Recapping the Winter Olympics: Days 14 and 15
Hype Fulfilled NBC went heavy on the story of 18 year old Mikaela Shiffrin, but despite the expectations, the kid delivered with a gold medal in yesterday's women's slalom. Shiffrin pulled out to a half second lead after the first run, which allowed her to survive a scare in the second run to win by .53 seconds. Two Austrians, Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel, filled out the podium. Given how well Shiffrin performed here at such a young age, the sky feels like the limit in four years in Pyeongchang.
In the men's slalom race, the story was the course. The course for the second run was very tough. Many, many contenders, including Ted Ligety, failed to finish. One skier that handled it was Marcel Hirscher of Austria, one of the best in the world. 9th after run one, he had a fantastic second run to take the lead. However, his teammate Mario Matt, who was first after run one, had enough of a cushion to win gold from Hirscher by .28. For the 34 year old Matt, it was great ending to a career that had lots of success everywhere but the Olympics. He becomes the oldest slalom gold medalists in Olympic history. Norwegian teenager Henrik Kristoffersen took bronze.
Out out 117 entries, only 43 finished.
Curling Blowout We said goodbye to Olympic curling for another four years yesterday with the men's gold medal match, and unfortunately we didn't get a barnburner. Canada played well, Great Britain didn't, and thus the Canadians won easily 9-3. Bronze went to Sweden 6-4 over China. See you in four years curling.
I'm About to Discuss Speed Skating. Guess Who Won? Speed skating concluded today with the two Team Pursuit competitions. The Dutch won gold in both. On the men's side, they beat Poland by 3 seconds in Olympic record time. On the women's side, they beat Poland by a ridiculous 7.5 seconds, also in Olympic record time. That gives the Netherlands 23 medals from long track speed skating alone. They won 24 medals total, and the stray medal was in...short track speed skating.
For Team USA, it was the opposite. Both teams were eliminated in the quarterfinals, meaning after all the promise going in to the Games, they come away with no medals in long track.
I Guess that Citizenship Switch Worked Out (Part 1) Yesterday was the final night of short track, and it was a good day for Victor Ahn. The former South Korean now Russian won gold in the men's 500 meters, then added another one by anchoring the Russian relay team to gold. That gives Ahn eight total Olympic medals, tying him with Apolo Ohno for the most for a short track athlete. Of course, Ahn has 6 gold and 2 silver to Ohno's 2 gold, 2 silver, and 4 bronze. The other gold won yesterday was by Park Seung-Hi of South Korea in the women's 1000 meters.
The Americans did get a nice ending, winning silver in the relay. It's their only medal in short track this year.
History Blown It looked like Ole Einar Bjoerndalen would get a record ninth Winter Games gold after he shot clean during the third leg of the biathlon relay. He tired before the exchange though, and Germany and Russia caught up. Emil Hegle Svendsen ran anchor for Norway, but in the final shooting stage had to ski a penalty lap when his rivals didn't. That's even worse than it sounds, because in the relays they give you three extra shots if you don't hit all five targets in your official five. That means Svendsen missed four times. That dropped Norway to fourth and ended Bjoerndalen's career in a bitter fashion. Russia excited the crowd as Anton Shipulin took advance to outski German Simon Schempp to take the gold. Austria won bronze.
In the women's relay yesterday, Ukraine won gold in a poignant moment given the turmoil in their country right now. Russia and Norway rounded out the podium.
History Set In today's women's 30km classical, cross country's version of the women's marathon, Norway's Marit Bjoergen led a Norwegian sweep of the medals. That's Bjoergen's 10th Olympic medal (6 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze), making her the most decorated female Winter Olympian of all time.
A Four Way Battle in Four Man The first two runs of four man bobsled were today, and it sets up for a doozy tomorrow. The Russian sled, driven by two man gold medalist Alexander Zubkov, is in the lead. Latvia though sits just .04 back after a great second run. The German's top sled is in third .16 back, while the USA-1 sled, driven by Steven Holcomb is in fourth, .17 back.
I Guess that Citizenship Switch Worked Out (Part 2) Vic Wild, the American born guy now competing for Russia, took his second gold of the Games in the snowboarding parallel slalom. Julia Dujmovits of Austria won the women's event. What's the difference between parallel slalom and giant parallel slalom? I have no idea.
The Last Event I Didn't Talk About Marielle Thompson of Canada won yesterday's women's ski cross over countrywoman Kelsey Serwa, who took silver. Bronze went to Anna Holmlund of Sweden. There were no Americans in this event.
Medal Count It looks like Russia is going to win the overall medal count, and depending on how tomorrow goes, may win the most golds. That's between them or Norway. Full analysis to come tomorrow.
1. Russia 29 (11 G, 10 S, 8 B)
2. United States 27 (9 G, 7 S, 11 B)
3. Norway 26 (11 G, 5 S, 10 B)
4. Canada 24 (9 G, 10 S, 5 B)
5. Netherlands 24 (8 G, 7 S, 9 B)
On Tap Get up early for the final day of competition. It gets going at 2:00 am eastern with the men's 50km cross country mass start, the equivalent of ending the Summer Games with the marathon. At 4:30 am eastern, it's the final two runs of the four man bobsled. Finally, at 7:00 am, it's the final event, the men's hockey gold medal game between Canada and Sweden. Here's hoping for a good one to close out these Olympics.