Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Day 4 Winners and Losers
Day 4 of the 2018 Pyeongchang Games brought the first double-podium finish for the United States in this Winter Olympics, and the most recognizable U.S. athlete showed exactly why he's a gold-medal favorite.
Chloe Kim and Arielle Gold shared the platform after the ladies' halfpipe competition, and Shaun White threw down two jaw-dropping runs during qualifying on the men's side, giving Team USA one heck of a start to the day.
By the end of the night, though, it was all about Europe.
With eight medal events occurring on Day 4, there were a total of 24 medals at stake. European countries claimed 14 of them. Netherlands led the way with two in speedskating and one in short-track speedskating, but France, Germany, Italy and Norway each earned two medals. And that total of 14 doesn't even include the three bronze medals won by the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
Read on for the rest of Day 4's biggest winners and losers to get caught up on a full slate of cross-country skiing, curling, speedskating and more.
Winner: OAR Mixed Doubles Curling
Anastasia Bryzgalova and Alexander Krushelnitskiy, the Olympic Athletes from Russia in mixed doubles curling, lost a 5-4 edge late in the semifinals against Switzerland and fell 7-5.
But they're still leaving Pyeongchang with a medal.
The husband and wife duo never trailed in the battle for bronze against Norway, earning the first-ever medal in this new event. OAR knocked off Norway 8-4, stealing a point in both the seventh and eighth ends to secure the win.
Although it can only watch Switzerland and Canada vie for the gold medal Tuesday, the OAR team can be content with its finish.
Loser: Kei Saito, Japan
The excitement of the Winter Olympics has turned sour for speedskater Kei Saito.
According to Martin Rogers of USA Today, Japanese agency Kyodo News reported Saito would be absent from the short-track program after testing positive for a banned substance. He is the first athlete to test positive at the 2018 Games.
Joshua Hoyos of ABC News later shared confirmation of the report. The Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport revealed the banned substance was acatelozamide, a masking agent.
Saito was a member of Japan's 5,000-meter relay team.
Winners: 3 Generations of USA Snowboarders
Five-, two- and first-time U.S. Olympians rode into the halfpipe, and two left with medals. The experience and youth of the United States' women's team showed up during the final.
Following a dominant day in qualifying, Chloe Kim remained atop the field with a 93.75 on her opening run. The 17-year-old, still tweeting while competing, executed back-to-back 1080s on her glory run to score a 98.25, claiming gold in her Olympic debut.
The competition ended on a sweet note for Arielle Gold, 21, who earned redemption with a bronze after an injury during a training run at the 2014 Sochi Games prevented her from competing.
And 34-year-old Kelly Clark, a three-time medalist, was fourth in her fifth and potentially final Olympics. Plus, her final run was good enough to challenge Gold for bronze.
Clark set the standards in the sport. Gold has continued that tradition with three X Games medals. Kim has become a superstar. Maddie Mastro, 17, also represented the U.S. in the final.
The well-rounded halfpipe team showed out in Pyeongchang.
Loser: Downhill Specialists in Super Combined
Adverse weather has affected several outdoor events, especially Alpine skiing. The discipline finally began Monday following delays in two events, but winds still altered the men's combined.
Due to high winds, organizers decided to lower the start line of both courses. However, the way the slalom course was shortened favored the technicians over downhill specialists.
That put some skiers, such as Germany's Thomas Dressen and Norway's Kjetil Jansrud, at a disadvantage. Those two recorded the Nos. 1 and 4 downhill times, respectively, in their favored portion but could've gained a little extra time with a longer course.
Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal was not happy with the conditions of the downhill course, saying the "wind has polished everything a little bit," per Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times. "The wind is on and off, some are more lucky and others are less lucky."
Slalom specialist Marcel Hirscher ultimately won gold.
Everyone deals with the same conditions. But again, it's a disappointment that external factors are shaping some results.
Winner: Shaun White, USA
"I hate qualifying."
That's what Shaun White told NBC after his first trip down the halfpipe—when he threw down a 93.25 to lead the 29-man field into the second run. That run effectively assured the two-time gold medalist a spot in the halfpipe final, but he wasn't finished.
Japan's Ayumu Hirano (95.25) and Australia's Scotty James (96.75) pushed the bar a little higher prior to White's second run, and he wanted to drop last Tuesday night.
So White proceeded to casually score a 98.50 and retake the lead.
White hates qualifying. But he sure is good at it.
The other three members of the U.S. halfpipe team—Ben Ferguson, Chase Josey and Jake Pates—all advanced to the 12-man final with White.
Loser: Favorites in Ladies' 500m Short-Track Speedskating
Heading into the final of the ladies' 500m short-track speedskating, two women had separated themselves from the pack—as much as is possible in a race that only takes about 43 seconds.
South Korea's Choi Minjeong and Great Britain's Elise Christie took turns setting the Olympic record in this event.
Christie—who set the still-standing world record in the 500m in 2016—first set the Olympic record with a time of 42.872 seconds in her qualifying heat. Choi narrowly edged her out with a 42.870-second time in her qualifying heat. Christie reclaimed the lead with a 42.703 in the second quarterfinal, only to lose it to Choi again about an hour later with a 42.422 in the first semifinal.
By the time they reached the final, the only question was who would take the gold and who would have to settle for silver.
Or so we thought.
Christie wiped out and finished in last place while Italy's Arianna Fontana took gold, finishing ahead of Choi in a photo finish. But after a review, Choi was disqualified for pushing Canada's Kim Boutin, who took bronze behind Yara Van Kerkhof's silver for the Netherlands.
After all that work in the early rounds, neither Choi nor Christie earned a medal.
And what of the favorite among the Americans? Maame Biney finished in last place in her quarterfinal, falling well short of her gold-medal goal.
Winner: Kim Min Seok, South Korea
Kjeld Nuis and Patrick Roest of the Netherlands took gold and silver in the men's 1,500m speedskating event, but what else is new?
The Dutch won 23 out of 32 possible medals in Sochi in 2014 and are a perfect 4-of-4 in the gold department thus far in Pyeongchang. Not to take anything away from the incredible accomplishment by Nuis and Roest, but at this point it's the furthest thing from a surprise when Netherlands lands atop the podium in speedskating.
South Korea winning a medal in men's 1,500m, though? Now that's a huge development.
The Koreans were all over the medal stand in 2010. Mo Tae-Bum took gold in the 500m and 1,000m events. Seung-Hoon Lee won the 10,000m and took silver in 5,000m. But the 1,500m has eluded South Korea's grasp throughout Olympic history.
Kim Min Seok earned the bronze for the host nation with a time of 1:44.93—less than a second behind Kjeld's gold-medal time.
Loser: Germany's Quest for Women's Luge Sweep
Listen, Germany was the furthest thing from a loser in the women's luge event, but sometimes we have to get a little creative with our loser slides to keep a proper balance.
The Germans placed first, second and fourth in the event, falling just shy of a podium sweep. Natalie Geisenberger won the gold, Dajana Eitberger took silver and Tatjana Huefner—despite finishing in the top six in all four runs—came in 0.069 seconds behind Canada's Alex Gough for the bronze.
Geisenberger dominated from start to finish. She posted the fastest times in the first and third runs and finished top three in each of the others. She probably could have won the fourth run as well, but she was a bit more cautious with the turns, knowing what time she needed to hit in order to win the gold.
Both Geisenberger and Huefner medaled in 2010 and 2014, as Germany has won at least two medals in this event in six consecutive Games, sweeping the event in both 2002 and 2006. At this point, it almost feels like a disappointment when the Germans don't take all three medals.
Winner: Canada Mixed Doubles Curling
Canada lost to Poland 9-6 in the first round-robin match of mixed doubles curling.
The Canadians would not lose again.
John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes finished the inaugural tournament on an eight-match winning streak, and most of them weren't even close. On the second day, they smoked China and Finland by a combined score of 18-6. The following day against Switzerland and Olympic Athletes from Russia wasn't much closer at 15-4. And in the gold-medal match, they crushed the Swiss once again, this time 10-3.
The Canadians were flawless while the Swiss made a few backbreaking mistakes. In the third end, Martin Rios missed the mark on all three of his stones, enabling Canada to score four points. It was a similar story in the fifth end with Rios and Jenny Perret each badly missing one shot, opening the door for another multiple-point end for Canada.
They didn't even need the full eight ends to determine the champion. This one was called after six, giving Team Canada its first of a potential three gold medals in curling.
Loser: Drama for Gold in Cross-Country Sprint
Contrary to the aforementioned ladies' short-track speedskating event in which the favorites flamed out spectacularly in the finals, both the men's and ladies' cross-country skiing sprint classic events held to form.
Oftentimes, the final race of the sprint is decided by the slimmest of margins. In the men's sprint in 2010 in Vancouver, it was a photo finish between Russians Nikita Kriukov and Alexander Panzhinskiy, who both finished with a time of 3:36.3. And four years ago in the ladies' event in Sochi, the gap between gold and bronze was just four-tenths of a second.
No such drama this year.
On the men's side, Norway's Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo had the second-fastest qualifying time before winning both his quarterfinal and semifinal races, making him the clear front-runner heading into the final. And Klaebo did not disappoint, winning gold with a time of 3:05.75—1.34 seconds ahead of Italy's silver-medalist Federico Pellegrino.
The race for the top two spots was even less interesting on the ladies' side, with Sweden's Stina Nilsson crushing every leg of the race, followed by Norway's Maiken Caspersen Falla.
They finished first and second in qualifying, respectively, both more than three seconds ahead of the rest of the field. They proceeded to each win their quarterfinal races before finishing in a virtual tie (3:10.52 and 3:10.55) in the first semifinal.
When it mattered most, Nilsson went flying through the course in a time of 3:03.84, finishing slightly more than three seconds ahead of Falla in second place.
Winner: North American Women's Hockey
For the second consecutive Games, both Canada and the United States have clinched a spot in the semifinal of the women's ice hockey tournament after just two games of round-robin play.
This is no surprise, though. They entered Pyeongchang as the dual favorites by a wide margin and have asserted their dominance by blowing out the third- and fourth-best teams by a combined score of 17-2.
In Day 4's games, Canada made quick work of Finland, scoring its first goal 35 seconds into the match and leading 4-0 before the end of the second period. Finland did eventually get on the board in the third, but it was a meaningless tally.
Team USA was even more dominant against the Olympic Athletes from Russia, skating to a 5-0 shutout. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson had two goals in the span of six seconds in the second period as the Americans out-shot the Russians 50-13.
Unfortunately, this makes the upcoming game between the North American teams on Day 6 effectively pointless. The only thing they're fighting for is seeding in the semifinal, which will likely determine which team gets a rematch with Finland and which one does battle with the Olympic Athletes from Russia again.
But it should be a fun game all the same, as it's a likely preview of the gold-medal match.