PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) The Latest on the Pyeongchang Olympics (all times local):
Tongan cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua has finished the 15-kilometer individual race at the Pyeongchang Olympics – and he didn’t even hit a tree.
The 34-year-old Taufatofua, best known for participating in the last two Olympic opening ceremonies without a shirt, says he was pleased he didn’t fall on the course Friday, particularly in the final 100 meters in front of the grandstand.
As he was nearing the finish line, Taufatofua thought to himself, ”Please God, not in front of everyone – don’t give me my first fall.”
Taufatofua finished 114th of 119 competitors. Two racers finished behind him, and three others either did not finish or were disqualified.
Race winner Dario Cologna of Switzerland says Taufatofua represents what the Olympics are all about.
There’s been a rare bit of controversy at the Canada vs. Denmark women’s curling match over what’s known as a burned stone.
The moment happened in the fifth period of Friday’s game. A Danish player touched a stone in motion with her broom. That is a foul known as a burned stone.
When burned stones occur, the captain, or skip, of the opposing team has three choices. They can ignore the foul, put the stones in the position they think they should be in or remove the stone from play.
Canada’s skip Rachel Homan removed the stone from play. Canada went on to score four points, taking the lead.
Canada ended up losing the game. Homan later defended her decision to remove the stone, saying it’s ”just the rules.”
How much was it worth to Seoul for hundreds of North Koreans to attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics? Try $2.5 million.
According to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, that’s the record amount the nation has allotted to pay the bills of more than 400 North Koreans at the Winter Games. Only 22 of those people were athletes.
The North’s performers – a 140-member orchestra with vocalists and dancers, an all-female 229-member cheering squad and a demonstration taekwondo team – have been a major attraction at and around the games.
That’s because their presence itself is seen as a sign of eased tensions after a rough year and because of the exotic appeal they have due to the general isolation of their country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t at the Pyeongchang Olympics, but his likeness was briefly watching over Russian hockey players.
During a game between Slovenia and Russian athletes Friday, fans in one corner of the Gangneung Hockey Centre unfurled two large banners featuring Putin’s face.
After around 10 minutes, arena security and police intervened and the banners were rolled up.
One read, ”No one is stronger than Russia in winter sports,” and the other seemed to be a message of support from Korean practitioners of the Russian martial art of sambo. It wasn’t immediately clear who had brought them in.
The International Olympic Committee takes a dim view of anything that could be construed as political advertising, and the Russians are already on thin ice because of the doping scandal.
Switzerland’s Dario Cologna has become the first cross-country skier to win three Olympic gold medals in the same event by capturing the 15-kilometer freestyle.
”Super Dario” as he’s known, also won this race in Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2014.
His three-peat gives Switzerland its first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Cologna won the race in 33 minutes, 43.9 seconds, more than 18 seconds ahead of the Simen Hegstad Krueger from Norway. Krueger took second place to give the Norwegian men their first medal in this event since 2002.
Denis Spitsov of Russia finished in third place. It was Krueger’s second medal of these Winter Games. He also won a gold medal in the skiathlon.
At the Pyeongchang Olympics, Americans are embracing curling for its chess-like strategy and oddball factor. American curlers Matt and Becca Hamilton, siblings from Wisconsin, have been particularly popular with U.S. fans.
Americans in general are slowly growing to love curling. The number of U.S. curling clubs registered with the national organization USA Curling has nearly doubled since 2000.
While their Canadian neighbors have long revered the game of roaring rocks and feverish sweeping, Americans have generally derided the sport as a bit dull.
But that’s changing. Curling in the U.S. was once relegated to the upper midwest and small pockets of New England, it has expanded to many southern and western states. Even Hawaii has a curling club.
Figure skater Nathan Chen is at a loss for words trying to explain where his Olympic short program went awry, one that left the American medal contender fortunate just to qualify for the free skate.
In fact, Chen was at a loss for what to do next.
He says, ”Things just didn’t click together.”
After crowd-pleasing performances from teammates Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou, the 18-year-old Chen failed to cleanly land a single jump in his high-flying short program. The best hope for an American figure skating gold medal fell Friday on his opening quad flip, stepped out on a quad toe and triple axel, and never could work a missed combination back into his shaky program.
The result was a score of 82.27 points, which put him in 17th place.
The IOC has expelled one of the only members who has been critical of its policies from the Pyeongchang Olympics over an altercation with a security guard.
Adam Pengilly, a vice president of the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, apologized and acknowledged running through the security checkpoint at his hotel and swearing Thursday. He denied accusations that he pushed the guard.
Pengilly, who is British, was one of only two IOC members who didn’t support allowing Russians to compete at the Winter Games.
Reporters pressed IOC spokesman Mark Adams to explain the rapid expulsion Friday. He says it was because it happened during the games and because Pengilly acknowledged his behavior.
There are two other IOC members facing serious criminal charges who have been allowed to take part in Olympic activities. Adams says that’s because their cases are ”in process.”
Pengilly competed in skeleton at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. He has been one of the few members critical of IOC President Thomas Bach’s decision to let Russian athletes participate in the Olympics. Pengilly’s term was to have ended on Feb. 25.
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation says it issued an apology to Pyeongchang officials for Pengilly’s behavior.
College players have led the United States to an important 2-1 victory over Slovakia in group play at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Ryan Donato scored two power-play goals and Troy Terry dominated with his speed.
Donato, who plays for his father Ted at Harvard, delivered the kind of offense USA Hockey wanted when it picked four NCAA players for its no-NHL Olympic roster.
Donato, Terry and American Hockey League scoring star Chris Bourque were all additions to the U.S. after the pre-Olympic Deutschland Cup in November, during which the U.S. struggled to score, particularly against Slovakia goaltender Jan Laco.
Defending champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan has won the Olympic men’s short program with a games-record 111.68 points.
Spain’s Javier Fernandez was second at 107.58. Hanyu’s countryman Shoma Uno was third at 104.17, followed by China’s Jin Boyang at 103.32.
Hanyu missed two months of training with an ankle injury and only recently returned to full practices. No matter, as he hit every element of a highly difficult program with precision and grace.
Two-time U.S. champion Nathan Chen, a pre-games favorite, missed on all his jumps, plummeting to 17th place with a tentative and passionless showing.
Fellow American Adam Rippon was seventh without attempting a quad in what was an intense jumping contest.
Frida Hansdotter of Sweden has held off American Mikaela Shiffrin and a tightly bunched field to win the Olympic slalom title at the Pyeongchang Games.
Shiffrin wound up fourth after medaling a day earlier in the giant slalom. She won the slalom title four years ago in Sochi at age 18.
Hansdotter was in second after the first run, then powered through the sun-splashed course on her final run to finish in a combined time of 1 minute, 38.63 seconds.
First-run leader Wendy Holdener of Switzerland was second and Katharina Gallhuber of Austria earned a surprise bronze.
The Tongan cross-country skier perhaps best known for walking out into the last two Olympic opening ceremonies without a shirt is set to take to the snow in the Pyeongchang Games.
The 15-kilometer freestyle begins Friday afternoon local time.
Pita Taufatofua has joked that his two immediate goals are to not crash into a tree and to finish before race organizers turn the lights off.
Taufatofua says the 15-kilometer race is probably a bit of a stretch for him since all his qualifying races were 10 kilometers. He just started skiing this year and has not skied much on snow.
He says he has a ”love-hate, hate-hate relationship” with the 15-kiometer race. The last time he raced in a 15-kilometer event he lost a ski and finished in 1 hour, 40 minutes.
Italy’s Michela Moioli has won the gold medal in Olympic women’s snowboardcross. She overtook American Lindsey Jacobellis about halfway down the course, then beat the rest of the field to the finish line.
Jacobellis finished fourth, continuing her hard-luck career at the Olympics. The world’s most decorated rider, Jacobellis has failed to return to the podium since settling for silver after an ill-advised jump in 2006 while she was clear in the lead.
Julia Pereira de Sousa Mablieau of France took silver this time, and defending champion Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic got clipped from behind and skidded across the line for bronze.
Jacobellis had about a two-body-length lead on the field when Moioli overtook her on a curve. Samkova drafted behind and pushed Jacobellis out to the edge of the course and, from there, she couldn’t gain any ground.
The Swiss Olympic team says norovirus was detected in two of its athletes in recent days at the Pyeongchang Games.
The Swiss team did not identify the athletes Friday but said they haven’t been staying in the main Olympic village.
The team says they no longer have symptoms of the virus and should compete in their events.
The athletes were immediately taken to single rooms and treated by team doctors. They have not had contact with other competitors.
Matthias Mayer of Austria has won the Olympic men’s super-G, breaking Norway’s 16-year grip on the title.
Mayer won the speed race by 0.13 seconds ahead of Beat Feuz of Switzerland, who added the silver medal to his bronze from downhill on Thursday.
Defending champion Kjetil Jansrud of Norway was third, 0.18 behind Mayer. It’s Jansrud’s fifth career Olympic medal after getting downhill silver.
Norway had won the past four Olympic men’s super-G races, since the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Aksel Lund Svindal, the 2010 Olympic champion in super-G, placed fifth the day after taking Mayer’s downhill title.
It’s been an interesting week for Mayer. He crashed into a course-side television cameraman Tuesday in the slalom leg of the combined event.
Low-ranked skiers in the 62-racer lineup are yet to start.
Happy new year, Yun Sungbin.
On a national holiday in Korea – the start of a lunar new year – Yun became a national hero, winning gold in the men’s skeleton event at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
His four-run time of 3 minutes, 20.55 seconds was 1.63 seconds ahead of silver medalist Nikita Tregubov of Russia. It was the biggest victory margin in Olympic skeleton, topping 1948, when Italy’s Nino Bibbia topped Jack Heaton of the U.S. by 1.4 seconds in a six-heat race.
Dom Parsons of Britain was third.
For the U.S., 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Matt Antoine was 11th and three-time Olympian John Daly was 16th.
Mikaela Shiffrin says she felt sick to her stomach and was ”kind of puking” before her first run in the Olympic slalom.
Shiffrin told NBC during a brief interview that ”it almost felt like a virus” and ”less about nerves.”
The 22-year-old American had the fourth-fastest time in the opening run. The second run is later Friday.
Shiffrin is bidding to win her second gold medal in two days at the Pyeongchang Games and third of her career. She won the giant slalom on Thursday.
Mikaela Shiffrin is in fourth position after her opening run of the slalom and remains within striking distance to capture a second straight gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The 22-year-old American turned in a steady performance and sits 0.48 seconds behind leader Wendy Holdener of Switzerland heading into the final run Thursday afternoon. There are seven racers all within a second of Holdener.
Shiffrin won the giant slalom on Thursday. She won the slalom four years ago at the Sochi Games.
Vincent Zhou became the first figure skater to land a quad lutz in Olympic competition when the 17-year-old American hit the four-rotation jump leading into a triple toeloop to open his short program.
Two other skaters are trying the quad lutz in the short program. More will try in the free skate.
Zhou first landed the quad lutz during his warmup, while he was waiting for the scores of France’s Chafik Besseghier to be read. Zhou says he’s always attempted a difficult jump just before his program to get his legs under him, and that it was a quad salchow before he learned the quad lutz last year.
Zhou scored a season-best 82.53 points Friday, easily the best of the first group of skaters.
Markus Schairer of Austria is heading home for treatment after breaking his neck in a frightening crash during the Olympic men’s snowboardcross quarterfinals.
Schairer lost control in the air on the final jump of the treacherous downhill course on Thursday. He slammed into the snow on his back, sending his goggles flying. He was able to get to his feet before being taken for a medical exam.
The Austrian Olympic Committee says Schairer fractured the fifth vertebrae in his neck. It says there is no indication the 30-year-old Schairer experienced any neurological impairment or long-term damage.
The men’s short program is underway at Gangneung Ice Arena, where American figure skater Nathan Chen hopes to land his array of quads that could allow him to challenge for an Olympic medal.
Chen will skate in the final group with reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, Spanish star Javier Fernandez, Chinese contender Jin Boyang and Japanese sensation Shoma Uno.
Vincent Zhou and Adam Rippon are also competing for the U.S.
The short program scores will be combined with the free skate Saturday to determine the medals.
Mikaela Shiffrin was steady in the opening run of the slalom as she tries to win a second straight gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The 22-year-old American was the fourth racer to take the course and wound up 0.48 seconds behind current leader Wendy Holdener of Switzerland.
Shiffrin showed no hint of fatigue after winning the giant slalom a day earlier. She won the Olympic slalom four years ago in Sochi.
More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org