Day 15 of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was one of several firsts, but the name on everyone’s lips for all the right reasons was that of Ester Ledecka.
The 22-year-old made history on Saturday as she became the first athlete to win gold in skiing and snowboarding disciplines, adding to her Super-G gold in alpine skiing by clinching the snowboarding parallel giant slalom.
“It was a great day, I enjoyed every run and I’m very happy to be here and stand on the highest place,” said Ledecka, who is looking forward to a rest after her extraordinary exploits. “Tomorrow is the finish of the Olympics, right? I was here many days; I’m really looking forward to getting home.”
Russia’s hopes of flying flag take another hit
A decision regarding whether the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) will be allowed to fly their flag during the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Games is set to go down to the wire following the latest doping case against the team.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced on Saturday that bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva had tested positive for a banned substance, disqualifying her and teammate Anastasia Kocherzhova from the two-women bobsleigh event.
“Everyone is trying to understand what caused the violation,” Russian news agency TASS quoted coach Sergey Zhurkin as saying. “It is very strange. Everyone is shocked.”
USA curl their way to glory
The aforementioned Ledecka, wasn’t the only celebrate a first on Day 15 on the Pyeongchang Games as the United States claimed their first-ever Olympic men’s curling title.
Down by two stones heading into the final end, the US team, skippered by John Shuster, scored five to crush Sweden 10-7 amidst chants of “USA! USA!”
“I think during the entire (eighth) end we could feel it building,” said Shuster. “Their margin for error was incredibly small. I can’t tell you how un-nervous I was.”
Final day fireworks?
As well as the closing ceremony, there are four remaining medals events on Sunday. The four-man bob, the women’s curling final and the men’s ice hockey final between Germany and the Russians will all be closely watched.
Elsewhere, Norway’s Marit Bjoergen goes for a record-equalling eighth Winter Games career gold in the women’s cross-country 30km mass start, an event which could have a big impact on the final medals table.
As it happened!
15:35 – The final buzzer sounds and Canada have beaten the Czech Republic 6-4 to win the bronze medal in men’s ice hockey. That wraps up the penultimate day at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.
14:49 – In the bronze-medal match, neither team scored in the second frame. Early in the third, the score remains Canada 3 – Czech Republic 1.
14:15 – South Korea’s Lee Seung-Hoon has won the inaugural men’s speedskating mass start race at the Winter Olympics. His gold was greeted with wild delight by home fans inside the Gangneung Oval. Belgium’s Bart Swings
13:58 – From the “by the way” file, Canada lead the Czech Republic 3-1 after 20 minutes of play in the bronze-medal game of the men’s ice hockey tournament.
13:57- And it’s just about time for the final of the men’s speedskating mass start…
13:39 – Japan’s Nana Takagi wins the gold medal in the women’s speedskating mass start, ahead of local favorite Kum Bo-Reum of South Korea, who took silver, and bronze medalist Irene Shouten. Pechstein finished well back in 13th place.
13:32 – And the final of the women’s speedskating mass start is underway! Can Claudia Pechstein finish among the medals?
13:17 – The Canadian and Czech men are back on the ice a day after losing to Germany and the OAR team in their respective semifinals on Friday. It’s not what either team, particularly the defending gold medalists, Canada, was aiming for. However, taking home a bronze Olympic medal would be better than going home completely empty handed.
12:27 – And it seems the ageless Claudia Pechstein has picked up enough points to make it through to the final! The five-time Olympic gold medalist finished fourth in the second semifinal, with five points.
12:13 – It’s the semifinal of the women’s speedskating mass start, featuring Germany’s Claudia Pechstein. Could this be her final Olympic event? She’s just turned 46, but she says she plans to be in Beijing in four years’ time.
10:11 – The Americans have won their first-ever gold medal in men’s curling, beating Sweden 10-7 in the final.
09:55 – The German Olympic Sports Confederation has just announced that former NHL defenseman Christian Ehrhoff will carry the flag for Germany at Sunday’s closing ceremony. Ehrhoff is part of the German men’s ice hockey team that is to face the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) team in Sunday’s gold-medal match.
08:10 – Finland’s Iivo Niskanen has won the gold medal in the men’s cross-country skiing 50km mass start. Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) Alexander Bolshunov won silver, 18.7 seconds behind Niskanen, followed by his OAR teammate, Andrey Larkov, who took bronze. This is Finland’s first Olympic gold in the event in 58 years!
07:59 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has found Nadezhda Sergeeva guilty of doping, using the banned substance Trimetazidine. This means the Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) team of Sergeeva and Anastasia Kocherzhova have been disqualified from the two-women bobsleigh event in Pyeongchang – in which they had finished 12th.
“The athlete has accepted a provisional suspension beyond the period of the Games and reserved her ‘rights to seek the elimination or reduction of the ineligibility period’ following the conclusion of the Games,” the CAS said a statement posted on its website on Saturday.
07:17 – Now it’s Nevin Galmarini’s turn to take his place atop the podium. But the biggest cheer preceeded him, when Lee Sangho received his version of Soohorang – the white tiger toy the athletes are presented with. The medals will come later and Galmarini probably won’t care too much about the chants of ‘Lee Sangho, Lee Sangho’ that were all that could be heard during his big moment.
07:10 – Ester Ledecka jumps on to the top of the podium for the second time in these games to collect her cuddly toy alongside the Germans who came second and third. What a week she’s had.
07:08 – Back over to the cross country, where they are a little over the halfway mark. Finland’s Iivo Niskanen is out in front for now, but world champion Alex Harvey, of Canada, lurks ominously in fourth.
07:00 – GOLD FOR SWITZERLAND! Nevin Galmarini lies on the snow with his arms open wide after beating home favorite Lee Sangho to the gold. The Swiss snowboarder was always in control there, with Sangho forced to take riskier options after a sluggish start.
06:57 – No rest in this event. We’re straight in to the men’s bronze medal match and Zan Kosir of Slovenia takes the gong after Sylvain Dufour’s early mistake proved fatal. The home crowd are just getting warmed up for their man now…
06:55 – Just a reminder, this was the one that Ledecka was expected to do well in, it was the other gold that was the big schock. That’s not to denigrate an exceptional achievement though. It never looked in doubt in this one. The big question now is: will she wear her visor to the press conference again?
06:50 – GOLD FOR CZECH REPUBLIC! Ledecka’s done it. She got off ahead of Jörg and just kept the German at bay to win by almost half a second. She’s not only the first person to win medals in snowboarding and skiing in the same Olympics, she’s won gold in both. Brilliant stuff.
06:46 – Bronze for Germany! Ramona Hofmeister gets off to a stunning start, putting pressure on her opponent. As she did in the semifinal, Alena Zavarzina took one too many risks and fell, leaving a Hoffman to cruise home and start the celebrations. Now to the big one…
06:44 – Wow. What a race! To the delight of the Pyeongchang crowd, Lee Sangho is in the final. That one was nip and tuck the whole way, both making mistakes at the same time and both dipping for the line at the same time but it was the South Korean who edged it. By one hundreth of a second. Incredible.
06:39 – Nevin Galmarini is the first man to book his place in the final. Sylvain Dufour will have to settle for a bronze medal match.
06:37 – This time the German snowboarder benefits from an early error. Selina Jörg is allowed to cruise down the whole course after her opponent makes an absolute mess of the course early. Joerg was able to put her hands on her helmet in joy very early on, with Alena Zavarzina gone. The OAR athlete will face Ramona Hofmeister for bronze and Joerg will try to spoil Ledecka’s efforts to be the first to win a Winter Olympics ski/snowboard double.
06:33 – Ledecka makes the final! The Czech cruises to a win in an outfit that, I think, is supposed to bring to mind a robot or machine or some sort. Whatever it is, she dominated Hofmeister, who took a gate very wide very early, tried desperately to recover and ended up flat on her face.
06:28 – The men’s semifinal lineup will be: Sylvain Dufour (France) vs. Nevin Galmarini (Switzerland) and Zan Kosir (Solvenia) vs. Sang ho Lee (South Korea)
06:25 – There will be no German medal in the men’s snowboarding though. Stefan Baumeister is off the pace from the start and continues to make mistakes. He’s out at the quarterfinal stage.
06:19 – There will be a German medal in the women’s section of the parallel giant slalom. Selina Jörg follows Hofmeister in to the semifinals. Joerg will face Alena Zavarzina, an Olympic Athlete from Russia, will Hofmeister will take on Ledecka. Even if both Germans lose, they’ll meet in the bronze medal race.
06:11 – Ramona Hofmeister provides more good news for the Germans, winning her quarterfinal in a fetching leopardskin scarf. Possibly even a snood, it’s hard to tell. Ester Ledecka’s double dream is still alive, she’s through too.
06:09 – The men’s heats of the parallel giant slalom are done, with Germany’s sole competitor, Stefan Baumeister, safely through to the quarterfinals.
06:03 – They’ve set off in the cross.country. Watching them over the flat, it’s hard to escape the thought that these guys must do a lot of work on the cross trainer at the gym.
05:54 – The women’s snowboarding heats are done and Ester Ledecka will face Austria’s Daniela Ulbing in the quarterfinals. German are represented by Ramona Theresia Hofmeister and Selina Joerg.
05:48 – There’s a fair few of men’s heats to get through in the snowboarding, so a bit of time to mention the next event to start, the men’s 50km mass start cross country skiing. Though it begins in about 10 minutes, this is quite the trek so it’ll likely take about an hour and 45 minutes. Canada’s Alex Harvey is the world champion and might be expected to extend his country’s record medal haul. But he’ll be challenged by a pair of Norwegians – Hans Christer Holund and Martin Johnsrud Sundby – who’ll be keen to extend their country’s lead on the medal table.
05:39 – And Ester Ledecka is in the next round, beating Switzerland’s Patrizia Kummer comfortably in her heat. Even for the Winter Olympics, this one’s a pretty graceful and picturesque event.
05:30 – The heats in the women’s parallel slalom are just getting underway, and there’s one woman to watch for in the final.
05:12 – After a frantic few hours we have a brief pause before the parallel giant slalom events for both men and women. There will be a series of heats before quarterfinals, semifinals and then bronze and gold medal runs. All of which should take a shade over an hour. It’ll begin in about 20 minutes.
05:05 – The bobsleigh heats are over for the day now and Germany are in a strong position. Francesco Friedrich’s crew lead their fellow Germans, piloted by Nico Walther by 0.15 seconds. They are tied with one of the Swiss teams. The final German outfit are a little further back in sixth, but still just 0.25 seconds behind. There will be two more runs on Sunday.
04:45 – GOLD FOR SWITZERLAND! After a tight start, Austria’s Marco Schwarz loses his way, leaving Daniel Yule to cruise home. Switzerland are the first ever winners of the Alpine Skiiing Team event.
04:44 – The Swiss lead! Wendy Holdener holds ‘er nerve (sorry) to put them 2-1 up in a tight race. If the Swiss win the next one, gold is theirs.
04:41 – Switzerland level through Ramon Zenhaeusern.
04:39 – First blood to Austria. Katharina Liensberger takes the point.
04:38 – Here we go. Austria vs. Switzerland for the first ever Alpine Skiing Team gold.
04:36 – Brilliant from Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen, who holds his nerve to take the point, make up the time with 0.12 seconds to spare and secure a bronze for Norway.
04:35 – The Norwegian skier makes a big mistake early on and can’t recover. France 2-1 up, Norway need a win and to make up a decent wedge of time to get bronze.
04:33 – This one is even tighter. Norway’s Sebastian Foss Seolvevaag levels things up and there’s just over a tenth of a second between the teams.
04:30 – Tessa Worley puts France 1-0 up. Tha one was tight all the way but she just kept edging slightly further ahead. The gap was 0.19 seconds.
04:23 – We’ll have a suitably Alpine final – Austria vs. Switzerland – after the Swiss also sealed a 3-1 win. But first it’ll be France vs. Norway for bronze.
04:18 – Austria have made it through to the gold medal match with a 3-1 win, meaning Norway will battle for bronze.
04:11 – So the semifinals will be: Austria vs. Norway and France vs. Switzerland.
04:10 – Linus Strasser wins the point but can’t quite make up enough lost ground and Germany lose out by 0.16 seconds.
04:08: – Lena Dürr is pipped to the line. 2-1 to the Swiss, Germany need to win the last race to stay alive.
04:06 – Switzerland equalize and make back some of that ground.
04:05: – Germany’s Marina Wallner takes the first point, with a huge lead of over 2 seconds. Big advantage Germany.
04:03 – Back to the skiing for Germany vs. Switzerland, the last of the quarterfinals.
03:53 – The four-man bobsleigh heats are still going on and Germany currently occupy first and second positions, through the crews of Francesco Friedrich and Nico Walther respectively. The third German team is down in seventh but it’s looking pretty good in one of the country’s strongest events.
03:50 – We’re in to the quarterfinals of the Alpine Team Event, it’s rapid stuff. Germany are taking on Switzerland in the last of them.
03:41 – Linus Strasser is Germany’s final man and he flies down the course to win his race and make up enough ground on his Slovakian rival to take Germany through to the last eight. A great comeback.
03:37 – Germany go 2-0 down after the first two and in big danger of exiting at the first hurdle but they get one back and it’s down to the last skier…
03:31 – The German team face Slovakia next up. Italy, Norway, USA, Sweden and Austria have already booked quarterfinal spots.
03:30 – While that breathless final was ending, Alpine Team Skiing was making its Olympic debut. The event sees two male and two female skiers in a knockout format on the slalom course. The first woman goes head-to-head against the other team’s first woman, with the winner of the race getting a point. This is then repeated for each member of the team and the most points win. If it’s a tie, the fastest combined team time wins. Got it?
03:25 – That’s Canada’s 28th medal of the games, a record for them. It’s their 11th gold. Morgan’s medal for Great Britain means the’ve also beaten their record Winter Olympics haul with 5 in Pyeongchang.
03:22 – Which means… GOLD FOR CANADA! Sebastien Toutant’s first two runs were excellent and his combined score of 174.25 was enough to hold of Kyle Mack (USA) and Great Britain’s Billy Morgan, who take silver and bronze respectively.
03:21 – Max Parrot is the only man who can disturb the top three but he fails to land it!
03:17 – Kyle Mack fails too. Of course, the competitiors are going for the big points but that’s four in a row now. By my calculations, he’s guarenteed a medal though.
03:15 – Torgeir Bregrem becomes the third man in a row to fail and – after such a promising start, he’s gone. It’s basically down to Kyle Mack and Max Parrot now, only they can deny Sebastien Toutant.
03:11 – Chris Corning has to go for a big score to get in a medal spot. He does, but fails to land it. Another one bites the dust.
03:10 – Sebastien Toutant just fails to keep his feet at the last so doesn’t change his score. But he still has the lead.
03:06 – Billy Morgan lands a very tricky jump including a double grab and rewards himself with a huge whoop before miming cracking a beer at the bottom of the slope. The judges vindicate his joy, awarding him an 85.50 that puts the Brit in the bronze medal spot.
02:57 – That’s the end of run 2, just one left. Sebastien Toutant still leads from Kyle Mack, with his US colleague Chris Corning in 3rd. Realistically there’s probably six men who can get a medal here – the top three plus Torgeir Bregrem (Norway), Billy Morgan (Great Britain) and Max Parrot (Canada). Those last three have a shot because one of their first two runs scored somewhere in the 80s.
02:52 – Team USA’s Kyle Mack has just nailed a Bloody Dracula. While it sounds like a dreadful 80s B Movie, it’s apparently what the move where you grab the back of the board with both hands is called. And it’s put him in second.
02:47 – Mark McMorris, another Candian and multiple X Games winner, has just made a mess of his effort for the second time running. He’s out of contention and will be furious at failing to nail either run.
02:44 – Sebastian Toutant, of Canada, has put himself in a very strong position here with an 89.50 – the best run of the final so far – to add to his 84.75, that’s 174.25 in total. That’ll prove a difficult mark to beat. Torgeir Bergrem, who led after run 1, will need something special in the third run, his 42.50 just now won’t do him any good.
02:31 – Quick update on the four-man bobsleigh. Francesco Friedrich’s Germany crew still lead from South Korea. The other two German sleds stay in 3rd and 6th. There will be one more heat today.
02:28 – There’s an outbreak of Gangnam Style in the snowboard crowd. The sooner they get back out there for the second run the better.
02:22 – Bergrem holds on to his lead after the first run. There are two more runs to come for each of the 12 snowboarders and the best combined score from two of the three runs wins. Can Norway extend their lead in the medal table early on?
02:15 – German crews sit in positions 1, 3 and 6 with 20 of 29 having completed their first bobsleigh runs. Norway’s Torgeir Bergrem has just put down the first real marker of the snowboard big air final, with a 88.50. That might be enough to be in medal contention, but a long way to go yet.
02:00 – The first of three runs in the final men’s big air snowboarding is about to begin. Whoever wins here will be the first man ever to claim big air gold, it’s the event’s Winter Olympic debut. Red Gerard, the 17-year-old American who won slopestyle gold (see below) is up first.
01:50 – Some mixed news for the Germans after their first runs. First the good; the second four down, piloted by Francesco Friedrich, are leading the way after setting a track record of 48.54 seconds. The last German sled, piloted by Nico Walther and one of the favorites had a steady run and sit in third behind their teammates and the South Koreans. But the first Germans down were the most fancied and Johannes Lochner’s men were a little shaky, clipping a corner early and currently down in sixth. No harm done really though, at this stage it’s really about recording a time and improving as the four heats progress.
01:35: – It’s over to the four-man bobsleigh first, for the first of two heats over the next few hours. The Germans are historically strong in this event, having won gold four times in a row between 1994 and 2006 and taken silver in 2010. The country’s three teams will go off sixth, seventh and eighth.
01:30 – Hello again and welcome to the penultimate day of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics! After Germany’s stunning upset win over Canada in the men’s ice hockey and a 15-year-old restoring some Russian pride yesterday, we’re hoping for more of the same today. The start of the day will mainly be about the Alpine Team Event knockout clashes, the four-man bobsleigh heats and all sorts of snowboarding before we hit a seam of medals in a few hours.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS AT THE WINTER GAMES
Restoring Russian pride
Alina Zagitova stunned her training partner, teammate and world No. 1 Evgenia Medvedeva to take gold in the ladies’ singles figure skating. A record score from the 15-year-old in the short program proved the difference as both scored 156.65 in the free skate. The result meant a first gold for the Olympic Athletes from Russia team and could herald the start of a skating rivalry for the ages.