Olympics 2018

PyeongChang, South Korea

USA Women's Hockey Win Gold!

U.S women's hockey gold medal
came in great Olympic final

In one of the most satisfying moments in U.S. Olympic history, in one of the most spirited rivalries in all of sports, in the midst of a bitter 20-year gold-medal drought, the U.S. women’s hockey team defeated Canada 3-2 in a game that grew more enticing by the minute as it moved from regulation to overtime to a shootout that needed even more shots to settle things, with a U.S. goal for the ages, followed by a save to match.

It was fitting that the greatest game in U.S. women’s hockey history would take place on the 38th anniversary of the greatest game in U.S. men’s hockey history (and the best upset in any sport, ever), the 1980 Miracle on Ice victory over the Soviet Union in Lake Placid.

And it was the happy ending to an 11-month-long story that is as much about American culture as it is about sports. This is the team that boycotted its world championships last spring in an admirable and courageous pay equity battle with its national governing body. When USA Hockey’s leaders backed down, the women on this team came back in time for the worlds, which they won for the seventh time out of the last eight.

These girls next door in hockey skates rode into these Games with that landmark victory at their backs and one singular purpose in their minds: to finally win the Olympic gold medal that had eluded this team since the inaugural women’s hockey tournament at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

Every Olympic hockey tournament since, Canada won, beating the Americans in all but one of those gold-medal matches: 2002, 2006, 2010 and, finally 2014, that crushing loss in Sochi in which the Americans squandered a late lead and then lost in overtime.

There was no doubting the balance of this rivalry, but when they came to the Olympics, there was no balance at all. It was all Canada, with a generation of great U.S. players relegated to nothing but silver.

With that overture, even before the puck dropped Thursday and the first second ticked off the clock, there was an anticipation of nothing but greatness on the ice at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.

And then the game started, and it was better than anyone dreamed. Women’s hockey hasn’t caught on as a spectator sport in most parts of the United States, and perhaps it never will, but this was as riveting a game as will be played in any sport anywhere this year. That’s a guarantee.

The U.S. went ahead, 1-0, late in the first period. Canada stormed back to take a 2-1 lead in the second. The Americans tied it with little more than six minutes remaining in the game. Then came a free-wheeling overtime. Still tied. And then the shootout.

That shootout! Many despise the idea that a great game ends that way in hockey, and soccer too, but if there’s anything more dramatic in sports, please let me know.

With these two teams, it might have gone on forever. But no. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, a 28-year-old veteran playing in her third Olympics, faked once, twice, three times before slipping the puck into the right side of the net past the sprawling, falling Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados.

Then, when 20-year-old goalie Maddie Rooney stuffed Canada’s Meghan Agosta, giving the moving puck one last swipe out of harm’s way, it was over. A celebration 20 years in the making came in pieces: bodies diving, gloves flying, flags waving.

“The greatest day of all of our lives,” said U.S. captain Meghan Duggan. “I’m so happy. Just take a picture of my face,” said 30-year-old veteran Gigi Marvin.

As is often the case with women’s sports, especially U.S. women’s national teams, there was more at play than just the game. As Marvin said, “My niece is going to wake up tomorrow and see this and it’s going to be more important for her than it is for me.”

With those cultural overtones as a backdrop, and the heart-stopping shootout as the punctuation mark, it all seemed so familiar. Who wasn’t taken back to 1999, to the Women’s World Cup, to that U.S. soccer team, to a touchstone moment for a generation of young girls who have now grown up to be women who will never forget what that meant to them?

And so it was fitting that one of those stars from 1999, Julie Foudy, now working here for ESPN, was in the press tribune, one eye on the ice, the other following a texting chain with a handful of her teammates throughout the game.

One of them was Brandi Chastain, who famously made the winning penalty kick in the Rose Bowl nearly 19 years ago.

“Brandi was getting emotional,” Foudy said. “She kept saying, ‘I can’t handle this. This is crazy.’”

Soon, there were so many texts that Foudy told them all she would get back to everyone later. Another U.S. women's team had become another wonderful story, and it was time for her to get to work.

USA Takes Gold and Silver!

David Wise, Alex Ferreira
finish 1-2 in halfpipe

Freeskiers David Wise and Alex Ferreira have turned their Olympics into a buddy comedy, packing their time in Korea full of adventure together. Were it not for the medals they won, the tattoos they got in Seoul might have been the most lasting symbol of the trip to the Games. Instead, it will be an ever-present reminder of one of the best days of their lives.

Wise successfully defended his gold medal from Sochi, winning the halfpipe final at Phoenix Snow Park on Thursday. His technical run, one only he has landed before, edged out Ferreira, who won silver in his Olympic debut.

“Our trip has been so great because we’re so happy,” Ferreira said. “We love what we do.”

Before they even competed in the halfpipe, the pair had packed a lot in. In Seoul, they got matching tattoos – Ferreira on his left arm, Wise on his right – of the Pyeongchang Olympics emblem, which symbolizes winter athletes coming together in Pyeongchang, where heaven meets earth.

They got “mountains of free stuff” Wise said of the gear U.S. athletes get in team processing. They came to Pyeongchang to walk in the opening ceremony, before joining the U.S. freeskiing team for a camp in Japan that became a retreat. After four days of skiing in chest-deep powder, they returned to the Games.

“There were lots of good times,” he said. “Then we flew back here and got to experience skiing in the best halfpipe that I’ve ever skied in my life.” Not to be forgotten, Ferreira added, “And we’re on the podium.”

The two Americans got there – along with 16-year-old Nico Porteous of New Zealand – with some of the most technical skiing ever done.

Four years after Wise won the event’s debut in Sochi in snowy, slushy conditions in a subpar halfpipe, the skiers in the final put on a show here.

The U.S. had potential for a sweep, with Aaron Blunck, Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace qualifying in the top three spots. Blunck ultimately finished seventh, while Yater-Wallace crashed on all three runs.

That left Ferreira and Wise to fight for the podium. Ferreira was the most consistent skier in a final that saw three skiers get injured. He finished with a 96.40 on his third run, bettering his score each time down the halfpipe.

His final trip down, he landed five double corks – which are two off-axis flips with a varying degree of rotations – and had massive amplitude throughout.

“He’s been on an absolute tear this past year. He’s just hungry. He’s as hungry as you get," said Mike Jankowski, head coach of the U.S. Freeskiing and U.S. Snowboarding teams.

Ferreira, 23, narrowly missed making the U.S. team four years ago. Since then, he has claimed four X Games medals, including silver last month. His Dew Tour win in December helped him lock up a spot on the U.S. team.

“I think it’s just like I started taking myself a little bit more professionally,” he said.

“I missed the Olympics by one or two spots last time, and that was really hard on me. I just came out here and I wasn’t gonna give up no matter what happened.”

Porteous also did five double corks to score a 94.80 on his second run. It was the first time he’d ever tried it – his first run was the first time he’d ever done four – so on his last run, he carved his way down the pipe and didn’t throw any tricks.

“I had nothing left. That was every trick I’ve ever worked for for the past four years,” said Porteous, the second Kiwi to win a medal on a day when Zoi Sadowski-Synnott ended a 26-year Winter Olympics drought with big air bronze.

“I couldn’t have done a better run. In my dreams, I couldn’t have done a better run. That was insane.”

Neither, though, approached Wise’s technicality. Last month at the X Games, he became the first skier to land double corks in all four directions that skiers can spin – left, right, switch (or backward) left and switch right.

After falling on his first two runs and seeing his skis come out of their bindings, Wise landed it on his final run.

“It was flawless. It was just perfect,” said Jankowski. “He got all the grabs precisely, landed everything super clean, made it look just effortless and just had that flow going where everything connected trick to trick to trick. There was no wavering in his line.”

Wise, 27, said he felt little pressure. Freeskiing had already gotten the showcase he’d wanted it to have in Sochi.

Wise briefly considered taking one of the double corks out to increase his likelihood of landing his run, but he wanted to push the sport and went for it.

“Landed it and I’m just over the moon. Absolutely it was the best run of my life,” Wise said. “Seeing Nico land his run, seeing Alex land some of the best runs of his life, hands down, I knew that we had put on the show the world deserved to see. I was able to drop in and let it ride.”

With that, Wise and Ferreira continued an epic journey together. The roommates packed plenty into their trip to these Olympics and leave with more than one lasting memento.

USA Women Win Gold!

Drought over for USA in
cross-country skiing!

As she headed up the steepest, most grueling hill of her life in third place on the final lap, Jessica Diggins thought to herself just winning an Olympic medal was no longer good enough. She wanted more. She wanted gold.

Diggins reached the peak of the hill in third place but sped past Norway's Maiken Caspersen Falla on the last big, winding downhill. She rounded the final corner and took dead aim at Sweden's Stina Nilsson on the final 100-meter homestretch.

The crowd in the grandstand was on its feet sensing history, and at that moment Diggins said she felt "unstoppable."

"Around that final corner I felt like I was uncoiling a spring and letting it go," Diggins said. "Giving it everything I had, digging as deep as I could and putting it all out there. When your team is counting on you, you don't give up ever.”

Diggins certainly didn't give up. She dug deep, remembering all the years of training she had put in, and of all her teammates waiting for her at the finish line. Diggins blew by Nilsson in a blur and finished .19 seconds ahead of the second-place Swedish skier to capture gold in the team sprint, bringing the United States its first gold medal ever in cross-country skiing.

As she crossed the line she collapsed in exhaustion as teammate Kikkan Randall tackled her in the snow. Randall lay on top of a crying Diggins shaking her ski jacket in pure excitement and utter joy.

"That feeling of being able to cross the line and have Kikkan tackle me was the coolest thing ever," Diggins said.

It was fitting Randall was her partner on the two-woman team. She has been through all of the tough times, competing with the American cross-country ski team since the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. She said it was also fitting that the American women won their first medal in a team event.

"I got to see in 2013 when we won the world championships ... that team gold is worth far more than any individual accolade," the 35-year-old Randall said. "What really kept me going over the last four years was trying to contribute toward a team medal. To do it with Jessie one more time is just amazing."

So move over Bill Koch, you have company — finally. Koch was the only other American to win a medal in cross-country, taking home silver at the 1976 Innsbruck Games 42 years ago.

Diggins and Randall ended that 42-year drought and surely gave a huge boost to all of the young cross-country skiers back home in the United States.

"Hearing it out loud, it still doesn't feel real," Randall said. "It's what I've been working on for 20 years and with this team for the last five years and, wow, it's just so fun to put it together tonight — finally."

Added Diggins: "It feels unreal. I can't believe it just happened."

It meant more that their teammates were there to celebrate — and family, too.

Diggins' father, Clay, said he had a feeling this was the day the drought would end. Diggins had three top-six finishes at the Olympics and Randall was skiing well, too. And he said the entire American women's cross-country team came out to practice on Tuesday morning with Diggins and Randall.

"There were only two of them skiing today, but the entire team came out to support them — practicing tags and everything," Clay Diggins said. "That to me is pretty cool. They wanted to be there for them, for the team. And I think Kikkan and Jess felt that (support) on the course."

If not, they certainly felt it after the race. Diggins screamed as she crossed the finish line, setting off a huge celebration for the red, white and blue. Her American teammates were jumping and hugging each other along the fence line that guarded the track.

"Our whole team had that belief we could win and everyone was there screaming," Diggins said of the final sprint. "I don't know if you have that many teams where everyone is out there on the fence yelling their faces off. I just think we had a lot of support behind of us."

Charlotte Kalla sensed the Americans were extra motivated for a medal, saying she saw it in their eyes before the race and felt it when Randall stayed on her heels on the second-to-last lap.

"Olympic champions, they are so worth it," the Swede said. "They were amazing today. I'm really impressed with them."

Sweden took silver and Norway finished with a bronze, which allowed Marit Bjoergen to secure her record 14th medal at the Winter Games. That broke her tie with Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen for the most medals at the Winter Olympics.

Bjoergen, who already had won gold, silver and bronze at the Pyeongchang Games, said she was happy to see the Americans win this one.

"Those two, they are happy girls," Bjoergen said. "And I think that is important for our sport that the USA is there."

This is 35-year-old Randall’s fifth (and probably final) Olympics.

Brita Sigourney Wins Bronze!

USA medal count at 11

American Brita Sigourney wins bronze in women’s halfpipe ski final in her second Olympics, winning her first medal.

In the women’s halfpipe final at Phoenix Snow Park on Tuesday, Sigourney scored a 91.60 in her final run to take the bronze. Canadian Cassie Sharpe won gold (95.80) and Marie Martinod of France took silver. (92.60)

Sigourney, 28, came into these Olympics after winning silver in the X Games last month. It was her fourth X Games medal in an injury-plagued career.

Sigourney was joined in the final by U.S. teammates Maddie Bowman and Annalisa Drew. Bowman, the 2014 Olympic medalist, fell on her last run but was able to walk off the course. Drew finished fourth.

It was the 11th medal overall for the U.S. team and first since Nick Goepper won silver in men's slopestyle skiing on Sunday.

John-Henry Krueger Wins Silver!

Krueger wins surprise
silver medal in short track

Team USA broke their medal drought, John-Henry Krueger of the United States celebrates after finishing first in his race during the Short Track Speed Skating Men's1000m Semifinals during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 17, 2018. John-Henry Krueger clinched the United States' only medal of day eight (Korean time) at the Winter Olympics with a dramatic silver in the men’s 1,000-meter short-track speedskating event.

Krueger finished second behind Canada’s Samuel Girard in a thrilling final despite being the lowest-ranked skater going into the race. Yira Seo of South Korea won bronze. It was the Americans' first short-track medal of the Games.

The 22-year-old, from Pittsburgh, trains in the Netherlands and missed out on the 2014 Games after contracting swine flu before the trials.

Mikaela Shiffrin wins gold!

Mikaela Shiffrin wins gold in giant slalom

American Mikaela Shiffrin began her much-anticipated debut at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Thursday by taking the gold medal in the giant slalom. She finished with a two-run total of 2:20.02. Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway took silver with 2:20.41 and Federica Brignone of Italy won bronze in 2:20.49.

Shiffrin was in second place after her first run at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre. She was fifth in this event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Afterwards she said she would not be fifth in the next Olympics, a vow she kept -- even if she didn't remember it.

"I forgot about that," she said on NBC right after the race. "It's been a work in progress every season with the giant slalom. And it seems I’ve come up just a little bit short. There was always somebody better than me." Not this time, not on the biggest stage. "It’s incredible," she said. "I’m so happy.”

In the Sochi Games, Shiffrin, then 18, became the youngest skier to win a gold medal in the slalom. She has bigger ambitions in South Korea. She is expected to compete in all five individual Alpine events and win up to three gold medals.

Her medal quest was delayed twice by weather, with the giant slalom originally set for Sunday before being rescheduled for Thursday and the slalom set for Wednesday before being rescheduled for Friday. “Oh my gosh, last night I was like, are we ever going to race?’’ Shiffrin, 22 said after her first run. “No, it’s really nice. It’s fair today which is really, really important at the Olympics. The conditions are great, the weather is beautiful and it’s a pleasure to be racing today.’’

Shawn White wins gold!

White gives USA record 100th gold!

The United States reached a historic milestone on Tuesday evening at the Olympics. With Shaun White picking up the gold in the snowboard halfpipe, Team USA now has 100 gold medals in its Winter Olympic history

It didn’t come without drama. White led after a strong first run, but Japan’s Ayumu Hirano scored 95.25 on his second run to take over the lead, while White fell. That meant White would have one last chance to to take the gold, as the final athlete to go in the event. Near perfect, White scored 97.75 to claim gold.

The U.S. won its first gold medal at the inaugural Winter games in 1924 in Chamonix, France. Charles Jewtraw took the gold in men’s 500-meter speed skating, which happened to be the only time Team USA topped the podium that year. They’ve gone on to win gold at least once in every Winter Games they participated in, with their high point coming in the 2002 Salt Lake City games when they took home 10.

Of course, the Americans still have a ways to go before catching up with Norway, which is the all-time Winter Olympics leader with 121 gold medals of the 1,026 that have been given out.

Following White’s win, the U.S. currently sits at four gold medals this year. They’ll have a chance to earn many more and gain further ground on Norway before the Pyeongchang Games conclude.

Chloe Kim wins halfpipe gold!

Kim joins Red Gerard and Jamie
Anderson with USA snowboarding gold

Chloe Kim, the 17-year-old Team USA star and snowboarding prodigy landed a gold medal in women's halfpipe Tuesday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, becoming the the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal.

Kim, a 17-year-old California native, excelled during the competition and took home gold with a score of 98.25. She earned a score of 93.75 during the first of her three runs in the finals.

Between her second and third runs Tuesday, Kim voiced on Twitter that she was "getting hangry" as she didn't finish her breakfast sandwich before the competition.

The Team USA star was the only snowboarder to post a score over 90 during the first two rounds. Arielle Gold, also of Team USA, took the bronze.

Kim is a first-generation Korean-American, as her parents hail from the Olympic host country of South Korea, where a handful of her relatives still live.

Kim is also a three-time X Games halfpipe gold medalist and two-time World Snowboard Tour halfpipe season champion. Her Olympics win came days after fellow Team USA snowboarders Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson also won gold.