Russians get 1st gold, Germany tops Canada in Olympic hockey
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — The Russians finally won a gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics. The Canadian men’s hockey team won’t even get the chance after losing to Germany.
Alina Zagitova edged training partner Evgenia Medvedeva on Friday in figure skating, giving the Russians a reason to celebrate a 1-2 finish.
“I haven’t fully realized yet that I’ve won,” the 15-year-old Zagitova said. “I think I need some time to understand that I won the Olympic Games.”
She and Medvedeva tied in the free skate with 156.65 points, but Zagitova had won the short program Wednesday — giving her the edge by only 1.31 points.
“I can’t believe I am the champion,” Zagitova said.
The Russians’ gold drought had been one of the ongoing story lines of the games, and they were running out of time to get one — although those concerns were eased a bit by Zagitova and Medvedeva coming into the day in prime position to win.
Now, the Russians should have a great shot at another gold medal with the men’s hockey team advancing to the final after a 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic. They’ll face the Germans, who shocked two-time defending champion Canada 4-3 to advance to Sunday’s title game.
Germany jumped out to leads of 3-0 and 4-1 before Canada rallied to get back in the game during the third period. They came close, but will do no better than bronze when they face the Czech Republic on Saturday.
“We deserve to be there and the best team will win,” Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. “We will be ready for the game, for sure.”
Switzerland topped Canada to win the bronze medal in men’s curling. The gold-medal game between the U.S. and Sweden is Saturday.
Kelsey Serwa of Canada won the gold in women’s skicross, adding to the silver she won four years ago in Sochi.
Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands took the men’s 1,000 meters in speedskating, edging Havard Lorentzen of Norway by 0.04 seconds. Nuis also won the 1,500 last week.
Martin Fourcade fell short in his bid for his fourth Olympic gold medal in South Korea as France finished fifth in the men’s 4×7.5-kilometer biathlon relay, won by Sweden.
In Gangneung, Zagitova skated first and she nailed everything during her program to “Don Quixote.” The 18-year-old Medvedeva matched Zagitova — but that wasn’t good enough to bring home the gold.
“I put everything out there that I had,” Medvedeva said. “I left everything on the ice. I have no regrets.”
Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada, who had considered retirement, won the bronze.
A few hours later, Vasily Koshechkin stopped all 31 shots he faced to help the Russians advance in men’s hockey.
Nikita Gusev and Vladislav Gavrikov scored goals 27 seconds apart in the second period, and Kovalchuk added an empty-netter with 20.9 seconds left to seal the Russians’ first trip to the final since 1998.
“It is huge for us and the players and for the country,” Russian forward Mikhail Grigorenko said of playing for the gold. “It would mean everything to us.”
SWISS DON’T MISS
Switzerland’s men’s team clinched the bronze in curling when Benoit Schwarz took out two Canadian stones with his last throw of the 10th and final end.
Canada had just one throw left, so it was unable to score the two points it needed to force an extra end.
“Very fortunate that maybe they didn’t play their absolute best game and we had a pretty good game,” Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz said. “So that was enough to win it.”
The loss was an upset for Canada, which had won the last three men’s competitions.
“We feel disheartened, disappointed, just kind of gutted, really,” Canada’s Brent Laing said. “That’s not the way it was supposed to go, wasn’t what we planned, but the better team won today and unfortunately it wasn’t us.”
At Phoenix Snow Park, Serwa took the lead early and had a big advantage when she completed the course.
“I knew that there was no way to let up, that these girls would be right behind, fighting,” Serwa said. “I tried to stay as compact and aerodynamic as possible and all the way to the finish line.”
Canadian teammate Brittany Phelan, a close friend of Serwa, used an impressive pass late in the run to finish second.
“We didn’t come out here to participate. We came out here to win, and to do it together is unbelievable,” Serwa said. “I’m so pumped.”
Fanny Smith of Switzerland won bronze.
In women’s curling, South Korea beat Japan 8-7 in an intense semifinal game that went to the 11th end. South Korea skip Kim Eun-jung made a perfect shot with the hammer that stopped right on the button to clinch the victory.
The South Koreans — who shared a jubilant hug in front of a roaring crowd after the shot — will face Sweden for gold on Sunday. Sweden beat Britain 10-5 in the other semifinal game.
Nuis became the first skater with two gold medals at the Gangneung Oval, using a terrific start and strong finish to win in 1 minute, 7.95 seconds.
“The 1,500 was a victory and this relief,” he said. “I was psyched to get this one.”
Kim Tae-yun of South Korea finished in 1.08.22 for bronze.
FOR THE KING
With King Carl XVI Gustaf watching, Peppe Femling, Jesper Nelin, Sebastian Samuelsson and Fredrik Lindstroem teamed to help Sweden win the men’s 4×7.5-kilometer relay by 55.5 seconds over Norway.
Germany took bronze, marking the seventh time it has medaled in the event in the last eight Olympics.