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[PyeongChang 2018] ‘Determined’ Canadian figure skaters clinch Canada’s first gold medal

By Joel Lee

“We saw the potential we had in Sochi but didn’t capitalize on it. This time we really want to nail it into the coffin and win this thing.”

  • Published : Feb 12, 2018 - 16:59
  • Updated : Feb 12, 2018 - 17:06
Canada has won its first gold medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea on Monday with sterling performances from its figure skaters.

At Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, one of two hosting cities of the PyeongChang Games, the Canadians won the figure skating team event, finishing with a combined score of 73.

Patrick Chan won the men’s free skating segment with a score of 189.75, which was followed by Gabrielle Daleman, who secured a team victory with her third-place finish on the women’s side with her 137.14-point performance.

Canadian figure skating pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Yonhap)

Their teammates Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir -- 2010 Vancouver Games ice dance champion pair -- finalized the victory, finishing on top in the free dance with a 118.10-point performance.

Three-time former world champion Chan said “determination” was the key factor that energized the Canadians to capture their gold medal.

“We had determination this time around,” he said regarding what made the difference between the 2014 Sochi Olympics and 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. “We saw the potential we had in Sochi but didn’t capitalize on it. This time we really want to nail it into the coffin and win this thing.”

In the final free dance segment, American siblings pair Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani earned 112.01 points, while ice starlets representing the Olympic Athletes from Russia, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, received 110.43.

Altogether, the Olympic Athletes from Russia took the silver medal with a final score of 66, and team USA took the bronze with 62.

“Of course I was nervous, I didn’t want to let my team down. I just skated with all my heart and just was in the moment completely,” said Daleman. “I have such an incredible, strong team. Not only are we strong as individuals and as a team, but also as a country, and I really am glad with what we’ve done, and we stepped up and made Canada proud this week.”

The Canadian figure skating team at PyeongChang Olympics (Yonhap)

In the women’s slopestyle snowboarding event at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang on Monday, Jamie Anderson of the United States defended her title, weathering the blustery, frigid conditions on the slopes to give the US its second gold medal and becoming the first woman to win multiple gold medals in snowboarding at the Olympics.

Laurie Blouin of Canada took silver in the event, and Enni Rukajarvi of Finland took bronze.

There are a record 102 gold medals up for grabs at this year’s Winter Olympics from Feb. 9-25, with nearly 3,000 athletes from 92 countries participating. As of Monday at 3:30 p.m., Germany leads the overall competition with three gold medals and one bronze, followed by the Netherlands with two gold, two silver and one bronze and the US with two gold, one silver and one bronze.

Norway is in fourth place with one gold, four silver and three bronze, trailed by Canada with one gold, four silver and one bronze. Austria, France, South Korea and Sweden collected one gold each, all securing the sixth spot. 

US snowboarding slopestyle gold medalist Redmond Gerard (Yonhap)

On Sunday, Redmond Gerard of the United States made history with his gold medal in the men’s snowboarding slopestyle final, becoming the first athlete born this millennium to top a Winter Olympics event.

The 17-year-old snowboarder came out on top in a convincing style, also becoming the second youngest individual winner in the games’ history.

“I’m super-psyched!” said Gerard in Pyeongchang, one of two hosting cities of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Gangwon Province, South Korea. “I cannot believe it. I’m shaking right now, maybe from the cold or the excitement, I don‘t know. But I’m ecstatic. I can’t believe it.”

Canadian Max Parrot took silver with his final run over his compatriot Mark McMorris, who had been considered a likely gold winner following the qualification rounds. McMorris survived a near fatal crash while snowboarding merely 11 months ago, in which he broke 17 bones and suffered a collapsed lung and ruptured spleen.

Slopestyle was one of the events that was not interrupted or delayed by the inclement weather, as the event has become one of history’s coldest games with temperatures dropping to minus 14 degrees Celsius, with a wind chill up to minus 25 degrees.

Due to strong winds and frigid weather, the showpiece alpine skiing men’s downhill event was originally slated for Sunday morning at Jeongseon Alpine Centre in Jeongseon, Gangwon Province, but has been postponed to 11 a.m. Thursday. The super-G event was also pushed back to 11 a.m. Friday, so was the women’s giant slalom event, which was originally scheduled for Monday morning and delayed to Thursday. 

Dutchman Sven Kramer won the men's 5,000 meter speedskating event on Sunday. (Yonhap)

Also on Sunday, Norway’s Simen Hegstad Krueger led a Norwegian podium sweep in the men’s 15 kilometer plus 15 kilometer skiathlon despite falling early in his race and breaking a pole. His compatriots Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Hans Christer Holund took silver and bronze medals, respectively.

“It is an amazing day but it started in the worst way with the fall after the first 100 meters and a broken pole,” said Krueger. “I was completely last in the group so I had to start the race again and switch focus to catch up with the guys. When I did it I thought, ‘OK, take one lap, two laps, three laps and just get into it again, and try to do it on the final lap.’”

In the men’s 5,000 meter speedskating in the coastal city of Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Sunday evening, Dutchman Sven Kramer took his third straight Olympic gold medal in 6 minutes, 9.76 seconds. Kramer comfortably crossed the line ahead of Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen and Norway’s Sverre Lunde Pedersen.

South Korean speedskater Lee Seung-hoon came in fifth place in the race in 6 minutes, 14.15 seconds, a result he described as “satisfactory.” The 10,000-meter champion at 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver will compete in the 10,000m, team pursuit and mass start at PyeongChang.

In the women’s moguls, Perrine Laffont of France, 19, captured her country’s first gold medal in the freestyle event on Sunday, defeating Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Canada’s defending champion. Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan came in third, giving her country its second ever Winter Games medal.

South Korean freestyle moguls skier Seo Jung-hwa finished 14th in Sunday’s final, both her personal best and the top performance by any South Korean female moguls skier.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)