slamming an opponent into the boards. “Boarding”, they call it.
Nordic combined – men’s Gundersen large hill/10km: Jarl Magnus Riiber of Norway is the pacesetter, his jump of 142m garnering 139.8pts. Kristjan Ilves (Estonia) and Ryota Yamamoto (Japan) are second and third respectively before the cross-country skiing part of the event, which is coming up in a couple of hours.
Gold for Norway in the men's team pursuit speed skating!
The Norwegians hold off the ROC team in the final: 3 min 38.07sec is their time, with the Russians 2.39sec behind. Like a well-oiled machine, Norway defend their title. That’s a first Olympic medal for the ROC team in this event, so well done them.
Dave Hogg tweets to point out that Miho Tagaki of Japan has now won three silver speed skating medals at these Games.
She’s finished second in the 1,500m, 500m and now the team pursuit. An outstanding performance but no doubt she’d have loved a gold medal.
Men’s team pursuit speed skating: the USA take a comfortable win against the Netherlands in the bronze-medal race. Not a good day at the office for the Netherlands, 2.81sec off the pace.
Norway roared back to pull off a stunning win in the men’s 4 x 7.5km biathlon relay at the following a sensational collapse on the final shoot by Eduard Latypov of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). The middle two legs of the race looked like a victory parade for the ROC team, but a disastrous series of misses by Latypov destroyed their chances of gold, allowing Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen to swoop in and claim the win for Norway. He crossed the line 27.4sec ahead of Quentin Fillon Maillet of France, with Latypov coming home 17.9sec further back for a disappointing bronze medal finish.
Freezing temperatures of -15C prompted organisers to start the race two and a half hours earlier than planned, and the competition began in blazing afternoon sunshine with blustery winds increasing the chill in the air. In all, 21 teams of four set out, with each racer skiing three 2.5km laps and shooting twice, once from the prone position and once from standing. The field remained tight through the first leg, with the top dozen teams skiing into the second shoot with only a few seconds between them, but the Norwegians soon found themselves well down the pack after an indifferent performance by Sturla Holm Laegreid.
The Russians took command over the middle two legs of the race, Alexander Loginov and Maxim Tsvetkov taking their time on the range and preserving their lead. Latypov, a bronze medallist in the pursuit race, set his sights on bringing home the gold. That dream was dashed, however, as he missed a scarcely-believable four of his five shots to leave his team’s hopes in tatters and Christiansen sailed past into the lead on the final lap, with no intention of relinquishing it. Wrapped up in hugs by his teammates after crossing the finish line, he delivered Norway’s fifth biathlon gold of the Games and by far the most thrilling. (Philip O’Connor, Reuters)
That is so painful for the Japan team and they are distraught, as you would be ... years of work and it comes down to a mistake on the final corner of the gold-medal race.
Ivanie Blondin, Valerie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann of Canada, needless to say, are jubilant. They were 0.3sec down on Japan but they take gold and in Olympic record time: 2min 53.44sec.
Gold for Canada in the women’s team pursuit speed skating!
Japan were seconds away from retaining their title, speeding around the rink, and metres away from glory ... but Nana Tagaki, at the back of the group of three, crashes on the final corner and Canada win! Incredible!
Tagaki lost her balance, desperately tried to hold it together, but fell and slammed into the protective barriers at the side of the ice as her teammates sped over the finish line.
Speed skating – women’s team pursuit: Netherlands win the bronze-medal race against ROC in a time of 2min 56sec. Another Olympic medal in the bag for the remarkable Ireen Wüst.
The gold-medal race will be contested by Canada and Japan, and is coming up any second now.
GB curler Vicky Wright talks to the BBC after the 10-4 win against Japan: “We knew what we had to do, we just had to go out there and win ... we’ve still got a long way to go, two wins needed to go through.”
Curling: Great Britain’s women have just wrapped up a 10-4 round robin win against Japan. Japan throw the towel in after eight ends. That result means Great Britain can qualify if they keep winning ... their next match is against China, and their final date of the round robin is again the ROC team.
Thanks Emma and hello everyone. It’s all going on today: speed skating, curling, Nordic combined skiing, the lot.
What is Nordic combined skiing, exactly? It’s a mix of cross-country skiing and ski jumping.
Here they are again, this time in the flesh. And now I’m off and handing you over to my colleague Luke McLaughlin. Go well.
Norway win biathlon gold!
Behold some (dramatic) 4x7.5km relay results:
Silver: France +27.4
Bronze: ROC +45.3
Biathlon really is a slog, isn’t it. All sweat and tears. And grimacing, if you’re Philipp Nawrath and trying in vain to squeeze Germany into a podium place only to finish fourth.
This has been an intriguing race. The ROC led until about six minutes to go in the final leg when Eduard Latypov slipped to third place as Norway’s Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen surged from fourth into the lead and held firm all the way home with a 10 out of 10. A remarkable turnaround for the Norwegians, who keep winning shiny things in the biathlon.
For their efforts they earn this exquisitely kitsch Photoshop job from the sport’s governing body:
Biathlon: Did someone say Johannes Thingnes Boe? He’s still going, is the Norwegian. Going, specifically, for a third gold at these Games. He has already two golds and a bronze and is now much of the way through the men’s 4x7.5km relay. As it stands, Norway lead with France and ROC closely in tow.
To the curling! Team GB hold a 7-3 lead over Japan at half-time in the women’s round-robin session. The US are neck and neck 3-3 with Switzerland.
I have gone down a google rabbithole searching for historical curling photos on Scotland’s frozen lochs. There are some good ones here:
Freestyle skiing: Three Americans are into the men’s slopestyle final after Nick Goepper (third), Alex Hall (fifth) and Colby Stevenson (sixth) posted strong first runs, which means the US is still in with a shot of sweeping the podium as the country did at Sochi 2014. Goepper, who won bronze in at those Games and has since claimed a silver in Pyeongchang, will seek to complete his collection with a gold.
Swiss world champion, Andri Ragettli, qualified first in front of the Netherlands’ Birk Ruud, who has already won big air gold in Beijing.
New Zealander Ben Barclay will compete in his first Olympic final on debut but fellow Kiwi Finn Bilous missed the cut.
Speed skating: Canada have upset the Netherlands in the semi-finals of the women’s team pursuit, reeling in and then finishing 0.98 seconds faster than their rivals to guarantee themselves the gold or silver medal. They will face Japan in Final A while the Dutch team will meet ROC in Final B, after the Russians came in 6.99 seconds slower than Japan.
Both will take place from 4.22pm local time (8.22am GMT/7.22pm AEDT).
The men’s semi-finals are happening right now and the Netherlands have missed out on a chance for silver or gold here too after losing to Team Norway, who will go for gold against the ROC. The Russians have absolutely smoked their semi against the US in an Olympic-record 3:36.61 (+0.44).
Hockey: Slovakia have seen off Germany 4-0 in the men’s qualification play-offs to set up a quarter-final meeting with the US, while Denmark have beaten Latvia 3-2 and will meet the Russian Olympic Committee team.
Still to come today is Czech Republic v Switzerland (winner to play Finland) and Canada v China (winner to play Sweden).
Freestyle skiing: The men’s slopestyle qualifiers are under way. Said qualifiers do not feature Britain’s James Woods, who said he was “full of painkillers and strapped up in bed” because of a back injury. Antoine Adelisse of France is the other competitor who did not start.
Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli is in plum position to qualify first thanks to a second run of 85.08 while Birk Ruud of Norway sits second with 83.96 and American Nick Goepper third with 82.51.
Su is pretty happy. And why wouldn’t you be? He already had a silver in the slopestyle and now he’s added a gold in the big air. Su started snowboarding when he was three, which probably says something about his centre of gravity.
Meanwhile, Parrot’s bronze means Canada has now won six snowboarding medals – one gold, one silver and four bronze.
Su Yiming (CHN) wins men's big air gold
Gold: Su Yiming – 182.50
Silver: Mons Røisland – 171.75
Bronze: Max Parrot – 170.25
Hiroaki Kunitake displaces Red Gerard with an 84.00 which, despite his middling middle run of 50.25, brings his total to 166.25 and is good enough for third ... for now. It’s Su, Parrot, Kunitake. Van der Velden crashes on his final run but Røisland rises under pressure. He puts out a very similar trick to one by Gerard earlier on and the landing is perfect. He needs early 80s, and he looks nervous. It’s an 82.50!
Su is hugging his coach in celebration from the gate before his final run. He knows he doesn’t need to do anything – he’s done it already. This run is basically a victory run and the 33.00 he yields makes not one bit of difference.
Parrot has just completed his third run – a frontside triple 1620 and is waiting nervously for his score. It’s a 76.25, which is not going to better Su, who is almost certainly going to win gold at this point.
Otsuka is out of the running, after a front foot-heavy land that is not a land and earns him a 33.75. Combined score is 128.75 and he’s back in ninth. It’s also not good news for McMorris, who went hard but fell and ended up with a 33.25. The US’s Gerard Redmond is sitting in third on 165.75 with a few to go.
Yikes! Otsuka has well and truly recovered from his first-up disappointment with a 95.00. I repeat, 95.00. If numbers could be capped I would cap it but this is the highest single score thus far.
Parrot has almost matched him with a 94.00. He knew it was good as soon as he hit the ground on a cab 1800, and let’s us know by shaking his fist.
He and Otsuka are back in gold-medal contention.
Speaking of McMorris, he went for the quad but his last rotation came up ever so slightly short and he was flat on his back before he knew it. That’ll be a 21.00. Some other cracks are starting to appear following that flawless group of first runs, including
Marcus Kleveland of Norway attempts a mystery trick even the commentators are struggling to figure out and after a swivel and a swerve lands it, but comes away with a 62.25. Still good enough for fourth place.
Su, meanwhile, has put down a 93.00 for a combined score of 182.50 with one run remaining. This kid. This 17-year-old who has just done five 360s in the air and landed it so easily. So neatly. How will anyone beat that total? There is Su, then daylight, then Mons Røisland.
Here’s Bryan Armen Graham’s report on the women’s slopestyle final:
Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud soared to gold in the Olympic women’s freeski slopestyle final after holding off another last-gasp charge by Eileen Gu, the American-born emerging superstar representing China who settled for silver by the narrowest of margins but stayed on course for a historic treble at the Beijing Games.
In that first run, apart from those who bombed out (Otsuka, Max Parrot, Sven Thorgren) all scores were more than 80.00. That is some special kind of twisty turny craziness. Parrot, who won gold in the slopestyle under some controversy, still has plenty of time to post a big score.
For those who missed it, Parrot’s compatriot and bronze medallist in that event, Mark McMorris, claimed judging errors meant Parrot was mistakenly awarded gold. Fans of silver medallist Su were also a little riled up. McMorris has since apologised.
Men’s snowboard big air: Hello! While Beau was finishing up with the women’s downhill I was taking a peek at the start of the big air finals and there’s been a big early score with Team USA’s Chris Corning opening with a 92.0 – and that’s against a strong field.
After the first run, local Su Yiming (89.50) and Norway’s Mons Røisland (89.25) sit second and third. Japan’s Takeru Otsuka, who completed one of the most technical runs going in qualifying, failed to land his first attempt.
Gold! Corinne Suter (SUI), women's downhill
Pretty good day for the land of clocks, lakes and many languages. Suter had to go big to beat Sofia Goggia, and she nailed it with a strong final section.
That’s a 1-2 for the reigning world champion and Olympic champion. The bronze is more of a surprise -- Italy’s Nadia Delago has never been on a World Cup podium.
Mikaela Shiffrin finished 18th but showed some aptitude for doing well enough on the downhill phase to contend in the upcoming combined event.
We get a view of Nick Goepper’s family watching in Utah. The dog is walking around oblivious to the excitement and tension.
Goepper already has two medals in this event -- bronze in 2014, silver in 2018. He also has four X Games gold medals. He’s still just 27.
And he uses the house instead of the neighboring rails. He takes another line through the jumps.
This is beyond description. If this isn’t in first place, I have no idea how to judge anything. I’m not even sure I can dress myself properly.
He’s ... second, with an 82.51. OK, that’s not too unreasonable. Birk Ruud holds first, and that’s fine.
Team GB star James Woods did not start. Not being able to move without pain is probably a bad thing ahead of a freestyle skiing event.
Woods, who competed earlier in big air and took 30th, has taken fifth and fourth in this event in the last two Olympics and won the 2019 world championship.
Now I see the reason for the delay in the women’s downhill -- the medical crew is taking France’s Camille Cerutti off the course. Course workers also need to work on the netting. I haven’t seen a replay, and I think I don’t want to. Lest we forget -- this is a dangerous sport.
But we’ll resume.
Freeslopestyle: Norway’s Birk Ruud won the big air, and he’s well on his way to challenging for another medal. His score of 83.96, built up with a nifty move on the first rail and then a double cork 1620 on the second jump, is good for first place at the moment and is surely enough to make the top 12.
The women’s downhill is on hold with nine skiers left. Four of the last seven skiers didn’t finish. The best of the lot was the USA’s Keely Cashman, who moved into 17th -- one ahead of Shiffrin.
When we resume, Australia’s Greta Small will be up.
Freeslopestyle (men’s qualification) is underway ...
The USA’s Mac Forehand goes first and makes an early mistake, failing to ride all the way along a rail. His jumps are fine, but his score of 51.21 will leave him needing something more in his second run.
Then teammate Colby Stevenson shows us how it’s done. He dazzles early on, switching direction as he hops between two rails. His jumps (1260, 1440, 1440 -- all double corks with a mixture of grabs) land cleanly. He gets a 78.01, and as harshly as the judges have been viewing things out here, that might be enough to get him into the top 12 to qualify for the final.
Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli goes even better on the jumps, landing back-to-back 1620s. What do you have to do to break 80? Apparently not that. 76.98.
Slovakia is the first team to net a goal in the men’s hockey playoffs. They’re up 1-0 on Germany.
The 21st downhill starter is the USA’s Alix Wilkinson, a replacement for Breezy Johnson, who would’ve been a contender here. Wilkinson loses the line early and often, then finally goes too far away to have any realistic shot of making the gate. She stands up out of her tuck as the first DNF of the race.
Elsewhere, the men’s hockey playoffs have started, with Germany facing Slovakia for the right to face the USA, which earned a bye to the quarterfinals. Denmark and Latvia are playing for a spot against the ROC.
In five minutes, we’ll be watching the men’s freestyle skiers tackling the slopestyle course in qualifiers.
Tippler falls far off the pace early. She finishes behind Shiffrin, who didn’t seem to be risking anything as she preps for the combined.
Your likely downhill medalists are:
Gold: Corinne Suter (SUI)
Silver: Sofia Goggia (ITA)
Bronze: Nadia Delago (ITA)
Lara Gut-Behrami bids to displace her Swiss teammate and win the super-G/downhill double. Early on, she looks like she’s not going to do it. Later on, she looks like she’s not going to do it. A bit later, she looks like she’s not going to do it. Yeah, she barely beats Shiffrin.
Austria’s Tamara Tippler is the last skier to have a decent shot at the podium, and even that is stretching it.
Cornelia Huetter of Austria has a recent World Cup podium. She falls off the pace early, just not really able to get comfortable.
It might be up to Gut-Behrami to make any change we’re going to see in the top places.
France’s Laura Gauche is nowhere near the lead. How about Germany’s Kira Weidle? She leads by 0.01 at the first split and looks like a medal contender through the canyon. She won’t catch Suter, but she comes across in ... fourth. So close.
The next three to go include Lara Gut-Behrami, a contender because of her form so far in these Games, and two Austrians who are contenders because they’re Austrian.
Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec is slower than Shiffrin, moving into 13th.
Switzerland’s Corinne Suter should have a good shot at disrupting the Italian sweep. She’s the 2021 world champion, though our announcers remind us that no one has done the world-Olympic double since Lindsey Vonn.
First split: First by 0.06. Second split: 0.09 ahead. Third split: 0.08 ahead. This is going to be close. She skids a bit and falls 0.18 behind.
The commentators say she might be able to get onto the podium still. Oh yeah? She can do a bit better than that. She’s in first, 0.16 ahead of Goggia. The world champion has dethroned the Olympic champion.
Still five skiers with solid chances to come.
Here’s one of the favorites, Sofia Goggia, bidding to make it an Italian sweep. And the defending champion and World Cup downhill leader blazes her way down, building a lead of 0.70 by the fourth split time as she wildly swerves past all the gates. She somehow loses a bit of time near the end, but she’s still well into the lead, 0.41 seconds ahead. She celebrates with a roar. Still some contenders to go, but that may be our winning run.
Mikaela Shiffrin has won World Cup races in every discipline, but downhill is by far her worst discipline. This is basically a practice run for the combined, where she’s the favorite as long as she can avoid missing a gate.
Or is it a practice run? She’s very close to the pace through the first three splits. But she loses it past the halfway point and comes across the line 11th. She doesn’t seem terribly disappointed.
We have a new downhill leader, and it’s Italy’s Nadia Delago, who conquers the middle section that had bedeviled so many skiers since her fellow Italian skier Elena Curtoni set the early pace. She fell behind ever so slightly at the next split but winds up 0.43 seconds ahead.
Next up: Mikaela Shiffrin.
Curling: Canada 10, China 8
Ma Xiuyue piles on the pressure with a draw to the button on his last shot, leaving Chinese rocks sitting first and second, but Brad Gushue hits a clutch shot to remove China’s rock from the button and leave his own nearby.
Round-robin standings (top four reach playoffs)
5-1 Team GB
Canada’s Marie-Michele Gagnon, the eighth skier to start the downhill, moves into third behind Elena Curtoni (ITA) and Joana Haehlen (SUI). She yells hello to her family and pronounces this is her last Olympics.
Surely Austria’s Mirjam Puchner will break into the top three, right? She was the silver medalist in super-G. She’s fifth in the World Cup downhill standings. She runs nearly even with the lead through the first three split times but then goes wide and loses some time. A lot of time. She rallies toward the end to tie Gagnon for third with the heavy hitters to come.
Next up: Italy’s Nicol Delago and Nadia Delago. Not at the same time. We’ve already had enough references to Better Off Dead tonight.
Curling: USA 7, Switzerland 4
Big win for the defending gold medalists, thanks to back-to-back steals in the eighth and ninth ends. Switzerland concedes before all the rocks are delivered in the 10th.
Round-robin standings will follow when we have a Canada-China result.
Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic is up. In 2018, she won the super-G and the parallel giant slalom in snowboarding, where she was more of a favorite. She has defended her PGS title but finished fifth in super-G.
She runs ahead of pace, 0.19 ahead after the third turn, but she falls and skids. In true badass fashion, she gets up and finishes.
Leader through five skiers: Elana Curtoni, the first skier down the hill.
A quick peek at curling:
- Sweden remains unbeaten with an 8-3 win over Denmark
- Norway routs the ROC 12-5
- Canada scored three in the eighth and held China to two in the ninth to go up 9-8 with hammer in the last end
- Another steal for Shuster makes it 7-4 USA heading into the last end
It’s windy, it’s extremely cold, and yet 36 skiers are going to speed their way down a steep slope in China. First up is Italy’s Elena Curtoni, whose finish is interrupted by an ad for Apple TV. She skidded off the best line a couple of times early in the run.
Time for the women’s downhill ...
Only 36 skiers have entered, and only the first 20 have any sort of legitimate shot. Snowboard-ski multisport athlete Ester Ledecka will start fifth. Up 12th: Mikaela Shiffrin is a longshot for the podium in this, her weakest event, but this could give us a good look at her form heading into the downhill.
Defending champion Sofia Goggia, also bidding for her third World Cup downhill title this year, starts 13th despite spraining her left knee in a crash in January.
Super-G champion and giant slalom bronze medalist Lara Gut-Behrami is up 19th.
Sticking with the USA vs. Switzerland -- Chris Plys plays a precise hit-and-roll to leave the USA lying two. Sven Michel misses a draw, but so does Plys, whose rock adds to a Great Wall of stones a few feet before the house. Michel answers by threading the needle to get a red rock on the four-foot, outcounting the two US yellows.
Shuster then misses badly, wrecking on the guard as he tries to follow the path Michel just took.
Benoit Schwarz draws to the other side of the four-foot and leaves it a little deep.
You’ll want to see Shuster’s next shot. His rock hits one of the US rocks to the side of the house, spins to the four-foot, knocks away the rock Schwarz just threw, and spins up to take a piece of the button and outcount the Swiss stones.
Schwarz tries to run one of his own rocks onto the button, but it’s slightly off. That’s a steal for Shuster. 6-4 USA.
The downhill is about to start, so we’ll focus our attention there.
Having gorged ourselves on X sports, it’s time to check in on curling, at least until the downhill starts.
The USA has taken a 5-4 lead on Switzerland, but the Swiss have the hammer here in the eighth end. Thanks to the magic of microphones, we hear the glorious sound of John Shuster and Matt Hamilton pondering their options from 150 feet apart. They opt to guard their rock close to the button, and Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz goes into hero mode to attempt a red-onto-red-onto-yellow takeout, but he’s slightly off target, and the US rock remains on the outskirts of the four-foot circle.
On another sheet, you can practically hear Canadian nerves jangling. They’re tied 6-6 with China in the eighth.
Gold! Mathilde Gremaud (SUI), women's freestyle skiing slopestyle
Kelly Sildaru won the world championship in this event in 2019. She won the Youth Olympic Games the next year. She leads the World Cup. She started winning big events at the 2016 X Games -- when she was 13.
Her tricks are astounding. She switches back and forth over the rails. Her first jump is a 900 with a silky-smooth landing. She follows with a 1080 and massive air. She follows with another 1080, and surely that’s good for ...
Not quite improving on her second run. Gremaud wins.
Gremaud wasn’t exactly an underdog here. She took silver in 2018 and in the 2021 world championships.
Eileen Gu, who won by a hair in big air, is now on the other end. Gremaud’s winning total: 86.56. Gu’s total: 86.23. Sildaru’s top run (her second): 82.06.
Then it’s a pack of skiers between 71.30 and 75.51 -- the ROC’s Anastasia Tatalina fourth, then the USA’s Maggie Voisin, Norway’s Johanne Killi, France’s Tess Ledeux and Team GB’s Kirsty Muir. Another GB skier, Katie Summerhayes, was a few points back in ninth.
Freeslopestyle: OK, Killi was pretty good. Can’t imagine her knocking Sildaru off the podium, but she’s justifiably happy with that. Somehow, the score is lower than her second run. She seems confused.
So it comes down to this. Kelly Sildaru is guaranteed a medal. Can she pass Eileen Gu for silver or pass Mathilde Gremaud for gold?
Freeslopestyle: If you’re tired of hearing about Eileen Gu, here’s some bad news. She got green marks on all three jumps -- the 900, the 1080 and a 900 with a double grab. That’ll surely get her on the podium.
And it does! Just not in first. It’s an 86.23.
Yeah, her story has been told more often than high school students are forced to read The Catcher in the Rye, but she’s spectacular by any measure.
Still two skiers to go. Not holding out much hope for Norway’s Johanne Killi, but the last competitor is Estonian superstar Kelly Sildaru.
Freeslopestyle: Here goes Maggie Voisin! Can we get an American on the podium in the events they have traditionally dominated?
The last jump is an awesome 1260. But she dragged her hand on the landing off the first jump. Or did she? Did you know there’s a challenge flag in this sport?
Well, it’s a 66.03. She’s in fourth. Just as she was four years ago. Four years before that, she suffered a broken fibula in a training run. She does have a full collection of X Games medals, though.
Freeslopestyle: Team GB’s Kirsty Muir made a good run at the top spots but landed with her legs apart on one of her jumps. Her 69.21 isn’t as good as the 71.30 from her second run, and she’ll miss out on the top five.
But we have a new person on the tentative podium. The ROC’s Anastasia Tatalina isn’t so great on the rails, but she pulls off a stunner on the last jump -- a double cork 1440.
She improves from a 74.16 to a 75.51. Doesn’t sound like much. But Maggie Voisin, who had been in third, had a 74.28. Tatalina moves up.
Alpine downhill: Delayed. More to come.
Gold! Anna Gasser (AUT), women's snowboard big air
Zoi Sadowski Synnott’s bid for the slopestyle-big air double ends in a fall. It doesn’t look like the jump would’ve beaten Gasser anyway.
The New Zealander will take silver, with Japan’s Kokomo Murase taking bronze.
Australia’s Tess Coady finished ninth. The USA’s Hailey Langland didn’t land any of her three runs and finished 12th.
Freeslopestyle: As in the big air, Tess Ledeux’s day ends in tears. Her father died a year ago, which has been weighing on her mind as surely as it has Mikaela Shiffrin’s. She botches the landing on her second run and won’t medal.
Big board: Defending champion Anna Gasser of Austria s ready to go. And ready to roll. And flip. It looks good. What will the judges think?
95.50! She’s in first!
Zoi Sadowski Synnott needs ... a lot.
Big board: The 17-year-old Japanese boarder also can’t land her trick. Bronze for Kokomo Murase.
Can Anna Gasser jump into the lead and defend her title? She needs an 87.00 to tie.
Big board: We know our medalists but not the order. Reira Iwabuchi couldn’t land her underflippy jump, a refreshing change from the parade of 1080 double corks, so she’ll remain in fourth place.
Next up: Kokomo Murase needs an 85.50 to tie for first.
Freeslopestyle: You don’t want to know how Mathilde Gremaud just landed. I’d include the word “split.” Still leads, of course.
Big board: During the commercial break, Tess Coady crashed. No medal for Australia here.
The medalists are going to come from our last four competitors -- Reira Iwabuchi (JPN), Kokomo Murase (JPN), Anna Gasser (AUT) and Zoi Sadowski Synnott (NZL).
Let’s follow them one at a time. If anything changes in freeslopestyle, I’ll mention it.
Freeslopestyle: I cannot believe they’re going to commercial right as Coady’s about to jump. Seriously?
OK, we’ll go back to freeslopestyle to see if Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru can reclaim her lead. Her rail work looks good. She lands a succession of 1080s and then ... she’s skiing on one ski! Better Off Dead for the win!
Well, in this case, she’ll drop this score.
So with the reminder that only one run per athlete will count, our current podium after the second round is:
1. Mathilde Gremaud (SUI) 86.56
2. Sildaru (EST) 82.06
3. Maggie Voisin (USA) 74.28
Big board: China’s Rong Ge has a nice jump to move up to fifth. Next up: Can Canada’s Laurie Blouin and Australia’s Tess Coady move into the top three?
Blouin’s up first. She’s counting a stellar 86.25 from her second run. Her third ... no. Just not a solid landing.
Here comes Coady ...
Freeslopestyle: Oh no. Gu falls and falls hard, slamming the back of her head onto the snow. She takes a minute to examine her helmet before skiing down to the finish.
Somewhere in the mix here between two sports and ads, I missed the run by Britain’s Kirsty Muir, who posts a perfectly solid 71.30 and stands seventh, one place ahead of Gu.
Freeslopestyle: The ROC’s Anastasia Tatalina moves into third, and it’s hard to explain why she was better than Ledeux.
But it’s easier to explain how the USA’s Maggie Voisin was better. She has a 630 on one of the rails. Off the jumps, a tremendous grab on a 900 with her skis in an X, another 900, and a double cork 1260.
She’s in third with a 74.28.
Next up? Oh, just Eileen Gu, whose academic record was just hyped on NBC’s broadcast. Like it’s hard to score in the high 1500s on the SAT, graduate a year early and get into Stanford.
Big board: These Japanese snowboarders are phenomenal. Kokomo Murase says, “Forget the double cork -- I’m just going to do the most elegant 1080 you’ve ever seen.” It works. That’s a 91.50, and she moves into second behind Gasser.
Last up: slopestyle gold medalist Zoi Sadowski Synnott of New Zealand. And oh yes, that’s nice. She lands as easily as most of us walk off a curb. It’s a double cork 1080, yes, but she holds her grab nicely and just looks better than most of the rest. Score is ... 83.75, and she’s in first.
STANDINGS AFTER TWO RUNS
(reminder: best two runs count)
1. Sadowski Synnott (NZL) 177.00
2. Anna Gasser (AUT) 176.75
3. Murase (JPN) 171.50
Tess Coady is by no means out of it. She got an 85.00 on her first effort. She’ll drop the score from her second. An 87.00 would put her on the podium -- pending other results, of course.
Freeslopestyle: The unfortunate Tess Ledeux wipes out on her second run. She’s still in third but probably has a case to be in second or first.
We’ll come back to this -- the second run of Big board is almost complete.
Big board: When did Anna Gasser go? Not sure if the defending champion jumped while I was distracted by the freeslopestyle or they were at commercial, but the Austrian picked up an 86.75 on a ... wait for it ... double cork 1080. Best two of the three runs count, and her combined score of 176.75 will be tough to top.
Canada’s Laurie Blouin also had a nice effort, scoring an 86.25. She was re-attempting her first run (or at least going in the same direction), which means she has opted to erase that first run rather than add to it.
Freeslopestyle: We have a new leader, and she’s the one whose binding pulled a Better Off Dead in the first run. Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud gets a 9.20 and 9.00 on her first two tricks on the jumps and gets an 85.56. That’s an improvement of 85.46 from that first run. More importantly, she’s in the lead, though our commentators raise the same question I have -- was Tess Ledeux underscored? Again?
Canada’s Olivia Asselin did not attempt her second run. Will try to find out why, but we have to hop to our other venue again ...
Big board: Here comes Tess Coady. And ... she won’t count that one. Never really looked in control, and she skids on her side as she lands.
NBC (well, USA) decides to backtrack rather than show a replay of the Australian’s run. During the commercial break, China’s Rong Ge earned an 85.75, apparently.
Freeslopestyle: To say the skiers are looking a little cautious on this course would be an overly cautious statement. Norway’s Johanne Killi takes what amounts to a scouting run, adding to the gaggle of skiers with scores under 50.
But the last skier here, Estonian teen Kelly Sildaru, fooled us with a tentative start on the rails followed by three gorgeous tricks on the jumps. Again, not as many rotations as Ledeux, but they couldn’t be cleaner. After one run, she has the lead at 82.06.
Sildaru and Gu are slated to compete in halfpipe in addition to slopestyle and big air. Showoffs.
Big board: During the eternity in which we waited for Gu to start and get her score, New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski Synnott stamped her authority on this competition in her bid for the slopestyle-big air double. Her ... yes, another double cork 1080 ... gets a 93.25, and she’s in the lead.
The second run is already underway, and the USA’s Hailey Langland has her second fall of the competition. She won’t be contention.
Freeslopestyle: Can anyone else complete a solid first run? Not Team GB’s Kirsty Muir. Not the ROC’s Anastasia Tatalina, who crashes. Not the USA’s Maggie Voisin, who takes off awkwardly on one element and pulls out of her next trick.
Top two are Tess Ledeux (72.91) and Team GB’s Katie Summerhayes (60.01), but it’s hard to see those scores landing on the podium.
So let’s check Eileen Gu, whose story of growing up in California but representing China has been well told by now. She goes a little too far on the second rail, but that’s the only flaw in her run. Not as many rotations as Ledeux, thought -- a 900, an 1080 and a 900 double cork double grab.
That’s a 69.90, second to Ledeux.
Big board: Better news for Japan, with Reira Iwabuchi landing a sweet ... you guessed it ... double cork 1080. She put a hand down on the landing, which probably explains why she’s trailing Coady with an 83.75.
Kokomo Murase follows with an 80.00, putting two Japanese riders in contention.
Big board: Just hand Anna Gasser her second gold medal in this event. She lands a double cork 1080 to net a 90.00 on her first run. In big air, the top two runs count (though they must be rotated in different directions), so she could always stumble on her next two, but it looks unlikely.
Second place so far? Hello Australia! It’s Tess Coady with her own double cork 1080. Her score: 85.00.
A lot of other competitors have struggled to land their tricks. The next rider after Gasser was Miyabi Onitsuka, part of a powerhouse Japanese team, who landed hard and remained down for a couple of minutes while various personnel came out to attend to her. She did leave the finish area under her own power.
Freeslopestyle: Here comes France’s Tess Ledeux, who took silver in the big air behind Chinese superstar Eileen Gu in a close -- might even say controversial -- decision.
Ledeux serves notice that she’ll be a contender here as well, landing a strong run with some nifty rail work followed by a 1080, 900 and double cork 1260. The last is particularly impressive and probably should’ve gotten more than 8.95 points. Total score is 72.91.
Freeslopestyle: Remember the climactic scene in Better Off Dead in which Lane’s binding breaks on one of his skis, and he has to race Stalin on one ski? That’s what happened to Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud, our first competitor on a bitterly cold day in which it’s several degrees below zero. Yes, Fahrenheit.
Each athlete will only count her best run, so Gremaud has time to warm up and fix up her equipment.
Shuster is famous for his half-grimace, half-resigned smile expression. He flashes it again after his last shot in the first end, which removed a Swiss stone and left the US lying three ahead of Schwarz’s hammer. He figured -- correctly, as it turns out -- that Schwarz could take out all three of those rocks. But Schwarz’s rock rolled out of play in the process, which means the Swiss only scored one, not two, with hammer. That’s typically considered a win for the team without hammer.
So ... ready for dueling flippy-twisty sports?
Let’s talk curling ...
All of the teams in the men’s competition have played six of their nine scheduled games. Sweden and skip Niklas Edin, who lost the final to the USA and John Shuster in 2018, won all six and have clinched a berth in the semifinals.
In second place, it’s Bruce Mouat’s British squad, which is 5-1. They’re idle in today’s first session but will play later against Sweden in a top-of-the-table clash.
Canada, where curling is a Very Big Deal, is 4-2. They’re playing China at the moment. Win that one and beat the ROC, and they’ll be 6-2 and almost certainly assured of a semifinal berth ahead of their final round-robin game against Mouat and Team GB.
Shuster’s US team and its opponent here, Switzerland, are 3-3, as is the ROC. That’s your bubble.
Four years ago, Shuster and company won their last three games to finish the round-robin at 5-4. That time around, that was enough to qualify for the semifinals. Don’t count on 5-4 being sufficient this time.
Switzerland is one of those rare teams in which the skip doesn’t throw the last rocks. Peter de Cruz is in charge, but he throws second in the lineup. Benoit Schwarz throws the all-important last rocks.
(The most important rocks, of course, are the first rocks, though I may be biased because that was my position when I competed in the only tournament I’ve ever entered. We won. I’ve retired unbeaten. Besides, Shuster won a bronze medal in 2006 playing lead for Pete Fenson.)
Here’s a quick rundown of how we’re going to do things in the next couple of hours ...
As we’ve seen a few times now, curling starts off the day’s action, but we’ll soon thereafter have multiple sports vying for our attention.
Here’s where it gets difficult. We have two medal events kicking off at the same time, 40 minutes from now -- the women’s freestyle skiing slopestyle final and the women’s snowboarding big air final.
So if you’re like me, you’ll have two screens devoted to people doing flippy-twisty things in the air. And if you’re reading this, you’ll see me go back and forth between the two events with unnerving regularity.
Here’s what I’ll do:
All updates from the snowboarding big air final will start with “Big board,” and everything from the freestyle skiing slopestyle final will start with “Freeslopestyle.”
Once that’s done, the women’s downhill will be the only event running for about an hour, and then we’ll get the men’s hockey playoffs. Then it’ll be the men’s turn to do flippy-twisty things in the freeslopestyle qualifiers and the big board final. But someone else will be taking that for you while I catch up on curling highlights.
Hello again, everyone. I’m Beau Dure, and I’ll be your live blogger for the next few hours. A quick catchup on the Olympic news ...
Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who won the Alpine skiing World Cup last year and rallied to win the slalom last week, will not race in the combined due to an ankle injury. That leaves the door that much more open for Mikaela Shiffrin, who’ll race in a couple of hours in the downhill, which she’s using as preparation for that combined. Shiffrin is the world champion in the event. The bad news for Shiffrin, aside from the fact that she isn’t one for bad sportsmanship and would rather see a healthy Vlhova here, is that her chief rival for the overall World Cup trophy will have a few extra days to rest.
Also bowing out of competition due to an injury: US freestyle skier Marin Hamill, who qualified for the slopestyle final coming up in less than an hour but suffered a terrible crash on her next run.
In better news for the USA -- for the 56th straight year, the USA won the Super Bowl.
Coming up today
Times are all in local Beijing time. For Sydney it is +3 hours, for London it is -8 hours, for New York it is -13 hours and San Francisco is -16 hours.
- 9.05am and 2.05pm and 8.05pm Curling – more 12-round robin contests 🥌
- 9.30am-10.24am and 12.30pm-1.33pm and 7pm Freestyle skiing – the rescheduled three runs of the women’s slopestyle are first, then at lunchtime it is the rescheduled men’s slopestyle qualification and then in the evening it is qualification for the men’s aerials. Although frankly this programme seems to change from hour to hour so your guess is as good as mine 🥇
- 9.30am-10.24am and 1pm-1.45pm Snowboard – women do the big air final in the morning, the men do the big air final in the afternoon. That’s a lot of big air 🥇
- 11am Alpine skiing – it is the women’s downhill 🥇
- 2.30pm-4.47pm Speed skating – a brilliant day ahead at the National Speed Skating Oval as the men’s and women’s pursuit competitions both reach their finals 🥇
- 12.10pm and 4.40pm and 9.10pm Ice hockey – it is the play-off round for the men with four matches 🏒
- 4pm and 7pm Nordic combined – it is the individual Gundersen large hill/10km cross-country which deserves a gold medal for longest event title surely? They jump at 4pm, and then at 7pm the best ski jumpers desperately try to hold on to the slim time advantage they gained with their extra metres 🥇
- 5pm Biathlon – the men do their 4x7.5km relay 🥇
- 6pm Figures skating – the women’s single skating short program will be the next instalment of the Kamila Valieva story ⛸
- 8.15pm and 9.50pm Bobsleigh – the final two heats for the men’s two-man teams 🥇