It was another fantastic day of Winter Olympics competition as the athletes chased after Olympic medals and raced for a position on the podium. Click on pics to see them in a larger size.
Figure Skating Team Event
|Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac of France in Figure Skating Team Event - Ice Dance - Short Dance PyeongChang 2018 February 11, 2018, South Korea. Feb. 10, 2018 - Source: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images AsiaPac|
Two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia set a new record for the most points awarded in a women's short program. It was enough to leap the Olympic Athletes from Russia to second place for now. But Canada's ice dancing team of Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and skating pair Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford both took top spots to give Canada a solid lead in first place. The event finishes on Monday with men's, women's, and ice dance free programs. The US is currently in third, just 1 point ahead of Italy!
Men's Slopestyle Snowboarding
In the dangerous and thrilling sport of slopestyle snowboarding, the athletes snowboard down an obstacle course that includes a variety of rails, jumps and other terrain park features. Points are scored for amplitude, originality, and quality of tricks. The more difficult feats get the highest scores. The cleanest runs get the high marks. In the final event, there are three runs. Only the best run is marked for placement. The top scoring run determines the winner.
Red Gerard, 17, of the US takes gold, the first US medal of the PyeongChang 2018 Games. His third and final run was the cleanest and had the most difficult tricks.
|Redmond Gerard of the United States gold at Snowboard Men's Slopestyle PyeongChang 2018 February 11, 2018, South Korea. Feb. 10, 2018 - Source: Clive Mason/Getty Images AsiaPac|
Canada's Max Parrot's third run was also his best, good enough to take silver. Mark McMorris of Canada had his best score on his second run, which earned him the PyeongChang 2018 bronze, adding to his Sochi 2014 bronze.
It is an incredible bronze for Mark McMorris. Just 11 months ago, he suffered a horrific crash while snowboarding in the backwoods. He crashed into a tree, shattering the left side of his body--broken bones, collapsed lung, damaged spleen, etc. He had to be put into a coma to recover when he was admitted to the hospital. It wasn't a sure thing he would survive, much less snowboard again. But almost a year later, he's recovered well enough to claim a spot on the podium.
Unlike other sports, snowboarders compete with a sense of camaraderie and cheer each other on. They thrive on encouraging each other to improve or be better and push each other to be at their best. It was very nice to see them sincerely congratulate each other after their best performances and encourage each other after a bad showing. That's sportsmanship and camaraderie!
Men's Downhill Alpine Skiing
Men's Downhill Alpine Skiing is postponed to Thursday due of strong winds. The conditions made it unfeasible to use the gondola to safely transport teams and officials up the mountain. There are 11 Alpine events scheduled.
To make room, Alpine events biggest race, the Men's Super-G, has been rescheduled from Thursday to Friday.
Now the first race of the Alpine program will be the women's giant slalom on Monday. That means the women will compete before the men in ski racing for the first time since Sarajevo 1984, when a blizzard caused the rescheduling. It appears that it takes an act of God or bad weather to give the ladies the first race.
Do not read if you plan to watch a recorded broadcast of the events.
Spoilers Below for Men's Cross-country 15km + 15km Skiathlon, Men's 5000m Speedskating, Men's Biathlon 10km Sprint, Women's Moguls, and Men's Singles Luge.
Men's Cross-country 15km + 15km Skiathlon
What an amazing Men's Cross-country 30km Skiathlon! The first 15km are skied in the Classical Technique, using an etched track, before a halfway pit stop to change skis to finish the last 15km in the Freestyle Technique on open terrain. First across the finish line wins.
A crash happened early at the beginning of the packed mass start race. In the first half of the race, the skiers race in tracks etched in the snow. The racers were bottled up in line on the tracks when Norway's Simen Hegstad Krueger appeared to slip; his right ski came out from under him, causing him to fall to the ground.
Two Russian skiers, Andrey Larkov and Denis Spitsov, were directly behind the fallen Krueger, and they tripped and toppled over him. The three scrambled to get back up. But by the time they did, they had lost over ten seconds, and the lead pack had left them behind! A disaster for all three athletes! All three are strong skiers, with Krueger ranked 7th in World Cup ranking, while Larkov ranks 11th, and Spitsov 16th!
Dude! There's no medal up my butt!
But this the Olympics, and anything can happen. Digging deep, motivated to keep going, Simen Hegstad Krueger slowly battled his determined way towards the lead pack, chasing them down. And in an unbelievable show of strength, he took the lead in the last 5 km of the 30km race! And he held on to that lead, crossing the finish line first, giving Norway a sweep of the podium!
|Simen Hegstad Krueger of Norway in Men's 15km and 15km Skiathlon Cross-Country Skiing PyeongChang 2018 February 11, South Korea. Feb. 10, 2018 - Source: Lars Baron/Getty Images AsiaPac|
Simen Hegstad Krueger recovers from a disastrous fall in the first lap to claim the gold. And Norwegians Marting Johnsrud Sundby take silver, and Hans Christer Holund picks up bronze. And Denis Spitsov, who tripped over Krueger at the start, fought his way from seventh place to finish fourth overall!
What an amazing race and astounding comeback recovery for Simen Hegstad Krueger! A spectacular race for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics!
Men's 5000m Speedskating
The Netherlands' superspeedskater Sven Kramer wins his third consecutive gold medal in the 5000m, adding PyeongChang 2018 gold to his Sochi 2014 and Vancouver 2010 wins. He used his signature last lap kick to pick up speed and set an Olympics record of 6 minutes 09.76 seconds, holding an edge of 1.85 seconds over the two other medalists. Kramer hopes to win two more golds with the upcoming 10,000m and the Team Pursuit, where the Dutch have dominated.
Ted-Jan Bloemen of Canada takes silver by .0002 of a second in a thrilling head-to-head with Norwegian Sverre Lunde Pedersen.
|Ted-Jan Bloemen of Canada races Sverre Lunde Pedersen of Norway during the Men's 5000m Speed Skating PyeongChang 2018 February 11, 2018, South Korea. Feb. 10, 2018 - Source: Harry How/Getty Images AsiaPac|
Ted-Jan Bloemen actually left The Netherlands in 2014 to move to Canada, where his father was born in Bathurst, N.B., and where the family lived for 7 years before returning to The Netherlands. Ted-Jan Bloemen could not break through the wall in the dominant Dutch Speedskating team. He was not picked for the Sochi 2014 team.
The move to Canada has allowed Ted-Jan Bloemen to thrive, enabling him to get better, setting the World record in the 5000m and 10,000m events. He actually raced Norwegian Sverre Lunde Pedersen to set that 5000m record two months ago! What an amazing race from the speedskaters!
Men's Biathlon 10km Sprint
The surprises and shocking turn of events continue in the Men's Biathlon 10km Sprint.
Heavily favored France's Martin Fourcade, ranked number 1 in the world, and Norway's Johannes Thingnes Boe, ranked number 2, were expected to fight for gold. Instead, Martin Fourcade missed three of five shots from the prone position, forcing him to do three penalty laps, and finish eighth overall. And Thingnes Boe missed three from the prone position and one from the standing position with his .22 caliber rifle to finish in a distant 31st place!
Meanwhile, seizing the moment, number 5 ranked Arnd Peiffer of Germany hit all 10 of his targets to win gold.
|Arnd Peiffer of Germany Men's 10km Sprint Biathlon PyeongChang 2018, South Korea. Feb. 10, 2018 - Source: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images AsiaPac|
Michal Krcmar of the Czech Republic claims silver, and Italy's Dominik Windisch takes bronze.
What a thrilling and unexpected ending for the race! Anything can happen in the Olympics, where even the underdogs have a real chance to rise up and win!
The surprises continue in Women's Moguls, where the skiers race down a bumpy course and launch themselves high in the air off two ramps to perform difficult tricks then land and ski down the bumps to cross the finish line in a timed race.
Perrine Laffont, 19, had the cleanest run to win the gold, France's first medal of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics.
|Perrine Laffont of France at Freestyle Skiing Ladies' Moguls PyeongChang 2018 South Korea. Feb. 10, 2018 - Source: David Ramos/Getty Images AsiaPac|
Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Canada finished second to add a PyeongChang 2018 silver to her Sochi 2014 gold. And Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan won bronze, making it the eighth winter Olympics medal Kazakhstan has won since the break up of the old Soviet Union.
Heavily favored American Jaelin Kauf finished seventh.
Men's Singles Luge
Stunning developments in Men's Singles Luge!
|David Gleirscher of Austria slides his way to gold medal in run 4 at Luge Men's Singles PyeongChang February 11, 2018, South Korea. Feb. 10, 2018 - Source: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images AsiaPac|
David Gleirscher, who struggled to make the Austrian team and has never medaled in a single World Cup race, finished his four runs in 3 minutes, 10.702 seconds to take the gold, Austria's first in men's luge in 50 years! Anything can happen at the Olympics!
American Chris Mazdzer gave the USA its first men's singles medal by finishing second to take the silver. And Germany's Johannes Ludwig claims the bronze.
Heartbreak as Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 champion, Germany's Felix Loch, shockingly struggled in the final run and slipped all the way to fifth, ending his bid to become the second slider to win the event three consecutive times. Fortune did not favor him this day. But that's the Olympics. Not everyone will reach the podium. But he still has an incredible record of achievements to be proud of. And two previous golds (or any medal) is better than none.
And so ends a surprising Day 2 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. Anything can happen. And for several athletes, they did the unexpected, seized the moment, and made their Olympics dreams come true.