White on top again
Shaun White put together an epic final run to claim his third gold medal in Olympic men’s half-pipe, slicing through the gray South Korean sky today to post a score of 97.75 for the 100th overall gold by the United States in the Winter Games. White, 31, trailed Japan’s Ayumu Hirano going into the last of the three runs in the 12-man final, but put together a daring set that included consecutive 1440-degree spins. White threw his board in the air when his winning score flashed, setting off a delirious celebration. Hirano, who vaulted into the lead during his second run with a score of 95.25, took silver. Australia’s Scotty James earned bronze. White is the first American male to win gold at three separate Winter Olympics. Speedskater Bonnie Blair won gold in the 1988, 1992 and 1994 Games. James, White and Hirano traded impressive runs during qualifying Tuesday, “sending it” in snowboarding terms and sending a bit of a message in the process. The three have eyed this showdown on the world stage for months and Hirano — who edged James in the X Games last month, an event White opted to skip after locking down a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team — shrugged when asked if he was concerned about the 98.50 White put up Tuesday to earn the right to go last in the finals. “I know what he does and he knows what I do,” Hirano said. White put together a dazzling first run at warm, slushy Phoenix Snow Park, throwing a 1440 early on and building from there. He tossed his helmet toward the crowd when he finished and celebrated in the waiting area while the judges deliberated. His score of 94.25 was tops after the first of the three finals runs, but Hirano recovered after sitting down during his first trip to put White on notice during the second. Hirano, 19, uncorked back-to-back 1440s of his own and when the crowd cheered wildly as his 95.25 flashed, he simply shrugged his shoulders, unfazed by the stakes. Hirano missed an opportunity to go even higher when he washed out on his final run. James put together an unspectacular last set, setting the stage for White. He called the opportunity to go last his “good luck spot.” And with good reason. He went last during his gold medal runs in Turin in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010.
Dutch good as gold
The Olympic Oval has turned into the royal House of Orange — and not because Dutch King Willem-Alexander is there most nights. It’s all about the speedskating. Kjeld Nuis made it four gold medals in four races for the Netherlands, a run nearly beyond belief. Moving in a blur of orange early on with a blistering pace, Nuis swept past his toughest opponents to take home gold. In second, of course, was another Dutchman — teammate Patrick Roest. Roest, 22, raced with the ruthless abandon of an Olympic rookie and set an early time of 1 minute, 44.86 seconds over a distance where racers either set off fast and try to hold on or pace themselves throughout. ith lots of Dutch fans in the crowd, the top two got big cheers in the victory ceremony. But the biggest roar of all at the 8,000-capacity oval was for Kim Min-seok, the 18-year-old home skater who took bronze. American skaters disappointed again with Joey Mantia finishing eighth and Shani Davis crossing in 19th position, leaving the United States with another bad start in the Olympics after they were shut out in Sochi. The 1,500 race was seriously affected by the exclusion of world-record holder Denis Yuskov, who is missing because of the Russian doping scandal. Nuis got a congratulatory message from the Russian and replied, but refused to say what was in it.
Couric apologies to Dutch
NBC’s Katie Couric has apologized for saying that the Dutch are so successful in speed skating because skates have been used as a form of transportation when canals freeze in the Netherlands. Her remark during the Olympics’ opening ceremony invited some Dutch mockery on social media from people who said the information was outdated. The Netherlands embassy to the United States invited Couric to visit the country to see all of the innovative ways the Dutch get around. Couric tweeted her apologies for being on thin ice with her comments. The veteran anchor said she was trying to salute the country’s historic passion for the sport, but it didn’t come out that way.
Australian makes history
Harley Windsor became the first indigenous Australian to compete at the Winter Olympics when the pairs skater joined teammate Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya on the ice for their short program. Windsor and his Russian-born partner were among the first pairs on the ice, and their total of 61.55 points was just off their season’s best. And it also meant a long wait to find out whether they made the cut from 22 pairs to 16 for Thursday’s free skate. Windsor says he started to “feel a bit nervous” the night before competing, but he was happy with the performance. Both of the 21-year-old Windsor’s parents have Australian Aboriginal roots, and his mother Josie was cheering him on from the stands.
Also, the North Korean pairs team of Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sink scored a season-best 69.40 points to briefly move into second place during the short program. North Korea’s only pair drew cheers from a large block of uniformly dressed fans for even the most simple of elements in practice. Then, they neatly landed their opening triple twist lift, hit a triple toe and throw triple loop, and were showered afterward with flowers from their fans. The couple dressed in silver and black and performed to a cover of the Beatles song “A Day in the Life” by English rock guitarist Jeff Beck. They were the 10th among 22 teams to take the ice inside the Gangneung Ice Arena and all the medal contenders were still to come. Still, their score qualified them for the free skate on Thursday.
Olympic TV schedule
All times Central
1:30-5:30 a.m. Speedskating women's 1,000m gold medal final; Nordic combined men's individual hill/10km gold medal final; Skeleton women's training
5:30-8:30 a.m. Men's ice hockey United States vs. Slovenia
8:30-10:30 a.m. Luge men's doubles gold medal final; Skeleton women's training
10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Biathlon women's 15k gold medal final
12:15-4 p.m. Women's curling Denmark vs. Sweden
6-9:10 p.m. Figure skating pairs' gold medal final
9:10-11:30 p.m. Women's ice hockey United States vs. Canada
11:30 p.m.-1:40 a.m. Women's curling United States vs. Britain
1:30-4 a.m. Women's ice hockey South Korea vs. Japan
4-6:10 a.m. Women's curling Britain vs. Olympic Athletes from Russia
6:10-8:30 a.m. Men's ice hockey Olympic Athletes from Russia vs. Slovakia
4-6 a.m. Medal ceremonies
2-4 p.m. Luge men's doubles gold medal final; Nordic combined men's individual normal hill/10km gold medal final
7-10:30 p.m. Figure skating gold medal final; Alpine skiing men's super G gold medal final; Men's skeleton initial runs; Speedskating women's 1,000m gold medal final
11:05 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Snowboard men's gold medal final; Men's skeleton initial runs
4-7 p.m. Women's curling United States vs. Japan
9-11:30 p.m. Men's ice hockey Finland vs. Germany
1:40-4 a.m. Men's ice hockey Norway vs. Sweden
4-6:10 a.m. Cross country women's 10km gold medal final
6:10-8:30 a.m. Men's ice hockey Switzerland vs. Canada
8:30-11 a.m. Luge team relay gold medal final; Speedskating men's 10,000m gold medal final
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Biathlon men's 20km gold medal final
1-4 p.m. Men's curling United States vs. Italy
6-10 p.m. Figure skating men's short program
10 p.m.-1:40 a.m. Men's curling United States vs. Sweden; Cross country men's 15km gold medal final
2-4 p.m. Cross country women's 10k gold medal final; Speedskating men's 10,000km gold medal final
7-11:30 p.m. Figure skating men's short program; Snowboard cross women's gold medal final; Skeleton men's gold medal final runs; Freestyle skiing women's aerials; Cross country women's 10km gold medal final
12:05-1 a.m. Luge team relay gold medal final; Biathlon men's 20km gold medal final