When snowboarder Shaun White won his third Olympic gold medal in the men‘s halfpipe at PyeongChang on Wednesday, the United States became the second country to accumulate 100 Winter Olympic gold, following Norway, which stood at 121.
White, 31, won the medal at Phoenix Snow Park in the Olympics host town of PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, with the top score of 97.75 points.
Before PyeongChang, the US had 96 gold medals at the Winter Games.
Also Wednesday, South Korea’s figure skating pairs team of Kim Kyu-eun and Kam Kang-chan finished 22nd in the short program.
Gold medalist Shaun White of the USA during the medal ceremony for the men's Snowboard Halfpipe event during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, South Korea, 14 February 2018. (EPA)
China‘s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong took pole position with 82.39 points in the figure skating pairs short program held at Gangnueng Ice Arena. Russians Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov received 81.68 points to come in second, and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford from Canada placed third with 76.82 points.
Kim and Kam earned a disappointing 42.93 points with a one point deduction, lagging far behind their personal best of 55.02 points and also falling short of the 52.10 points they scored in the team event last week.
Meanwhile, the North Korean duo of Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik performed a clean program to receive a personal best score of 69.4 points and place 11th. In the arena, a North Korean cheering squad enthusiastically rooted for the Ryom-Kim pair.
With the first triple twist throw giving them the highest 7.3 points, Ryom and Kim went through their planned program without error, including a triple loop and a throw triple loop.
“It has been convenient during our stay in the South,” Kim said. “As I skated here, we could really feel the power and the energy of the Korean people.”
Only the top 16 teams after the short program are eligible to skate in the free program slated for Thursday.
As of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Germany led the overall competition with six gold medals, two silver and two bronze, followed by the Netherlands with five gold, four silver and two bronze and the US with four gold, one silver and two bronze.
Norway is in the fourth spot with three gold, five silver and three bronze, and Canada is in fifth with three gold, four silver and three bronze. South Korea is in 10th spot with one gold and one bronze.
There are a record 102 gold medals up for grabs at this year’s Winter Olympics from Feb. 9-25, with nearly 3,000 athletes from 92 countries participating.
In luge the women’s singles on Tuesday night, Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger won gold, followed by her fellow countrywoman Dajana Eitberger, who took silver, and Alex Gough of Canada with bronze.
Sweden’s Stina Nilsson, a Sochi bronze medalist in 2014, grabbed her first Olympic title in the women’s sprint classic cross-country race on Tuesday, completing the course in 3 minutes 3.84 seconds, 3.03 seconds ahead of Maiken Falla of Norway. Yulia Belorukova won bronze for the Olympic Athletes of Russia.
On Tuesday night, South Korea’s Kim Min-seok picked up bronze in the men’s 1,500-meter speedskating, becoming the first Asian to win an Olympic medal in the event.
Kim finished in 1 minute, 44.93 seconds at the Gangneung Oval, Gangwon Province, trailing Dutchmen Kjeld Nuis and Patrick Roest, who took gold and silver, respectively.
With his win, the 18-year-old skater became the first Asian to make the podium in the men’s 1,500 meters competition at the Winter Olympics, leaving hope for further success in the team pursuit and mass start events.
Kim topped the 1,500 distance race at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, and grabbed gold at the 2016 Junior World Championships. He finished 16th in the World Cup rankings in the 2016-17 season and rose to 14th in the 2017-2018 season ahead of the Olympics.
In the women’s 500-meter short track speedskating Tuesday, Arianna Fontana of Italy won gold in 42.569 seconds in a highly strung contest. South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong initially came in second, but was disqualified for impeding another athlete. With Choi’s exit, the Netherlands’ Yara van Kerkhof earned silver and Canada’s Kim Boutin was promoted to bronze.
Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris of Canada claimed the Winter Games’ inaugural mixed doubles curling title Tuesday after beating Switzerland’s Jenny Perret and Martin Rios. The Canadian pair triumphed over the Swiss competition 10-3 in front of a zealous crowd of Canadians.
“It sounds surreal and I don’t know if that’s ever going to sink in,” said Lawes, a 29-year-old from Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the Gangneung Curling Centre in Gangneung, one of two cities hosting PyeongChang events. “The first one hasn’t sunk in yet to be honest. To be able to bring home another gold medal, with John, is an absolute honor.”
The Canadians’ victory over the defending world champions was a historic moment for mixed doubles, which made its Olympic debut at PyeongChang. The mixed doubles has proven to be highly popular with players and fans the world over.
“I think that if someone’s going to try curling for the first time, this mixed doubles is where it’s at,” Morris said. “It’s quick, it’s fast-paced, it’s very athletic and it’s so much fun to play. And you don’t need four players. I’m really proud of us for coming here and helping put mixed doubles on the map.”
Earlier, the husband-and-wife team from Russia, Anastasia Bryzgalova and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, beat Norway’s Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten 8-4 to take bronze.
Russia has been suspended from PyeongChang due to its state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Meanwhile, Japan’s short-track speedskater Kei Saito, 21, became embroiled in PyeongChang’s first doping scandal after testing positive for a banned diuretic. Saito has left the athletes’ village and been provisionally suspended during an ongoing investigation.
“I want to fight to prove my innocence because I don’t remember (taking the drug) and it’s incomprehensible,” he said in a statement.
By Joel Lee (email@example.com