Kim dominates for 1st Olympic title as Liu takes silver for China
IT was a day for all ages at the Winter Olympics.
A few hours after 17-year-old Chloe Kim dominated the women’s halfpipe snowboarding final yesterday, 28-year-old Marcel Hirscher, a six-time overall World Cup champion, won the men’s combined at the Pyeongchang Games.
Four years after being too young to make the Olympic team in Sochi despite having the talent and scores to do so, Kim performed like a seasoned veteran in South Korea.
Kim put up a score of 93.75 on the first of her three finals runs and then topped that with a near-perfect 98.75 on her last run — having already wrapped up her first Olympic gold. “I knew that I did put down a really good first run,” Kim said, “but I was also like, ‘I can do better than that. I can one up myself’.”
Kim’s parents both migrated to the United States from South Korea, where their daughter made her Olympic debut in a cause for celebration in both countries.
Liu Jiayu finished second with 89.75 to become the first Chinese snowboarder to medal at the Olympics. Kim’s teammate, Arielle Gold, overcame a dislocated shoulder during training to earn a bronze.
Liu was the only woman who seemed capable of challenging Kim and will be delighted to earn her first Olympic medal at the third time of asking.
The Chinese, world No. 2, laid down a good first run to score 85.50 but Kim responded immediately with the opening 93.75 effort that she made look easy.
Meanwhile, in a first for the Olympics, Canadian curlers Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris won gold in the debut of mixed doubles with a 10-3 victory over the Swiss pair of Jenny Perret and Martin Rios.
In a rush of night-time finishes, Kjeld Nuis led a Dutch double in the men’s 1,500-meter speedskating final, Natalie Geisenberger successfully defended her women’s luge title in a 1-2 finish for Germany, the cross-country classic sprint titles went to Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo of Norway and Stina Nilsson of Sweden, and Italian short-track speedskater Arianna Fontana won the women’s 500 meters.
In Jeongseon, Hirscher’s combined two-run time was 0.23 seconds faster than silver medalist Alexis Pinturault of France. The Austrian is a three-time Olympian who had previously won only a silver medal despite never finishing below fifth in any race.
“I’m super happy because now this stupid question has gone away, if I’m thinking that my career is perfect without a gold medal,” Hirscher said. “Now the question is zzzzzzit — deleted.”
Hirscher isn’t done, either. He’ll be the favorite in his top two events of slalom and giant slalom.
Lawes and Morris were too good in the mixed doubles curling final, with Switzerland conceding in the sixth end of the match after missing an opportunity for a takeout with its last shot of the end. That gave Canada another two points. Seeing no way to come back from the deficit, the Swiss ended the game.
The team from Russia took bronze with an 8-4 victory over Norway.
Kjeld Nuis led teammate Patrick Roest in a 1-2 finish in the 1,500 meters to give Netherlands four wins from four finals in speedskating at the Olympic Oval.
The Dutch have now won eight of 12 medals at the Pyeongchang Games, keeping them on the stunning medal pace set at the 2014 Sochi Games when they finished with 23 out of 36.
Klaebo won gold in the men’s cross-country sprint, with Frederico Pellegrino of Italy getting the better of a photo finish to take silver ahead of Russian competitor Alexander Bolshunov.
Stina Nilsson of Sweden won the women’s cross-country sprint. Maiken Caspersen of Norway was second and Russian skier Yulia Belorukova took bronze.
Geisenberger is the third woman to win consecutive Olympic luge golds, joining fellow German greats Steffi Martin Walter and Sylke Otto. She beat German teammate Dajana Eitberger and Alex Gough, who took bronze to give Canada its first Olympic luge medal.