We’re a full week into the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang and there’s been plenty for American athletes to feel good about so far. The U.S. has earned the fourth-most gold medals through a week of competitions with 5, behind the Netherlands and Norway (each with 6) and Germany (9). Overall, the Americans are tied for 5th in medals with 8 total. With so many events taking place in the early morning hours or late at night here stateside, we’ve put together a recap of some of the highlights from the first week of action so you can catch up.
A pair of 17-year-olds brought home gold for the U.S. in snowboarding
Red Gerard and Chloe Kim entered the Olympics as two of seven members of Team USA who were seventeen years old. Gerard was expected to contend for a medal, but Canadians Max Parrot and Mark McMorris entered as the favorites. Things seemed to be playing to script in qualifying as the order entering the final was Parrot, McMorris and Gerard.
In the final, Gerard fell on his first two runs leaving him with low scores and needing to nail his final run to have a shot. He did.
That was enough to give him Olympic gold, something he was quite stunned by afterwards.
For Kim, she entered as the heavy favorite in the women’s half-pipe competition despite her age. After watching her qualification runs, it was easy to see why. She posted a 91.25 in her first run and then came back and topped that with a 95.50 to head to the final in 1st place by nearly eight points.
If you thought she couldn’t be any more dominant, you were wrong, dead wrong. She posted a 93.25 on Run 1. Then fell on Run 2, but it didn’t matter as no other athlete came close to that 93.25. So, entering her final run, she could easily have just taken a victory lap. Instead, she went for her hardest run…and stomped it.
Gold for the U.S. with Arielle Gold also reaching the podium and taking bronze. You might want to get used to Kim’s name as she seems to be head and shoulders above the rest of the sport at the moment.
Familiar face tops the Podium in Men’s Half-pipe
While the young guns got things done for the Americans in some of the earlier events, it was the old head, Shaun White, at age 31, who stepped up in the men’s half-pipe competition. However, like young Red Gerard, his win didn’t come without drama.
Leading after qualifying, White came out of the gates firing in the final as well, posting a 94.25 on his first run to keep himself in position for gold. But, on Run 2, Japan’s Ayumu Hirano one-upped White with a 95.25. White fell on his second run, so it all came down to White, the final boarder to take the mountain on the night, with the gold medal on the line.
The 31-year-old held up under pressure and added his third career Olympic half-pipe gold. White missed the podium in Sochi in 2014, so he was understandably emotional about being able to come back and win gold this time around.
However, White got himself into trouble with his response to a question about the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him in 2016 by former bandmate Lena Zawaideh. He dismissed it out of hand as “gossip” during a post-event press conference and refused to further answer any questions about it. The next day, White went on NBC’s The Today Show and issued an apology for his choice of words.
Mikaela Shiffrin wins Giant Slalom, but falters in her best event
Shiffrin entered this year’s Olympics as one of the marquee attractions for Team USA. The 22-year-old was in the running for a potential five medals in the events she was planning on competing in. However, the Giant Slalom was continually pushed back due to high wind conditions on the mountain which took one event off her schedule, the Super-G, but leaving a shot at four medals very much a possibility. The first opportunity came in the Giant Slalom which finally got underway on the 15th.
Shiffrin took gold by 39 hundreths of a second, and looked poised to start the Olympics 2-for-2 considering that the next event was her best, the slalom. But, Shiffrin unexpectedly finished fourth and she couldn’t really explain why.
“I’ve been skiing aggressively in slalom all season long. I’ve been confident, comfortable,” Shiffrin said. “Coming here and skiing the way I did, really conservative, was a huge disappointment. … That’s how life goes.”
However, Shiffrin will still have opportunities in both the downhill and the Alpine Combined which both get underway next week.
Uneven Start For Team USA Men’s Hockey
While the skiers and snowboarders have covered themselves in glory in the first week of Olympic action, the Team USA men’s hockey team had a rocky start to their Olympic tournament falling to Slovenia 3-2, before rebounding against Slovakia with a 2-1 win. The Americans weren’t the only team to stumble out of the gate though as Slovakia knocked off the Russian team in their first game before OAR (Olympic Athletes from Russia) crushed Slovenia in their second outing 5-0.
On the ladies’ side, the U.S. was dominant in its first two games, winning by a combined 8-1 score over Finland and OAR, before falling to Canada 2-1. That said, the ladies are still in great position, earning a bye into the semifinals thanks to their pair of early wins and big goal differential. They will face the winner of the quarterfinal between Finland and Sweden on Monday the 19th.
Netherlands Dominates Speed Skating In Week 1
The Netherlands have been a force to be reckoned with on the oval through the first week of competitions. The Dutch have won 11 out of a possible 21 medals (6 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze) in the first week. The ladies swept the 3,000m podium, and nearly did the same in the 1,500m (gold and bronze). Meanwhile, Sven Kramer continued his reign over the 5,000m race winning gold for the third straight Games. There’s still plenty of opportunities left with the team pursuit, 500m and men’s 1,000m races still left during the course of the next week.