Weekend Olympic roundup: Vonn crashes, Shiffrin wins at Lake Louise; Bergsma picks up first 2017 World Cup gold medal
Alpine skiing: Mikaela Shiffrin wins first downhill, Lindsey Vonn crashes
Mikaela Shiffrin, who has not committed to pursuing the Olympic downhill, established herself as a top contender in the discipline in the first World Cup downhills of the Olympic season.
Shiffrin finished third in Friday’s downhill, and then won Saturday’s downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta. It was her first World Cup downhill victory in her fourth career start in the discipline (VIDEO).
“I’m not under the impression that, like, I can just go in and win downhills now,” she said. “Maybe on courses where I have a little experience and if I have some luck with the lighting.”
Lindsey Vonn crashed Friday at the venue nicknamed “Lake Lindsey” (VIDEO). After untangling herself from the netting, she managed to ski down to the finish line. She returned and finished 12th in Saturday’s downhill and failed to finish Sunday’s super-G, citing swelling in her right knee.
Ted Ligety completed his first race since Dec. 2016, placing seventh in a giant slalom on Sunday. The 2014 Olympic giant slalom champion, who is nicknamed “Mr. GS,” returned after suffering numerous injuries, most recently a back surgery in January.
Speed skating: Bergsma earns U.S.' first speedskating gold of 2017 World Cup
At this weekend’s World Cup competition in Calgary, Canada, Heather Bergsma became the first U.S. speed skater to win gold on the fall 2017 World Cup circuit.
The reigning world champion in the 1000m and 1500m finished first in the women’s 1000m A final with a time of 1:13:37. Nao Kodairo, the Japanese skater who won the 1000m races at the last two World Cups, crashed during the Calgary 1000m. Kodairo fared better in the 500m final, where the sprinter won her fifth straight 500m gold this World Cup season.
Another Japanese skater who’s enjoying a golden streak is Miho Takagi, who won both 1500m and 3000m races this weekend. She also won 1500m gold at the Heerenveen and Stavanger World Cup stops in November.
The U.S. men didn’t pick up any division A medals in Calgary, with the best finish coming from Joey Mantia. He placed fourth in the 1500m and is ranked second overall in the men’s 1500m World Cup standings. In the division B races, Brian Hansen finished first in the 1500m and Mitch Whitmore was third in the 500m.
The fourth and final World Cup competition will take place next weekend, from Dec. 8-10, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Hockey: U.S. women lose in OT to Canada in Olympic tune-up game
Great goaltending by Team USA’s Maddie Rooney and Canada’s Shannon Szabados kept the two best women’s hockey offenses at bay on Sunday afternoon in St. Paul, Minnesota as the two teams continued their rivalry series of preparation for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games.
Time expired in the third period with the score tied at 1-1. Canada’s Brianne Jenner ended up the hero when she scored on a shot which sailed into the top shelf of the net over Rooney’s right shoulder just 37 seconds into the 3-on-3 overtime stanza.
Sunday’s game was the lowest scoring affair since the two teams began their pre-Olympic series back in October. The U.S. currently leads the series 3-2, with two of those wins coming in the form of a tournament win at the 2017 Four Nations Cup.
The game is available on demand on NBCOlympics.com. The series now shifts to Canadian ice, as the two teams travel to Winnipeg for a game this Tuesday, December 5 at 8 p.m. ET.
Ski jumping: Germans win the weekend’s four World Cup events
In Lillehammer, Norway, Katharina Althaus took the crown in both the normal hill and the large hill events on the women’s World Cup circuit. This was the first stop ever to feature a large hill. Norway’s Maren Lundby finished runner-up to Althaus in both events. Sara Takanashi of Japan finished third on the large hill and teammate Yuki Ito finished third on the normal hill.
The top U.S. finisher on the normal hill was Abby Ringquist, who placed 32nd while Nita Englund was 34th. No U.S. women jumped the large hill.
German jumpers found similar success on the men’s side, which took place in Nizhny Tagil, Russia. Richard Freitag beat out two Norwegians on the way to winning Saturday’s top prize. Daniel Andre Tande and Johann Andre Forfang finished second and third, respectively. Also Saturday, the U.S.’ Will Rhoads finished with a career-best 21st place.
On Sunday, Freitag finished second behind German countryman Andreas Wellinger. Austria’s Stefan Kraft was third. Rhoads, the lone American in the field after the qualifier, finished 29th.
Cross-country: Norway’s Klaebo remains unbeaten on the World Cup; Diggins qualifies for PyeongChang
Skiing in front of a friendly home-country crowd in Lillehammer, 21-year-old Norwegian Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo picked up two more World Cup wins over the weekend, bringing his season total to five first place finishes.
On Saturday, Klaebo, who finished the 2017 World Cup season as the top sprinter in the world, showed he has not lost a step, winning the men’s classic sprint, beating two Russian challengers the finish – Sergey Ustiugov (.83 seconds behind) and Alexander Bolshunov (1.29 seconds behind).
On Sunday, Klaebo was able to chase down his fellow countryman, Martin Johnsrud Sundby in the Skiathlon to pick up the win by a 1.3 second margin.
Three U.S. women’s cross-country skiers landed in the top ten of the women’s sprint, with the PyeongChang-bound Sadie Bjornsen collecting her second sprint podium finish of the year with a third place finish. Accompanying Bjornsen were U.S. teammates, Jessie Diggins who finished sixth and Sophie Caldwell who came in ninth. The sixth place finish for Diggins officially qualifies her for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team.
Nordic combined: Norway sweeps Lillehammer World Cup stop
At their home World Cup stop in Lillehammer, athletes from Norway swept the podium in the Nordic combined large hill event. The trio was led by Espen Andersen, followed by Jan Schmid and Jorgen Graabak.
The Norwegians also won the team event on Saturday. The U.S. contingent, anchored by Taylor Fletcher, finished ninth.
Biathlon: France’s Martin Fourcade cruises to first win of the World Cup season
Martin Fourcade, biathlon’s World Cup overall champion six season running, picked up his first victory of the new season in the final event of the opener in Oestersund, Sweden. On Sunday, Fourcade’s superior skiing helped him overcome one miss in his opening prone position bout of the men’s 12.5km pursuit, where he leisurely crossed the finish line 40.8 seconds ahead of second place finisher, Jakov Fak of Slovenia, for the win.
The best finish by a U.S. biathlete in Oestersund came in Sunday’s pursuit, when Lowell Bailey, who will appear in his fourth Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, finished 17th with two missed targets – one prone, one standing.
Biathlon’s World Cup season continues in Hochfilzen, Austria – the site of Bailey’s history making World Championship win in 2017 – with the men’s 10km sprint on Friday, December 8 at 5:30 a.m. ET.
Luge: Germans sweep on home ice
German sliders claimed all three gold medals at a World Cup event in Altenberg, Germany.
Two-time Olympic champion Felix Loch finished first in the men’s race, while 2014 Olympic champion Natalie Geisenberger won the women’s race and Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken took the victory in doubles. Eggert and Benecken have won all three World Cup doubles races this season.
What you need to know for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games
Click on a sport and get ready for PyeongChang