The second run in women’s skeleton has wrapped up, and Australia’s Jaclyn Narracott has taken an 0.21-second lead over Germany’s Hannah Neise. Germany, which has more sliding tracks in use than any other country, has riders (sledders?) in second, third and fifth.
The USA’s Katie Uhlaender remains in eighth, ahead of first-run leader Mirela Rahneva of Canada.
Team GB’s Laura Neas won’t repeat her bronze-medal performance. She’s 21st, one ahead of fellow British rider Brogan Crowley.
In 25th place, out of 25, is Katie Tannenbaum, who proudly waved the flag of the U.S. Virgin Islands after finishing her second run. Her bio lists her hobby (singular) as “acroyoga, the physical practice which combines yoga and acrobatics.” I sometimes had yoga teachers who went quite fast, a practice I called “yogaerobics.”
Big win for John Shuster’s US curling team
Yes, John Shuster and company are the defending champions, but Team GB’s Bruce Mouat is ranked first in the world right now.
Leading by two in the 10th end, but without hammer, Chris Plys played two solid takeouts, leaving only one Team GB rock in the house with few chances to get another one in there. Grant Hardie’s hit-and-roll effort didn’t pan out, and Shuster knocked out the last GB rock in play. Mouat came up and tried to freeze his rock to a US stone, but he came up a bit short, and Shuster coolly removed it to clinch the win.
Time at last for a curling update …
Team GB’s Bruce Mouat answered John Shuster’s three-point fourth end by scoring two in the fifth. Then it got things went awry for the defending champions from the USA, giving up a steal of two.
But Shuster’s resilient team bounced back with two points in the seventh, then piled up rocks in the house to hold Mouat to a single point in the eighth.
Shuster nearly put the game away in the ninth. After a lively conversation with teammate Matt Hamilton to figure out what they wanted to do, Shuster tried to remove two GB stones to score four. He got one, but the other hung around, and Shuster took two.
Sweden’s Niklas Edin, who lost to Shuster in the 2018 final but beat the Americans yesterday, routed Italy’s Joel Retornaz 9-3 and has opened with three straight wins.
Switzerland beat the ROC 6-3.
Mikaela Shiffrin finishes outside the medal places
Super-G isn’t the U.S. star skier’s best event, but she’s still been better than nearly everyone in the world over the past four years. She won the World Cup trophy in the discipline in 2019 and won the world championship in the same year. She finished third in the world championship last year.
This time around, she started well and was ahead of leader Lara Gut-Behrami at the first intermediate time. But she lost a bit of time later in the run and crossed the line in eighth place with a lot of skiers to go.
Still, that’s better than not finishing, and perhaps it sets the stage for a good finish in the combined, where she can … well, combine … her slalom mastery with her solid speed event skills.
Team GB took gold and silver in the 2018 women’s skeleton competition, but that looks highly unlikely this time.
Canada’s Mirela Rahneva and Australia’s Jaclyn Narracott are first and second after the first run, separated by 0.02 seconds.
Rahneva, who has also competed for Canada in rugby sevens, hasn’t won a World Cup race since the 2018-19 season.
Narracott trains in England at the University of Bath.
9th: 2012 world champion and fifth-time Olympian Katie Uhlaender (USA)
19th: Kelly Curtis (USA)
21st: 2018 bronze medalist Laura Deas (GBR)
23rd: Brogan Crowley (GBR)
Ester Ledecká’s bid to repeat her feat of winning gold in snowboarding and Alpine skiing has come to an end. The Czech athlete, who already defended her title in parallel giant slalom, was second on the hill in super-G and was beaten by the next two skiers down the hill.
Oh, that second run wasn’t enough for you, judges? Here. Try THIS.
His final run features all the same tricks as the second, but it’s even better. Final score: 96.00. All commentators are relieved that they won’t have to talk about a judging controversy. And after two silver medals, Hirano has his gold.
Australia’s Scotty James also has a second medal that’s one better than his first. He takes silver with a run that would’ve won almost any competition until now.
Did Shaun White have a case for a bronze medal? Hard to say. He wound up with a best run of 85.00, just behind Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer’s 87.25.
Judged sports will always have a bit of subjectivity. But Hirano did a run that was empirically more difficult than anyone, and he landed it perfectly.
Scotty James bails on his third run when he realizes it’s not going to top his second.
The final word goes to Ayumu Hirano, who may be first in the eyes of much of the world but is second in the eyes of the judges. How does he improve on what he just did?
Here we go …
Shaun White’s last run ends with a fall as he goes all-out to try to find a few more points and get another medal.
He takes off his helmet as he slides down the rest of the pipe, waving to an appreciative crowd.
Ruka Hirano (the one who isn’t related to Ayumu) falls again. That means White will finish in fourth, as he did in 2014. In five Olympic appearances, he has never finished lower than fourth.
Next up: the top two. Can James go even bigger and win gold with less controversy?
“ROBBED” is now trending on Twitter.
Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer will continue his nervous wait in third place after falling on his last run. Taylor Gold also falls and remains in fifth, which means the only U.S. rider with a chance of getting a medal is … Shaun White.
Japan’s Yuto Totsuka also falls and is stuck in 10th.
Then it’s the Australian teen Valentino Guseli, who lets loose a roar upon finishing a strong run. His third-run score matches his second — 79.75. He’s sixth.
Now up, it’s the last run of a legend …
Third run, first four riders …
The USA’s Chase Josey improves to 79.50 and seventh place.
Switzerland’s Patrick Burgener also improves to 69.50, but that’s 11th.
Germany’s Andre Hoeflich does not improve and sits in eighth.
Then it’s the big one. Kaishu Hirano, Ayumu’s younger brother, soars 24 feet, 4 inches above the lip of the pipe. It’s breathtaking. And then he falls after a double cork 1440. He’s ninth.
Second run complete, and do we have a judging controversy?
Japan’s Ayumu Hirano once again opens with the triple cork, which no one else has attempted. He follows with a double cork 1440, completing a combination that amazes NBC commentator Todd Richards. Three more double corks follow — 1260, 1260, 1440.
Richards says that’s our winning run. He says the torch has been passed.
The judges say it’s a 91.75.
Richards is flabbergasted. “There’s no WAY. 91.75??!!”
After the commercial break, Richards is still stunned. “The judges just grenaded all of their credibility.”
A deeper dive shows the Swedish judge gave a 96, which is dropped because it’s the highest. The US judge gave an 89, also dropped as the lowest mark. That leaves a 95 from the Japanese judge, 92 from France, 90 from Canada, 90 from Switzerland.
So Scotty James maintains his lead. Hirano is second. Scherrer is third. Shaun White is fourth.
Third run underway now …
And White is going to drop to third here, because Australian Scotty James, the 2018 bronze medalist, just blew up. He blew up big time. Two double cork 1440s, a good variety of frontside/backside tricks, and a couple of stylish tail grabs. He’s in first with a 92.50.
But wait …
Shaun White is still pretty good at this. He does his best tricks first (1440 double cork) and fourth (1260 McTwist).
The score comes in, and White moves into second place with an 85.00.
And while we’re at commercial, Jan Scherrer of Switzerland all but clinches a spot on the podium with an 87.25, supplanting Taylor Gold in first place. That run doesn’t have a lot of big air, but he works in a lot of rotations and ends with an alley-oop. (I’ll refer you once again to the FIS code list.)
Gold follows and falls.
Then we get another change on the podium, as Germany’s Andre Hoeflich gets a 76.00, 0.25 points ahead of Australian teen Valentino Guseli. I don’t get it. Guseli’s first run looked better than that.
Guseli responds with a run that mixes rotation speeds and yet flows smoothly. This is surely ahead of Hoeflich. Indeed it is — 79.75.
ANOTHER Japanese rider gets most of the way through a potentially legendary run but falls near the end. Kaishu Hirano gets nearly 23 feet, 9 inches out of the pipe and hangs on to his grab long enough to play Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie. He follows with four double corks — 1440, 1080, 1260, 1080 — but falls hard along the wall and seems to be shaken up.
Meanwhile, John Shuster cleanly picks out the only GB stone in the house and picks up three points in the fourth end. 5-2 USA.
Quick curling check — Chris Plys tosses a nice hit-and-roll to leave the USA lying three. They have hammer in this fourth end, tied 2-2.
Bruce Mouat tries a double takeout but only gets one. John Shuster checks out his options and delivers a rock through a small space to take out the remaining GB stone, leaving the USA lying four.
We’ll get back to this …
Ayuko Hirano was five seconds away from one of the best runs in history. He opened with a triple cork 1440, then a double cork 1440. He follows with two 1260s but loses his balance on a landing falls in the middle of the pipe.
Standings after first run 81.75 Taylor Gold (USA) 75.75 Valentino Guseli (AUS) 75.50 Kaishu Hirano (JPN)
The best run out of three will count, and it’s unlikely those scores will stand as the top three when we’re done.
Scotty James went for a 1260-1440 combination but didn’t have enough rotation on the second part of it, causing him to slide down the wall.
Shaun White won gold in this event in 2006, 2010 and 2018. He took fourth in 2014. He dominated the X Games for 15 years or so and also won a lot of X Games skateboarding honors.
He opens with a double cork 1440. That’s a stunner. He finishes with back-to-back 1260, one of them a McTwist.
It’s not completely clean, though, and he gets a 72.00, good for fourth place.
Ruka Hirano falls. He won’t count that one.
Two more to go in the first round, starting with Australia’s Scotty James.
Kaishu Hirano just raised the bar. And then jumped over it. Or, given that his height above the pipe was given as 22 feet, pole vaulted over it. The Japanese rider gets way up for a method grab and follows with three double corks. He gets a 75.50.
How will Taylor Gold respond? How about two McTwists? (Description in the FIS code list: a “a forward-flipping backside 540.”) That’s an 81.75.
Back to the Japanese contingent — Yuko Totsuta opens with a 1440 but isn’t totally clean, landing awkwardly on the lip of the pipe a couple of times for a 62.00.
The youngest rider in the field, 16-year-old Valentino Guseli of Australia, slips into second place with a 75.75.
Next up, the oldest rider in the field …
The halfpipe competition is underway, and the USA’s Chase Josey reminds us that Shaun White and Taylor Gold aren’t the only hotshot Americans here. He gets a triple-double of sorts — three double corks, the last also a 1280.
That’s a 62.50.
The second USA-GB end is more complicated, with the USA getting a couple of rocks behind guard until one is taken out.
I have a “Coverage Will Resume Shortly” slide that is keeping me from seeing what Chris Plys is doing. Plys played mixed doubles as well.
The ad interruptions are rather ridiculous, but it’s time to switch to halfpipe, anyway
Thirteen straight simple takeouts, and we have a blank first end between John Shuster (USA) and Bruce Mouat (GB).
Switzerland and the ROC also blanked their first end, as did Sweden and Italy. The only team to score so far is China, up 1-0 over Denmark.
Time for curling, and my feed, the intro was interrupted by an ad.
Anyway, the USA and Team GB are underway. Hammy McMillan put the first shot into the rings, which is often a no-no for the first shot of the first end. He guarded it with his second shot, though, which seems effective. It’s like a chess game that transposed into a different opening. And John Landsteiner took it out with his second shot, anyway.
The defending champion US team is 1-1. Team GB won its opener against Italy.
On another note, how is Matt Hamilton nearly 20 years younger than I am?
Welcome back to virtual Beijing, coming to you live from an undisclosed location near our nation’s capital.
(That would be the capital of the USA. I’ll hand off to Australia later in the Great Global Guardian Relay.)
It’s Beau Dure here, and I wanted to clarify that I’m not the person who can’t wait for the men’s 10,000m speed skating. I will be asleep at that time. Or getting a jump on Wordle.
I will be awake, however, to see …
USA-Britain men’s curling in 20 minutes
Shaun White’s last ride in the halfpipe, where he, fellow American Taylor Gold and Australians Scotty James and Valentino Guseli will try to outpoint a powerful Japanese team. That’s in 50 minutes.
Ester Ledecká’s quest for the ski-snowboard double-double and Mikaela Shiffrin’s quest to salvage something from these Games in the super-G. That’s in two hours and 20 minutes.
We’ll also have the first day of the aforementioned women’s skeleton competition and the first period — and probably the first four goals or so — of the US women’s quarterfinal hockey game against the Czech Republic. Not a lot of parity in that sport.
Also, please email Beau or tweet @duresport with cat videos and your take on your favorite and least favorite ads. I’m more than a little tired of the one in which the father boasts about all the cameras in his truck that will keep his daughter and her boyfriends from … what, holding hands? Yeesh.
Coming up today
Times are all in local Beijing time. For Sydney it is +3 hours, for London it is -8 hours, for New York it is -13 hours and San Diego is -16 hours.
9.05am and 2.05pm and 8.05pmCurling – just take it as read that there is men’s and women’s curling all day long every day now 🥌
9.30am Snowboard – there will be huge interest in the men’s halfpipe with Shaun White looking for one more gold in his last Olympics 🥇
9.30-11.00am and 8.20pm-9.55pm Skeleton – the morning sees two heats for the women, which will include Britain’s Pyeongchang bronze medallist Laura Deas. The evening features the last two runs for the men and the medals 🥇
11am Alpine skiing – Ester Ledecká attempts to retain her women’s Super-G title for an historic double-double 🥇
12.10pm and 4.40pm and 9.10pmIce hockey – there are men’s preliminaries but the main attraction is the US v Czech Republic in the women’s play-off quarter-finals at 12.10pm. Canada’s women face Sweden at the same stage in the late session 🏒
3pm Cross-country skiing – the men’s 15km classic🥇
4pm Speed skating – it is the long distance of the speed skating. The men race over 10,000m and I can’t wait 🥇
5pm Biathlon – it is the turn of the women to do the 7.5km sprint 🥇
7pm–8.43pm Short track – the session culminates in the women’s 1,000 metres final 🥇