Russian Zagitova Wins Figure Skating Gold, Edges Medvedeva
The women’s free skate was billed to be a battle of the Russians and it lived up to the hype.
Alina Zagitova capped her meteoric rise with Olympic women’s figure skating gold, topping fellow Russian skater Evgenia Medvedeva Friday. The 15-year-old Zagitova led Medvedeva by 1.31 points after the short program and delivered a stunning free skate. Medvedeva matched her free skate -- both scored exactly 156.65 -- but that wasn't enough to catch up.
This is not the first time Zagitova has edged Medvedeva — Medvedeva had not lost a competition in more than two years before Zagitova beat her at this year’s European Championships.
Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond won bronze.
The three American figure skaters — Karen Chen, Bradie Tennell and Mirai Nagasu — all stumbled at various points in their free skates. Tennell finished ninth, Nagasu 10th and Chen 11th.
The 1000-meter sprint was Shani Davis’ event. He won gold medals in the event in 2006 and 2010. His world record time of 1:06.42, set in 2009, still stands.
But it’s been nearly a decade since Davis, one of America’s greatest speedskaters ever, turned in those record-setting performances, and the 35-year-old didn’t manage to find one last magical performance at the Pyeongchang Games.
The race was won by Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands, the gold medalist in the 1,500 meters last week and the 2017 world champion over 1,000 meters. He was followed by Norway’s Havard Lorentzen, who won gold in the 500 meters, and South Korea’s Kim Tae-Yun.
Davis finished seventh, .83 seconds slower than Nuis. And he wasn’t the fastest American in the race, either. Joey Mantia, who edged out Davis in the Olympic qualifying race in January, just missed out on the podium, coming in fourth place.
Sweden captured the gold medal in the men’s 4x7.5-kilometer relay in front of their king, Carl XVI Gustaf, to close out the biathlon competition at the Pyeongchang Games. It’s Sweden’s first-ever gold medal in the event. Biathlon powerhouse Norway finished in second for the silver medal. The Germans won bronze, marking the seventh time they have medaled in this event in the last eight Olympics.
That kept France’s Martin Fourcade from claiming his fourth biathlon gold medal in Pyeongchang. The team led by Fourcade finished in fifth place.
But Fourcade has already established himself in Pyeongchang as France’s most successful Olympian ever.
When he anchored the mixed biathlon relay team to a come-from-behind victory on Tuesday, he became only the second athlete from France to win three gold medals at a single Winter Games. His five gold medals overall — the mixed relay, a photo finish in the 15-kilometer mass start and the 12.5-kilometer pursuit, plus gold in the individual and pursuit events in 2014 — are the most ever by a Frenchman.
After Tuesday’s win, according to Reuters, he sent a message to French skier Mathieu Faivre, who was sent home by the French Alpine team for saying he did not care about the medals won by his teammates.
“I wanted this team medal, it’s such a different emotion from an individual medal,” he told French television. “This is an individual sport, and to win as a team is something beautiful, even if everyone cannot participate.”
There will be a new Olympic gold medalist in men’s hockey, either the Russians or Germany, after they booked their tickets to the final by beating the Czech Republic and Canada, respectively.
While the Russians were expected to make the finals, the Germans’ 4-3 win over powerhouse Canada was a major upset. But it’s not too surprising that there’s an upset in these Olympics, the first being played without NHL players since they were allowed to participate in 1998.
That year, superstar goaltender Dominik Hasek led the Czech Republic to gold. Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros, Chris Pronger and Sidney Crosby helped Canada to win gold in three of the last four Olympics. Teemu Selanne led Finland to medals in three consecutive Olympics.
The Russians have managed a silver in 1998, a bronze in 2002 and nothing since, while Germany hasn’t medaled since it got bronze in 1976.
Now Russia — playing as the Olympic Athletes from Russia because Russia is not allowed to compete as a team due to a doping scandal — gets a shot at its first gold since it played as the post-Soviet Unified Team in 1992. No matter what happens, Germans will have its best men’s hockey medal ever.
Canada Takes Gold and Silver in Women's Ski Cross Final
Even without its Sochi star, Canada dominated the women’s ski cross final, with Kelsey Serwa winning gold and Brittany Phelan taking silver.
Three-time Olympian Fanny Smith of Switzerland edged out Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund to earn bronze. Smith finished in the top 10 in the last two Games.
Serwa, who won silver in Sochi, faced a major setback in December 2016 when she damaged cartilage in her knee in a training accident, cutting her season short. She came back for the 2017-18 season with a vengeance, placing third at the World Cup season opener in Val Thorens, France.
Canadian Marielle Thompson failed to make it to the quarterfinal after an early crash. Thompson won gold in the event in Sochi, but in October she ruptured her ACL and MCL ligaments in a training accident. Her Pyeongchang appearance came only four months after having her knee surgically repaired — her first serious runs since the accident were just days before the ski cross final.
No Americans contended for a medal.