Weekend Olympic roundup: Team USA in action around the world
Figure skating: U.S. skaters take two medals at Grand Prix Japan
This weekend marked the fourth stop on the Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit. The NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan was marred with withdrawals, but nevertheless, the United States won two silver medals.
Without 2014 Olympic gold or silver medalists Yuzuru Hanyu (of Japan) or Patrick Chan (of Canada) the door to the men’s podium was wide open. Hanyu injured himself during Thursday’s practice session and withdrew, while Chan gave a week’s notice.
Here are the medalists from each discipline:
- Gold: Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS)
- Silver: Carolina Kostner (ITA)
- Bronze: Polina Tsurskaya (RUS)
- Gold: Sergei Voronov (RUS)
- Silver: Adam Rippon (USA)
- Bronze: Alexei Bychenko (ISR)
- Gold: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (CAN)
- Silver: Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (USA)
- Bronze: Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (ITA)
- Gold: Sui Wenjing and Han Cong (CHN)
- Silver: Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov (RUS)
- Bronze: Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov (RUS)
Next weekend, skaters will travel to Grenoble, France – the site of the 1968 Olympic Winter Games – for the Internationaux de France, the fifth stop of the Grand Prix series.
Hockey: More work ahead for U.S. and Canada men, U.S. women take upperhand in rivalry games with Canada
Expect many questions related to the Olympic identities of the United States and Canada men’s hockey rosters to remain in flux as both teams struggled in pre-Olympic tournaments over the weekend.
Playing in the 2017 Karjala Cup in Finland, Team Canada beat Switzerland on Wednesday last week, 3-2, all three goals coming off the sticks of KHL professionals, including current Kunlun Red Star forward, Gilbert Brule. NHL fans may remember Brule who appeared in 299 NHL games between 2005 and 2014, and is currently second in points for his Beijing-based KHL team.
On Friday, Canada fell to Sweden, 2-0 and in their tournament closer on Sunday, struggled to get the late-game equalizer, losing to Finland, 3-4.
Finland finished first in the six-team 2017 Karjala Cup standings, followed by Russia's "B" team in second and Sweden in third. Canada came in fourth followed by the Czech Republic and Sweden.
The U.S. men, in their first and only appearance at an event ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, were unable to pick up a win when they played Slovakia, Russia and Germany at the 2017 Deutschland Cup, finishing the weeknd at the bottom of the standings. In all three games, the U.S. out shot their international challengers, but produced just four goals on 96 shots. Bobby Sanguinetti, Mark Arcobello, Chad Kolarik and Broc Little scored for the U.S.
The lack of scoring was especially troubling when considering the combined minutes the U.S. found themselves on the power play was more than double their opponents’.
“While we’re certainly disappointed with the result, this tournament has been a real positive in terms of the evaluation process as we head toward the Olympics,” said U.S. Olympic head coach Tony Granato, according to USAHockey.com.
The U.S. and Canadian women’s teams were also in action this weekend, playing one another in the final of the 2017 Four Nations Cup. Team USA rose to the occasion, beating their rivals 5-1 in Wesley Chapel, Florida.
Four U.S. players scored in the win, led by forward Hannah Brandt, who knocked in two in the 2nd period for Team USA. The U.S. also downed the Canadians in a preliminary match up on Wednesday, 4-2.
The U.S. now leads Canada in pre-Olympic series meetings, 3-1. The two teams meet again on December 3 at 4 p.m. ET in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center, the third stop on the U.S.’s “The Time is Now” Tour, in addition to three more games this December.
“We’re progressing towards February, that’s our main objective, to be the best we can be come February,” said U.S. women’s Olympic head coach Robb Stauber on USAHockey.com. “Along the way we’ve already taken a few bumps and bruises, a loss that maybe we don’t like, but we’re able to use that as any team would, as a stepping stone to say, ‘Hey, we need to get better.’”
Finland beat Sweden in overtime to take third in the Four Nations tournament.
Alpine skiing: Mikaela Shiffrin beaten in opening slalom of Olympic season
Mikaela Shiffrin is the reigning Olympic and world champion in slalom, but it was Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova who won the season-opening World Cup slalom.
Vlhova edged the fellow 22-year-old Shiffrin by .1 seconds on Saturday in Levi, Finland.
“Mikaela, she’s always fast, but now I am fast,” Vlhova said.
With the victory, Vlhova earned a reindeer as a prize. Shiffrin already owns two reindeer—Rudolph and Sven—after winning in Levi in 2013 and 2016.
In the men’s competition, Felix Neureuther of Germany won the season-opening men’s slalom on Sunday. David Choudounsky was the top American, finishing 23rd.
Curling: U.S. Olympic Team Trials continue
After the first two days of competition at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for men’s and women’s curling, the rink led by three-time Olympian John Shuster is the only one still undefeated. Team Shuster stands at the top of the leaderboard with a 3-0 record, followed closely by Heath McCormick’s rink, whose record is 3-1.
In the women’s competition, all three teams notched one win and one loss to end the weekend in a three-way tie. The youngest team at Trials, skipped by 22-year-old Cory Christensen, defeated Jamie Sinclair’s rink, the reigning national champions, 7-6 on Sunday night to pull even with their competitors.
U.S. Olympic Curling Trials will continue this week with three more days of round-robin play, followed by tiebreaker games and a best-of-three playoff series.
Short track: U.S. men break 5000m relay record at World Cup Shanghai
The U.S. short track team stunned the field at this weekend’s World Cup in Shanghai, China when they broke the world record in the men’s 5000m relay. J.R. Celski, John-Henry Krueger, Keith Carroll Jr. and Thomas Hong combined to take down Canada’s world record, set in 2012, by nearly two seconds. That victory meant they not only earned the first World Cup gold medal for a U.S. short track skater in three years, but also qualified the U.S. for the men’s relay team race at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
Speed skating: Joey Mantia claims medal at World Cup Heerenveen
At the first speed skating World Cup of the season, held in Heerenveen, Netherlands, 2014 U.S. Olympian Joey Mantia won silver in the mass start event. Mantia is the reigning world champion in the mass start, an event that will be making its Olympic debut in 2018. He finished behind South Korea’s Seung-Hoon Lee, the 2016 world champion in the mass start.
Snowboard big air: Gasser wins season-opening contest, U.S. men sweep podium
The first snowboard big air contest of the season took place in Milan over the weekend, with Anna Gasser picking up where she left off last year. One of the top gold medal favorites in both women's slopestyle and big air at the upcoming Olympics, Gasser landed a cab double underflip and a backside 720 on separate runs to take the victory. Great Britain's Katie Ormerod earned second place, and Switzerland's Sina Candrian rounded out the podium.
On the men's side, 18-year-old Chris Corning led a podium sweep for the U.S. after landing a frontside 1440 melon and a backside triple cork 1440 melon. Red Gerard, 17, placed second, and Kyle Mack, 20, took third to round out the podium. All three riders will be firmly in the running to make the U.S. Olympic slopestyle and big air team this winter. Many of the top Olympic favorites — including international stars Mark McMorris, Max Parrot and Marcus Kleveland — did not compete in Milan though.
Bobsled: Codie Bascue earns first U.S. bobsled gold medal of Olympic season
Codie Bascue entered the season without a World Cup medal. He now has two after earning a medal in each of the first two World Cup races of the season.
Bascue finished third with Carlo Valdes in the season-opening race on Thursday in Lake Placid. The next day, he claimed gold with Sam McGuffie.
It's the first win for a U.S. driver other than Steven Holcomb, who died unexpectedly in May, since 2009.
“Today was for Holcomb,” McGuffie said. “We have his name in the back seat of our sled. He won this last year, and I’m happy that we were able to continue this on. I saw how happy Codie was and I remember how happy Steve was last year. It’s really special.”
In the women’s competition, two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada beat hometown favorite Elana Meters Taylor by .03 seconds on Thursday.
Two-man bobsled (Thursday)
1. Nico Walther and Christian Poser (GER)
2. Nick Cunningham and Ryan Bailey (USA)
3. Codie Bascue and Carlo Valdes (USA)
6. Justin Olsen and Steve Langton (USA)
Two-man bobsled (Friday)
1. Codie Bascue and Sam McGuffie (USA)
2. Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz (CAN)
3. Justin Olsen and Evan Weinstock (USA)
4. Nick Cunningham and Ryan Bailey (USA)
Women’s bobsled bobsled (Thursday)
1. Kallie Humphries and Melissa Lotholz (CAN)
2. Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs (USA)
3. Stephanie Schneider and Lisa Marie Buckwitz (GER)
4. Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans (USA)
Skeleton: “Superman” wins season-opening men’s skeleton race
Latvia’s Martins Dukurs, who is nicknamed “Superman,” won the season-opening World Cup men’s skeleton race on Friday in Lake Placid.
Racing on home ice, Matt Antoine was the top American, finishing eighth. He described his result as “baffling.”
“I know the conditions for good start times weren’t ideal today because of the snow, but I still should be pushing faster than that,” he said. “I thought the runs I had today were the best I’ve slid the track so far this season, so I don’t have much of an answer.”
Austria’s Janine Flock won the women’s race. Three-time Olympian Katie Uhlaender was the top U.S. finisher in ninth.
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