Pyeongchang, South Korea – Yuzuru Hanyu made Olympic figure skating history with a strong – and expected – performance in the men’s free skate.
Meanwhile, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic stunned everyone, including herself, by winning the gold in the women’s super-G.
On a busy Saturday at the Pyeongchang Olympics, Switzerland’s Sarah Hoefflin won the women’s slopestyle skiing event, Norway was victorious in the women’s cross-country relay, and Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina won the women’s 12.5-kilometer mass start biathlon.
In short-track speedskating, South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong got the victory in the women’s 1,500 meters, while Canada’s Samuel Girard won the men’s 1,000 meters.
In Gangneung, Hanyu became the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952 after also winning in Sochi in 2014. He also won the 1,000th gold medal in Winter Games history.
“This is the best day of my skating life,” Hanyu said. “My tears were from my heart. I can find one word and that is ‘happy.’”
He held off Japanese teammate Shoma Uno and Spain’s Javier Fernandez for the victory.
A gracious Hanyu told Fernandez that he wished they both could have won.
“I told him, ‘Yes, Yuzu, but only one can be champion. Only one can have the gold medal,’” Fernandez said.
In Jeongseon, Ledecka simply couldn’t believe she was No. 1 on the videoboard standings moments after crossing the finish line.
Her time of 1 minute, 21.11 seconds was just 0.01 seconds faster than Austria’s Anna Veith, the defending Olympic champion. While Veith was one of the favorites, the 22-year-old Ledecka was a low-ranked competitor who was considered a better contender for a medal in snowboarding.
She’s now an Olympic champion.
“Is this a kind of mistake?” Ledecka said when asked what immediately went through her mind. “OK, they’re going to change the time. I’m going to wait for a little bit, and you’re going to switch and (add) some more seconds.”
Nope, not quite.
American star Lindsey Vonn, who tied for sixth in her first event in Pyeongchang, echoed the sentiments of Ledecka – and just about everyone else.
“Definitely shocking,” Vonn said.
In men’s hockey, the United States had a rough night in a 4-0 loss to the “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”
It was a convincing win for the Russians, who outplayed, outhit and outclassed the United States in a game that wrapped up pool play for each team.
Because of the loss, the U.S. must play in Tuesday’s qualification round. Ilya Kovalchuk scored two goals for the Russians. U.S. goaltender Ryan Zapolski allowed four goals on 26 shots, including Kovalchuk’s goals that were less than 33 seconds apart at the end of the second period and start of the third.
At Phoenix Snow Park, Hoefflin edged teammate Mathilde Gremaud for gold by posting a score of 91.20 in her final run.
“I suppose I got pretty lucky,” Hoefflin said. “I ski better when there is no wind and I struggle with the wind. We had wind in the practice and for my final run I was so relaxed because I knew what the speed was and usually if I know the speed I know the tricks.”
Isabel Atkin of Britain took bronze with a score of 84.60 in her final run.
Defending Olympic champion Dara Howell crashed twice during qualifying and didn’t advance.
Marit Bjoergen moved into a tie for the most career Winter Olympic medals with 13 after helping the Norwegian women to a first-place finish in the cross-country relay.
Bjoergen tied male biathlete and fellow Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, and can move into sole possession of the record with a medal in either one of the last two women’s events: the team sprint relay Wednesday or in the mass start.
“I don’t think about that now,” Bjoergen said. “I’m just focused on each race and I think I have to look behind me after the Olympics and see how many medals I have.”
Sweden finished second, and a team of Russians were third.
South Korea earned its first victory in the men’s curling round robin, beating Britain 11-5 after the Brits conceded early after falling far behind.
“It was a tough game,” Britain’s Thomas Muirhead said. “Maybe (we) didn’t play to our strengths. They were good and we weren’t really good enough on the day.”
Canada’s men’s team lost for the first time in the curling round robin, falling to Sweden 5-2.
Kuzmina, who had previously won two silver medals, hit 19 of 20 targets and beat Darya Domracheva of Belarus by 18.8 seconds.
Kuzmina has accounted for all three of Slovakia’s medals in Pyeongchang.
Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff won the bronze. Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, considered the favorite, finished in 16th place.
Choi took the lead in the seven-woman final to finish in 2 minutes, 24.948 seconds and give South Korea its second gold in short-track speedskating.
Li Jinyu of China earned silver and Canada’s Kim Boutin won bronze.
In the men’s 1,000, Girard took the goal with a time of 1:24.650, edging American John-Henry Krueger into silver.
– Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold won her second consecutive gold medal in women’s skeleton.
Yarnold finished four runs in 3 minutes, 27.28 seconds. She won by nearly a half-second over Germany’s Jacqueline Loelling. Britain’s Laura Deas took third.
– Defending champion Kamil Stoch won ski jumping’s large hill. The 30-year-old Polish jumper scored 285.7 points to beat normal hill gold medalist Andreas Wellinger of Germany, who took the silver. Robert Johansson of Norway won the bronze.
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