Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Day 2 Winners and Losers
The spectacle of the opening ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Games was bright, shiny and memorable, but those theatrics had nothing on 17-year-old American snowboarder Red Gerard.
While the Winter Olympics are just in their beginning stages, Gerard authored a dramatic gold-medal performance that will be difficult to overtake in the coming days, giving Team USA its first 2018 Olympic medal.
After two runs of the slopestyle event, Gerard was at the bottom of the pack in last place. But, unfazed, he put together a spectacular, clean run on his third and final trip down the obstacle-laden mountain and picked up a score of 87.16.
Gerard held off Canadians Max Parrot and Mark McMorris, who finished second and third, respectively.
While Gerard provided the highlight, American figure skater Bradie Tennell was impressive in the ladies' short program of the team event, helping the the Americans land a spot in the finals.
She was clean in all of her jumps and landings, and scored a 68.94 in her opening performance, which was good for fifth. Evgenia Medvedeva is in first place after a dazzling skate that earned her a record score of 81.06
And at the end of the night, Team USA's Chris Mazdzer became the first American to ever medal in men's singles luge. He took the silver medal, thanks in large part to a shocking final run from Germany's Felix Loch. As a result, Day 3 in Pyeongchang was much better for the Americans than Day 2 was.
Read on for the rest of the day's biggest winners and losers.
Winner: Red Gerard Comes from Back of Pack to Win Gold for US in Slopestyle
After two runs in the men's slopestyle, American Red Gerard was struggling and found himself in last place.
But this event is the best of three runs, and the 17-year-old came through in his final attempt.
Gerard demonstrated his creativity, athleticism and tremendous courage as he put together the performance of his life with a score of 87.16. He took over the top spot but had to wait for his score to hold up as four more competitors took to the course.
One of them, Canadian Mark McMorris—the 2014 bronze medalist in slopestyle—could not keep his feet on a 1620 and finished in third with his second-run 85.20. Fellow Canadian Max Parrot was the last to go, and his final-run 86.00 fell short of Gerard, earning the silver medal.
Loser: Men's Downhill Competition
While figure skating enthusiasts and ice hockey supporters can make a strong argument, downhill skiing may be the signature event of the Winter Olympics.
The final of the men's downhill race was scheduled to be held Saturday, but officials decided to postpone the event because of strong winds at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
It was reported that wind speed reached as high as 40 to 45 miles per hour. Because the weather is not expected to change any time soon, the downhill event has been rescheduled for February 14.
Bryce Bennett is the best of the American downhill skiers, and he will be joined by three other teammates. Beat Feuz of Switzerland is the favorite in the event, followed by Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway and Max Franz of Austria.
Winner: Bradie Tennell Opens with Impressive Run in Ladies' Short Program
American Bradie Tennell of Carpentersville, Illinois, was a relative unknown in figure skating until she made the American Olympic team with an eye-opening performance in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Performing well in the trials and then making it happen in the Olympics are two different things. However, the size and the gravity of the Games did not intimidate Tennell in her opening skate of the team event.
She skated flawlessly, accomplished all of her jumps and received a score of 68.94, moving her into fifth place in the ladies' short program.
She was ecstatic afterwards, telling NBC's Andrea Joyce, "I just kind of went on autopilot and did what I trained to do. I was elated and so excited by my performance."
Evgenia Medvedeva, skating as an Olympic athlete from Russia, put on a dazzling display during her short program. She recorded a score of 81.06 to move into first place, beating out Carolina Kostner of Italy (75.10), Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada (71.38) and Satoko Miyahara of Japan (68.95).
Loser: Team USA Falls Short in Mixed Curling
Matt and Becca Hamilton of the United States suffered a 7-5 loss to Finland at the Gangneung Curling Centre in the mixed curling event.
Team USA had been eliminated from the competition when it lost an earlier match to China.
The match against Finland went back and forth, with the Finnish team winning the first and fourth games, while the Hamilton siblings won the second and third games for the United States.
Finland edged the United States in the fifth game and clinched the match with a victory in the seventh after the Americans won the sixth.
The U.S. ended the round robin with a disappointing 2-5 record.
Winner: Sven Kramer...Per Usual
For more than a decade, Sven Kramer of the Netherlands has dominated the world of long-distance speed skating.
Between the Winter Olympics, the World Allround Championships, the World Single Distance Championships and the European Championships, Kramer entered Pyeongchang with 39 gold, five silver and five bronze medals in his career.
Without question, the 5,000m has been his signature event. He took silver in Turin in 2006 as a 19-year-old, and it has been all gold since then. He set an Olympic record when he won gold in Vancouver in 2010, finishing in a time of 6:14.60. Four years later, he broke the Olympic record again with a time of 6:10.76 in Sochi.
Kramer just keeps getting better with age. He broke the record yet again Sunday, winning gold in the 5,000m with a time of 6:09.76.
However, his fellow countrymen weren't as close to him as they were four years ago. This was one of the events in which the Netherlands swept gold, silver and bronze in Sochi, but not this time. 2014 silver-medalist Jan Blokhuijsen finished in seventh place, several seconds behind Canada's Ted-Jan Bloemen and Norway's Sverre Lunde Pedersen for silver and bronze, respectively.
Loser: Favorites in the Men's 10km Sprint Biathlon
France's Martin Fourcade was regarded as the heavy favorite to win the men's 10km sprint biathlon. He won two golds and a silver in Sochi, and there was talk of him medaling in all five men's biathlon events this year.
He could have become the Michael Phelps of the Winter Olympics.
However, in the first of those five events, Fourcade missed three of five targets during the prone-shooting portion of the 10km sprint. He was able to make up most of the time lost from those penalties with his skiing, but he still finished in eighth place, more than 22 seconds shy of the gold.
If not Fourcade, the assumption was that Norway's Johannes Thingnes Boe would take this event. But like Fourcade, he had a nightmare of a time with the shooting. He missed three prone targets and one standing, finishing in a highly disappointing 31st place.
Instead, it was Germany's Arnd Peiffer, Czech Republic's Michal Krcmar and Italy's Dominik Windisch earning gold, silver and bronze, respectively.
Winner: Norway in Men's 30km Skiathlon
Norway always fares quite well at the Winter Olympics, and cross-country skiing is where it tends to pad its medal count. The Norwegians have won at least eight medals in cross-country skiing in six of the last seven Games, including 11 in Sochi.
But the one cross-country skiing event that had eluded Norway over the past two decades was the men's 30km.
Martin Johnsrud Sundby took bronze four years ago. Frode Estil earned a silver in 2006. But its most recent gold medal in this event was in 1994. (Norway won 19 Olympic gold medals in cross-country skiing from 1998-2014.) '94 was also the last time Norway had multiple medalists in the 30km.
Simen Hegstad Krueger earned the gold medal with a time of one hour, 16 minutes and 20 seconds. Sundby finished eight seconds behind him for the silver medal. And country-mate Hans Christer Holund was less than two seconds behind Sundby to win the bronze and finish off the sweep.
With this trio, Norway has already accumulated eight medals in Pyeongchang.
Loser: Felix Loch's Final Run
Forgive the obvious pun, but Germany's Felix Loch felt like one of the biggest locks to win gold.
In both 2010 and 2014, Loch won gold in the men's singles luge, pacing Germany to six out of a possible seven gold medals in the last two Games. He had a substantial lead heading into his fourth and final run. In one of the early splits, he was more than two-tenths of a second ahead of the pace needed to win gold.
All he had to do was avoid a disaster.
Unfortunately for him, the ninth turn proved to be his downfall. Loch didn't fall off his sled or anything, but he lost control just enough to end up with a final run that ranked 19th among the 20 competitors. As a result, he finished with a cumulative time that ranked fifth for one of the most shocking absences from the podium that we'll witness in the 2018 Games.
Meanwhile, Team USA's Chris Mazdzer broke the eternal drought, becoming the first American to ever medal in the men's singles luge. Mazdzer had the fastest third run among all lugers and ended up with a silver medal, finishing just 0.026 seconds behind gold medalist David Gleirscher of Austria.
Winner: Perrine Laffont, France
Early on in the ladies' moguls in freestyle skiing, it looked like it was going to be a North American showdown. Four of the top scores in the qualification rounds belonged to Team USA, while two others went to Team Canada.
In the first finals—where the pool of 20 skiers is reduced to 12—it was once again North America on top. Canada's Justine Dufour-Lapointe had the highest score of the round (79.50), followed in second and third place by USA's Jaelin Kauf (78.73) and Keaton McCargo (76.88). Canada and USA were responsible for six of the 12 skiers in the second leg of the finals.
But as the field was trimmed from 12 to six, Team USA vanished with three subpar scores. Only two Canadiens survived to the last run, including Andi Naude, who posted the highest score (78.78) of the second set of finals.
When it mattered most, though, France's Perrine Laffont had the best run, edging out Dufour-Lapointe by a margin of 78.65 to 78.56 for the gold medal. Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan took the bronze with what was easily her best run of the night.