Germany v Norway Part 3

Pyeongchang 2018 Review of Day 10

Francesco Friedrich

In a quiet day at the Games, only three events were decided, and the two medal leaders won three golds. One other country got a look in, but only because Francesco Friedrich of Germany (above) shared his two-man bob title with Justin Kripps of Canada.  Latvia took the bronze medal while Won Yun-jong of South Korea and Team World was sixth.

Norway claimed its first speed skating crown for twenty years, as Havard Holmefjord Lorentzen was victorious in the 500m. Meanwhile, the Netherlands failed to medal for the second event in a row, and with the mass start events equally unpromising for the Dutch, they now seem unlikely to match their absurd degree of domination from Sochi.

The two rivals were pitted together in team ski jumping, with Germany being the more favoured of them. But Norway defied the odds to turn back the clock again, reversing a trend in which ski jumping prowess has shifted towards Central Europe.  It was the top nation at the Games in the sport for the first time since 1964. Poland took the bronze.

Team Worlders set themselves up for future events, with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada leading the field in the ice dance short programme, with a new world record, and New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott qualifying for the snowboarding big air final.


Marvellous Marcel

Pyeongchang 2018 Review of Day 9

Alpine skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics – Men's giant slalom - Hirscher

Marcel Hirscher needed an Olympic gold medal to elevate him to the pantheon of the greatest skiers, and he now has two, after adding giant slalom to his Alpine combined title from last week, with his margin of victory being almost a second and a half. If he wins the slalom on Thursday, he will enter the stratosphere, alongside those previous triple winners, his Austrian predecessor Toni Sailer, and Jean-Claude Killy of France.

Already in the same bracket as Killy is Martin Fourcade of Team World, for whom gold in the mass start in biathlon was his fourth Olympic title, one more than his illustrious compatriot. Finland’s ice hockey team did less well, losing to Sweden in a hard-fought contest for a bye to the quarter-finals. Instead, a play-off against South Korea awaits.

Among the non-traditional nations which topped podiums yesterday was Japan, for whom Yuzuru Hanyu overcame his injury problems to retain his figure skating title. It doubled its tally today when Nao Kodaira claimed victory in the 500m speed skating.

Otherwise the winter sport giants reasserted themselves, especially Norway, which won in freestyle skiing slopestyle and the men’s cross country relay. It is now equal with Germany in gold medals and, with more silvers, it leads the medal table overall.

On the other hand, Germany is pushing back in bobsleigh, where it holds 1st, 3rd and 5th place overnight in the men’s two-man. South Korea, on behalf of Team World, was disadvantaged by the initial running order, but improved on the second run to lie 9th.



Out of the Shadows

Pyeongchang 2018 Review of Day 8

Lizzy Yarnold 2017 Lake Placid WC (1 of 3)

Today was the day for the non-traditional nations to appear on the Winter Olympic stage. In skeleton, Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain (above) retained her title, while her compatriot Laura Deas won bronze, the fifth different British woman to win a medal since the event was introduced to the Games in 2002. In freestyle skiing slopestyle, Izzy Atkin also came third, behind Sarah Hoefflin of established power Switzerland.

Sadly, Elise Christie did not contribute to the British haul, failing to complete an event for the fifth time. If she recovers from injury, she will have a sixth chance on Thursday.

Another Team World member, Tina Weirather, tried to add Liechtenstein to the list of unorthodox countries. But while Liechtenstein has won skiing golds before, the Czech Republic has not, and so Ester Ledecka’s victory in Super G was even more unexpected. Weirather took bronze, and Ledecka will compete later in the Games in snowboarding.

Not to be outdone by their neighbour, Slovakia won biathlon gold through Anastasiya Kuzmina, while Poland and Kamil Stoch retained their title in the large hill ski jumping.

In cross country skiing, the women’s relay was one of the highlights of Sochi, and it was again, but the dominating forces and Norway of Sweden stayed in command. This time, Norway took the honours, as Marit Bjoergen accelerated away from Stina Nilsson over the final leg, to claim a 13th career medal. She started her quest for the all-time record of 14 in the first event of these Games, and will finish it in the last, the 30km mass start.

Home Town Sliders

Pyeongchang 2018 Review of Day 7

LG전자, ‘스켈레톤’ 국가대표팀 공식 후원 윤성빈

It was a good day for the hosts as South Korea won its second gold of the Games, and its first ever Winter Olympic medal outside of skating. Yun Sungbin (above) stood on top of the podium, while Martins Dukurs of Latvia and Team World narrowly missed out on a medal. His mistake in the final run echoed a similar error from 2010, meaning that the greatest skeleton slider of all time is unlikely ever to claim an Olympic crown.

Dom Parsons of Great Britain took a surprising bronze, while the first two runs of the women’s competition suggest that Team GB’s record in that event could also continue.

In the Alpine skiing, Matthias Mayer of Austria added the Super G to his downhill gold from Sochi, but Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States failed to retain her slalom title, as victory went instead to Frida Hansdotter of Sweden. There was more disappointment for Lindsey Jacobellis in the snowboard cross. Like Dukurs, she finished fourth in what might have been her last chance for gold, and the champion was Michela Moioli of Italy.

Two contrasting countries won their first golds of 2018. Dario Cologna won the 15km cross country title, for the winter sports power of Switzerland. Belarus is not a winter sports power, except in freestyle skiing aerials, where Hanna Huskova was victorious.

Finland’s men’s ice hockey team hit five for the second match in a row, against Norway.

Germany v Norway Part 2

Pyeongchang 2018 Review of Day 6

Johannes Thingnes Bø 02

The big headlines came in the Alpine skiing competition, which overcame its stuttery weather-delayed start to provide two dramatic events in one day. Mikaela Shiffrin of Team USA took gold in the giant slalom, and more are likely to follow at these Games.

The men’s downhill was won by Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, which was one of three titles claimed by his countrymen. Johannes Thingnes Boe (above) claimed victory in the 20km biathlon, which was surprisingly his first Olympic medal after numerous global successes. He was helped by two late missed shots by Martin Fourcade of Team World.

In the 10km cross country skiing, Ragnhild Haga beat Charlotte Kalla of Sweden, and compatriot and Team World member, Marit Bjoergen. Bjoergen’s bronze was the 12th medal of her career, keeping her on course to beat the all-time Winter Olympic record.

Despite all this success, Norway barely made a dent in Germany’s lead at the top of the medal table, because it had two golden performances of its own, in luge relay and pairs skating. Ironically, neither of its pair Savchenko and Massot had been born in Germany.

Another birthplace conundrum surrounds Ted-Jan Bloemen, who beat Sven Kramer in the 10,000m in speed skating. Bloemen skates for Canada, and the 100% record of the Netherlands is officially no more, although he is a product of the Dutch system himself.

Elsewhere for Team World, medal chances remain for Finland’s men, who won 5-2 in their first ice hockey match against Germany, and Martins Dukurs of Latvia, in bronze medal position in skeleton. The elusive gold seems unlikely but a third silver is still on.

Here We Go Again

Pyeongchang 2018 Review of Day 5

Shaun White 2008 (cropped)

In contrast to the surprises of Sunday in particular, today was a day in which everything went to plan. Shaun White (above) won a record third Olympic halfpipe title, taking the United States further ahead of its rivals, having won all four snowboarding golds so far.

The Netherlands extended its dominant speed skating run, with Jorien ter Mors taking its fifth crown of these Games and its seventh in a row, including two victories in Sochi.

Germany resumed its preeminence in luge, so rudely interrupted by Austria, as the two Tobaises, Wendl and Arlt, retained their doubles title. Meanwhile, in Nordic Combined, Eric Fenzel also repeated his result from four years ago, with yet another German gold.

And that was it – just four events decided in a day affected by weather – with only one Alpine skiing event having been completed so far. It would be tempting to say that the weather was the only unpredictable feature of the day, but the terrible conditions are  such a feature of the Pyeongchang Games that even that has become predictable too.

The Long Wait

Pyeongchang 2018 Review of Day 4

Arianna Fontana torino2006

In 2006, a 15-year-old Arianna Fontana of Italy won her first Olympic medal (above). But despite endless success at world and, especially European level, an Olympic gold has eluded her, until today, when she finally became the 500m short track champion.

It is of course devastating for Elise Christie of Great Britain and Team World, who had yet another crash and finished fourth, but there is optimism to be taken from Fontana’s victory. Christie is clearly more than talented enough to claim gold and if, like Fontana, she persists, it is difficult to believe that she will not do so, perhaps as soon as Saturday.

Also long overdue an Olympic title was Marcel Hirscher of Austria, whose gold in the combined was the first in an Alpine event in the Games, due to the weather conditions. Now the ski racing will start to come thick and fast, and so he may well add to his tally.

Someone whose wait for gold has been shorter is 17-year-old American snowboarder, Chloe Kim, whose halfpipe score was nearly 10 points ahead of her rivals. Shaun White was just as impressive in qualification for his final, as Team USA continues to dominate.

The individual sprints took place in cross country skiing, and Sweden’s women won yet again through Stina Nilsson. Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo took the men’s title for Norway.

In the luge, Natalie Geisenberger succeeded where Felix Loch failed in repeating Sochi success, with a first ever Canadian medal for Alex Gough. There is evidence that, with facilities and investment, North America is gradually stating to catch up with Germany.

Sheep and Goats

Pyeongchang 2018 Review of Day 3

Women's 3000m, 2014 Winter Olympics, Ireen Wust

In the 1500m, Ireen Wust (above) made history with her tenth medal in speed skating, a record, and her fifth gold. Of the three speed skating events decided so far, six of the nine medal winners have been Dutch, with one of the three others being Dutch-born.

The women’s slopestyle final was spoiled by windy conditions and probably should not have taken place. But the freak weather did not produce a freak result, and the testing conditions brought the best to the fore, as American Jamie Anderson retained her title.

In ski jumping, the strategy of skipping World Cups to focus upon Olympic training was tested by Carina Vogt of Team World. It has worked so well for Charlotte Kalla in cross country but, on this occasion, frequent competition won the day, as the overall World Cup leader, Maren Lundby, was the victor in this particular Germany v Norway contest.

There was better news for Team World in figure skating, where Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir helped Canada to team gold, for a fourth career medal each. This ties the record for the sport, which they have the chance to beat in the ice dance competition. Martin Fourcade of France redeemed his sprint performance to claim gold in biathlon pursuit.

But the star of the Games could be another biathlete, Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, who won five golds and a silver at the 2017 World Championships. With triumphs so far in both the sprint and the pursuit, a similar set of results looks to be a very real possibility.



Day of Shocks

Pyeongchang 2018 Review of Day 2

2017-02-24 David Gleirscher by Sandro Halank–3

Before today, Austrian luger David Gleirscher (above) had never stood on a World Cup podium – he is now an Olympic champion – and that was not even the biggest surprise. Chris Mazdzer achieved a rare silver for the United States and, most extraordinarily of all, Felix Loch of Germany, who had been an enormous favourite, and had been leading the competition from the second run, failed to medal after a major error in his final run.

Another American upset more favourites as 17-year-old Red Gerard beat Max Parrot and Mark McMorris in the snowboard slopestyle, while Justine Dufour-Lapointe, also of Canada, also lost to a teenager, Perrine Laffont of France, in freestyle skiing moguls.

Martin Fourcade of France (and Team World), and T J Boe of Norway, both missed far too many shots in biathlon sprint, and also missed out on medals, helping Arnd Peiffer of Germany to victory. It was less unexpected that Team World’s curling mixed doubles pair from China was eliminated, but no less disappointing. They made the playoff with a convincing win over Norway, only to capitulate to the same opponents just hours later.

If normality seemed under threat, there were moments of reassuring predictability, as Sven Kramer of the Netherlands completed the three in a row which Felix Loch missed, with gold in the 5000m speed skating.  Norway managed a sweep in the cross country skiathlon although, even here, the manner in which Simen Hegstad Krueger achieved his victory was somewhat unorthodox, having crashed in the earlier stages of the race.

Germany v Norway Part 1

Pyeongchang 2018 Review of Day 1

Robert Johansson

Many bookmakers had Norway as favourites to top the medal table, despite the fact that Germany is ahead in recent Games – leading 53 golds to 45 in the overall twenty year medal table. It looks set to be another battle between these two countries again and, if the first day is anything to go by, Germany still has the edge, although only just.

The first round of the ski jump normal hill was led by two Poles, Stefan Hula and Kamil Stoch, but it was then Germany v Norway. The striking moustached Robert Johansson (above), took the lead but Andreas Wallinger of Germany overhauled him, and stayed ahead of the Poles. Another Norwegian, Johann Andre Forfang, took the silver medal.

In the biathlon sprint, it was also German gold and Norwegian silver. Laura Dahlmeier defeated Marte Olsbu, and Dahlmeier could win many more medals in Pyeongchang, while Germany looks set for more gold as Felix Loch leads the luge singles at halfway.

In the cross country skiathlon, Charlotte Kalla put in another incredible performance, akin to the Swedish victory in the relay four years ago. Marit Bjoergen claimed silver to become the most decorated female Winter Olympian, with other records in her sights.

It was a positive day for the other members of Team World. The Chinese pair in mixed doubles curling started the day with 1 victory in 4, but beat both the United States and Finland to give itself the possibility of a medal. Elise Christie safely negotiated the first round of the 500m short track speed skating, with the next round to come on Tuesday.