Phew! Are we caught up? Let’s see … the only sport in action right now is women’s hockey, with Canada facing Switzerland in the semifinals. Quick check: It’s 5-0 Canada. In the first period. Not a lot of parity here.
Good quip from Elana Meyers Taylor on NBC, saying her silver was surely the first medal ever won on behalf of the isolation hotel. She somehow maintained her sense of humor and made videos from her room while she waited to have the necessary positive tests.
Oh wait — Switzerland just scored. Don’t call it a comeback.
Ice dancing: Gold for France, bronze for USA
It’s fine to feel some sympathy for the USA’s Madison Chock and Evan Bates, but there’s no arguing with the top three here. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were dazzling. Then the ROC’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov were equally spectacular.
And there’s simply no way to describe France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. NBC’s Johnny Weir probably came closest when he said he has shared the ice with the duo, and it makes him feel like he’s a shop full of things he can’t afford.
So it’s France, ROC and the USA, to the surprise of absolutely no one.
Freestyle slopestyle: The second qualifying run is over, and the most significant shakeup was that the two skiers who had the epic duel in the big air final, Eileen Gu and Tess Ledeux, secured spots in the top 12 and qualified. Like Ledeux, Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud was outside the top 12 after her first run but came through in the clutch to qualify. Gu was in the top 12 after the first run but would have been bumped out if she hadn’t improved in the second.
Two Team GB skiers, Kirsty Muir and Katie Summerhayes, also qualified.
The USA’s Maggie Voisin is in the final, hoping to end her run of back luck in the Olympics. She couldn’t compete in 2014 after being injured in a training run. She finished fourth in 2018. She was fourth again in qualifying here, but that’s certainly enough.
Marin Hamill has also qualified, but her injury would have to be a lot less serious than it looked for her to compete. The accident left coaches and teammates in tears.
We’re lucky more people weren’t injured, frankly. Many skiers had a difficult time coping with this course. The fluidity of the snowboard competition just wasn’t there.
Ice dancing: Hubbell and Donohue are retiring from competition after this, and that was a breathtaking exit full of the athleticism and grace you want to see in this event. Donohue makes lifts look easy. Hubbell hangs on to Donohue’s neck during a spin in which Donohue takes the “look Ma, no hands” approach.
“One last turn,” says Hubbell as she steps off the ice.
It’s emotional, it’s brilliant. It’s a one-point deduction because Donohue held on to his lift just a little too long, but it’s still good for first place.
Hubbell and Donohue will get a medal. Next up: The ROC’s reigning world champions and then the overwhelming favorites from France.
Freestyle slopestyle: Hamill’s accident is surely a difficult incident to follow for the remaining skiers trying to qualify for the final. Canada’s Olivia Asselin crashes and slowly skis down to the finish looking a little despondent, though her first-run score might hold up to qualify. She’s currently 10th.
New Zealand’s Margaux Hackett has a clean run going until she overrotates a jump and crashes hard. She trudges up the hill to collect a piece of equipment that was dislodged.
Ice dancing: The USA will get a medal. Chock and Bates easily sail past the rest of the field with a personal best of 130.63 in the free dance.
Their friends and teammates Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue will need to be near their own personal best to top that.
Freestyle slopestyle: The USA’s Marin Hamill has clinched a spot in the final, but her participation seems to be in doubt now. She crashed on her second run, and nearly a dozen people have surrounded her on the snow. Horrible sight.
Ice dancing: Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri have moved up from seventh to at least fifth, displacing the ROC’s Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin.
The top four are going now (well, not at the same time, which would be entertaining but frightening), starting with the USA’s Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
Snowboard big air: Oh, so close! Belgium’s Evy Poppe goes for a double forward somersault in the air and gets about 1 3/4 of the way around.
So the USA’s Hailey Langland hangs on in 12th. Canada will have two representatives, Laurie Blouin and Jasmine Baird. New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski Synnott set herself up as a favorite to do the slopestyle-big air double, posting the only score over 90 in this qualifying event.
Australia’s Tess Coady has qualified, as has defending champion Anna Gasser of Austria.
Freestyle slopestyle: Team GB’s Katie Summerhayes’s second run isn’t quite as good as her first, and she’ll have a nervous wait, currently sitting in ninth.
Australia’s Abi Harrigan is on deck.
Snowboard big air: Team GB’s Katie Ormerod can’t land cleanly. She’s out. Langland is still in.
Can Courtney Rummel bump out her US teammate? She looks OK in the air but lands awkwardly, remaining upright but with some difficulty. Her score of 38.75 seems quite harsh, but no reasonable judging would’ve put her in the top 12, anyway. Langland is looking safer.
Snowboard big air: Australia’s Tess Coady has qualified for the final, currently holding seventh place with five riders left.
The bubble’s occupant at the moment is the USA’s Hailey Langland, but the remaining riders — including Team GB’s Katie Ormerod and the USA’s Courtney Rummel — have some distance to make up.
Gold and silver, USA, women’s monobob
Kaillie Humphries simply dominated this competition in its Olympic debut, posting the best time in each of the first three heats and the third-best when she held a massive lead in the fourth. She has now won gold medals for two different countries.
Elana Meyers Taylor takes silver with the fastest time in the fourth heat.
Meanwhile, the US women close out an 8-6 win over South Korea in curling.
Monobob: Canada’s Christine de Bruin immediately hands back the slim advantage she had over Meyers Taylor through three runs. She drives well the rest of the way but can’t make up the difference.
Here comes Kaillie Humphries for what should be a victory lap. Meyers Taylor is set for the 1-2 US sweep, with de Bruin in bronze.
Monobob: The USA’s Elana Meyers Taylor has three Olympic medals and two world championships in the traditional two-woman race. She comes into the last run with a significant lead of Nolte, and she puts a stamp on things by going faster than Nolte in the fourth run as well.
Two to go … will Meyers Taylor move up to silver?
Monobob: Walker’s hopes are probably dashed here. Germany’s Laura Nolte stays barely ahead of Walker at each checkpoint and ends up slightly slower in the fourth run but 0.13 seconds ahead in the four-run total.
Three to go.
Monobob: Could Bree Walker sneak on to the podium? Maybe. Her fourth run is clean, and it’s faster than Elana Meyers Taylor went in her last two runs. Four to go …
Snowboard big air: Time for Tess Coady of Australia, and her trick is so smooth and effortless that it almost seems that she didn’t do anything. Her scores coming into this final run were 74.00 and 54.75, so her goal was to improve on the latter. She does. It’s 62.25, and she’s up into sixth, where she can probably plan for tomorrow.
Immediately after that, fellow Australian Bree Walker hits the monobob course ..
Snowboard big air: China’s Rong Ge lands an underflip, then flips again in the finish area, failing to stop before hitting the foam padding. She goes over the barrier, gets up and looks around in confusion, as if the landscape has suddenly changed. She gets a 65.75. Pancochova is bumped out. You’d think the air guitar would beat the barrier jump, but it seems things like that are not judged in big air.
Pancochova’s good cheer should be an asset in her political activities:
Snowboard big air: Looks like our favorite air guitarist, the Czech Republic’s Sarka Pancochova, will the one who officially bumps Jamie Anderson off the bubble. She lets loose a nice howl, tells us all she loves us (in English) and follows up with something in another language.
We love you too, Sarka, even if you just knocked a legend out of what’s probably her last Olympic competition. Pancochova moves into 12th. Anderson’s 13th and won’s make the final.
Freestyle slopestyle: Gu’s rival from the big air event, Tess Ledeux, also is virtually assured of a place in the final after a clean run that nets her a … 68.13? That’s all? She’s puzzled. She probably had a case for winning the big air ahead of Gu, and now she has a tough wait to see if she’ll make another final.
Snowboard big air: The Japanese 1-2-3 in qualification is finally broken up, as New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski Synnott gets the first score in the 90s with a beautiful 1080.
The next rider almost breaks 90. It’s an 89.75 for the legend, Jamie Anderson. She’s in 11th for the moment despite two falls, but it would be a stunner if no one else can push her out of the top 12.
Eileen Gu faces a pressure-packed run in freestyle slopestyle. The US-born and based skier who has become a marquee athlete in China had a lackluster first run.
Her second run starts tentatively, as she does not seem all that comfortable on the rails. But she makes all the jumps looks easy, landing a couple of them heading backwards. Surely that’s enough to get her to the final.
It’s a 79.38. She contently eats a sandwich in the finish area and gives a thumbs-up. See you tomorrow.
Now THIS is how you do big air …
Why Lucile Lefevre went for comedy over cab 900s is a good question, but bless her for it.
Here’s where we stand going into one of the busiest hours of Olympic action of this fortnight-plus …
SNOWBOARDING: Japanese riders are 1-2-3 in big air qualifying, with slopestyle winner Zoi Sadowski Synnott fourth. Australian Tess Coady and American Hailey Langland are in the top 10 but might need to improve on their final jumps to reach the 12-person final. Top two of the three runs will count.
FREESTYLE SKIING: Still only two people in the slopestyle who’ve broken 80 — Johanne Killi (NOR) and Kelly Sildaru (EST). They’re likely set for the final, as are Maggie Voisin (USA) and Kirsty Muir (GBR), each of whom broke 70. Next up: Marin Hamill (USA) and Katie Summerhayes (GBR). Slopestyle champion Eileen Gu (CHN) is near the bubble; silver medalist Tess Ledeux (FRA) fell early in her first run. Top run counts.
ICE DANCING: Last two groups are due up next. Other events might be done before the contenders/leaders go.
MONOBOB: The final run is underway, going in reverse order of current standings. That means we’ll see Australia’s Bree Walker (fifth) near the end. Barring catastrophe, the USA’s Kaillie Humphries will take gold. Will Elana Meyers Taylor join her on the podium?
CURLING: The US women stole three against South Korea, which came back to score two with hammer to cut the deficit to 5-4. Japan is having an easy time with China, while Canada is controlling the game against the ROC.
The Super Bowl is barreling to a thrilling conclusion. Go ahead and watch — I’ll be over here breaking down the scenarios for a lot of action coming up in the next hour. I mean a LOT.
Finally got an update on the USA’s Julia Marino, the slopestyle silver medal who withdrew from the big air event:
Fellow American Caroline Claire fell in the freestyle big air event a few days ago, which may explain why she’s not in the slopestyle today.
Jamie Anderson’s Olympic career may have just come to an end. She skids in the finish area on her second big air effort, and that’ll make it impossible for her to advance to the final. She took silver in this event four years ago along with her second straight slopestyle gold, but it won’t happen this time.
Meanwhile, in freestyle skiing, the competitors are skiing as if slopestyle has just been invented. The USA’s Darian Stevens fell off one of the rails at the start of the course, stood up and looked back at the feature as if it had somehow come to life and tripped her. She’s hardly the only person having trouble. Through 11 skiers, only two have scores above 58.00.
First run of the snowboard big air qualifier is complete.
Top three are Zoi Sadowski Synnott (NZL), Kokomo Murase (JPN) and Reira Iwabuchi (JPN), followed by Tess Coady (AUS). Defending champion Anna Gasser also is in very good shape. The three Canadians are in the top 10. The only American in qualifying position is Hailey Langland in 11th.
I was told incorrectly by a major organization that shall remain nameless that they only used the best run in the scoring. It’s actually best two out of three, and those two have to be different spins (frontside, backside, switch something, etc.).
And now Norway’s Johanne Killi has taken the freestyle slopestyle qualification lead. Seems unfair for Norway to be good at everything like that.
The USA’s Caroline Claire did not start.
The women’s snowboarders have finished their slopestyle competition and moved to big air. The women’s freestyle skiers are doing the opposite, and we’re now seeing a slopestyle competition in which the riders are having serious problems putting together a successful run. The latest to stumble is France’s Tess Ledeux, who may have deserved to win the big air event ahead of China’s Eileen Gu.
Gu went first and has the early lead with an indifferent score of 57.28.
Scratch that — Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru, who won this event in the 2020 Youth Olympic Games, has landed an 80.96.
“I don’t know if waves get you big scores,” says our big air commentator as France’s Lucile Lefevre attempts no rotations but waves to the crowd and/or cameras while airborne. She also has a lot of messages written on the underside of her snowboard. “Please give me more points” was apparently not one of those messages.
Snowboarders are generally a cheerful, music-loving bunch, and they’re showing it here. Canadian Laurie Blouin showed her phone to the camera at the finish line in an attempt to show what music she’d selected. The Czech Republic’s Sarka Pancochova played some air guitar on her snowboard, shrugging off any disappointment over only getting a 20.75.
A bit of news: The USA’s Julia Marino, the silver medalist in slopestyle, is now listed as “DNS” (did not start). No explanation as yet.
The slopestyle bronze medalist, Australia’s Tess Coady, had a solid first effort with a 74.00 off an underflip. She might need to beat that to qualify.
The USA’s Elana Meyers Taylor has passed Germany’s Laura Nolte to move into third place in the third heat of the Olympics’ first monobob competition. The gold medal is almost certainly in the hands of Kaillie Humphries, who won two gold medals for Canada but switched to the USA.
Australia’s Bree Walker has moved from seventh to fifth.
The standings heading to the final run in a little over an hour:
Want to know more about the monobob, gender equity and global representation? Of course you do.
The two most recent snowboard slopestyle gold medalists have gone early in the big air event, and it’s the same story as it was in slopestyle this time around — New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski Synnott lands an impressive trick, and the USA’s Jamie Anderson does not. Sadowski Synnott is the early leader, ahead of Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi and Miyabi Onitsuka.
The ramp has an additional platform built up top to add some length and allow the riders to get a bit more speed. The ROC’s Ekaterina Kosova checks it out and lands a beautiful 0. No, that’s not her score, but in an event that deals with 720s, 900s and 1080s, I’m not sure how else to refer to something with no rotations.
Over to women’s snowboard big air qualifying at the venue I’m calling the Power Station.
A lot of the favorites go early.
Best effort out of three counts. Best two scores out of three count, as long as they’re different spins. Field of 30 will be cut to 12 for tomorrow’s final.
The Ukrainian ice dancers’ music selection is a piece from Moulin Rouge that interpolates a guy grunting out the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. A bunch of their elements have the dreaded yellow box for “under review,” and they’re visibly disappointed afterward despite warming up nicely as the routine went on. The last minute was fun to watch.
And in between routines, the PA plays Kryptonite, by one-hit wonder 3 Doors Down.
We’re a few minutes away from the start of the free dance, the second and final segment of ice dancing. The favorites and leaders are in the fourth group, so we’ll only be checking on this sporadically while we watch skiers and snowboarders do their flippy/spinny things.
The first dancers are Oleksandra Nazarovaand Maksym Nikitin from Ukraine. You have to admire the Ukrainian athletes here. We tend to ask athletes about “distractions” when the “distractions” are utterly trivial. No one would blame Ukrainian athletes if their minds were elsewhere.
The first five duos are warming up to a mashup of Madonna and Michael Jackson. When we get rolling, it’ll be a lot of movie soundtracks and some Chopin. I’d like to see someone try a routine to a Dream Theater song in 13/8 time, but my vigil will continue.
Speaking of the Hamilton family, we’ll begin with a quick look at women’s curling, where Matt’s sister Becca is playing on Tabitha Peterson’s team as they face South Korea in a crucial game.
Current standings (each team plays nine games, top four go to playoffs):
Switzerland (Silvana Tirinzoni) 5-0 Japan (Satsuki Fujisawa) 3-1 Team GB (Eve Muirhead) 3-2 Sweden (Anna Hasselborg) 3-2 USA (Tabitha Peterson) 3-2 South Korea (Kim Eun-jung) 2-2 China (Han Yu) 2-3 Canada (Jennifer Jones) 1-3 Denmark (Madeleine Dupont) 1-4 ROC (Alina Kovaleva) 0-4
So, yeah, this is a big one. No one expects Jones to stay out of the running for long.
The US women have never medaled. They took fourth in 2002.
It appears that we will indeed have the women’s freestyle slopestyle qualification shortly. It was postponed yesterday because it snowed. At the Winter Olympics. How dare Mother Nature do that to us.
Hello world, it’s Beau Dure, and I still have chills from watching Erin Jackson and her family celebrate after she became the first Black woman to win an individual Winter Olympic gold medal (as far as we know).
So I figure you’re all watching the Super Bowl and reading this coverage of the Olympics. Or you don’t care about the Super Bowl and reading along with me anyway. Or you forgot the Super Bowl was happening today, and you need to hop over to see Hunter Felt’s coverage to catch up. Or you’re a digital archeologist tracing the collapse of civilization in the future. Hopefully at least a few years from now.
In any case, glad you could be here. We have ice dancing, freestyle skiing and the first-ever monobob medal. And curling. Did I mention the perfect draw I threw on Wednesday? Because I did, you know.
Coming up today
Times are all in local Beijing time. For Melbourne it is +3 hours, for London it is -8 hours, for New York it is -13 hours and San Francisco is -16 hours.
9.05am and 2.05pm and 8.05pm Curling – would you be surprised to learn that there is curling all day long? 🥌
9.15am Ice dancing – have they put the most romantic couples’ dancing on Valentine’s Day on purpose? Your guess is as good as mine. Twenty couples will free dance for the medals 🥇
10am-11.01am and 7pm-8pm Freestyle skiing – weather permitting, the morning is the rescheduled women’s freeski slopestyle qualification, the evening is the women’s aerials final 🥇
9.30am and 11am and 8.05pm and 9.40pm Bobsleigh – the first two sessions are the conclusion of the women’s monobob, the final two are heats one and two of the men’s 2-man contest 🥇
9.30am-11am and 1.30pm-3pm Snowboard – big air qualification day, the women go in the morning, the men in the afternoon
12.10pm and 9.10pm Ice hockey – it is semi-finals day for the women, Canada v Switzerland and Finland v US 🏒
6pm-8.06pm Ski jumping – the men are doing their team competition 🥇