Canada’s Sharpe wins halfpipe gold
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea
Cassie Sharpe put on a show in the women’s freestyle halfpipe final today, soaring to a 95.80 during her second run to give Canada its first Olympic medal in the event pioneered by the late Canadian star Sarah Burke.
Sharpe topped qualifying on Monday with a pair of big runs and went even higher in the finals. Her winning run included a 1080-degree spin and the kind of air the rest of the 12-woman field simply couldn’t match.
France’s Marie Martinod added a second silver to go with the one she captured in Sochi four years ago when the sport made its Olympic debut. Martinod scored 92.60 on her second run but fell during her third to assure Sharpe of the gold.
American Brita Sigourney edged teammate Annalisa Drew for bronze. Drew scored 90.80 on her final run to slip past Sigourney only to have Sigourney, the next skier down, put up a 91.80.
Defending Olympic champion Maddie Bowman of the United States fell on the final hit during each of her three runs in the finals.
Burke helped pave the way for halfpipe to reach the Olympics, winning four X Games in the event. She died in 2012 following complications from a training fall in Park City, Utah.
Sharpe is among a group of skiers carrying on Burke’s legacy. The group includes Martinod, who was considering retirement before the sport became part of the Olympic program. Burke talked her out of it, saying Martinod needed to help show the world what freestyle halfpipe skiing was all about.
Martinod, at 33 the oldest skier in the field, threw down a pair of stylish runs to put pressure on Sharpe. When she bailed midway through her final run, assuring Sharpe of gold, she laughed and raised her hands. She celebrated her second Olympic medal with her 8-year-old daughter.
Sharpe, who raps to herself before each run and wears a mouth guard with a gold tooth painted in the middle, talked openly after qualifying about the chance to have a “victory lap” if she knew she had gold in hand before her final run. It happened just as envisioned, though her last trip didn’t go down quite like she planned. The 25-year-old washed out halfway through her run, though it hardly mattered.
USA gets rematch with Canada for gold
GANGNEUNG, South Korea
The Americans played their way back into the only women’s hockey game that matters: a showdown with Canada for the Olympic gold medal.
The Americans are back in the title game for a third straight Olympics after shutting out Finland 5-0 on Monday in the semifinals. They will face their archrival on Thursday, and the Americans will be trying to win their first gold since 1998 when women’s hockey made its debut in the Olympics.
And yes, the Americans understand the United States-Canada playing for gold is what everyone expects to see.
“Definitely the rivalry has been there since I think I was born, so everyone’s looking forward to that,” said 22-year-old Dani Cameranesi.
This will be the third opportunity at gold for six Americans: captain Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Gigi Marvin, Kacey Bellamy and twin sisters Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.
“It’s honestly a dream come true,” Knight said. “This is the world’s biggest stage. This is the game that you want. This is the game we’ve been dreaming of and to have another opportunity to get back here, it’s huge.”
Canada is the four-time Olympic champion and has won the last five games against the U.S. The Canadians know a battle is likely.
“You never know what you’re going to get,” said Jennifer Wakefield, who scored twice in Canada’s 5-0 semifinal win over the Russian team. “It’s going to be heated. You’re going to see a lot of good skill working. It’s best on best and that’s what the Olympics are for.”
USA struggles in 2-man competition
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea
The U.S. wasn’t exactly counting on getting a medal in two-man bobsledding at the Olympics, which isn’t a surprise given how the Americans have claimed only one in the last 66 years.
They weren’t expecting to be this far back, either.
For the first time since 1994, an Olympics has come and gone with no U.S. sled finishing in the top 10 of the two-man competition. Justin Olsen and Evan Weinstock finished 14th on Monday night for the top American showing, the latest chapter in what’s been a disappointing series of results for U.S. sliders so far in Pyeongchang.
Nick Cunningham and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor were 21st, while Olympic rookies Codie Bascue and Sam McGuffie were 25th.
“It’s tough. We didn’t train so long to come here and place 25th,” Bascue said. “But I think we can put this behind us. We came in knowing our better shot was in four-man, so I think we can go into four-man with some confidence.”
There is some reason for hope.
Johansson leads Norway to gold
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea
The red handlebar mustache finally has a golden accoutrement.
After winning two bronze medals at the Pyeongchang Olympics, Robert Johansson helped Norway win the large hill team ski jumping title on Monday.
Johansson leapt 136 meters with the final jump as Norway relied on its depth to accrue 1,098.5 points and overwhelm 2014 champion Germany, which finished 22.8 points behind for silver.
“I saw that we had 22 points and that made me a bit bothered,” Johansson said. “So I was nervous but I just tried to calm myself and tell myself I could do it and it was a fantastic feeling after.”
It’s been quite an Olympics for Johansson, the 27-year-old Lillehammer native with the distinctive red facial hair.
“This is way more than what I expected from my first Olympics,” Johansson said. “It’s a special situation to be in and to top it off with gold in the team event is a dream come true.”
He also won bronze medals in the normal and large hill individual finals to become the first ski jumper since Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria in 2010 to win a medal in each of the three men’s ski jumping events at a single Olympics.
With strong jumps from Daniel Andre Tande, Andreas Stjernen and Johann Andre Forfang, Norway was able to build up a 22-point lead heading into the final round of jumps.