Getting set for Tuesday’s Olympic slate with some observations, quick hits, and wondering how Emily Sweeney walked away from that crash.
Tuesday night’s highlight
Mikaela Shiffrin finally hits the slopes after a two-day weather delay. And it could be a historic debut.
Shiffrin will open defense of her Olympic gold in the slalom Tuesday night. The first run will be during NBC’s 8 p.m. (Eastern) block with the gold-medal round coming at midnight, also on NBC. Pyeongchang is 14 hours ahead of Philadelphia.
Shiffrin became the youngest to win gold in the Olympic slalom when she surprised the skiing world as an 18-year-old at Sochi four years ago. Shiffrin grew up in New England and Colorado, and has her eyes on multiple golds at these Olympics.
On Wednesday, she is set to run in the giant slalom, which had to be rescheduled from Sunday because of excessive wind. Shiffrin finished fifth in the giant slalom in Russia in 2014, but second in the event at the 2017 Worlds. The other three Alpine events Shiffrin could enter are the super-G (Friday), the downhill (Feb. 20), and the combined slalom/downhill (Feb. 22-23).
Shiffrin has won 41 World Cup events, 30 in the slalom. No one – man or woman – has ever won the Olympic slalom more than once. Not even Italian superstar Alberto Tomba, who won gold in 1988 and silver in 1992 and 1994.
‘Dude’s always going big’
Shaun White made an emphatic statement in qualifying as he tries to regain his spot atop the Olympic snowboarding world.
White, 31, had a dazzling run in preliminaries, posting a 98.25 score that energized the crowd.
“I just wanted to show, this is what I’ve been doing my entire life and I’m here to put it down,” White said. The medal runs will be Tuesday (8 p.m., NBC).
White, 31, won his first halfpipe gold in Turin in 2006 when his red hair flowed like a violent river. Now, 12 years later, his hair is more like a soothing pond but his skills are still sharp. White, who finished a disappointing fourth in 2014, scored a perfect 100 at a run during the World Cup just last month.
Ayumu Hirano, of Japan, posted a 95.25 in qualifying before being topped by Australia’s Scotty James (96.25). Then White laid down his 98.25.
“Dude’s always going big,” said Ben Ferguson, White’s U.S. teammate. “It’s kind of what you expect almost.”
This and that
*Pairs figure skating starts Tuesday night (8 p.m., NBC). American married couple Chris and Alexa Knierim aren’t expected to medal but, given the time difference, should have an unforgettable Valentine’s Day.
*Good line by announcer Todd Harris after 17-year-old Chloe Kim clinched gold in the halfpipe: “She will go to the high school prom with the ultimate bling.”
*Hockey fans had to cringe when NBC’s Al Roker called 16-year NHL veteran Brian Gionta “Bobby” on Tuesday morning. In Roker’s defense, standing next to Gionta for the segment was teammate Bobby Butler.
*Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson set an Olympic record with two goals in six seconds during Team USA’s 5-0 win over the athletes from Russia. (Remember, they are competing independent of Russia because of the doping scandal.) The U.S. will play Canada on Wednesday (10 p.m., NBCSN) in a renewal of one of hockey’s top rivalries. Both have advanced to the semifinals, so the only thing at stake will be national pride.
*Emily Sweeney eventually walked off after a violent crash in the women’s luge singles finals. Sweeney wiped out after treacherous Curve 9 and was laid out on the track for several minutes as the normally raucous luge crowd fell silent. Erin Hamlin, the U.S. flag-bearer and the first American women’s luger to win an Olympic medal (bronze, 2014), ended her career with a sixth-place finish. Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger won the gold.
— BIG BOB (@FSBigBob) February 13, 2018
Through 10:30 a.m. Eastern, Tuesday, Feb 13
Gold (3): Chloe Kim (snowboarding/women’s halfpipe), Jamie Anderson (snowboarding/women’s slopestyle), Red Gerard (snowboarding/men’s slopestyle),
Silver (1): Chris Mazdzer (luge/men’s singles)
Bronze (2): Arielle Gold (snowboarding/women’s halfpipe), U.S. Team (figure skating)
Associated Press columnist Paul Newberry points out that it cost more than $100 million to construct the 35,000-seat facility where the opening flame was lit. The stadium will be used four times – for the opening and closing ceremonies for the regular Olympics, and the opening and closing ceremonies for the Paralympics.