Olympic Precap: United States Takes Center Stage

Via @TeamUSA

(Note: Due to the time difference between South Korea and the United States, all events will be listed by the day they are being aired in the United States.)

The Olympics Precap is a daily post that will serve as a recap and preview of the action in PyeongChang.

Here’s What Happened: Wednesday, February 21st

Cross-country has long been an event that the United States struggled in. It has been decades since the men won an Olympic medal in any cross-country even and for the women, they were still waiting on their first Olympic medal in the sport.

Early on Wednesday morning, that wait finally came crashing down in historic fashion. In the women’s team sprint final, the American team of Kikkan Randall and Jessica Diggins delivers the U.S. its first women’s cross-country medal in the color of gold.

Sitting in second place behind Sweden entering the final straightaway, Jessica Diggins emptied whatever she had left in her tank to pull ahead of the Swedish racer and beat her to the finish line for the gold medal.

Sweden had to settle for the silver after getting nicked at the line and Norway came across third to win the bronze and add to their leading medal total.

Norway’s bronze meant Marit Bjoergen becomes the most decorated winter Olympian of all time, man or woman.

Unfortunately, the U.S. men’s cross-country team was unable to replicate the feat their teammates had produced just minutes earlier in the men’s team sprint. Finishing in a respectable 6th place, the men were held off the medal stand and will likely have to wait until 2022 for a shot at ending their long medal drought.

Norway added to their bronze in the women’s final with a gold in the men’s final thanks in part to 21 year old phenom Johannes Klaebo. Klaebo has been a machine for the Norwegian team all Games long and remained true during the spring final where he and his teammate Martin Sundby won the gold medal, Klaebo’s third of the 2018 Olympics.

Rounding out the podium was OAR with the silver medal and France coming home with the bronze.

Bobsled competition traditionally dominates the final week of sliding events at the Olympics and this year is no different. After high drama in the men’s two person race, the women’s two person brought the drama as well.

Germany made it 2-for-2 in bobsled gold medals with a victory in the women’s two person race with the team of Lisa Buckwitz and Mariama Jamanka laying down the best time across all four runs.

In Sochi four years ago, a bad final run dropped the top American team of Elana Meyers Taylor to a disappointing silver. Now in PyeongChang, the American team had to settle for silver once again, but after leaving their four best runs on the track, it was a much happier celebration.

Placing third to win  the bronze medal was the Canadian duo of Kaillie Humphries and Phylicia George, giving Canada medals in both the men’s and women’s two person events.

Ice hockey awarded its first medals of the 2018 Games with the bronze medal game in the women’s tournament between Finland and OAR. Finland defeated OAR 3-2 to win the bronze medal for the third consecutive Olympics.

Over on the long track, the Dutch continued racking up medals but none of them gold in the team pursuit events. Starting with the men, Norway and South Korea progressed to the final and it was Norway taking home gold over the host nation by a comfortable margin. South Korea settled for silver.

In the bronze medal race, The Netherlands took on New Zealand and did what they have done all Olympics long, beating the competition and walked away with a bronze medal.

Unlike the men’s race, the women’s race featured the Dutch in the final but they were unable to bring home another gold medal in a sport they have dominated at these Games and throughout history.

Instead, it was the Japanese team skating away from the Dutch in the final to win the gold medal by almost two seconds. All was not lost for The Netherlands however, they still walked away with a silver medal.

In the bronze medal race it was North American rivals Canada and the United States facing off for the last podium spot. History awaited the U.S. team if they could win to claim the country’s first medal in the team pursuit event and the first medal in long track for the women in 16 years.

Skating hard out of the gate, the United States team of Heather Bergsma, Brittany Bowe, and Mia Manganello raced out to over a three second lead with just two laps remaining but the Canadians turned on the pressure down the stretch and the American team had to hang on by less than half a second to make history and win the bronze.

Snowboarding still has a loaded schedule to complete in these final days of the Games and they got back to awarding medals with the women’s Big Air event, this first time medals will be awarded in a Big Air event at the Olympic Games.

Taking the athlete’s two best score an adding them together for a total, it came down to the very last run by the very last snowboarder of the competition.

Anna Gasser of Austria was the gold medal favorite coming into PyeongChang and had the best overall score in qualifying. On her final run, Gasser scored a 96.00 to go with her other high score of 89.00 to win gold with an overall score of 185.00.

To win gold, Gasser had to knock American Jamie Anderson out of the top spot. Anderson posted a combined total of 177.25 to win silver and add to her gold medal in slopestyle. This was Anderson’s third career Olympic medal and she became the first snowboarder in history to medal in two different events at the same Games.

Zoi Sadowski Synnott of New Zealand came in third to win the bronze medal, her country’s first of the 2018 Games.

Halfpipe competition wrapped up on Wednesday evening with the men’s freestyle skiing event. The United States had the three top qualifiers and there was serious talk about a possible U.S.A. sweep on the podium.

It did not work out perfectly for the United States for them to sweep the podium but they still walked away with gold and silver to boost the overall medal count.

Defending Olympic champion David Wise crashed on his first two runs after losing a ski during a trick. Some slight modifications before his final run made all the difference and Wise was able to defend his gold medal with a 97.20.

Wise was joined on the podium by teammate Alex Ferreira who nailed all three runs but was unable to post one as high as Wise. His best score came on his last run with a 96.40, more than good enough for silver.

Between Wise’s skiing halfpipe gold combined with the gold won by Shaun White in snowboarding, the United States swept the men’s halfpipe events in PyeongChang.

Sixteen year old Nico Porteous briefly jumped into first place with a 94.80 on his second run. When all the snow settled, Porteous claimed the bronze to give New Zealand its second medal of the day.

A condensed schedule due to weather meant alpin had a busy day as organizers ensure all the events are run before Sunday.

First up today was the men’s slalom race where Marcel Hirscher was the odds on favorite to win his third gold medal of the Games. About halfway through his first run, Hirscher stumbled and failed to complete his run, taking the Austria out of medal contention.

With Hirscher our, the field was wide open and Andre Myhrer of Sweden took advantage. Myhrer went ahead on the second run, overtaking Swiss skier Ramon Zenhaeusern. No one could get close to Myhrer after he went in front and he hung on to win his first career gold medal.

Zenhaeusern remained in second for the silver medal and Austrian skier Michael Matt made up for his fellow countrymen’s error and won the bronze.

After the men completed their runs, it was time for the women to take on the super combined event. One downhill run and one slalom run. Lowest combined time takes home the gold.

American Mikaela Shiffrin was the favorite but it was Lindsey Vonn leading the field after the downhill portion, meaning she would ski last in the slalom.

Everything went pretty much as planned during the slalom portion, with Shiffrin putting down the run everyone expected to move into the lead. Just a few skiers later however, Michelle Gisin of Switzerland posted an even better run to take over gold medal position from Shiffrin by almost a second.

Gisin held on to that top spot and the only person left to unseat her was Vonn but early into her run, she clipped a gate and was disqualified from the race, meaning Gisin was the Olympic champion.

Mikaela Shiffrin added to her earlier gold medal with the silver, her third career Olympic medal.

Rounding out the podium was Wendy Holdener of Switzerland with the bronze.

We will have more in this later today, but the United States big day was capped off on the rink, where the United States and Canada renewed their rivalry in the gold medal game.

It was an expected matchup that lived up to the billing in every way. The United States controlled most of the game but trailed 2-1 after two periods. With around six minutes the U.S. found the tying goal to send it to overtime.

Throughout the course of the overtime period, the U.S. came within inches of ending the game but were denied at each turn and the game went to a shootout.

Still tied after five rounds the teams kept going. In the sixth round, Jocelyne Lamoureux scored on her attempt and it was up to Meghan Agosta to keep the game alive for Canada.

In stepped Maddie Rooney.

The gold medal was the first for the U.S. in women’s ice hockey since the Nagano Games in 1998.

We’ll have more on this game and this moment later today.

We would be remiss if we did not talk about the action from the non-medal events that went down today. Here’s what you may have missed:

  • Curling wrapped up the round robin portion of their competition. The U.S. men knocked off Great Britain 10-4 to advance to the medal round where they will face Canada. The U.S. women team were not as fortunate, dropping a 9-6 decision to Sweden and were eliminated.
  • OAR, Canada, and Germany all won their quarterfinal games to advance to the medal rounds of the men’s ice hockey tournament.
  • Training runs of the four man bobsled competition were contested. Medal runs begin on Friday.

Here’s What’s Next: Thursday, February 22nd

We have made it through half the week and just two more days separate you from the weekend. Unfortunately, we are also entering the final days of the 2018 Winter Olympics but there is still a lot of action to play out before the Games are closed.

Before we break down what to watch, here is Thursday’s schedule of events:

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 3.26.56 PM.png

(Medal events denoted.)

With the action winding down, the push for medals will be stronger than ever.

Here’s what to keep an eye on:

  • Snowboarding continues competition with the men’s and women’s parallel giant slalom event.
  • Nordic combined wraps up competition with the team event.
  • Short-track speed skating wraps up their 2018 Games with medal races in men’s 500m and 5,000m relay and the women’s 1,000m.
  • Men’s curling semifinals are set and ready to go. The United States takes on Canada for a place in the gold medal match.
  • Figure skating wraps up competition with the women’s free skate. OAR could claim their first gold medal of the Games.

You can catch any of these events live or on replay by tuning into the channels listed beside the event.

If you cannot get to a TV, head on over to NBCOlympics.com to stream live online or catch up on any replays you may have missed. You can also watch wirelessly on your smartphone by downloading the NBC Sports App.

Medal Table

A quick look at the medal table after Wednesday’s action:

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 2.47.14 AM.png
Via NBCOlympics.com

Norway remains on top and closes in on the all time record for medals won at a single Winter Olympic Games. Germany and Canada remain second and third respectively. The big winner from Wednesday was the United States who won eight medals to move up to fourth and put pressure on Germany and Canada. Switzerland jumps up to ninth with a good day on the slopes.

Keep up to date on everything Olympics right here on “The Bat Flip” where we will be posting our daily Precap to cover what all went down and what else is to come in PyeongChang.

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