OLYMPICS ROUNDUP Day 6 events
Slovenia rallies to stun U.S. men in overtime
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA
Five practices were supposed to prepare the Americans for this, and they knew at the second intermission Slovenia was going to come out punching.
The preparation and the knowledge were not enough to fend off the fatigue as the United States blew a two-goal lead and lost a 3-2 stunner in overtime Wednesday night in the Olympic opener for both teams. Slovenia captain Jan Mursak scored the tying goal with 1:37 left in regulation and the winner 38 seconds into overtime.
Long before that, the U.S. started letting the game slip away with mistakes all over the ice.
“We started turning the puck over in our zone and they were getting chances and that led to some momentum for them,” said goaltender Ryan Zapolski, who allowed three goals on 25 shots. “We can’t give up those chances that we were giving up out of nothing there in the third. That really kills your momentum. And they scored a goal off one of them and from that point we were kind of on our heels.”
Brian O’Neill and Jordan Greenway, who became the first African-American hockey player for the U.S. at an Olympics, scored to build the 2-0 lead in a dominant showing, and the shots were 24-12 after two periods. Coach Tony Granato pointed out that Slovenia probably should have been the more tired team from playing so much in its defensive zone, but there was none of that from a group that has only one player — Mursak — with NHL experience.
Shiffrin in prime position after fast first run
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA
Mikaela Shiffrin turned in an electric first run of the Olympic giant slalom to put herself in prime position for a gold medal.
The 22-year-old American standout trails Manuela Moelgg of Italy by a scant 0.20 seconds heading into the final run Thursday afternoon at Yongpyong Alpine Center. The sun was out and the wind muted.
Finally, the women were racing.
Shiffrin was just happy for that, given all the postponements due to weather and strong wind. The women’s giant slalom was initially scheduled for Monday but moved to Thursday. The slalom was supposed to be Wednesday but got pushed to Friday.
Down the road about 30 miles (50 kilometers) in Jeongseon, the men are racing the Olympic downhill today. That was supposed to take place Sunday.
Favored Norwegian racers atop standings
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA
Norway’s big two racers are atop the Olympic downhill standings after the 20 best-ranked men have completed their runs.
Aksel Lund Svindal leads teammate Kjetil Jansrud by 0.12 seconds, with world champion Beat Feuz of Switzerland 0.18 back in third place.
They were the three most touted pre-race favorites.
Svindal excelled on the bottom half of the Jeongseon course after some uneasy moments on snow that seems faster after several days of pounding by blustery winds.
The 57-skier race started in near-perfect calm and cold conditions. It was 34 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) under sunshine and blue skies broken up by a few wispy clouds.
If he stays in first, Svindal, at 35, would be the oldest Alpine Olympic gold medalist.