Gusts hit schedule, snowboarders

GROUP EFFORT::Mirai Nagasu became the first US woman to land the tricky triple axel at an Olympics, helping her team to bronze behind Canada and Russia


Tue, Feb 13, 2018 - Page 16

High winds yesterday caused havoc at the Winter Games, as International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach dismissed allegations that North Korea tried to “hijack” the competition for political gain.

Angry snowboarders lashed out at organizers after the women’s slopestyle final was held in heavy gusts, causing nearly every competitor to take a tumble.

It came after the women’s giant slalom was postponed until Thursday because of the wind.

While the skiing was postponed, the slopestyle went ahead with near-farcical results, as athlete after athlete hit the deck, including gold medal winner Jamie Anderson of the US.

“The weather was bad and too dangerous,” bronze medalist Enni Rukajarvi of Finland said.

The International Ski Federation said that conditions were “challenging,” but defended the decision to go ahead with the event.

Heavyweights Canada won their first gold of the Games in team figure skating, while the Olympic Athletes from Russia took silver to add to their earlier short-track bronze.

The Russians, with their teenage ice starlets Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova, took their first silver of the Games after Canada in figure skating, while the US was third.

Three-time world champion Canadian Patrick Chan said determination was the added ingredient that had made the difference between Sochi silver and Korean gold.

“We had determination this time around. We saw the potential we had in Sochi and didn’t capitalize on it. This time we really want to nail it into the coffin and win this thing,” he said.

US quad boy wonder Nathan Chen will be working overtime in training after making mistakes in his short routine, while Mirai Nagasu made history by becoming the first US woman — and only the third woman overall — to land the fiendishly difficult triple axel jump at an Olympics.

Clearly overjoyed, the 24-year-old, who was skating at her second Olympics, pumped her fists and grinned as she skated off the ice.

“Maybe it’s the Japanese genetics, but lucky for me I’m American, so I’ll be the first US lady,” she said after her performance.

Japan’s figure skating superstar Yuzuru Hanyu took to the ice for his first training session — which lasted less than 15 minutes.

The defending champion, who has been recovering from ankle ligament damage, suffered a scary moment when he slipped and fell as he departed, before getting up with a wry smile.

In biathlon, Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier won the 10km pursuit for her second victory in Pyeongchang, before France’s Martin Fourcade took out the men’s 12.5km pursuit.

Following his upset eighth place in the sprint yesterday, Fourcade collected only one penalty point for shooting in blustery, freezing conditions and crossed the line with 12 seconds to spare over Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson.

Already France’s most decorated winter Olympian prior to the race, Fourcade brings his tally to five medals overall, including three golds.

With that tally of golds, he joins alpine skier Jean-Claude Killy with three Olympic titles, a French all-time record.

North Korea, with their high-level delegation and large, female cheering squad, have also been front and center in what has been seen as a propaganda coup for the isolated state.

However, Bach played down concerns that North Korea was manipulating the Games to suit its own agenda.

“This is about the role of sport to build bridges, to open doors and nothing more. It’s just a symbol for sport and it’s a symbol for the fact that when you go over these bridges, you can come to a positive result,” he said.