Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Day 5 Winners and Losers

Bleacher Report Olympics StaffFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2018

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Day 5 Winners and Losers

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    Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

    For the second straight night, Shaun White dropped into the halfpipe needing a clutch run to climb the standings. For the second straight night, he delivered.

    This time, it earned him a gold medal.

    But as White celebrated a return to the pinnacle of his sport, fellow American star Mikaela Shiffrin once again prepared for an event only for fierce winds to postpone it. Not only was Shiffrin's alpine women's slalom medal event pushed back to a later date, but the women's 15-kilometer individual biathlon was also postponed.

    As a result, medals were scarce on Day 5 in Pyeongchang. But with men's hockey and both men's and women's curling round-robin play underway, there was no shortage of entertainment.

    Read on for the full list of winners and losers.

Winner: US Men's Curling

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    Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

    In 2006, the United States won its first-ever medal in curling—a bronze. During the next two Olympics, though, the American men mustered a 4-14 record in round-robin play.

    Team USA is off to a much better start in Pyeongchang.

    After needing at least three games before finally earning a win in 2010 and 2014, the U.S. toppled South Korea 11-7 in the 2018 opener. A two-point seventh end proved crucial in securing the triumph over the host nation.

    The U.S. team will be back in action Thursday at 12:05 a.m. ET against Italy, which fell to Canada 5-3 in Draw 1.

Loser: Everyone Waiting to See Mikaela Shiffrin

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Once she hits the slopes, Mikaela Shiffrin is the best candidate to win multiple medals for the United States. The 22-year-old is the most dominant slalom skier in the world.

    Would the elements please cooperate?

    For the second time of these Olympics, weather has pushed back her Pyeongchang debut. High winds postponed the giant slalom from Sunday to Wednesday, and the gusts delayed slalom—her specialty—from Tuesday to Thursday.

    Since the super-G is already scheduled for Friday, Shirffin is scheduled to race three events in the next three days. Hopefully the weather won't push back yet another event.

Winner: Shaun White, USA

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    Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

    He did everything he needed to do on his final run. He threw down back-to-back 1440s and back-to-back 1260s. All he could do was wait.

    And then: 97.75.

    After missing the podium in the 2014 Games, Shaun White earned his third Olympic gold in halfpipe. Upon hearing his winning score, White dropped to a knee and broke down in tears. Four years of training and one horrific accident had all been worth it.

    "I never got over Sochi. I'll never get over Sochi," White told B/R's Brandon Sneed earlier this year.

    He'll never want to forget his clutch run in Pyeongchang.

Loser: Aljona Savchenko's Pursuit of Gold

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    ARIS MESSINIS/Getty Images

    Aljona Savchenko twice earned bronze with former partner Robin Szolkowy, and her fifth Olympics appearance looked promising for the elusive gold medal. Savchenko and Bruno Massot arrived as leading contenders for the podium's top spot.

    But they're going to need some help.

    Massot doubled a salchow rather than tripling it, which proved costly in the final results. Instead of competing with China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong for the best short program score, Savchenko and Massot will enter the free skate 5.8 points behind the leaders.

    Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (Olympic Athletes from Russia) and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (Canada) also finished with higher scores than the German pair.

    Savchenko could be headed for another medal, but the decorated 34-year-old isn't likely to add Olympic gold to her collection.

Winner: Gold and Silver Repeat in Nordic Combined

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    Eric Frenzel
    Eric FrenzelCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Before we discuss results, let's explain what the nordic combined iswhich has nothing to do with a NordicTrack exercise machine.

    This discipline is a combination of ski jumping and cross-country skiing. In this particular event, they used the normal hill for ski jumping before a 10-kilometer cross-country race. In next week's event, they'll use the large hill for ski jumping. (And even though women compete in both ski jumping and cross-country skiing, for some reason, the nordic combined is only a men's event.)

    A trial jumping round is followed by the official jump, which determines the starting time for the event's cross-country portion. The best jump starts first, and the rest of the field is delayed based on its score. Then it's just a matter of reaching the finish line first.

    Got all that?

    Great.

    Now you can appreciate how good Germany's Eric Frenzel and Japan's Akito Watabe are at this discipline.

    Four years ago in Sochi, Frenzel won the gold, followed 4.2 seconds later by Watabe for the silver. And in Pyeongchang, they did it again. This time, Frenzel won by 4.8 seconds. Both men finished more than 13 seconds ahead of the rest of the field despite not winning the ski-jump portion.

    Austria's Franz-Josef Rehrl had the best jump and led the pack for the first four kilometers of the cross-country race, but he faded from there, finishing in 11th.

Loser: US Ladies' Speed Skating

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    Brittany Bowe
    Brittany BoweVadim Ghirda/Associated Press

    Team USA's women used to medal with regularity in speed skating.

    In 1968, 1972 and 1976, they won four medals each year, including Sheila Young in the 500 meter, 1,000 meter and 1,500 meter in 1976. After that, 1988, 1992 and 1994 was Bonnie Blair's time to shine, winning three golds in the 500 meter and two golds and a bronze in the 1,000 meter. And in 1998 and 2002, Chris Witty was the star, setting a world record in the 1,000 meter.

    But since then, it has been nothing but crickets. USA won zero ladies' speed-skating medals in 2006, 2010 and 2014, and through three of seven events in Pyeongchang, the drought remains.

    For the second consecutive event, it was close but no cigar.

    Brittany Bowe placed fifth in the 1,500 meter two days ago. She fell 0.28 seconds shy of the podium, while fellow American Heather Bergsma wasn't too far behind her in eighth place.

    It was a similar story in the 1,000 meter. This time, Bowe finished fourth, 0.38 seconds out of medal contention. Once again, Bergsma came in eighth.

    Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands won the gold. (Netherlands has won all five gold medals in speed skating thus far and nine of the total 15 medals.) Japan's Nao Kodaira and Miho Takagi won the silver and bronze, respectively. And the Americans are left to hope for the best in the four remaining events.

Winner: Germany Men's Luge Doubles

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    Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt
    Tobias Wendl and Tobias ArltWong Maye-E/Associated Press

    For as much as the Netherlands is dominating on the speed-skating track, the heaviest favorite in any discipline heading into Pyeongchang was arguably Germany in the luge events. Dating back to 1998, Germany had won 12 of 16 possible gold medals, as well as 24 out of 48 total medals. Four years ago in Sochi, the Germans went 4-of-4 in the gold-medal department.

    This year, Germany has already won gold and silver in the women's singles luge, and it would have won gold in the men's singles if Felix Loch had been able to avoid a disastrous final run. And if anything is surprising about the outcome from the doubles event, it's that the Germans ended up with gold and bronze instead of gold and silver.

    They didn't win by nearly the same margin as they did in 2014, though. In Sochi, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished more than 0.5 seconds ahead of Austria's Andreas Linger and Wolfgang Linger. In Pyeongchang, Wendl and Arlt only bested Austria's Peter Penz and Georg Fischler by 0.017 seconds. In fact, the gap between gold and 11th place this year (0.467 seconds) was less than the gap between first and second at the last Games.

    But there's no asterisk on their gold medal to suggest they were the best in the world by less of a margin this time around.

    Fellow Germans Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken secured bronze.

Loser: Switzerland's Curling Teams

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    Aaron Favila/Associated Press

    In both men's and women's curling, Switzerland entered Pyeongchang with reasonable medal aspirations. Per OddsShark, the Swiss had the fifth-best odds of winning gold in the women's event and were tied with Great Britain for the third-best odds in the men's tournament.

    But after the opening sessions of round-robin play, things aren't looking good.

    After 159 stones in the first match for the men (against Great Britain), Benoit Schwarz had a chance to win with the would-be final throw of the 10th end. It was a difficult shot but not an impossible one. However, he missed it, resulting in an additional end, leading to a 6-5 Great Britain win.

    A few hours later, the women lost their opener against China 7-2. And in the day's final session, the men fell to 0-2 with a 7-4 loss to Italywhich was given the worst odds of winning the tournament.

    There's still an entire week remaining before the semifinalists are determined, but it's going to be tough to bounce back from this slow start. It'd be one thing if the Swiss had been facing the Canadians, which is somewhat of an expected loss for both genders of every other country. However, they are a combined 0-3 without having yet faced Canada or Sweden. Not great.

Winner: Underdogs in Men's Hockey

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Men's ice hockey is finally underway, and it didn't take long for chaos to ensue.

    Per OddsShark, the Olympic Athletes from Russia are the favorites to win the event with 9-4 odds. USA was tied for the fifth-best odds at 9-1. And near the bottom, Slovakia was tied for ninth at 66-1, with Slovenia tied for last at 250-1.

    Based on those odds, USA should have smoked Slovenia, and OAR ought to have had no problem with Slovakia.

    Should have.

    Despite the well-documented lack of NHL players in this tournament, Team USA led Slovenia 2-0 after two periods and appeared to be headed for an opening win. But the Americans gave up two goals in the third frameSlovenia had an empty net in the final two minutes on the second oneto force overtime. Once there, it only took 38 seconds for Slovenia to pull off the big upset.

    Simultaneously, OAR jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Slovakia less than five minutes into the game, but by the end of the first period, Slovakia had tied it up. Only one goal was scored in the final two periods, and Peter Ceresnak's power-play tally midway through the third gave Slovakia the surprising win.

    It should be noted, though, that these early games don't really matter. Unlike curling where the round-robin sessions are used to determine which four teams get a chance to compete for medals, all 12 teams in the men's hockey tournament will get a spot in the knockout round. It'd be nice to grab one of the top four seeds to get a bye into the quarterfinals, but you can win gold without it, as Canada demonstrated in 2010.

    Still, it was an ominous start with two of the six best teams blowing multiple-goal leads to two of the five worst teams.

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