Alpine combined: NBC speaks with Shiffrin. She says sheâ€™s well-placed after the downhill but isnâ€™t confident. She has a mental image of missing the fifth gate again.
Can the USOPC set up some Zoom calls with sports psychologists? Weâ€™re in the midst of what might be a miserable two hours for underconfident US athletes.
End 1st period: Canada 2-0 USA
Put a pin in this moment …
Canada-USA games can get chippy. Thereâ€™s no fighting in international hockey, but thereâ€™s the usual argy-bargy at times, and neither team backs down.
Late in the first period, while Cavallini was covering the puck, Canadaâ€™s Sarah Fillier gave Hannah Brandt a solid two-handed shove and knocked her to the ice. Fillier than coolly skated in the foot or two of space between the downed US player and the goal.
There was no reaction from any US players.
They need a Herb Brooks speech at this point.
Canada 2-0 USA 1:40, 1st period
Prolonged possession for the USA, but again, no serious shots here. The Americans havenâ€™t had a real scoring chance since Brandt hit the outside of the net with the goal at her mercy in the early going.
Canada 2-0 USA 3:48, 1st period
Canada has a power play, courtesy of a delay-of-game call when Kendall Coyne Schofield played the puck over the glass, and it just feels like this game will be out of hand if the US penalty kill canâ€™t hold here.
Canada 2-0 USA 4:48, 1st period (Poulin 15:02)
Marie-Philip Poulin just kills the USA in every major tournament final. Sheâ€™s done it again, swiping the puck from an unsuspecting defender and easily depositing it past Cavallini, who doesnâ€™t seem to be getting any sort of a look at a few of these shots.
Canada 1-0 USA 6:00, 1st period
In the group-stage game, Canada gave up shots by the bushel, but the defense also made those shots a lot less dangerous. The USA just got another shot, but it was from a distance that isnâ€™t going to scare Desbiens.
Donâ€™t blame Canada. Blame Wisconsin. Thatâ€™s where Desbiens went to college.
Canada 1-0 USA 7:18, 1st period
And a bit better for the USA, forcing a scramble in front of Desbiensâ€™ goal. But the swarming Canadian defense forms a red wall, and the danger is cleared.
Canada 1-0 USA 8:24, 1st period
Finally, the USA goes back on the attack. Alex Carpenter gets a shot on a quick push forward.
Nurse has tied the great Hayley Wickenheiser for points in one Olympic tournament with 17 — five goals, 12 assists.
Goal! Canada 1-0 USA 12:10, 1st period (Nurse 7:50)
Well, that didnâ€™t take long. Faceoff win, quick pass to Sarah Nurse, and itâ€™s redirected past Cavellini and in.
Canada has outshot the USA 5-1.
Canada 0-0 USA 13:04, 1st period
Canada whips the puck around against a somnambulant US defense, and Natalie Spooner takes it in the middle of the US zone and drills it past goalie Alex Cavallini, who is getting the start here instead of Maddie Rooney, who played the first game.
But the US challenges the play, saying Canada was offside. Replay says … yes. Offside. No goal. But if that isnâ€™t a wakeup call for the US, Iâ€™m not sure what would be.
Organ plays the Star Wars music from the scene of Luke watching the twin sunset.
Canada 0-0 USA, 15:04, 1st period
Before I forget, Iâ€™d like to single out the organist at the hockey venue, who has been outstanding. Theyâ€™ve been alternating the organ with recorded music, most recently Tame Impalaâ€™s song Elephant.
Canada 0-0 USA, 17:40, 1st period
CHANCE! Hannah Brandt pounces on a rebound on the doorstep with half the net open behind Canadian goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens. Call it nerves, call it a rolling puck — Brandtâ€™s shot hit the outside of the goal, and they may regret that.
In the group stage, the USA outshot Canada 53-27 and lost 4-2. Just like the USA-Canada menâ€™s soccer game recently. Possession means nothing if you donâ€™t put something in the net.
I could bore you with details about how dominant Canada and the USA have been in womenâ€™s hockey. But I already wrote a story that included those numbers …
Just know this — no other country has ever won squat in this sport. A Canadian columnist actually wrote recently that the sport didnâ€™t belong in the Olympics because no one else can compete. It was not a popular opinion.
Faceoff … here we go ..
Letâ€™s see … weâ€™ve covered curling, Alpine skiing, the freestyle halfpipe qualifications … whatâ€™s left?
Oh right …
US men qualify for curling semifinals
Based on how they had played in the last year or two, Tabitha Peterson and the US women seemed to be a better bet to reach the semifinals than John Shuster and the US men, even though the latter won gold in 2018
But the women lost their last three to finish 4-5, taking care of business against the less-accomplished opponents but failing to break through against the sportâ€™s titans — world champion Silvana Tirinzoniâ€™s Swiss team, second-ranked Anna Hasselborg and Sweden, and two-time Olympic semifinalist Eve Muirhead and Britain. A loss to fearsome Canadian Jennifer Jones, the 2014 Olympic champion and 2018 world champion, deflated the USA, and they lost their final game to Japan.
Shusterâ€™s team underwhelmed in several games, including a horrid 10-4 loss to Italy in their penultimate game. But other results broke their way, and as in 2018, a 5-4 record would get them into the semifinals. They clinched that a few minutes ago with a workmanlike win over a misfiring Danish team.
Later today, the US will face Team GB, which clinched the top seed with an 8-1 record. Shuster, though, accounted for that loss. This team often plays to the level of the competition for better or for worse.
Shiffrin well placed in combined
Mikaela Shiffrin has done what she needed to do in the downhill phase of the combined. Sheâ€™s in fifth place, 0.56 seconds behind Austriaâ€™s Christine Scheyer.
No one else in the top seven has any World Cup points in slalom this year. Italyâ€™s Federica Brignone, whoâ€™s eighth, has a handful but would not be expected to make up 0.13 seconds on Shiffrin.
The biggest threats to Shiffrin are Switzerlandâ€™s Wendy Holdener, whoâ€™s 0.43 seconds behind the American and stands third in the World Cup slalom standings, and defending champion Michelle Gisin, whoâ€™s another 0.01 back and is seventh in World Cup slalom this season.
The slalom starts at 1 a.m. Eastern time, right when the USA-Canada gold medal womenâ€™s hockey game will be in full swing.
Curling: Denmark picks up two in the ninth end, which John Shuster and company will happily concede. USA up 7-5 with hammer in the 10th. For those who donâ€™t know curling — thatâ€™s good.
Other games are just for seeding, and Team GB has a firm grasp of the top seed with a 5-2 lead over Canada. Their only loss? USA.
Sweden, also with just one loss, is up 8-7 in a barnburner with an already-eliminated Swiss team.
Curling: I flipped over to USA-Denmark and heard â€œif they get this, theyâ€™ll get four points.â€ Nearly had a heart attack. But what they meant was that Denmark would have four points for the game, a threshold they have not oft crossed.
And they have not yet crossed it here, either, as Mikkel den Krause makes another mistake that would agitate a typical above-average club curler, taking out a US rock but rolling far enough from the center to give the US another steal. Itâ€™s 7-3 USA after eight ends, and John Shuster has the semifinals in sight.
Women’s halfpipe ski qualification complete
The field of 12 is set, led by Eileen Gu, who finished a staggering six points ahead of Canadaâ€™s Rachael Karker. Estoniaâ€™s Kelly Sildaru took third despite passing up her second run.
Team GB will be represented by Zoe Atkin with an impressive fourth-place run. The last spot goes to Germanyâ€™s Sabrina Cakmakli.
Aside from Sildaru, Atkin and Cakmakli, the final 12 comes from three countries. Kexin Zhang busted out a 1080 to move up from 10th to fifth in her second run, joining Chinese teammates Gu and Li Fanghui in the final. Canada has Karker, Cassie Sharpe and Amy Fraser.
For the USA, itâ€™s Brita Sigourney, Hanna Faulhaber and Carly Margulies, clumped together from eighth to 10th.
Halfpipe: Margulies improves slightly to 82.25. Thatâ€™s behind Faulhaber, so her fellow American clinches a spot, but Margulies should qualify.
Now itâ€™s up to Devin Logan, who goes big on the first trick but barely lands it. Her tail hits before the rest of her, and itâ€™s a nice bit of athleticism to hang on.
But thatâ€™s not going to impress the judges. Sheâ€™s out.
Margulies is in, and NBC informs us that she has not competed in two years due to injuries. Not a bad comeback.
Halfpipe: As expected after that second run, Brita Sigourney has qualified for the final.
Not much has changed on the bubble, which has a lot of Americans. Hanna Faulhaber is ninth and has almost clinched a spot. Carly Margulies is 10th. Devin Logan is one spot outside the top 12 and will have a pressure-packed final run.
Faulhaber has already done both runs. Margulies is up now.
Alpine skiing, downhill: Thatâ€™ll do quite nicely for Mikaela Shiffrin. A coach gives a nice fist pump as she comes in second of the skiers so far, trailing only Ledecka and putting 0.44 seconds between herself and Gisin.
Ledecka competes almost exclusively in downhill and super-G when she does Alpine skiing rather than snowboarding. She shouldnâ€™t be a factor in the slalom unless favorites like Shiffrin miss gates.
Alpine combined, downhill: With Petra Vlhova out, the biggest threat to Mikaela Shiffrin is surely Switzerlandâ€™s Michelle Gisin. Sheâ€™s just the defending champion. And she took bronze in super-G earlier in these Games.
But her downhill run is a little ragged. Sheâ€™s 0.99 seconds behind Ledecka and just fourth out of the eight pre-Shiffrin skiers.
Second place — the USAâ€™s Keely Cashman.
Alpine combined, downhill: The versatile skier-snowboarder Ester Ledecka is the fastest skier of the first five by a wide margin.
Mikaela Shiffrin starts ninth. Another five minutes or so.
Halfpipe: Can Brita Sigourney, the 2018 bronze medalist, improve in her second run to feel a little safer about qualifying for the final? Her 80.50 in the first run put her in eighth place.
On her second hit, she flies 12 1/2 feet out of the pipe. She does the same tricks as in her first run except for some slight changes near the bottom.
Thatâ€™s an 84.50. Should be fine.
A bit earlier, Kelly Sildaru opted out of her second run, thinking her 87.50 will be enough to qualify. Safe bet.
Halfpipe: Eileen Gu won the big air event by a hair. If she does anything like this in the final, it wonâ€™t be close. She made the halfpipe look small, easily floating more than 10 feet above it and once again landing back-to-back 900s at the start. The back-to-back flatspins at the bottom were sick as well.
95.50. Off the charts.
Before that, the USAâ€™s Hanna Faulhaber didnâ€™t improve her score, once again getting tremendous amplitude but having some sketchy landings.
After that, Britainâ€™s Zoe Atkin improved slightly to 86.75. Sheâ€™ll be in the final.
Coming up in about one minute: Womenâ€™s combined downhill.
This is where Mikaela Shiffrin should shine. Sheâ€™s the slalom GOAT and is good enough in downhill. She took silver in this event in 2018 and won the 2021 world championship.
Halfpipe: If youâ€™re checking in from New Zealand, I have some bad news — Chloe McMillan is 17th and Anja Barugh is 18th. As many a report card might say: Needs improvement.
Halfpipe: The first run is done. Top 12 reach the final. Only the best run counts for each skier.
Eileen Gu has the top score with a 93.75, and thereâ€™s no way 12 people will top that. Itâ€™s unlikely more than two people have a shot at it. Canadaâ€™s Rachael Karker and Estoniaâ€™s Kelly Sildaru are similarly safe. Likely safe: Canadaâ€™s Cassie Sharpe and Team GBâ€™s Zoe Atkin.
Three Americans — Hanna Faulhaber, Brita Sigourney and Carly Margulies —are clustered at seventh through ninth and might need better runs to feel safe. Devin Logan is 13th, so she definitely needs better.
Curling: Well, that changes things. John Shuster makes a solid takeout to lie three with his last rock, leaving no Danish rocks in the house.
Denmarkâ€™s Mikkel den Krause needs to draw close to the button to get a single point. If he misses by a couple of feet, he gives up a steal of one.
He missed by a lot. In archery terms, his shot missed the target entirely and went somewhere into a neighboring realm.
USA 5, Denmark 2 after four ends.
Curling: Iâ€™ve been told thereâ€™s a bird in the Ice Cube, but I have no photo.
Anyway, the US men just need to beat last-place Denmark to reach the semifinals. They gave up a steal in the second end to trail 2-0. They did get two back in the third, though.
Halfpipe: From 32 to just-turned-20, itâ€™s Estonian star Kelly Sildaru dropping into the pipe on her birthday. She and Gu are the only skiers going for the big air-slopestyle-halfpipe triple. No medal for her in big air, but she took bronze in slopestyle. She doesnâ€™t show anything spectacular but gets an 87.50.
Halfpipe: A lot of these competitors are teens or in their early 20s. The USAâ€™s Brita Sigourney is 32. She starts out with a huge 900 but loses some momentum late. Thatâ€™s still an 80.50.
Halfpipe: Canadaâ€™s Cassie Sharpe only has rotation in three of her six hits, but the judges must have liked what they saw, because thatâ€™s an 86.25.
Next — Britainâ€™s Zoe Atkin, one of many US-based Winter Olympians who competes for another country, has a nice array of spins for an 85.25.
The parade of high scores comes to a screeching halt with Chinaâ€™s Wu Meng. She crashed, so her score was obviously kind of low. This isnâ€™t figure skating.
Halfpipe: Stanford-bound Chinese freestyle skier Eileen Gu starts with back-to-back 900s and ends up with a 93.75.
There are six judges for this event, and the highest and lowest scores are dropped. Ironically, the US judge was responsible for the â€œlowestâ€ score for Gu, though it was a 93. Remarkable consensus here.
Halfpipe: The USAâ€™s Hanna Faulhaber has kicked off qualifying with about 15 1/2 feet of amplitude and six tricks. Thatâ€™s good for an 84.25.
Canadaâ€™s Rachael Karker goes for more spins than height, landing back-to-back 900s.
Here goes Gu …
Hi folks. Beau Dure here, and Iâ€™d like to start by saying 1,057 matches in curling still arenâ€™t enough. Especially for the US women, who are out. We watched some of the USA-Canada game last night at the curling club, and weâ€™re all a little depressed.
Speaking of USA-Canada, stay up late with me (East Coasters, that is) to keep up with one of the most anticipated events of these Games — USA-Canada womenâ€™s hockey, for the gold this time.
Around that time, Mikaela Shiffrin will be going in the combined, an event in which she would the prohibitive favorite if not for her mistakes on these slopes over this fortnight.
Before that, letâ€™s check in with Eileen Gu again as she hops into the halfpipe.
Times are all in local Beijing time. For Sydney it is +3 hours, for London it is -8 hours, for New York it is -13 hours and San Francisco is -16 hours.
9.05am and 2.05pm and 8.05pm Curling â€“ after approximately 1,057 matches it is the final bits of the round robin stage, and then in the evening it is the menâ€™s semi-finals 🥇
9.30am-3.10pm Freestyle skiing â€“ thereâ€™s action all day but the main attraction from 2pm onwards is the womenâ€™s ski cross which goes from the quarter-finals to the final 🥇
10.30am and 2pm Alpine skiing â€“ it is the womenâ€™s combined â€“ they do the downhill in the morning, the slalom in the afternoon 🥇
12.10pm Ice hockey â€“ no shocks in the womenâ€™s ice hockey the gold medal game will be Canada v US 🥇
4pm and 7pm Nordic combined â€“ the teams do jumping first and cross-country 🥇
4.30pm Speed skating â€“ the womenâ€™s 1,000m at the National Speed Skating Oval 🥇
6pm Figure skating â€“ the conclusion of the womenâ€™s single skating with the free skating 🥇
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