Kim takes top spot
Chloe Kim’s coronation is complete. The 17-year-old from Torrance, Calif., dominated the Olympic women’s halfpipe snowboarding final early today, soaring to a gold medal four years in the making. Kim put up a score of 93.75 on the first of her three finals runs and then bettered it with a near-perfect 98.75 on her final run with the gold already in hand. With members of her family in the stands, including her South Korean grandmother, Kim put on a show that delivered on her considerable pre-Olympic hype. Liu Jiayu took silver with an 89.75 to become the first Chinese snowboarder to medal at the Olympics. American Arielle Gold, who pondered retirement last summer, edged teammate and three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark for bronze.
Three events into the Olympic speedskating competition and the Americans remain off the podium. The latest setback came Monday night when world champion Heather Bergsma finished eighth in the 1,500 meters. Brittany Bowe had the highest U.S. finish of fifth, while Mia Manganello was 22nd out of 26 skaters. Their results so far recall four years ago in Sochi when the U.S. team was blanked, a stunning result for a sport that has earned America’s most Winter Olympic medals. Bergsma faded badly on her last lap, with her time going up three seconds from her previous lap. “It was just a hard last lap,” she said in a flat voice. “It wasn’t my best race, so I can’t be super happy about it.” Bergs-ma’s final time of 1 minute, 56.74 seconds was well off her personal best of 1:50.85, also the current world mark she set two years ago. She finished 2.39 seconds behind gold medalist Ireen Wust of the Netherlands. If there was a bright spot at all, it was Bowe. She had the best result since Sochi, where no one finished higher than seventh individually. Bowe has lost valuable training time since suffering a concussion in July 2016 after colliding with a teammate during practice. The recovery limited her to one World Cup event before the Olympics. Bowe’s time of 1:55.54 had her in first place before she dropped to third with two pairs remaining. She got bumped off the podium by two Dutch skaters and another from Japan. Bowe’s personal best is 1:51.31.
First doping case
The first doping case of the Pyeongchang Olympics has been announced. Officials say Japanese short-track speedskater Kei Saito has tested positive for acetalozamide, a diuretic that is also a masking agent that can disguise the use of other banned substances. The Court of Arbitration for Sport says Saito “accepted on a voluntary basis to be provisionally suspended and to leave the Olympic Village.” Saito did not race in any event before the test result from a pre-competition sample was confirmed. His official blog says he’s 21 and was competing in his first Olympics. The Court of Arbitration for Sport says its judging panel handling Olympic doping cases will issue a final verdict after the games are over. The highest court in world sports handles the prosecution of doping cases, and the International Olympic Committee is responsible for testing athletes.
Canadian earns gold
Mikael Kingsbury kept trying to convince himself the Olympics were just another event. That his legacy as one of the greatest moguls skiers ever didn’t necessarily rely on his performance in Pyeongchang. Then the 25-year-old Canadian woke up Monday morning with jitters in his stomach. The kind that don’t go away. Not even for a six-time world champion. “I’ve never been nervous like that in my life,” Kingsbury said, adding he put so much pressure on himself “it was crazy.” Kingsbury stomped his way to the top of the podium in the men’s finals Monday night, posting a score of 86.63 during his final run, the best of any in the three elimination rounds. He let loose after crossing the finish line, pumping his fist wildly. Four years ago, a slight wobble in the finals allowed good friend Alex Bilodeau to slip by him for the gold. Matt Graham of Australia took silver and Daichi Hara of Japan earned bronze, each picking up the first medal of the games for their countries. Hara’s bronze was the first medal by an Asian athlete in moguls, which became a permanent Olympic event in 1992.
Russians take bronze
A team of Russian athletes have won the bronze medal in mixed doubles curling after beating Norway 8-4 and recovering from a rare tumble on the ice. The Russians’ victory earlier today gives them the distinction of nabbing the first Olympic medal in mixed doubles curling. The event is making its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang. The most dramatic moment came in the third round. Russia’s Anastasia Bryzgalova was strategizing with her teammate Aleksandr Krushelnitckii when she suddenly seemed to lose her footing. She recovered but seconds later, her foot went flying out from under her. She promptly landed on her backside. It is very rare for a curler to fall in professional curling. Canada will face off against Switzerland later today in the mixed doubles gold medal match.
Another 8-0 loss
The Korean women’s hockey team is going through some growing pains. Sweden scored four goals in the first period and routed Korea 8-0 on Monday night in a preliminary round game that did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm for the historic team. The North Korean cheerleaders were back as part of a loud arena chanting, cheering and singing in support of the first team to feature both South Korean and North Korean players in an Olympics. They led the wave in the first intermission and roared as the Koreans tried to score on the power play in the second period. The Koreans more than doubled their shot attempts from their opening 8-0 loss to Switzerland with 19. Pernilla Winberg had two goals for Sweden.
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