Olympics Live: China pair breaks figure skating world record

February 18, 2022 GMT
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, of China, compete in the pairs short program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, of China, compete in the pairs short program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, of China, compete in the pairs short program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, of China, compete in the pairs short program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, of China, compete in the pairs short program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on the Beijing Winter Olympics:

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Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China shattered their own world record for a short program at the Beijing Games on Friday night, giving them the narrowest of leads over Russian rivals Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov heading into the free skate to decide the Olympic champion.

Sui and Han, who won the short program at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games before settling for the silver medal, scored 84.41 points to their orchestral suite from the film “Mission: Impossible 2.” That topped the record of 82.83 points that they set during the short program of the team competition earlier this month.

Tarasova and Morozov, who are coached in part by the controversial Eteri Tutberidze, also would have broken the record with their short program. Instead, the fourth-place finishers in Pyeongchang were 16-hundredths of a point behind.

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The start of the Olympic men’s curling final between Britain and Sweden has been pushed back 45 minutes to accommodate TV viewers in Europe.

The match will be played at 2:50 p.m. on Saturday, rather than 2:05 p.m. Sweden is seven hours behind Beijing, and Britain is eight hours back.

The women’s bronze medal match will take place afterward at the original start time of 8:05 p.m.

Organizers also said that the men’s victory ceremony will now take place at the Ice Cube curling venue, instead of the medals plaza. Canada beat the United States for the bronze on Friday.

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Russian figure skating coach Eteri Tutberidze was back rink-side for the pairs competition Friday, hours after she was criticized by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach for her callous attitude toward Kamila Valieva after the women’s free skate.

Tutberidze helps to coach the Russian pairs team of Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii.

Valieva, the 15-year-old at the center of a doping scandal, crashed out of the women’s program without a medal Thursday night. As she exited the ice, Tutberidze was caught on camera berating her in Russian.

Bach never identified Tutberidze by name, but he did refer to Valieva’s coaches and said during his Friday news conference that there “appeared to be a tremendous coldness” and that “it was chilling to see this.”

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Figure skater Timothy LeDuc became the first nonbinary American athlete to compete at the Winter Games, joining up with Ashley Cain-Gribble for a strong short program to open their pairs competition Friday night.

Their score of 74.13 points was a season best and put them squarely in the top 10 entering Saturday’s free skate.

The 31-year-old LeDuc came out as nonbinary last year. The term is used to describe a person who does not identify as exclusively male or female, and can also encompass agender, bigender, genderqueer and gender-fluid.

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Last year, Canadian women’s soccer player Quinn became the first openly transgender and nonbinary Olympic medal winner when the team earned gold in Tokyo. Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, skateboarder Alana Smith and cyclist Chelsea Wolfe also were among at least 186 openly LGBTQ participants during the Summer Games.

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Elana Meyers Taylor has been picked to be a flagbearer again. And this time, she’ll be able to take the job.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced Friday night that the four-time Olympian bobsledder will carry the American flag into Sunday night’s closing ceremony of the Beijing Games.

The announcement was synched to Meyers Taylor’s first run in the women’s bobsled event. As soon as she crossed the line in the first heat, the USOPC revealed that she was the flagbearer pick.

Meyers Taylor was chosen to be one of the flagbearers for the U.S. at the opening ceremony on Feb. 4 but could not participate because she was in isolation following a positive COVID-19 test. That spot went to speedskater Brittany Bowe instead, who led the U.S. delegation into the opening alongside curler John Shuster.

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The last Alpine skiing race of the Beijing Olympics has been rescheduled for an hour earlier than planned because of strong wind in the forecast.

The mixed team parallel event is now set to start at 10 a.m. on Saturday Beijing time, instead of 11 a.m.

The wind is supposed to top 20 mph (30 kph.)

The team event involves men and women from each participating country and is the last chance for American Mikaela Shiffrin to pick up a 2022 Winter Games medal.

Only one of the 10 athletes who earned individual Alpine golds in Beijing was listed on the team rosters released Friday: Austria’s Johannes Strolz. He won the men’s combined last week and also picked up a silver in slalom on Wednesday.

There is a 16-team bracket but only 15 nations entered, so top-ranked Austria will get a first-round bye.

The first-round matchups are United States vs. Slovakia, Switzerland vs. China, Italy vs. Russia, Norway vs. Poland, France vs. Czech Republic, Germany vs. Sweden, and Slovenia vs. Canada.

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Johannes Thingnes Boe looked like his old self again, dominating from the start and holding his composure through the four shooting stages to win the Olympic gold medal Friday in the biathlon mass start race.

The Norwegian great threw his arms in the air as he crossed the line in 38 minutes, 14.4 seconds.

Martin Ponsiluoma of Sweden only missed one target in the last shooting and left the range chasing Boe. He earned silver, 40.3 seconds behind Boe. Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen of Norway shot clean in the last shooting and took bronze, finishing 1:12.5 behind.

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Thomas Krol has won gold in the 1,000 meters, giving the Netherlands its third straight Olympic speedskating title in the event.

Krol was timed in 1 minute, 7.92 seconds.

Laurent Dubreuil of Canada took silver. Haavard Lorentzen, the 2018 silver medalist, earned bronze.

The Netherlands earned its fifth gold medal in 12 events in Beijing with one day of competition remaining.

In 2014, Stefan Groothuis won the 1,000 and Kjeld Nuis followed with a victory in 2018.

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Sixteen years after he won the Olympic curling gold medal, Brad Gushue is going back to Canada with bronze.

The Canadians capitalized on a missed final shot by American — and reigning Olympic champion — John Shuster in the second-to-last end that turned a one-point edge into an insurmountable 8-5 lead.

Gushue won gold in Turin in 2006. Back then, he shared a podium with Shuster, who won bronze.

This time, the Canadian skip knocked his American counterpart off of it.

The Americans took a 5-4 lead with two points in the sixth, then Canada scored two in the eighth to take the lead. With the United States holding the last-rock advantage in the ninth, Shuster tried to knock loose two Canadian rocks in the scoring area but missed.

That gave Gushue two points, with one end to go. Canada’s third-to last shot cleared all of the American rocks out of the target area, leaving no chance for the U.S. to tie the match, and Shuster immediately conceded.

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Justine Braisaz-Bouchet moved to the front with strong, patient shooting and stayed there with her cross-country skiing to win the women’s biathlon mass start race at the Olympics.

A bitter wind affected the field as they lined up each time to shoot, but Braisaz-Bouchet only missed once in the last standing shooting and skied out of the range in first place. She held on and crossed the line carrying a French flag in 40 minutes, 18 seconds.

Norwegian teammates Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland missed two targets each in that last bout and left the range together, 48 seconds behind the Frenchwoman. Eckhoff chased hard and crossed the line for the silver, trailing Braisaz-Bouchet by 15.3 seconds.

Roeiseland took bronze — her fifth medal at the Beijing Games.

Roeiseland is the second biathlete, male or female, to win a medal in all four individual events at an Olympics, matching Norwegian great Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. She also won gold in the mixed relay.

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Ryan Regez led a 1-2 finish by Switzerland in the Olympic skicross final at Genting Snow Park.

Regez grabbed the lead early and never relinquished it along a course filled with bumps, jumps and rolling terrain. He raised his arms in triumph shortly after crossing the finish line.

His teammate, 36-year-old Alex Fiva, finished with the silver medal and Russian athlete Sergey Ridzik grabbed the bronze.

As a kid, Regez always thought his future was in Alpine skiing, more specifically the downhill. When that didn’t pan out, he started an apprenticeship as a structural draftsman before discovering skicross.

It paid off in gold.

In the small final, Italian skicross racer Simone Deromedis won the heat with a little bit of flair. He was coming off the last jump and did the splits before crossing the finish line.

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International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has criticized Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s entourage for their “tremendous coldness” toward the 15-year-old skater after her mistake-filled free skate at the Beijing Olympics.

Bach says it was “chilling” to see on television. Valieva, who has been at the center of a controversy over a positive doping test, finished fourth overall despite placing first in the women’s short program earlier in the week.

The IOC president did not name Valieva’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze, who was seen on camera telling a visibly upset Valieva “Why did you let it go? Why did you stop fighting?”

Bach says “you could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance.”

Tutberidze and other members of Valieva’s entourage will be investigated over the teenager’s positive test for a heart medication ahead of the Olympics.

Bach says the pressure on Valieva was “beyond my imagination.”

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Eileen Gu captured gold in the women’s ski halfpipe final on a breezy and cold morning to become the first action-sports athlete to earn three medals at the same Winter Olympics.

Gu warmed up with a score of 93.25 on her first run, before going even higher and even bigger to post a 95.25 her second. For her third and final pass, and with the contest locked up, she took a nice leisurely stroll.

The standout American-born freestyle skier who represents China already possessed a gold from big air and a silver from slopestyle.

Defending Olympic champion Cassie Sharpe of Canada finished second and her teammate Rachael Karker earned the bronze. Teenager Hanna Faulhaber was the top American finisher in sixth place.

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Germany’s Francesco Friedrich took part in the final day of four-man bobsled training at the Beijing Olympics on Friday, one day after suggesting he might skip the session.

Friedrich was the first sled down the hill on Friday for the final training session. That may have played a role in his decision to take part. Friedrich was one of the last sleds to get on the ice Thursday during four-man training and afterward the three-time Olympic champion expressed concerns about the conditions of the track.

He likely enjoyed what he saw Friday. Friedrich started the day with a run of 58.98 seconds. That was his fastest in five trips down the Yanqing Sliding Center ice in his four-man sled this week.

He’s the overwhelming favorite for gold in the four-man event that starts on Saturday.

Some top sliders did choose to skip training Friday, including Canadian teammates Justin Kripps and Chris Spring, Germany’s Christoph Hafer and Latvian veteran Oskars Kibermanis. It’s not unusual for veterans to opt out of a training session, in order to preserve their bodies and sleds for the looming two days of competition.

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Eileen Gu posted the highest score in her first run of the women’s ski halfpipe final as she bids to become the first action-sports athlete to capture three medals at the same Winter Games.

The standout American-born freestyle skier who represents China already possesses a gold from big air and a silver from slopestyle.

On a blustery and cool day, Gu turned in a solid run and scored a 93.25 to easily lead the way. Defending Olympic champion Cassie Sharpe of Canada sits in second place after the opening run of three and her teammate Rachael Karker was in third. American teenager Hanna Faulhaber was in fourth.

The temperature hovered around 3 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 16 Celsius) with an 11 mph wind.

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The judges who let Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva compete at the Beijing Olympics despite a positive test for a banned substance blamed anti-doping officials for a “failure to function effectively.”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport, in a newly published 41-page document explaining their decision, cited an “untenable delay” at the testing laboratory in Sweden.

It meant Valieva’s positive test for a heart medication was only revealed during the Olympics despite her urine sample arriving in Stockholm on Dec. 29. The lab’s staffing was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her lawyers suggested she was contaminated because her grandfather uses the banned heart medication she tested positive for.

The judges’ full verdict was published early Friday, hours after the 15-year-old Valieva’s mistake-filled free skate dropped her from the lead to finish fourth in the Olympic women’s individual event.

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The International Testing Agency says Ukrainian bobsledder Lidiia Hunko has tested positive for an anabolic steroid at the Beijing Games.

The ITA says she failed a drug test after competing Monday. She placed 20th in women’s monobob.

Hunko is the third athlete to test positive for doping at the Beijing Olympics and the second from Ukraine, after cross-country skier Valnetyna Kaminska.

All three ITA cases in Beijing have detected a steroid.

The 28-year-old Hunko placed second in the 2016 World’s Strongest Woman contest, according to her official Beijing Olympics athlete biography.

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