PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Making good use of the No. 1 starting bib, Thomas Dressen of Germany took the lead in the downhill run of the combined event that opened the wind-buffeted Olympic program in Alpine skiing.
Dressen was 0.07 seconds faster than Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, and 0.13 ahead of Matthias Mayer of Austria, the 2014 Olympic champion in downhill.
The world’s best slalom skier, Marcel Hirscher, was well placed with just 1.32 to make up in his specialized discipline later in the day. The gold medalist will be the skier with the fastest combined time.
The wind was again a factor at Jeongseon. Gusts higher up the mountain forced organizers to lower the start, cutting 20 seconds from the downhill. Racers were also guided to a safer line cresting the jumps.
Born to skate
Given that NBC has about a gazillion hours of programming over several platforms, there are bound to be some missteps. But, hey, no one is going to give them a pass. Folks in the Netherlands are still chuckling over Katie Couric’s comments during the opening ceremony. She said the Dutch were so good at skating because when the canals freeze over people skate on them as a way of getting around.
Wasn’t Amsterdam’s red-light district originally built so skaters could see better at night? And who can forget the skate racks that sit outside the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank’s house?
The chief commercial officer of the Dutch Olympic Committee jokingly tweeted: “Sure . Just like most Latvians use a bobsleigh to get to work & Austrian kids ski jump to school.”
Separate but equal
The women got their chance Monday on the normal hill for only the second time in Olympic history. They still aren’t allowed to compete on the large hill. No surprise that Maren Lundby of Norway was the winner. She won seven of the 10 World Cup events this season. Sarah Hendrickson was the top American, finishing 19th of 30 jumpers.
It does harken back to 2005, when female ski jumpers were trying to gain entry but Gian Franco Kasper, president of the International Ski Federation, opposed letting women in, saying: “Seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.” What he meant is the landings would be harmful to women’s reproductive organs. That was only 12 years ago.
Ireen Wust of (where else?) the Netherlands won the gold in the women’s 1,500 meters. It was her fifth career Olympic gold medal. She won by 0.20 seconds after losing the 3,000 on Saturday by 0.08 seconds.
But more interesting is the fifth-place finisher, Brittany Bowe, from the speedskating hotbed of Ocala, Fla. (Kids growing up there tried skating to school and work, just like the Dutch, but the lifeguards got tired of rescuing them.)
Monday was the first of four events for Wust. She was in Sochi but never got into the top five. Bowe, skating in the seventh pair, held first place until after the 11th of 14 pairs skated.
Biathlon: All’s well
Martin Fourcade of France put the biathlon world back on its normal axis by winning the men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit. He has now won six Olympic medals, three of them gold. But it was his eighth-place finish earlier that had everybody talking. Tim Burke, in his best individual finish in three Games, was the top American, 18th out of 60 competitors.
Laura Dahlmeier picked up her second gold of the Games for Germany by winning the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit. She was fourth in the world coming to Korea but was without a medal in Sochi. The top U.S. woman was Emily Dreissigacker, who was 47th of 58.
Gold for Canada
Canada won its third consecutive gold in men’s moguls. Mikael Kingsbury was the guy atop the medal platform. He was one rung down for silver in Sochi. Casey Andringa of the U.S. made the final group of six, but finished fifth.