Pyeongchang 2018

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PyeongChang 2018: Ghana’s first skeleton racer, Shiffrin goes for gold again, and more to watch on Friday

What happened on Thursday: Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany were surprise winners in pairs figure skating. The duo came back from a fourth-place showing in the short program on Wednesday to eclipse China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who made several errors on their jumps, by less than half a point.

Mikaela Shiffrin won the first of what could be multiple alpine skiing medals in PyeongChang. More on her quest below.

Canada’s women’s hockey team continued a run of dominance over the U.S., winning their preliminary round match 2-1. Both teams advanced to Monday’s semifinals, setting up another gold medal match if they each win their next game.

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal became the oldest men’s alpine gold medalist in history, winning the downhill in what he acknowledged will be his final Olympics. The 35-year-old finished 0.12 seconds ahead of teammate Kjetil Jansrud. More on Svindal here.

Someone finally broke the Netherlands’ hold on speed skating gold in PyeongChang, as Canada’s Holland-born Ted-Jan Bloemen set an Olympic record of 12:39.77 in the men’s 10,000m. The Dutch still added another medal to their tally, as Jorrit Bergsma finished 2.21 seconds later to claim silver. Bloemen now holds both the Olympic and world records in the event.



1. Mikaela Shiffrin tries to make it two medals in two days: After repeated weather delays, the 22-year-old American finally made her first appearance on the slope at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre on Thursday, winning gold in the giant slalom. She returns on Friday to defend her Olympic title in the slalom (10:00 local time, Yongpyong Alpine Centre), which has historically been her best event. The shifting of the schedule will prevent her from attempting a sweep in all five alpine events, as she won’t participate in Saturday’s Super-G due to the rigours of competing three days in a row.

2. A high-flying final: The ladies’ aerials freestyle skiing competition will be decided on Friday (20:00 local time, Phoenix Park), with 38-year-old Alla Tsuper of Belarus looking for a repeat Olympic gold in the event. After a disappointing first run, Tsuper advanced to the final by leading all athletes in the second qualifying run with a 99.37 by executing a back full-tuck-full. She’ll face a tough challenge from 20-year-old Russian Alexandra Orlova, who had the top qualifying score in the first round.

3. Ghana’s first skeleton athlete: Akwasi Frimpong enters the third and fourth run of the men’s skeleton in 30th place out of 30 competitors in the event. He’s not going to medal, although he’s close enough to potentially move out of last place in his next two runs (11:15 local time, Olympic Sliding Centre), but that’s not what makes him worth watching. The first athlete to represent Ghana in the skeleton, Frimpong actually left the African nation and moved to the Netherlands as an illegal immigrant when he was eight years old. He became the Dutch junior national track champion in the 200m at 17, but claimed he ‘lost’ his passport and couldn’t travel internationally. After finally confiding that he didn’t have a passport, he was granted residency in the Netherlands in 2008. He tried to compete for them in bobsleigh after injuring his Achilles tendon while training for London in 2012. He made the Dutch national team, but was cut before Sochi. Not wanting to give up on his Olympic dream, he tried skeleton and decided to compete for Ghana to make it easier to qualify for PyeongChang. He’d still have to crack the top 60 in the world, which he finally did in the middle of January – and finally getting his Olympic chance.

4. Lindsey Jacobellis chases elusive gold in snowcross: It’s been 12 years since the snowboarder missed out on a gold medal in Turin, thanks to her decision to do an unnecessary trick while leading the end of the snowboard cross event. She’s been unable to advance out of the semifinals in the past two Olympics and has been working with a sports psychologist to finally put the moment behind her. At 32, she’s back at the top of her game, but will she be able to finally hone it in what’s likely to be her last Olympic chance? (Qualifying begins at 10:00 local time, Final at 12:56, Phoenix Park)

5. The Dutch look for more speed skating medals: The Netherlands have won gold in five of six speed skating races in PyeongChang and certainly have a chance to grab another one in the ladies’ 5000m (20:00 local time – Gangneung Oval). Carlin Achtereekte already stood atop the podium in the 3000m earlier this week, but she’ll face a tough challenge from the Czech Republic’s Martina Sablikova, who won the event in Sochi four years ago.


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