Olympic Precap: Closing Time

Via @NBCOlympics

(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: Saturday, February 24th

Saturday marked the final full day of competition of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Sunday will mark the final medal event and the closing ceremony but Saturday was still a day packed with action.

A week ago, it looked like the United States men’s curling team was headed for another disappointing exit in Olympic competition. Ever since winning bronze in 2006, the men’s team never made it out of the round robin stage for the next three Olympic Games. That all changed in PyeongChang, where the men’s team won their final three matches to advance to the medal rounds.

The winning streak continued in the semifinals with an upset victory over North American rival Canada to book a spot in the gold medal game. Guaranteed at minimum a silver medal, U.S. curling was assured of their best finish ever in Olympics competition.

Not satisfied with second place, the men took on medal favorite Sweden in the final match to determine the Olympic champion.

Both sides exchanged the lead back and forth as the match entered the eighth end tied at 5-5.

A few mistakes from the Swedish team gave the Americans an opening and much maligned skip John Shuster capitalized. Shuster threw the perfect rock that hit its mark, removed two Swedish stones and came to a stop to put five U.S. points on the board to push the Americans ahead 10-5 with two ends left.

Needing a miracle to come back, Sweden went all in on the ninth end but were able to come away with two points. Knowing the U.S. had the hammer in the final end, Sweden conceded the match, giving the U.S. a 10-7 victory and the country’s first ever curling gold medal.

Due to the time difference between South Korea and the United States, the match ended around 4:00 AM on the east coast but that did not stop many Americans from sacrificing sleep to watch Olympic history be made live instead of watching on tape delay once they woke up.

Cross-country wrapped up the men’s races early in the morning with the 50km mass start event, the longest individual race of the cross-country schedule.

Norway has dominated cross-country since the Games opened but they were shutout of the medals in the final men’s race.

Taking over two hours to complete, the 50km race is the longest race on the cross-country docket by almost double the second longest race. Skiers had put their bodies through relentless competition over the past two weeks but if they could survive 50km more, they could etch their name in Olympic history.

Two hours of racing was decided by less than 20 seconds at the finish line where Iivo Niskanen of Finland crossed the line first to win his second career gold medal and his first in an individual event.

Roughly 20 seconds behind Niskanen was Alexander Bolshunov of OAR to claim the silver and taking the bronze was Bolshunov’s OAR teammate Andrey Larkov.

Long-track speedskating completed all competition on Saturday with a new race making its debut in the Olympics, the men’s and women’s mass start race.

Two semifinals on both sides set the final field of 16 skaters to dole it out over the course of 16 laps in a truly unique event for the long-track discipline. Normally, long-track is two skaters racing head-to-head for the best time but mass start has all 16 skaters on the ice at the same time. First one across the finish line walks away the Olympic champion.

The women were the first race to go and Nana Takagi of Japan won the inaugural gold medal in the women’s mass start, giving her a second gold medal from the 2018 Games.

Host nation South Korea was sent into a frenzy when Kim Bo-Reum crossed the line in second place to win the silver medal and continue the country’s strong Games on their home soil.

It is hardly a long-track race if The Netherlands does not make a podium appearance and they claimed another speed skating medal with a bronze from Irene Schouten.

Following the women’s race was the men’s event and South Korea improved on its silver from the women’s race.

Lee Seung-Hoon made himself a national hero, winning the men’s mass start gold medal on his own soil to send the crowd into a frenzy as he came across the finish line.

Belgium broke into the medal table with little time to spare with a silver medal on the legs of Swings. Of course The Netherlands found themselves on the medal stand in the final long-track of PyeongChang with the bronze medal thanks to Koen Verweij.

Sliding sports have belonged to the Germans in Pyeongchang and they capped off the sliding schedule with two more medals in the men’s 4-man competition.

Drama has been a theme of all the bobsled events at these Games and the 4-man was no different. With one sled left to run, a German sled piloted by Nico Walther sat in gold medal position but they were not alone, tied with the South Korean sled driven by Won Yunjong. If the final German sled could not post a better time than those two, it would be the second tie for gold in men’s bobsled these Games.

Driven by Francesco Friedrich, the final German sled to make their run easily beat the top time and won the gold medal, making it a complete sweep for Germany in the bobsled events.

Germany also took home silver with the sled piloted by Walther, sharing the honor with the South Korean sled. Due to the tie for silver, no bronze was awarded. Switzerland finished in fourth place. The highest finishing American sled was in ninth.

Germany leaves PyeongChang with 11 total medals in sliding sports.

Before the big showdown for gold, the men’s ice hockey had to decide the bronze between Canada and the Czech Republic. It was a wild game back and forth affair between the two sides but in the end, Canada prevailed 6-4 to win the bronze and medal in their third straight Olympics.

One of the biggest draws every Winter Olympics is the men’s ice hockey gold medal game. Typically this is a game featuring the best hockey players in the world but since the NHL did not send players to PyeongChang, there was a little less hype.

Regardless who was playing, there was still excitement around the Olympic facility and the game delivered in every way imaginable.

OAR (ie: Russia) were expected to be here and carried the expectations of being the gold medal favorite. Even without NHL players, they still dressed the most talent in the tournament by being able to to pull from the KHL.

Their opponent, Germany, was not expected to be playing for a gold medal. They lost their first two games and many thought they were headed for an early exit. Whatever they changed from the beginning of the tournament worked as they knocked off Switzerland, Sweden, and Canada to reach the gold medal game.

Both teams exchanged leads and the game went deep into the third period tied at 2-2. With less than three minutes remaining, Germany scored to take a 3-2 lead. It looked as if the Germans were going to do the impossible, but with 55 second left, OAR find the tying goal to send it to overtime.

In the overtime period, the Germans were whisted for a high stick, sending OAR to the power play. Up four skaters to three on the ice, the talent on the OAR roster took over and capitalized on the man advantage to win the gold medal by a final of 4-3.

Germany was certainly heartbroken by the result, being so close to the gold only to have it snatched away. Even in defeat, the German team will be one of the great stories to come out of PyeongChang, going from 0-2 to winning a silver medal.

Much like men’s ice hockey, women’s curling had to award their bronze medal before the much anticipated gold medal match could get underway. Japan lost a heartbreaking semifinal match to host South Korea to miss out on the gold medal game but they recovered and defeated Great Britain 5-3 to win the bronze medal.

South Korea has produced many cinderella stories as the host throughout these Games but none surprised as much as their women’s curling team. With little to no curling tradition, South Korea rode the home crowd to an 8-1 record in round robin and qualified for the medal rounds as the top seeded team.

A victory over Japan in the semifinals sent the South Korea team to the gold medal match to face curling powerhouse Sweden. Leading 1-0 after the first two ends, South Korea looked like they might be on their way to a historic gold medal but in the end it wasn’t to be for the home side.

Sweden recorded a double in the third end and took control of the match from that point. It became apparent the reigning silver medalists from Sochi were on their game and they had no plans of relinquishing their lead. A point in the ninth end gave Sweden an 8-3 lead and the South Koreans conceded the match, giving Sweden the gold medal.

It did not end the way they hoped, but the South Korean team shocked the world simply by qualifying for the medal rounds and will leave PyeongChang with the silver medal.

Here’s What’s Next: Sunday, February 25th

Over two weeks of competition comes to an end this evening following the Closing Ceremonies in PyeongChang. Before we get there however, there is still one final medal left to award.

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

Screen Shot 2018-02-24 at 8.29.08 AM.png
Via CBS Sports

We’ve made it. The final day of the 2018 Winter Olympics has arrived. One more medal to hand out then the Games will come to a close.

Here’s what to keep an eye on:

  • Cross-country awards the last medals of PyeongChang in the women’s 30km mass start race.
  • If you enjoyed figure skating throughout the Olympics then do yourself a favor and tune into the skating exhibition to see the stars of PyeongChang on the ice one final time.
  • The Games officially come to an end at the Closing Ceremonies where the Olympic flame will be extinguished and the Olympic flag will be handed off to China, the hosts of the 2022 Winter 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 Saturday’s action:

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 2.30.43 AM.png
Via NBCOlympics.com

Norway remains on top, where they have been since the Games began. Germany in second and the only other country to break 30 medals. North America claims the three and four spot, a respectable showing by both Canada and the U.S. A big final weekend pushes host South Korea into top six.

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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