And last but not least, here’s the Daily Briefing. And with that, for the final time for these wonderful Beijing Winter Games, I’ll thank you for your company and bid you farewell. But be sure to stick with the blog for the rest of the week. Bye now!
Figure skating: And here’s Sean Ingle writing from one of the most captivating and dramatic Olympic finals ever stages. I know Anna Shcherbakova won the gold - and what a champion she was - but it’s Alexandra Trusova’s routine for bronze I’ll never forget. And then there’s Kamila Valieva’s falls and tears.
Curling: Here’s the match report from Team GB’s big win over the USA.
And... exhale. That’s the end of tonight’s action, which might make this a good time to take the edge off by flicking through the best photos from Beijing on day 13.
Curling: It will be Sweden v Great Britain playing for gold! Canada have fluffed their lines on the final stone of the night! Brad Gushue was left with too much to do from left to right so he tried to run the double instead. The first part of the plan worked but it doesn’t roll back far enough to get even one! They miss out on the extra end by an inch, Sweden winners 6-4 in the end. Gushue has his head in his hands. Wow.
Team GB are into the men's gold medal match!
Curling: Alright, Shuster has given himself a route to two shots. However, Mouat has one on the button as it is and can take out the US red on the eight foot line - surely that’s his play? It is. And it is away. However, the yellow doesn’t stick around. Good but not perfect. “It all comes down to this,” says Steve Cram. “All of the chatter, all of the bravado, the criticism of his own team. He still, though, has a chance... this would be incredible if he can do it.” He doesn’t! It’s GB with the steal and Bruce Mouat lets out a roar. What a victory this has been, eliminating the defending champions. They take it 8-4 in the end. What a performance.
Curling: A good stone from the USA; Bruce Mouat won’t be able to knock that away. Instead, they elect to erect a guard on the left hand side - that has to be dealt with by John Shuster, who calls a time out to work it through with two stones left.
Curling: Surely that’s enough for Team GB, using their third-last stone to knock out the only red in the house. The USA have the hammer and three left; two of those will need to end up as points to take this to an extra end. Speaking of which, that’s exactly where Sweden and Canada look to be going with six stones left in regulation.
Curling: A correction from the below - the USA have the hammer in this final end, currently 4-6 down. So, if they can snaffle two points here, it’ll be extra time.
Curling: Sweden convert with the hammer, breaking the deadlock in the penultimate end of their semi against Canada to take the lead 4-3. Canada hold the advantage in the tenth - an extra end the most likely scenario on that side of the Water Cube.
Curling: Alright, back to the water cube, deep into the ninth. A reminder that the Americans have the hammer here, so as long as Team GB can keep them to one shot and hold their nerve in the tenth, well, yes... that’s the plan. Alright, shot for USA - John Shuster is found a way through. He’ll have one further crack at it after Bruce Mouat’s final stone - and here he goes... boom! He taps back the US red and loads up the degree of difficulty on the Shuster. Steve Cram on BBC notes a “look of resignation” on the look of the frustrated skip’s face, and he misses everything! That’s a brilliant steal from the Brits, they’re 6-4 up with one end to go.
Also earlier, the sorry story that has been Mikaela Shiffrin’s Olympics. Let’s hope she returns in four years and wins the lot - something like that.
Curling: In case you missed it, Team GB’s women are also into the final four after everything went right for them in the final round robin matches earlier today.
And with the figure skating sorted, that’s the medals all won for the night. Norway, through their victory in the nordic combined teams event, add another gold and increase their lead at the top over Germany, who didn’t strike gold on day 13.
Curling: A big old gear shift from an Olympic final that will be spoken of forever in the sport of figure skating to the more sedate curling rink at the water cube. We pick up the Team GB v USA clash with the score still 5-4 in favour of the Brits but John Shuster has the hammer. “He’s not the Olympic champion for nothing,” says Steve Cram as he blasts Bruce Mouat’s shot out of the house. That’s two scoreless ends in a row as they move to the ninth. As for Sweden and Canada, they’re level 3-3 deep in their eighth; Sweden’s Nikilas Edin to go last with work to do and he sneaks it in there. So, the higher-ranked Swedes take a one point lead with two ends to play.
Gold for the ROC!
It’s official, the world champion takes gold at the Olympics as well - Anna Shcherbakova has done it. And Kaori Sakamoto holds on for bronze! So well deserved, she didn’t put a foot wrong in either performance despite not enjoying the quads that the Russians - Alexandra Trusova especially - can pull off at will. A word for Trusova, who topped the free skate with her 177.13 - five quads, incredible. If not for her poorer short program, she would be atop the podium. But that’s Anna Shcherbakova’s medal to enjoy - clean, clinical and all with a beaming smile. Meanwhile Valieva, with a 141.93, finishes fourth and is visibly shattered. They are picking up everything on the television coverage - she’s sobbing uncontrollably.
GOLD - Anna Shcherbakova (ROC) 255.95
SILVER - Alexandra Trusova (ROC) 251.73
BRONZE - Kaori Sakamoto (JAP) 233.13
Figure skating: Kamila Valieva has three quads listed and nails the first, the salchow. Triple axle next... hands on the ice! Both of them! “She’ll have to be foot perfect from here.” And she isn’t! On the deck entirely out of the triple toe that followed the quad toe. The gold is gone, Anna Shcherbakova is going to be the Olympic champion in the most absorbing and compelling final you could ever imagine. Can Valieva keep it together with her final big jump? No, no she can’t - the quad toe is a flop as well, she’s on her back. Despite the buffer she enjoyed after the short program she’s fighting to stay on the podium from here - indeed, how can she knock Sakamoto out of third? She waves her hand away in dismay as the routine ends - tears as she departs but the crowd have her back. “Plenty of admiration for how she has kept it together,” says the commentator, reflecting on the extraordinary circumstances upon which she has been participating in this competition. Over to the judges.
Figure skating: Quad flip into triple toe to start for Shcherbakova and makes it! And another quad flip for good measure. She’s away. They’re the only quads scheduled, will she adapt and throw in another now in response to Trusova? She doesn’t - triple lutz/triple loop comes next - and landed with a smile on her face. Faultless! It might be the case that on any other night, she’s winning this. Surely that’s silver but it can’t overtake Trusova on the free skate alone - she’ll need every bit of the six mark buffer she had over her from the short program. All eyes on the judges - “It is going to be so, so close.” 171.54 is the required score move into first... and she’s done it! 175.75! Shcherbakova snatches the lead by four marks! And now, to finish, Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old genius to finish the competition. Performing to Bolero. Strap in.
Figure skating: Kaori Sakamoto (JAP) was brilliant in the short program, finishing third. And this is fine work again, hitting every note, but there is no way she can knock off Trusova in the absence of a quad. She’s every chance to slot into the silver position before Shcherbakova and Valieva finish the show. “Gorgeous,” declares the TV commentator. 153.29 for 233.13 - that’s the silver medal skate for now. To the business end now, big time. Here’s the world champion, Anna Shcherbakova. The 17-year-old is going to have a dart at two quads here as well. Here we go.
Curling: A blank end suits Team GB, USA unable to take advantage of the hammer in the sixth. Bruce Mouat’s team stay at 5-4 up with four ends to go. And the same result over at Sweden and Canada, who remain tied a 3-3 after six ends.
Figure skating: Quads everywhere! Alexandra Trusova, blimey - quad flip, quad salchow - bang, bang! A tiny stumble on the quad toe when over-rotating but this is different gravy. The sequence in the middle involves a yoga backbend to die for. Now for the next round of jumps... quad lutz, triple toe combo! If she stays on her feet here she is going to be in the lead by a mile. The Stooges take over on the music to finish, good grief. “Astounding!” says the TV commentator. That’s the word for it. 177.13! Only eight marks off the World Record and her career best. What a time for it. She leads by 37! What a staggering few minutes in the history of the figure skating.
Figure skating: Wakaba Higuchi (JAP) every chance of taking even after a small fall. Other than that, triple lutz, triple toe - the combinations were all on point. She also started with the triple axle, so it’s all there - no quads, though. Do the judges treat her kindly? Yup! 140.93 is enough for a lead of one solitary mark. To Alexandra Trusova, the first of the three remarkable Russians. Here come the quads.
Curling: Bruce Mouat with the hammer and hits right back with it! Two points, the lead changes again, Team GB 5-4 up after five. Also at the halfway mark, Sweden and Canada are 3-3 in the other semi final. You can feel it already: extra ends are coming.
Figure skating: Six skaters in this final group - find a telly for this, we’re going to see some extraordinary quads between now and the end. It’s You Young first up, the Korean performing to Les Miserables. And goes wallop early with the triple lutz/triple toe. “This is so sweet,” says the TV commentator when she hits the triple lutz/triple salchow. “Exquisite timing on the triple flip,” he adds. If she skips cleanly through the spins and combinations - and she does - You Young is surely the leader. Comfortably so, too - 142.75 is the score, the skate of the night, making 213.09 to go into top spot by about five marks. Now the first of the two Japanese skaters in this final group, Wakaba Higuchi. Performing to The Lion King; she’s away.
Curling: The pressure is on John Shuster with this final stone, needing to do a lot right to navigate a busy house… and he’s nailed it! Out goes the GB shot, replaced by two for Team USA. The Americans are up 4-3 after four. Over on the other lane, Sweden have picked up two of their own in that end, leading the Canadians 3-1.
Figure skating: Disappointment in the eyes of Lorena Hendrickx as she ends her routine, the Belgian trying to process why she didn’t attempt her scheduled triple salchow. “Four points down the drain,” the assessment of the TV commentator. And it’s those points that cost her top spot, 136.70 her free skate score for a 206.79 total; two points adrift. And that’s the end of a brilliant third group. Six skaters left including three Russians, headlined by Kamila Valieva. They’re warming up now.
Figure skating: Stirring stuff from Alysa Liu, Tchaikovski providing the soundtrack to her energetic burst, every jump landed. Just 16 years of age, having endured a bout of Covid last month, she can be proud of that. Ooh, but a deduction is detected - she a final rotation on the triple axle. Still enough to overtake Kim Yelkim (KOR) on the basis of the ambition showed? It is! 139.45 for the free skate making 208.95 - we have a new leader, the American six marks clear. Over to Lorena Hendrickx (BEL).
Curling: Team GB are on the board with a bumper third end. This time the hammer works for Bruce Mouat, drawing a third shot on the button to take the lead 3-2.
Figure skating: “Oh yes!” roars the TV commentator as Kim Yelim finishes another cracker of a performance. “This third group has taken the competition to a new level.” It sure has. That’s the first time we’ve seen a triple salchow into a double toe/double toe. The assumpion from the commentators is that the Korean is about to overtake Bell (USA) and move into the provisional gold medal spot... and she does. But only just - 0.3 of a mark after a 134.85; the third best free skate score so far. Two competitors to come in this group and eight in total. Next up: Alysa Liu (USA).
Figure Skating: Right, the ante has been upped now that we’re into the top ten! Following Bell, Anastasiia Gubanova (GEO) completes a flawless routine of her own, which included a high-scoring triple flip/triple toe combination. But the presentation score didn’t quite match the elements, 135.58 leaving her 1.32 points out of first.
Curling: In the second semi final, Sweden are 1-0 up over Canada after two ends.
Curling: It’s a big steal for the USA in the second end! Out comes the measuring stick, is it two or three points? Just two. But that’s a wonderful start from the Americans. Bruce Mouat’s enjoyed two ends with the hammer and GB are yet to score. Yikes.
Figure skating: For the lead Mariah Bell (USA) requires 120.47 and she gets there with ease, 136.92 her score. Into the gold medal position she moves. Lovely stuff.
Figure skating: Mariah Bell (USA) is skating to kd lang’s Hallelujah, which she, of course, performed so memorably at the opening ceremony at Vancouver in 2010. Blimey, 12 years ago. It’s a performance to match: the big moment - triple lutz, double toe, double toe - is spot on. I suspect we have a new leader - over to the judges.
Figure skating: As I was typing the below, Eliska Brezinova (CZE) looked on track to jump into that gold medal position but, sure enough, she fell with her triple lutz! Correspondent Kurt Perleberg emailed yesterday to ask me whether I believe in miracles. Well, not usually, but at the Olympics, I believe in something bigger. Anyone in Ekaterina Kurakova’s (POL) corner must feel the same at this stage.
Figure skating: Nobody can top Ekaterina Kurakova. To think, she was the final skater qualifying for the free skate, with six cut from the pack in the short program. But her 126.76 tonight still has her one point ahead in top spot. Given 13 skaters have followed her, and there are only ten to go, she’s permitted to dream big at this point.
Curling: Team GB have the hammer for this opening end and will need to use it well with the USA popping a shot at the top of the button with their final stone. If Mouat is on target he should be able to hit it on the nose, and he does, but whacks it hard enough that there’s nothing left in the house. So, a blank end to begin.
Curling: Time for the semi-finals in the men’s competition! As I touched on earlier, a brilliant morning for Team GB - they knocked off Canada in the final session and then Sweden lost to Switzerland, so into first (with an 8-1 record) they land after the round robin. Their opponent in this high-stakes clash is the USA, who finished fourth, but were responsible for the only loss Bruce Moaut’s team experienced in that lengthy first stage. On the other lane, it’s Sweden up against Canada. Go!
Figure Skating: Alright, we shift focus to our other medal event of the night, the women’s figure skating free skate at Capital Indoor Stadium. 13 athletes of the 24 in the running; still a long way to go before the Russians. Team USA’s Karen Chen records only the sixth best score we’ve seen so far, a 115.82 placing her fifth.
Nordic Combined: Norway’s 14th gold and 11th involving cross country skiing at these Winter Olympics - what an extraordinary team. As for Japan, they have broken into the top three with such a gutsy performance, so close a silver medal. “Ryota Yamamoto,” says the TV commentator, “a name to watch in the years to come.”
GOLD - Norway 50:41:01
SILVER - Germany 51:40:00
BRONZE - Japan 51:40:30
Gold for Norway!
Nordic Combined: Jørgen Graabak crosses the line with his arm raised - what a finish, they can’t be beaten on this snow. Now the race for silver is on! Japan’s Ryota Yamamoto is giving it his all in the final climb but German’s Vinzenz Geiger, the individual champion in this event, getting to the line first. Austria miss out.
Nordic Combined: With Jørgen Graabak skiing last, the individual champion last week, Norway were always go be tough to beat after Oftebro’s final sprint, and so it looks halfway through his leg, now out to a 41 second lead over the chasing pack of Japan, Germany - who have caught up again - and Austria, who led the race early but are battling for a medal at all as we reach the business end. Now 1500m to go and Norway’s buffer has grown to 61 seconds! Graabak is cruising to yet another gold!
Nordic Combined: What a sprint from Jens Luraas Oftebro to finish his leg! Wow! His shift in gear puts ten seconds between Norway and Japan as they make the final transition, Austria crossing with the Japanese. As for Germany, they are now 36 seconds off the pace and surely just about finished in terms of winning a medal.
Nordic Combined: Another breakaway from German’s Eric Frenzel, falling ten seconds behind the lead pack as they approach the final kilometre and last nasty climb. “This is where the front three need to really push the advantage home.”
Figure skating: Ten of the 24 skaters have now had their say with the situation the same at the top with Ekaterina Kurakova (POL) still in the lead. We’re not far away from the Americans, Karen Chen and Mariah Bell, who perform 13th then 15th.
Nordic Combined: The great Eric Frenzel, with three gold medals over the last couple of Winter Olympics, was never going to let this get away from him entirely, catching the top three by the time they reach the 2.5km mark. At the front of the foursome, it’s Norway’s Jens Luraas Ofterbro’s turn to do a shift up the front. This is building towards an tremendously exciting finish over the next quarter of an hour or so.
Nordic Combined: Right, just beyond halfway through this race and Germany haven’t enjoyed a good start to leg three, Eric Frenzel dropping seven seconds behind the lead pack of Lukas Greiderer (AUT), Jens Luraas Oftebro (NOR) and Akito Watabe (JAP). A wonderful opportunity for Japan to consolidate their position.
Nordic Combined: The lead pack of four have about 1500m to go in the second leg of this relay with Germany’s Julian Schmid leading Austria’s Johannes Lamparter, Norway’s Epsen Andersen and Japan’s Hideaki Nagai. The status quo suits the overall leaders, Austria, with Lamparter taking the race lead on the final climb.
Figure skating: A third of the field have completed their free skate in the women’s competition. Leading the way is Poland’s Ekaterina Kurakova who scored 126.67 to finish with 185.84 across her two performances - a lead of three points to Austria’s Olga Mikutina. But to put that in perspective, Russians Valieva and Shcherbakova were both in the 80s with their short program; it’ll take something extraordinary from these early competitors to get anywhere near the podium positions.
Nordic Combined: They caught him. At the first exchange, Germany lead Japan over the line, a second from Rehrl (AUT) in third. Their accumulated lead remains healthy but it’s game on. 1km into the second leg and Johannes Lamparter has taken the race lead back for the Austrians, still in that aforementioned trio, plus Norway.
Nordic Combined: Franz-Josef Rehrl has broken away in the lead for Austria, already 19 seconds ahead of Norway’s Epsen Bjoernstad, who is chasing with Germany’s Manuel Faisst and Japan’s Yoshito Watabe. Now on to the second loop of the course, the climb, the chase pack are going to work as they approach the halfway mark. A reminder that all four athletes will complete a 5km leg in this relay.
The Nordic combined – Men’s Team Large Hill/4x5km – has recommenced with the skiing section. Austria led the way after the jumping, with Norway and Germany second and third. The women’s single figure skating (free progam) is ongoing. The men’s curling semi-finals are coming up. And that’s all from me – I shall hand you over to Adam Collins.
Thanks Luke, another top stint from you. It’s 7pm in Beijing, the start of the 13th night session of these Winter Games. And owing to what will play out at the Capital Indoor Stadium over the next couple of hours, it might turn out to be both the most memorable and controversial of the entire fortnight. Becaause, that’s right: it’s the free skate of the women’s figure skating, which means Kamila Valieva, the ROC’s genius 15-year-old, is expected to win the event. Provisionally, at least. There’s no predicting how her drugs saga will play out in the aftermath of these Games, but she’ll skate last tonight after banking a two point lead over her countrywoman, world champion Anna Shcherbakova, in the short program on Tuesday.
Starting right now is another medal event, the Nordic Combined Team Gundersen for the men. In short, this is a four-man event where they all have a run down the ski jump before taking to the cross-country course. Germany are the defending champions, standing on the podium four years ago with Norway and Austria. After the jumps, those three teams remain in the top positions with in reverse order from Pyeongchang with the Austrians leading the way, albeit by what converts to just an eight second lead over the Norwegians and 11 seconds from the Germans. Now to the relay, where each athlete has a 5km gruelling sprint ahead of them.
Then in about an hour we’ll return to the Water Cube where it’s men’s semi-finals night in the curling! Team GB enjoyed a great morning session to end the group stage, easily accounting for Canada and then watching Sweden go down 10-8 to the Swiss - so, they leapfrogged them into top spot, finishing with an excellent 8-1 record. The only downside is that they are up against the USA in the round of four, the only team to knock Bruce Moaut’s team so far at Beijing. Meanwhile, the Swedes face Canada in the other semi, who they defeated 7-4 the first time around.
Okay, to the snow and ice we go! Stay in touch throughout, via email or twitter.
The medal table, in which Great Britain’s team are yet to trouble the scorers, is here:
The schedule, and live scores, are here:
Our team of writers have been busy as per usual, from Canada’s triumph in the women’s ice hockey to Mikael Shiffrin’s ongoing disappointment in the skiing – plus further controversy over China’s human rights record. Here’s what we’ve published so far today:
Great Britain’s male curlers will be on the ice in a little over an hour for their semi-final against the USA. Here is PA Media’s report, from a earlier today, after Great Britain’s closing round robin win against Canada:
Great Britain’s men’s curling team will play for a place in the Olympic after brushing aside Canada to finish top of the round robin standings. Bruce Mouat’s side claimed a 5-2 win to end an impressive group stage with an 8-1 record - but next up they must meet the USA, the reigning champions and the only team to get the better of them so far.
However, Mouat is in no doubt his side have moved on since their 9-7 loss last Friday, and believes the setback in what was only their second game in the competition will not prove a decisive factor. He said: “We’ve learnt a lot about the ice in the last four or five days. We know what kind of throws we need to make shots.
“The second game that we had was against the USA, which we did lose, but we’ve learnt so much from that point that I’m really confident we can come out and play better. We will just have to relax into the game and try and not feel the extra pressure that the semi-finals is going to put on and just try and enjoy ourselves which is when we play our best.”
Mouat and his teammates Hammy McMillan, Bobby Lammie and Grant Hardie came into the tournament as the world’s No 1-ranked team and runners-up in last year’s World Championship behind Sweden. Sweden, led by the veteran Niklas Edin, whom Mouat’s men defeated earlier in the competition, face the Canadians in the second semi-final.
Women’s single skating – free skating: Eva-Lotta Kiibus of Estonia, in fact, has just assumed the bronze-medal position, knocking Feigin of Bulgaria down to fourth.
Ekaterina Kurakova of Poland (incidentally, who used to compete for Russia) stays top of the free program figure skating right now. Lindsay van Zundert (Netherlands) second, Alexandra Feigin (Bulgaria) is third. But we are still quite a long way from the business end of the event, and of course another appearance by Kamila Valieva of the ROC team.
Courtesy of my colleague, Niall McVeigh, some more from that Mikaela Shiffrin interview that was on the BBC a few minutes ago:
“My plan, well, it was quite simple. Just make the turns, try to be clean, fresh on the outside skis. Specifically, I just wanted to be calm from the start and get into my tempo and just build it from there. Oh man, I just wanted to get a full run of slalom! I don’t know if there’s anybody who ever had so many opportunities to get a medal in the Olympic Games, and actually failed so many times on it.
“I’ve had a lot of support over the last few weeks, I appreciate it so much … and I’ve also had a bit of a crap storm of ‘What went wrong, caved under the pressure, choked’, all this stuff, and there’s probably some truth to all of it. It feels like there’s not a lot to learn, just try to keep focusing on good skiing – what’s the phrase, take it on the chin? Like … If I can be the biggest joke of the Games, at least someone’s smiling!”
Japan’s Miho Takagi clinched her first gold of the Beijing Olympics, following up on the three other medals she has already won in the Winter Games so far, as she sailed to victory in the women’s 1,000 metres speed skating.
Takagi kept close to the pace set by the silver medallist Jutta Leerdam at the onset of the race. Despite falling behind at one point, she breezed through the final lap half a second ahead of Leerdam’s time and finished in an Olympic record of 1min 13.19sec. The 27-year-old punched the air in delight upon seeing her record. Leerdam of the Netherlands claimed silver in 1min 13.83sec, while Brittany Bowe (USA) took bronze in 1min 14.61sec.
“I’m happy, but after the race I was a little sad with my corner that cost me some seconds,” said Leerdam. “I had too much speed and wasn’t used to it. I just thought ‘oh’, and hammered one more lap.”
Takagi, who clocked the fastest time this season of 1min 11.83sec , has won two individual medals in Beijing, finishing second in the 1,500m behind Ireen Wüst and winning a surprise silver in the 500m. The gold medal appeared to be just within reach as she raced ahead of her Canadian rivals towards the finish line in the women’s team pursuit, until a fall by her sister and team mate Nana Takagi cost them the title. That silver medal, which was accepted solemnly amid tears, was the sixth of Takagi’s career and made her the most decorated Japanese female Olympian. (Reuters)
Two skaters have finished in the women’s figure skating – free program. Ekaterina Kurakova of Poland leads, currently, with a combined score of 185.84. But it won’t be long before she’s knocked off the top. There are 25 skaters to go in total, finishing with the leader after the short program, Kamila Valieva.
Mikaela Shiffrin said it was not the weight of expectation that led to her failing to finish her third race at the Winter Olympics. The American was a strong favourite to win gold in the combined event and was well placed after finishing fifth fastest in the morning’s downhill.
But returning to the Ice River course, where she had skied out in both the giant slalom and slalom, her favourite events, Shiffrin missed a gate and skied out yet again. There were no tears, as there were after she skied out of the slalom last week, and no excuses as she discussed her failure at these Games.
“In general, people want to be able to say it’s a pressure thing,” she said. “There are certainly points during the Games where I felt the weight of pressure and expectations. But, in general, when I was racing, it wasn’t the case. And it certainly wasn’t more than I ever experienced in my career before. The pressure is there. It’s always there. I don’t feel uncomfortable or even unfamiliar with it.
“Today, I felt I had a pretty calm, solid mentality. Nothing too crazy. Of course I wanted to win a medal. But before that I just wanted to take the opportunity to ski another run of slalom on this hill. The whole shebang in sport is that you can have preparation, you can have confidence ... You can have all these pieces and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have literally no idea why we keep coming back and doing it, especially after today. But I’m going to come back out tomorrow and ski some parallel GS (giant slalom) because I’m that much of an idiot.” (Reuters)
The BBC just played a snippet of Mikaela Shiffrin’s interview after she came up short again earlier today, this time in the women’s combined skiing: “If I can be the biggest joke of the Games, then at least someone’s smiling.”
It’s not been her Games, that’s for sure, and some of her interviews have made uncomfortable viewing. But she certainly isn’t a joke ... and at 26, she’s got plenty of time for a classic Olympics redemption story, too.
This is the kind of Olympic training I can get behind:
In a sport where talk of tactics, strategies and techniques can sometimes sound baffling, the dominant Swiss Alpine ski team has a simple motto – ‘Drink wine, Ski Fast’. Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin retained her gold medal in the women’s combined on Thursday, sharing the podium with compatriot and silver medallist Wendy Holdener before revealing the secret behind her team’s impressive showing in Beijing.
The night before her bronze medal super-G performance, Gisin said she had a glass of wine in the company of Swiss slalom skiers Luca Aerni and Loic Meillard. “Then after the race, they wrote on my door ‘Drink Wine, Ski Fast’,” she said with a grin.”So, we drank wine again yesterday of course and look at that - it seems to work for me very well,” she said, laughing.
The Swiss success is not, however, a huge surprise, coming after they won nine medals, including three golds, at last year’s World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Gisin said they have simply carried that form into the Olympics, the men also enjoying glory with Beat Feuz’s downhill gold and Marco Odermatt’s giant slalom triumph. Corinne Suter won the women’s downhill and Lara Gut-Behrami took gold in the super-G. (Reuters)
Kamila Valieva will be up again soon, in the free program of the women’s singles figure skating, and she is well placed to take a gold medal after topping the charts in the short program.
Our latest on the sorry saga involving the 15-year-old Russian skater:
Great Britain’s women’s curling team squeezed through to the semi-finals at the Winter Olympics after polishing off a 9-4 win over the Russian Olympic Committee team in their final group match.
A rare sight at any Olympic Games: nothing currently in the ‘live’ events section. Time for a quick cup of tea.
What did you think of the dramatic curling? The emotional speed skating? The Nordic combined?
You can email me or tweet @LukeMcLaughlin
Tagaki has grabbed a Japanese flag and is skating around the rink on her lap of honour. She had three Olympics silver medals in the bag already ... and now she’s finally won gold. Great effort.
Ellia Smeding of Great Britain finished 23rd, 3.98sec down on the champion.
It's gold for Miho Tagaki in the women's 1,000m speed skating!
Anyone who saw the women’s team pursuit has to be thrilled with that result! Tagaki takes gold for Japan! She has tears in her eyes as she hugs her coach. Lovely to see. Jutta Leerdam wins silver for the Netherlands and Brittany Bowe (USA) sneaks on to the podium at the very last, Golivoka of the ROC team knocked down to fourth. The legendary Wüst finishes sixth, but the 1,000m isn’t her favoured distance.
Tagaki sits and waits. She can only watch this final pair. She’s guaranteed bronze, Bowe (USA) and Nifantava (Belarus)
Women’s 1000m speed skating: Miho Tagaki of Japan goes fastest! What an effort. She punches the air and cheers with delight after crossing the finish line. It’s a new Olympic record of 1min 13.19sec. She missed out on a team pursuit gold just the other day when her sister, Nana, agonisingly crashed out on the final corner ... can anyone overhaul her now?
Angelina Golikova, who was up against Tagaki, clocks the third-fastest time. Jutta Leerdam is knocked down to silver medal position with De Jong and Wüst now in fourth and fifth.
Women’s 1000m speed skating: Wüst goes third-fastest in 1min 15.11sec. Is that enough for a medal? Probably not ... but let’s see.
Women’s 1,000m speed skating: Jutta Leerdam goes quickest for the Netherlands but she doesn’t look happy. It’s a new track record, 1min 13.83sec, but she is gutted as a slip cost her some potentially crucial time.
Austria edged to an eight-second lead over Norway in the ski jumping ahead of the cross-country section in a snowy Nordic combined men’s large hill team relay. With defending champions Germany 11sec off the lead and Japan a second further back, there is little between the ‘big four’ nations of the sport, who have each won the Olympic relay twice since it joined the Games in 1988.
Austria, led by Franz-Josef Rehrl’s 127.5 pointer and the world champion Johannes Lamparter’s 125.5.2 jump, notched 475.4 points. Norway’s normal hill world champion Jarl Magnus Riiber ruled himself out of contention for Thursday’s event, the last of the Nordic combined programme at the Games.
Norway were hardly short of quality, however, with Joergen Graabak, gold and silver medallist in Beijing, Jens Oftebro, who took silver in the large hill, and experienced Espen Bjørnstad and Espen Andersen making the world champions a good bet to top the podium. Germany, with two of the Pyeongchang team back on duty, and Japan, comprising the Watabe brothers – Akito and Yoshito – along with Hideaki Nagai and individual normal hill champion Ryota Yamamoto, will also be in the mix. France were the best of the rest but, at 1min 27sec behind, know the medals are likely be shared among the leading four. (Reuters)
The women’s 1,000m speed skating is back under way. There are six pairs of athletes to come.
The men’s curling semi-finals will begin in a little under three hours’ time.
USA v Great Britain and Sweden v Canada is the lineup there.
Speed Skating – Women’s 1000m: Sounds like there is some resurfacing of the ice going on, so there’s a bit of a delay.
The amazing Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands made history last week, by becoming the first winter or summer athlete to win individual gold medals in five Olympics:
The 35-year-old will be on the ice soon enough for her Olympic farewell.
Speed Skating – Women’s 1000m: The gold-medal race has begun. Ireen Wüst’s Olympic farewell is coming up ... her compatriot, Antoinette de Jong, leads the way at the moment with a time of 1min 14.92sec.
Great Britain’s women defeated Sweden 8-2 in the curling round robin. So they should carry plenty of confidence into the semi-final tomorrow.
Eve Muirhead speaks to the BBC: “We had to win, that was the first thing we went out there to do. We fought out hearts out. Nothing was in control apart from our own game and that’s what we did.
“Of course we maybe had one eye on the other games, but to see we’ve managed to get a qualification spot by, I think it was a centimetre in the draw shot, it shows all our great practice over the months ... it’s drilled into us how important that draw shot is, and that’s proven that it really is.
“I was in this position in 2018 as well, in a semi-finals, and I definitely want to do one better. I’m very proud of this team, we’ve got a great chance out there. As a team we’ve played very well all week. And as much as we’ve lost a few games I think all of us know those losses have not been through a lot of bad play. It’s been a lot of inches here and there, but that’s curling. But yeah, I can’t wait to get out here tomorrow night, of course supporting the boys tonight in the semi-final, and let’s hope we can all do Great Britain proud.”
Great Britain qualify for the women's curling semi-finals
Sweden beat Korea 8-4. Great Britain will meet Sweden and Japan will play Switzerland ... and Canada are knocked out! Switzerland top the table, then Sweden, the Great Britain, then Japan. Canada fifth.
Great Britain progress via the draw shot challenge!
The IOC president Thomas Bach offered US figure skaters Olympic torches as holdover gifts while they await a resolution of the Russian doping case that is preventing them from receiving their silver medals.
Women’s curling: If things stay the same in this final end, Great Britain will play Sweden, the Olympic champions, in the semi-finals. Sweden lead Korea 6-4 and Korea need to find a miracle shot to knock the Sweden stones away.
The Canada team, potentially, could still be knocked out, which would be a disaster for them. They are pictured nervously watching and waiting as this final round robin match draws to a conclusion.
Nordic Combined: Team Gundersen Large Hill/4x5km: France, Czech Republic, USA is the new top three as the ski jumping part of the event goes on. But wait! Ryoto Yamamoto puts Japan top again with a jump of 135m.
The Winter Olympics have been plunged into further controversy after Beijing 2022 spokesperson Yan Jiarong dismissed human rights violations among the Uyghur muslim population as “lies” – and then insisted Taiwan was part of China.
Yan, a former member of the Chinese delegation to the UN General Assembly, referred to “so-called forced labour” in Xinjiang in response to one question, before insisting China was against the “politicising of sports”.
Great Britain beat ROC 9-4 in women's curling
Job done for Eve Muirhead and co in their final round robin match. Now all eyes turn to Korea v Sweden. Sweden are qualified and lead 6-4 in the 10th end so it’s looking good for a Great Britain semi-final at the moment.
The imperious Canada women’s hockey team completed a buzzsaw run through the Olympic tournament with a comprehensive victory over their defining foes, seeing off the United States in Thursday afternoon’s gold medal game by a 3-2 scoreline that flattered to deceive.
The latest instalment in one of world sport’s most hotly contested rivalries was largely one-way traffic for the half hour when the outcome truly hung in the balance. Marie-Philip Poulin, Canada’s longtime talisman known as “Captain Clutch”, scored twice as the defending world champions opened a three-goal lead behind an aggressive forechecking attack and a standout effort by in-form goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens, who finished with 38 saves.
Women’s round robin curling: Canada have just completed a 10-4 win against Denmark ... while Switzerland now lead Japan 8-4 in a match that is still ongoing, but in the final end. GB ‘have the hammer’ in the ninth end against ROC. Sweden lead Korea 5-4.
Switzerland and Sweden have already qualified but there are several teams scrapping to join them in the semi-finals.
Nordic Combined: Team Gundersen Large Hill/4x5km: Akito Watabe produces a fine jump of 125m, registering 109.1pts, and making Japan’s total 233.6. The lead the way with Norway and Austria second and third respectively.
Women’s curling: With Great Britain leading 5-3, an errant stone from the ROC team has knocked one of their own, red coloured stones out of the action area. We are in the eighth end and as you probably know, GB have to win this, and hope other results go their way, in order to progress from the round robin.
There are some nervous faces among the GB team but the scoreboard is in their favour at the moment ...
Thank you Mike and good morning / good afternoon / good evening, everyone.
Curling: ROC manage to pull one back in the seventh end and with three ends to go, Great Britain lead 5-3. And with that I’ll hand you over to Luke McLaughlin in London, who will see you through the rest of the day’s action in Beijing. Bye for now.
Cross-country skiing: some news in ahead of the 50km freestyle race on Saturday - Simen Hegstad Krueger has been named in Norway’s four-man team after his journey to Beijing was delayed by Covid-19.
Reuters reports Krueger was stranded in Italy following his positive coronvairus test but has finally arrived in Zhangjiakou, some 200km north-west of Beijing, and is fit enough to take part in the race - one of the sport’s blue riband events.
“I’m really glad to finally be here. It’s been a long wait for me in Italy so looking forward to finally getting the chance to compete on these tough courses, looking forward to that,” he said. “[There were] some parts where I thought my chances were quite small to get here, but sometimes my chances felt bigger, so it was ups and downs, but very glad to finally be here.”
Curling: Things are getting tense on the ice at the National Aquatics Centre, where Great Britain’s women have extended their lead over the ROC to 5-2 heading into the seventh end of the round robin clash. The Russians’ last stone in end six hasn’t got the legs on it and it’s a steal of one for the Brits.
Here’s that story I promised earlier from Sean Ingle.
The Winter Olympics have plunged been into further controversy after Beijing 2022 spokesperson Yan Jiarong dismissed human rights violations among the Uyghur muslim population as “lies” - and then insisted Taiwan was part of China. Yan, a former member of the Chinese delegation to the UN General Assembly, referred to “so-called forced labour” in Xinjiang in response to one question, before insisting China was against the “politicising of sports”.
Read the full story below:
A bit of a lull in the live action at the moment, so let’s just have a look ahead to what is to come today.
In about 20 minutes, the nordic combined Team Gundersen large hill/4x5km ski jumping gets underway before the women’s 1,000m speed skating starts in just under an hour from now.
There’s the conclusion of the women’s single skating with the free skating, featuring a certain 16-year-old Russian called Kamila Valieva who holds the lead and will go last. The ski jumping part of the aforementioned nordic combined also takes place today before the big curling semi-final between the men of Great Britain and US.
Sandra Naeslund wins gold in women's skicross
Freestyle skiing: Naeslund is the Olympic champion! She gets out in front early in what proves to be tightly contested final, but the fight is more for the silver and bronze, such is the Swede’s dominance in this race. Marielle Thompson picks up silver - and this is the first time a Canadian has not won gold - while Fanny Smith claims bronze. Daniela Maier comes in fourth.
Freestyle skiing: Here we go then, the skicross small final. It’s an even start, but Brittany Phelan soon leads, followed by Courtney Hoffos and a third Canadian, Hannah Schmidt. And that’s how it finishes, Kennedy-Sim unable to register a best-ever finish for Australia in this event.
Freestyle skiing: So, the women’s skicross big final will be contested by Naeslund, Thompson, Smith and Maier. Kennedy-Smith still has a chance to post her best ever placing in the small final, but no medal this time. A grand total of three Canadians fall in the semis.
Freestyle skiing: To the second semi... it’d be picture perfect for a Christmas card out there as the snow falls heavily. Fanny Smith opens up a lead, ahead of Brittany Phelan as Kennedy-Sim lags behind. But it’s Daniela Maier who takes the win, overtaking on the very last jump, to advance along with Fanny Smith! Kennedy-Sim finishes in fourth, and there will be no final for the Australian. Her run is ended at the semi-final stage, as it was four years ago.
Freestyle skiing: Sandra Naesland, the world No 1, is imperious in the first semi-final as visibility deteriorates. The Swede eases across the finish line in first place to qualify for the big final along with Canada’s Marielle Thompson.
Curling: As the snow tumbles on the slopes, let’s head inside briefly to the National Aquatics Centre where Japan and Switzerland are locked at 2-2. The big men’s semi-final between Great Britain and the US is coming up later on.
Freestyle skiing: Brittany Phelan makes it four Canadian women in the semi-finals as Fanny Smith of Switzerland wins the last quarter-final. Not so great for Alexandra Edebo of Sweden, who crashes out. Semis coming up and from there, the small matter of the medal allocation.
Freestyle skiing: Back to the slopes and Sammy Kennedy-Sim gets another good start in her four-woman quarter-final and leads from the start to the finish to book her spot in the semis! The veteran of three Winter Games is looking good. Daniela Maier of Germany comes in second and joins the Australian in progressing.
My colleague Sean Ingle in Beijing will bring you more on this shortly, but a Beijing official has spoken for the first time about Taiwan and Xinjiang, saying that there is only “one China”.
“The so-called forced labour in Xinjiang is lies made up by deliberate groups,” Beijing Games spokesperson Yan Jiarong said.
Stay tuned for more.
Michelle Gisin wins women's combined slalom
Confirmation of the Swiss athlete’s gold medal - her second in this event.
Alpine skiing: The women’s combined podium is pretty much set - Michelle Gisin and Wendy Holdener, both of Switzerland, and Federica Brignone of Italy occupy the top three slots, in that order, as the rest of the course finish off their runs.
Freestyle skiing: She’s a renown fast-starter and Sammy Kennedy-Sim bursts out of the gates in her women’s ski-cross 1/8 final. The Australian crosses the line in first to ease into the quarter-finals, but all eyes are on the Italian Lucrezia Fantelli, who has a nasty-looking crash which effectively gifts progress to both Kennedy-Sim along with the Russian Anastasia Chirtcova. Fingers crossed Fantelli is OK - she stays down for a long time, receiving attention. There’s a delay in competition, but we’re back up and running now with those quarter-final heats.
Thanks Beau, that was a hectic hour or so. Excellent work seeing us through it all. I’ll be here now for the next 90 minutes or so now, and we’ll start with an update from the women’s ski-cross....
Time for me to sign off and do the short-track relay push to Mike Hytner in Australia.
But I did want to toss in one email I received from Barbara Roden in one of my favorite places in the world, British Columbia: “It’s 10.10 pm here on the west coast and I’ll bet a lot of people are glued to the game. Nail-biting time. Also, I haven’t been to a Vancouver Canucks game for a while, but ‘Freeze Frame’ used to be a staple of between plays music at their games. All these arena music people must train at the same place.”
I love hockey music. And that was a great game to watch.
So the last few hours have been heart-wrenching (Shiffrin), thrilling (hockey) and breathtaking (halfpipe). Still so much more to come. Enjoy.
Canada wins women's hockey gold
Credit to Team USA for a spirited rally, but it’s just too late. The shot count since Canada’s third goal was 22-5, but only a few of those shots tested Ann-Renee Desbiens, and the great goalie was up to the challenge on those.
The Americans will lament their sluggish, muddled start. A lot of mental lapses on defense. A sense that they weren’t rising to the challenge against their eternal rivals.
But credit to Canada. They’re just that good.
Alpine combined, slalom: The refs are talking about that goal, and while they’re busy with that, we can see Switzerland’s Gisin and Holdener have taken the top two spots.
Goal! Canada 3-2 USA 12.5 seconds, 3rd period (Kessel 59:47)
Just brute force on the 6-on-4. Kessel jams a rebound through Desbiens.
35 seconds: Good scramble.
Alpine combined, slalom: Only five of the first 10 skiers have made it down the course. Now come the two skiers with a good chance -- Holdener and Gisin.
Canada 3-1 USA 1:25, 3rd period
The USA accidentally plays the puck out of the Canadian zone but regroups.
And it’ll be a power play -- Poulin, of all people, for tripping. Dangerous hit on Barnes.
6 on 4 ...
Canada 3-1 USA, 2:30, 3rd period
Good effort by the US defense to prevent the empty-net goal. Here comes Knight.
Canada 3-1 USA 3:08, 3rd period
While the PA plays Elvis Costello’s Pump It Up, the US women pull the goalie.
Alpine combined, slalom: Never mind, then -- Italy’s Federica Brignone rips through the gates with confidence and bests Ledecka’s combined time by 0.80 seconds.
Still, a medal from the snowboard wizard would be amazing.
Halfpipe: Gus Kenworthy has qualified! His score of 70.75 holds up, and he makes the 12-skier final.
The top nine all hail from the USA (four), Canada (three) and New Zealand (two). Then one each from France, Switzerland and Britain.
Alpine combined, slalom: The USA’s Keely Cashman gives Shiffrin some company on the DNF list.
Don’t look now, but Ester Ledecka may be set for a snowboard-ski double even more unlikely than the one she pulled off in 2018.
Canada 3-1 USA 5:45, 3rd period
Nothing happened on the power play.
Mikaela Shiffrin misses gate again
She said she had a mental image of this happening, and it did. Third time she has failed to finish a race.
She’s still the GOAT, with Olympic medals, world championships and too many World Cups to count. But this hurts.
Canada 3-1 USA 9:21, 3rd period
Power play to the USA. Savannah Harmon gets past Jocelyn Larocque, who reaches out in desperation and gets the hooking call.
Alpine combined, slalom: It’s underway. Ester Ledecka is going now. Two more skiers after her, then it’s Mikaela Shiffrin, and I’m shuddering with anxiety. Upsets are one thing. But a truly outstanding athlete struggling with internal demons is a harrowing thing to behold. This isn’t Shiffrin vs. other skiers. This is Shiffrin vs. herself. Only a hard-hearted person would root for the latter.
Canada 3-1 USA 13:50, 3rd period
The right post again gets a bit of action, this time being dislodged as Desbien makes a save and onrushing players slip past.
Canada wins a faceoff and gets a bit of space. Princeton’s Sarah Fillier shoots, but Cavallini is up to the task.
Canada 3-1 USA 14:58, 3rd period
Dink! The sound of puck on post echoes through the arena off an Alex Carpenter shot as the USA applies the pressure.
Thirty seconds later, Carpenter slides in between Canadian defenders and takes a pass. She’s forced onto her backhand, though, and Ann-Renee Desbiens makes the save.
The result here no longer looks like a foregone conclusion.
Halfpipe: New Zealand’s Ben Harrington is able to walk off under his own power after a crash. He may be more disappointed than hurt -- his first-run score is 13th right now, so he’ll just miss the final.
Canada 3-1 USA 19:25, 3rd period
Underway. The USA needs two goals in 19 minutes to force the traditional overtime between these two rivals.
Halfpipe: In case you didn’t believe me when I said a skier ran into a camera operator ...
Alpine combined, slalom: The start list is simply the current standings, in order. That means Mikaela Shiffrin is up fifth and will probably be in the start gate within 30 minutes from now.
Halfpipe: Two-time world champion Aaron Blunck ran into trouble on his first run and needed to put things together on his second. He did. A couple of double corks, the last a 1260, lands him atop the standings with a 92.00.
New Zealand’s Nico Porteous has also broken 90, moving ahead of David Wise.
On the bubble right now is the man we’re all watching -- Gus Kenworthy, who posted a 70.75 in his second run after falling in his first.
End 2nd period: Canada 3-1 USA
The USA needed some sort of spark, and the rules don’t allow for sending Donald Brashear over the boards to drop the gloves. Hilary Knight is an alternate captain playing in her fourth Olympics, and that shorthanded goal could give this team some confidence.
They’ve outshot Canada 24-17. In the first game between the two, that meant very little, but that’s another potential building block here.
Goal! Canada 3-1 USA 3:21, 2nd period (Knight 16:39)
That’s a start. Hannah Brandt and Hilary Knight swipe the puck from the Canadian power play point players and go off to the races. Knight shoots, it’s blocked, and she jams home the rebound for the shorthanded goal.
Canada 3-0 USA 4:27, 2nd period
The organist is playing the J. Geils Band classic Freeze Frame. That is all.
Oh, and now Canada is getting another power play.
Canada 3-0 USA 5:44, 2nd period
Ann-Renee Desbiens finally has to make a difficult save, sprawling to keep the puck under her. An inquisitive US attacker comes in and gives a little shove in search of the puck, and multiple Canadian defenders send an unmistakable message not to do that. No response from the US.
The US team simply isn’t up for this.
Halfpipe: Just a mesmerizing run from the USA’s David Wise, the two-time defending champion in this freestyle skiing event. Two double cork 1260s, a 1080 tossed in for good measure, and it all just flows rather than looking like a series of athletic exhibitions. That’s an 88.75. Safe to say he’ll be back in the final.
That’s the end of the first run, and Wise is the leader. Then it’s Canadian Brendan Mackay, followed by Americans Alex Ferreira and Birk Irving.
Canada 3-0 USA 8:45, 2nd period
The US shots are getting more dangerous, and their pressure earns a power play. It’s Jocelyn Larocque with an effective judo throw, but instead of the ippon, she gets two minutes in the box.
Goal! Canada 3-0 USA 10:52, 2nd period (Poulin 9:08)
Sarah Nurse outraces the US defense, and has enough space to stop and wait for Brianne Jenner to race through the middle. Cavallini makes a good save on Jenner and sends the rebound out wide, but while a US defender skids into the goalie, Marie-Philip Poulin hits the empty net from an acute angle.
Canada 2-0 11:34, 2nd period
Tell me they’re not playing Vanilla Ice on the PA.
Can I go to bed now?
Canada 2-0 USA 12:00, 2nd period
Best save of the game from Cavallini, moving swiftly to her right on a Canadian 2-on-1.
Canada 2-0 USA 13:30, 2nd period
If you’re anxious to get to bed early, you’ll love this period. Several minutes go by with no stoppage of play.
Meanwhile, in the halfpipe, Finland’s Jon Sallinen just ran into a cameraman as he went up off a wall.
Canada 2-0 USA 17:30, 2nd period
A half-chance for Canada on a long diagonal pass to an unmarked attacker (and unnamed -- these numbers are not easy to read) sitting on the blue line. She squanders the open look, but it’s another wake-up call for the US defense. You know, just in case those two goals weren’t wake-up calls.
Halfpipe (men’s freestyle): Sorry to neglect the qualifying phase of this competition, taking place in a dusty snowfall.
The man we’re all watching here is Gus Kenworthy. Competing for the USA, he took silver in the slopestyle in Sochi eight years ago. He also rescued stray dogs while he was in Russia. In 2015, he came out as gay. Since then, he has started an acting career, with an extended run on American Horror Story, a guest spot in Will & Grace, and an appearance as “skier” in Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.
He’s competing for Team GB now in halfpipe, where he’ll need a good second run to qualify after a fall in his first.
American Alex Ferreira and a gaggle of Canadians and New Zealanders are in good shape to qualify.
Alpine combined: NBC speaks with Shiffrin. She says she’s well-placed after the downhill but isn’t confident. She has a mental image of missing the fifth gate again.
Can the USOPC set up some Zoom calls with sports psychologists? We’re in the midst of what might be a miserable two hours for underconfident US athletes.
End 1st period: Canada 2-0 USA
Put a pin in this moment ...
Canada-USA games can get chippy. There’s no fighting in international hockey, but there’s the usual argy-bargy at times, and neither team backs down.
Late in the first period, while Cavallini was covering the puck, Canada’s Sarah Fillier gave Hannah Brandt a solid two-handed shove and knocked her to the ice. Fillier than coolly skated in the foot or two of space between the downed US player and the goal.
There was no reaction from any US players.
They need a Herb Brooks speech at this point.
Canada 2-0 USA 1:40, 1st period
Prolonged possession for the USA, but again, no serious shots here. The Americans haven’t had a real scoring chance since Brandt hit the outside of the net with the goal at her mercy in the early going.
Canada 2-0 USA 3:48, 1st period
Canada has a power play, courtesy of a delay-of-game call when Kendall Coyne Schofield played the puck over the glass, and it just feels like this game will be out of hand if the US penalty kill can’t hold here.
Goal! Canada 2-0 USA 4:48, 1st period (Poulin 15:02)
Marie-Philip Poulin just kills the USA in every major tournament final. She’s done it again, swiping the puck from an unsuspecting defender and easily depositing it past Cavallini, who doesn’t seem to be getting any sort of a look at a few of these shots.
Canada 1-0 USA 6:00, 1st period
In the group-stage game, Canada gave up shots by the bushel, but the defense also made those shots a lot less dangerous. The USA just got another shot, but it was from a distance that isn’t going to scare Desbiens.
Don’t blame Canada. Blame Wisconsin. That’s where Desbiens went to college.
Canada 1-0 USA 7:18, 1st period
And a bit better for the USA, forcing a scramble in front of Desbiens’ goal. But the swarming Canadian defense forms a red wall, and the danger is cleared.
Canada 1-0 USA 8:24, 1st period
Finally, the USA goes back on the attack. Alex Carpenter gets a shot on a quick push forward.
Nurse has tied the great Hayley Wickenheiser for points in one Olympic tournament with 17 -- five goals, 12 assists.
Goal! Canada 1-0 USA 12:10, 1st period (Nurse 7:50)
Well, that didn’t take long. Faceoff win, quick pass to Sarah Nurse, and it’s redirected past Cavellini and in.
Canada has outshot the USA 5-1.
Canada 0-0 USA 13:04, 1st period
Canada whips the puck around against a somnambulant US defense, and Natalie Spooner takes it in the middle of the US zone and drills it past goalie Alex Cavallini, who is getting the start here instead of Maddie Rooney, who played the first game.
But the US challenges the play, saying Canada was offside. Replay says ... yes. Offside. No goal. But if that isn’t a wakeup call for the US, I’m not sure what would be.
Organ plays the Star Wars music from the scene of Luke watching the twin sunset.
Canada 0-0 USA, 15:04, 1st period
Before I forget, I’d like to single out the organist at the hockey venue, who has been outstanding. They’ve been alternating the organ with recorded music, most recently Tame Impala’s song Elephant.
Canada 0-0 USA, 17:40, 1st period
CHANCE! Hannah Brandt pounces on a rebound on the doorstep with half the net open behind Canadian goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens. Call it nerves, call it a rolling puck -- Brandt’s shot hit the outside of the goal, and they may regret that.
In the group stage, the USA outshot Canada 53-27 and lost 4-2. Just like the USA-Canada men’s soccer game recently. Possession means nothing if you don’t put something in the net.
I could bore you with details about how dominant Canada and the USA have been in women’s hockey. But I already wrote a story that included those numbers ...
Just know this -- no other country has ever won squat in this sport. A Canadian columnist actually wrote recently that the sport didn’t belong in the Olympics because no one else can compete. It was not a popular opinion.
Faceoff ... here we go ..
Let’s see ... we’ve covered curling, Alpine skiing, the freestyle halfpipe qualifications ... what’s left?
Oh right ...
US men qualify for curling semifinals
Based on how they had played in the last year or two, Tabitha Peterson and the US women seemed to be a better bet to reach the semifinals than John Shuster and the US men, even though the latter won gold in 2018
But the women lost their last three to finish 4-5, taking care of business against the less-accomplished opponents but failing to break through against the sport’s titans -- world champion Silvana Tirinzoni’s Swiss team, second-ranked Anna Hasselborg and Sweden, and two-time Olympic semifinalist Eve Muirhead and Britain. A loss to fearsome Canadian Jennifer Jones, the 2014 Olympic champion and 2018 world champion, deflated the USA, and they lost their final game to Japan.
Shuster’s team underwhelmed in several games, including a horrid 10-4 loss to Italy in their penultimate game. But other results broke their way, and as in 2018, a 5-4 record would get them into the semifinals. They clinched that a few minutes ago with a workmanlike win over a misfiring Danish team.
Later today, the US will face Team GB, which clinched the top seed with an 8-1 record. Shuster, though, accounted for that loss. This team often plays to the level of the competition for better or for worse.
Shiffrin well placed in combined
Mikaela Shiffrin has done what she needed to do in the downhill phase of the combined. She’s in fifth place, 0.56 seconds behind Austria’s Christine Scheyer.
No one else in the top seven has any World Cup points in slalom this year. Italy’s Federica Brignone, who’s eighth, has a handful but would not be expected to make up 0.13 seconds on Shiffrin.
The biggest threats to Shiffrin are Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, who’s 0.43 seconds behind the American and stands third in the World Cup slalom standings, and defending champion Michelle Gisin, who’s another 0.01 back and is seventh in World Cup slalom this season.
The slalom starts at 1 a.m. Eastern time, right when the USA-Canada gold medal women’s hockey game will be in full swing.
Curling: Denmark picks up two in the ninth end, which John Shuster and company will happily concede. USA up 7-5 with hammer in the 10th. For those who don’t know curling -- that’s good.
Other games are just for seeding, and Team GB has a firm grasp of the top seed with a 5-2 lead over Canada. Their only loss? USA.
Sweden, also with just one loss, is up 8-7 in a barnburner with an already-eliminated Swiss team.
Curling: I flipped over to USA-Denmark and heard “if they get this, they’ll get four points.” Nearly had a heart attack. But what they meant was that Denmark would have four points for the game, a threshold they have not oft crossed.
And they have not yet crossed it here, either, as Mikkel den Krause makes another mistake that would agitate a typical above-average club curler, taking out a US rock but rolling far enough from the center to give the US another steal. It’s 7-3 USA after eight ends, and John Shuster has the semifinals in sight.
Women's halfpipe ski qualification complete
The field of 12 is set, led by Eileen Gu, who finished a staggering six points ahead of Canada’s Rachael Karker. Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru took third despite passing up her second run.
Team GB will be represented by Zoe Atkin with an impressive fourth-place run. The last spot goes to Germany’s Sabrina Cakmakli.
Aside from Sildaru, Atkin and Cakmakli, the final 12 comes from three countries. Kexin Zhang busted out a 1080 to move up from 10th to fifth in her second run, joining Chinese teammates Gu and Li Fanghui in the final. Canada has Karker, Cassie Sharpe and Amy Fraser.
For the USA, it’s Brita Sigourney, Hanna Faulhaber and Carly Margulies, clumped together from eighth to 10th.
Halfpipe: Margulies improves slightly to 82.25. That’s behind Faulhaber, so her fellow American clinches a spot, but Margulies should qualify.
Now it’s up to Devin Logan, who goes big on the first trick but barely lands it. Her tail hits before the rest of her, and it’s a nice bit of athleticism to hang on.
But that’s not going to impress the judges. She’s out.
Margulies is in, and NBC informs us that she has not competed in two years due to injuries. Not a bad comeback.
Halfpipe: As expected after that second run, Brita Sigourney has qualified for the final.
Not much has changed on the bubble, which has a lot of Americans. Hanna Faulhaber is ninth and has almost clinched a spot. Carly Margulies is 10th. Devin Logan is one spot outside the top 12 and will have a pressure-packed final run.
Faulhaber has already done both runs. Margulies is up now.
Alpine skiing, downhill: That’ll do quite nicely for Mikaela Shiffrin. A coach gives a nice fist pump as she comes in second of the skiers so far, trailing only Ledecka and putting 0.44 seconds between herself and Gisin.
Ledecka competes almost exclusively in downhill and super-G when she does Alpine skiing rather than snowboarding. She shouldn’t be a factor in the slalom unless favorites like Shiffrin miss gates.
Alpine combined, downhill: With Petra Vlhova out, the biggest threat to Mikaela Shiffrin is surely Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin. She’s just the defending champion. And she took bronze in super-G earlier in these Games.
But her downhill run is a little ragged. She’s 0.99 seconds behind Ledecka and just fourth out of the eight pre-Shiffrin skiers.
Second place -- the USA’s Keely Cashman.
Alpine combined, downhill: The versatile skier-snowboarder Ester Ledecka is the fastest skier of the first five by a wide margin.
Mikaela Shiffrin starts ninth. Another five minutes or so.
Halfpipe: Can Brita Sigourney, the 2018 bronze medalist, improve in her second run to feel a little safer about qualifying for the final? Her 80.50 in the first run put her in eighth place.
On her second hit, she flies 12 1/2 feet out of the pipe. She does the same tricks as in her first run except for some slight changes near the bottom.
That’s an 84.50. Should be fine.
A bit earlier, Kelly Sildaru opted out of her second run, thinking her 87.50 will be enough to qualify. Safe bet.
Halfpipe: Eileen Gu won the big air event by a hair. If she does anything like this in the final, it won’t be close. She made the halfpipe look small, easily floating more than 10 feet above it and once again landing back-to-back 900s at the start. The back-to-back flatspins at the bottom were sick as well.
95.50. Off the charts.
Before that, the USA’s Hanna Faulhaber didn’t improve her score, once again getting tremendous amplitude but having some sketchy landings.
After that, Britain’s Zoe Atkin improved slightly to 86.75. She’ll be in the final.
Coming up in about one minute: Women’s combined downhill.
This is where Mikaela Shiffrin should shine. She’s the slalom GOAT and is good enough in downhill. She took silver in this event in 2018 and won the 2021 world championship.
Halfpipe: If you’re checking in from New Zealand, I have some bad news -- Chloe McMillan is 17th and Anja Barugh is 18th. As many a report card might say: Needs improvement.
Halfpipe: The first run is done. Top 12 reach the final. Only the best run counts for each skier.
Eileen Gu has the top score with a 93.75, and there’s no way 12 people will top that. It’s unlikely more than two people have a shot at it. Canada’s Rachael Karker and Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru are similarly safe. Likely safe: Canada’s Cassie Sharpe and Team GB’s Zoe Atkin.
Three Americans -- Hanna Faulhaber, Brita Sigourney and Carly Margulies -- are clustered at seventh through ninth and might need better runs to feel safe. Devin Logan is 13th, so she definitely needs better.
Curling: Well, that changes things. John Shuster makes a solid takeout to lie three with his last rock, leaving no Danish rocks in the house.
Denmark’s Mikkel den Krause needs to draw close to the button to get a single point. If he misses by a couple of feet, he gives up a steal of one.
He missed by a lot. In archery terms, his shot missed the target entirely and went somewhere into a neighboring realm.
USA 5, Denmark 2 after four ends.
Curling: I’ve been told there’s a bird in the Ice Cube, but I have no photo.
Anyway, the US men just need to beat last-place Denmark to reach the semifinals. They gave up a steal in the second end to trail 2-0. They did get two back in the third, though.
Halfpipe: From 32 to just-turned-20, it’s Estonian star Kelly Sildaru dropping into the pipe on her birthday. She and Gu are the only skiers going for the big air-slopestyle-halfpipe triple. No medal for her in big air, but she took bronze in slopestyle. She doesn’t show anything spectacular but gets an 87.50.
Halfpipe: A lot of these competitors are teens or in their early 20s. The USA’s Brita Sigourney is 32. She starts out with a huge 900 but loses some momentum late. That’s still an 80.50.
Halfpipe: Canada’s Cassie Sharpe only has rotation in three of her six hits, but the judges must have liked what they saw, because that’s an 86.25.
Next -- Britain’s Zoe Atkin, one of many US-based Winter Olympians who competes for another country, has a nice array of spins for an 85.25.
The parade of high scores comes to a screeching halt with China’s Wu Meng. She crashed, so her score was obviously kind of low. This isn’t figure skating.
Halfpipe: Stanford-bound Chinese freestyle skier Eileen Gu starts with back-to-back 900s and ends up with a 93.75.
There are six judges for this event, and the highest and lowest scores are dropped. Ironically, the US judge was responsible for the “lowest” score for Gu, though it was a 93. Remarkable consensus here.
Halfpipe: The USA’s Hanna Faulhaber has kicked off qualifying with about 15 1/2 feet of amplitude and six tricks. That’s good for an 84.25.
Canada’s Rachael Karker goes for more spins than height, landing back-to-back 900s.
Here goes Gu ...
Hi folks. Beau Dure here, and I’d like to start by saying 1,057 matches in curling still aren’t enough. Especially for the US women, who are out. We watched some of the USA-Canada game last night at the curling club, and we’re all a little depressed.
Speaking of USA-Canada, stay up late with me (East Coasters, that is) to keep up with one of the most anticipated events of these Games -- USA-Canada women’s hockey, for the gold this time.
Around that time, Mikaela Shiffrin will be going in the combined, an event in which she would the prohibitive favorite if not for her mistakes on these slopes over this fortnight.
Before that, let’s check in with Eileen Gu again as she hops into the halfpipe.
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 – after approximately 1,057 matches it is the final bits of the round robin stage, and then in the evening it is the men’s semi-finals 🥇
- 9.30am-3.10pm Freestyle skiing – there’s action all day but the main attraction from 2pm onwards is the women’s ski cross which goes from the quarter-finals to the final 🥇
- 10.30am and 2pm Alpine skiing – it is the women’s combined – they do the downhill in the morning, the slalom in the afternoon 🥇
- 12.10pm Ice hockey – no shocks in the women’s ice hockey the gold medal game will be Canada v US 🥇
- 4pm and 7pm Nordic combined – the teams do jumping first and cross-country 🥇
- 4.30pm Speed skating – the women’s 1,000m at the National Speed Skating Oval 🥇
- 6pm Figure skating – the conclusion of the women’s single skating with the free skating 🥇