What you missed last night in PyeongChang: Ice dancers dazzle, big air on the slopes


Primetime spotlight

Ice dancing highlighted Primetime coverage. The Americans had three pairs competing in the event. Maia and Alex Shibutani were skating for the first time since contributing in the team event. The pairs of Madison Chock/Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue were marking their PyeongChang debut.

Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir charmed in the short dance. They lead the competition after the short event with a score of 83.67.

Reigning world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron had a costume malfunction which affected their performance. Regardless, they finished in second, less than two points behind first.

The men’s aerials final saw some of the highest scores recorded across the board. This meant reigning gold medalist Anton Kushnir was on the outside looking in when the final scores were posted. It meant a new champion would be named.

Oleksandr Abramenko claimed the title with a score of 128.51.  It was Ukraine’s first-ever medal in freestyle skiing in his fourth Olympics. Jia Zongyang finished .46 behind for silver, and Olympic Athlete from Russia Ilia Burov claimed bronze.

Reigning world champion Jonathon Lillis, America’s best hope for a medal, did not make it out of the second round of the final. His form on a quadruple twisting triple back flip was not as crisp as usual. He had been performing exceptionally well going into the Olympics.  Lillis was competing with a heavy heart after the sudden passing of his younger brother, Mikey.

Twizzle time

Team USA has one of the deepest groups of pairs it’s ever had. The three pairs have traded honors as the top U.S. group in the last few competition seasons.

Reigning U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue displayed their dominance on the ice, scored a personal best of 77.75 and are currently in third overall. They are making their Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

In an interesting note, Hubbell and Donohue train with Virtue/Moire and Papadakis/Cizeron in Montreal. If the standings were to hold, people are affectionately calling it a “Montreal sweep.”

Less than .02 behind Hubbell and Donohue are the Shibutani siblings. The Shibutanis looked more confident than their last showing in the pair event. In Sochi, the duo finished ninth.

The last American duo, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, finished in seventh overall with a score of 75.45 points. Chock is skating in her third Olympics, second with Bates. In Sochi, they finished eighth.

As mentioned above, Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir lead after the short dance. Their score of 83.67 is the highest ever recorded in a short dance at the Olympics. The pair took home gold in Vancouver and silver in Sochi and were undefeated in the 2016-17 season.

Italian duo Papadakis and Cizeron were making their Olympic debut in PyeongChang. It did not go as planned when Papadakis’ dress came undone at the top. Despite having to alter her routine at moments to hold the dress, the pair showed their excellent skating skills and were able to overcome the malfunction for second place after the short program.

An Olympic debut

Snowboard big air made its Olympic debut, and the women did not disappoint in the qualifying round. Austria’s Anna Gasser leads the group heading into finals.

Gasser was the only rider to land a cab double cork 1080, and she earned a score of 98.0. Doubles have been becoming more popular in women’s snowboarding in the last year and will no doubt have a factor in placing on the podium.

Last week’s slopestyle gold and silver medalists, Jamie Anderson and Laurie Blouin, both landed double cork 900s. U.S. medal hopeful Julia Marino completed a pair of cab double underflips to advance to the final.

If Jamie Anderson were to win the final, she would become the first female snowboarder to win multiple Olympic gold medals in a single Olympic Games. She would also match Shaun White’s record of three Olympic snowboarding gold medals.

American Jessika Jenson also qualified for the final. Jensen already placed 4th in the slopestyle event.

17-year-old teammate Hailey Langland was the only American to not make the final. She finished in 14th after landing a cab 720 in her first run and not landing her second run.

Go big or go home

Brita Sigourney finished as the top American in the qualifying round of the halfpipe freestyle skiing event. She reached huge heights in her first run, which helped her earn a 90.60 placing her in third overall.

Maddie Bowman just qualified for the final after taking home silver in Sochi. If she were to win, she would become the first female freestyle skier in any discipline to win two Olympic gold medals.

Annalisa Drew is looking to improve on her ninth place finish in Sochi. She qualified for the final in fourth place overall with a score of 81.80, right behind Sigourney.

Devin Logan did not qualify for the final. The 25-year-old competed in the slopestyle event two days ago. She finished in 10th overall after taking silver in Sochi. However, Logan crashed during training for slopestyle and suffered a hematoma on her leg that went as far down as her ankle. The swelling could have impacted Logan’s performance because it made wearing her ski boots painful.

The game behind the game

Lindsey Vonn finished her second training run for the women’s downhill in third place. She had another clean run. Her time of 1:40.10 is misleading because she intentionally stood up at the end to slow her time. Afterwards she claimed she wanted someone else to finish first.

“I actually didn’t want to win the training run today,” Vonn told NBC. “I like letting other people think that they are faster.”

The fastest training time was by Stephanie Vernier of Austria. She crossed in 1:39.75. Italian Sofia Goggia, one of Vonn’s biggest rivals, finished second.

Alice McKennis has a good chance of being the third American to race in the downhill on Wednesday. She finished third in the first training run and finished ninth in the second. The U.S. gets thee spots, with two guaranteed to Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin.

Mckennis is competing with Breezy Johnson, Laureen Ross, Alice Merryweather and Stacey Cook for the final spot. Cook crossed the finish line in her second run in noticeable pain. She crashed in Germany in the last World Cup race before the Olympics on Feb. 4 and still can’t compete without extreme discomfort.

Shiffrin is still undecided about whether she will compete in the downhill. Shiffrin finished 16th in the second training run. However, she finished first out of any slalom specialists competing.

A third training run will be held later today.

One step closer to redemption

The U.S. beat Finland 5-0 in the semifinals of the women’s hockey tournament. Team USA advances to the gold medal game for the fifth time in six Olympics.

The U.S. won behind its strong power play. Team USA scored three goals on power plays against Finland. Dani Cameranesi scored two goals for the U.S. while making her Olympic debut. Her three goals of the tournament tie Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson for the most goals scored by a U.S. player in PyeongChang. Three-time Olympian Hilary Knight scored her first goal of the tournament as well.

Goalie Maddie Rooney made her third consecutive start. She saved all 14 of Finland’s shots.

The U.S. will face the winner of the Canada-OAR game in the gold-medal game. The U.S. and Canada have met in four of five women’s hockey gold medal games. Canada has won gold at the last four women’s Olympic tournaments. Sweden, the U.S. and Canada are the only three teams to ever play in the gold-medal game in the Olympics.

Critical curling matchup

The U.S. men’s team got a much-needed win over Canada. If the U.S. wants to keep advancing they must win from here on out. They handed Canada their third straight loss with a 9-7 win in 11 ends. With the win, the U.S. improves to 3-4 overall, which is still technically within reach of a semifinal spot. Canada has now lost three straight games, and after starting a perfect 4-0 are now 4-3 tied for third overall.

Elsewhere in men’s curling, Switzerland beat Sweden. Sweden was the last undefeated team in the tournament. Great Britain battled Denmark to a 7-6 win. Finally, South Korea topped Italy 8-6.

On the women’s side, the U.S. had the night off. South Korea had a huge win over China, 12-5. The defending gold medalist Canada fell to a 0-3 start, so they must win out to advance. Canada did just that, beating Switzerland 10-8. In the last match, Sweden beat Great Britain 8-6.

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