Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Pyeongchang Olympics: Historic gold medal as weather disrupts

QUAKE, WIND AND FIRE:Two events were postponed as wind whipped across the mountains, an earthquake shook the east and dry conditions raised fire warnings

AFP, PYEONGCHANG, South Korea

Redmond Gerard competes in the men’s snowboard slopestyle final yesterday at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Photo: AP

Teenage snowboarder Red Gerard yesterday became the first Winter Olympics champion born this millennium as high winds caused disruption at the Pyeongchang Games.

Gerard, 17, also became the youngest US men’s Olympic champion since 1928 and the second-youngest individual winner in Games history with his victory in slopestyle, with Canada’s Max Parrot taking silver.

“I’m super psyched,” Gerard said. “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.”

However, Canada’s Mark McMorris staked an early claim for the most inspirational story of the Games with his slopestyle bronze — just 11 months after a near-fatal crash.

Following a snowboarding accident last year, McMorris was fighting for his life after breaking 17 bones and suffering a collapsed lung and ruptured spleen.

“I don’t want to think too much about the past today, but I appreciate the fact I’m here on my snowboard,” he said. “Whatever the outcome was today, just me being pumped on being able to ride a snowboard.”

Slopestyle was one of the events that did not fall victim to high winds yesterday, when the showpiece men’s downhill skiing was aborted until Thursday.

Later, as the gusts continued to swirl, the women’s slopestyle qualification was scrapped with the competitors all going straight into today’s final.

A day of extremes started with a surprise earthquake alert, after a magnitude 4.7 quake rattled eastern South Korea, with its epicenter about 260km from the Games.

The severe chill that has made Pyeongchang one of the coldest Games in history was set to worsen, with temperatures forecast to plunge to minus 14°C today — with a real-feel of minus 25°C.

On the second day of full competition, Simen Hegstad Krueger led a Norwegian sweep in the men’s skiathlon after recovering from an early fall and breaking a pole.

“It is an indescribable feeling,” Krueger said. “It is an amazing day, but it started in the worst way with the fall after the first 100m and a broken pole. I was completely last in the group, so I had to start the race again and switch focus to catch up with the guys.”

Dutchman Sven Kramer roared to a third straight Olympic title in the men’s 5,000m speed skating, while Germany’s Arnd Peiffer upstaged Martin Fourcade, France’s most decorated winter Olympian with four medals, to grab a surprise win in the men’s 10km sprint biathlon.

Six gold medals in total were up for grabs yesterday, including in speed skating, luge, freestyle skiing and the biathlon.

In luge, Austria’s David Gleirscher claimed the Olympic gold in the men’s singles with a total time of 3 minutes, 10.702 seconds.

US luger Chris Mazdzer took the silver with a +0.026 differential, and Germany’s Johannes Ludwig took bronze with +0.23.

Taiwanese luger Lien Te-an came in 38th out of 40 competitors.

Perrine Laffont claimed France’s first gold medal of the Games when she beat defending champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe to win the women’s freestyle moguls.

Laffont, 19, scored 78.65 for a narrow win over Canada’s Dufour-Lapointe, while Yulia Galysheva was third — winning only the second ever Winter Games medal for Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, Evgenia Medvedeva set a new world record in the women’s figure skating short program, with a brilliant skate that helped the Olympic Athletes from Russia into second place in the team competition behind Canada.

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