PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Canada skated to the gold it had been dreaming about for four years.
American Jamie Anderson got another to match the one she won in Sochi.
The Canadians kicked off the third day of full competition at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Monday by winning the team figure skating competition, finishing with the medal they had set their sights on since taking silver in 2014. And, they clinched it before the ice dance – the third event of the day – even began.
“We think we’re the best in the world,” ice dancer Scott Muir said. “Winning this is like winning hockey and winning curling.”
The Canadians won the men’s moguls title for the third consecutive Olympics, with six-time world champion Mikael Kingsbury filling the only hole in his resume.
In other night finals, Ireen Wust won her fifth Olympic title and the Dutch speedskaters picked up gold and bronze in the 1,500 meters, biathlon No. 1 Martin Fourcade won the 12.5-kilometer pursuit, and Maren Lundby of Norway won the women’s ski jumping normal hill.
Anderson showed she’s tops in women’s slopestyle, defending her title from the 2014 Games and becoming the first female snowboarder to win two Olympic golds.
That came despite some big-time weather concerns that caused a 75-minute delay, left the course unpredictable and sparked criticism from some competitors and analysts.
“I was trying to keep the spirits high, like, `Let’s run it,“’ Anderson said. “A handful of the girls were like, `No, it’s not safe’ and things like that. It’s not like what we’re doing is safe anyhow.”
The windy conditions postponed the women’s giant slalom until Thursday, the same day as the already-postponed men’s downhill at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
In Gangneung, the Canadian skaters entered the day with a big lead and never were threatened despite some outstanding individual performances by Mirai Nagasu, who became the first American woman and third overall to land a triple axel at the Olympics, and Russian Alina Zagitova, who soared to a first-place finish in the women’s free skate.
The top spot was clinched for Canada when Gabrielle Daleman finished third, giving her country 63 points to 58 for the Russians with only the ice dance remaining. The United States repeated its showing in the 2014 Sochi Games with a bronze medal.
“We have such an incredible, strong team,” Daleman said, “and I’m proud to say we’ve won and I’m prouder to have been part of it.”
Nagasu made some figure skating history, accomplishing her rare feat just 21 seconds into the women’s free skate. She was the first of the five women to skate and led her routine with the triple axel.
“Going into it, I was like a train and I was like, `Get on the tracks and get some speed,“’ she said. “And, I tripped a couple times. I don’t know if you could tell. It was more something I could feel, but to nail it the way I did, even out of the corner of my eye, I could see my teammates standing out of excitement.
“And at that moment, I wanted to stop the music and get off, but I still had my whole program ahead of me.”
Nagasu had landed triple axels in previous competitions, but never in such a pressure-packed situation as the Olympic stage. She joined Japan’s Midori Ito and Mao Asada as the only women to land triple axels during the Olympics.
Keeping her cool
Anderson was one of the few riders in the final to navigate the tricky series of rails and jumps safely as the wind wreaked havoc on the field.
She posted a score of 83.00 in her first run, then washed out in her second – with the gold medal already wrapped up.
Laurie Blouin of Canada finished second, with Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi third.
High-five for Wust
Wust won her fifth Olympic gold medal, using a stirring last lap to set a time of 1 minute, 54.35 seconds. She jumped into the arms of her coach when Miho Takagi of Japan finished 0.20 seconds behind in the last pairing to prevent another Dutch sweep of the medals.
Marrit Leenstra picked up bronze for the Netherlands, which has six of nine medals awarded so far.
King of moguls
Kingsbury, who wears a T-shirt that reads “It’s Good To Be The King” underneath his skiing gear and was a silver medalist in Sochi four years ago, posted a score of 86.63 to win his first Olympic gold.
Matt Graham of Australia took silver and Daichi Hara of Japan earned bronze, each picking up the first medal for their countries at the games.
Back in biathlon
Fourcade bounced back from a disappointing eighth-place finish in the sprint race to hit 19 of his 20 targets in the pursuit to claim his third Olympic gold medal. Sebastian Samuelsson of Sweden took silver and Benedikt Doll of Germany earned bronze.
Lundby turned World Cup ski jumping domination into Olympic gold with a jump of 110 meters for 264.6 points. It was Norway’s second gold medal of the games. Katharina Althaus of Germany was second, followed by Sara Takanashi of Japan.
– Switzerland will compete for an Olympic gold medal against Canada after beating a team of Russian athletes 7-5 in the mixed doubles curling semifinals.
– The combined Korean team conceded eight goals for the second time, this time losing to Sweden in the women’s hockey tournament. The fifth-ranked Swedes next play Switzerland, which followed its opening 8-0 victory of the Koreans with a 3-1 win over Japan.
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