Chinese-American freeskier Eileen Gu will attempt to earn her third medal of the Beijing Olympics on Friday in the women’s halfpipe final. The soon-to-be Stanford undergraduate has already medaled twice in her first two events.
(Miss something? Get caught up on all of Thursday’s action right here.)
“The trifecta has always been my biggest goal,” Gu said of medaling in three events in Beijing. “It’s definitely lofty, but I know it’s something I can do.” Three American skiers also qualified for the final.
Elsewhere, Team USA will face Canada in the bronze medal match in men’s curling. The defending gold medalists saw their chance for a repeat end with an 8-4 loss to Great Britain.
And in figure skating, the pairs short program begins Friday night (5:30 a.m. ET), even though much of the attention is still focused on the stunning developments from the women’s free skate as gold-medal favorite Kamila Valieva stumbled throughout her performance and finished fourth.
(NBC will broadcast a replay of the competition tonight in prime time.)
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Chris Plys gets a ‘dream job’ in Olympic curling
BEIJING — Chris Plys went to his first Winter Olympic Games as an alternate on the U.S. men’s curling team 12 years ago and has a tattoo of the Olympic rings to show for it.
Since then, Plys has covered himself in tattoos. “I have a couple that, I mean, I’m not losing sleep over it,” he said, “but I’m like, ‘Ah, I wish I had that spot for something new.’”
However, it’s the moments imprinted on his psyche that Plys really wanted to bump into oblivion over the last decade.
He narrowly lost some national titles and came up short in his quest to make another Olympic team since that Olympic debut in Vancouver.
And then when the door finally opened for Plys to return to the Olympic ice in 2022? “It just felt all the more sweet,” he said.
Plys and Team USA fell to Great Britain on Thursday in the semifinals, so they’ll play for bronze on Friday against Canada.
— Karen Rosen
Brian Boitano, Ashley Wagner haunted by women’s figure skating debacle
BEIJING – Brian Boitano and Ashley Wagner have been spending a lot of time together during the Olympics at NBC Sports’ studios in Connecticut, co-hosting the Peacock show “Olympic Ice.”
They were made for that role. Figure skating has been their life: Boitano is the 1988 Olympic men’s gold medalist, Wagner the 2014 Olympic team bronze medalist. Both won multiple national championships.
They have definitely seen the best of their sport. Thursday, they saw the worst of it.
“I’m still thinking about what happened. This can be a brutal sport at times but this took it to a whole other level. I don’t think I’ve seen anything as difficult to deal with, especially on the shoulders of a young girl (Kamila Valieva). To have to deal with this kind of pressure, it’s probably the hardest situation I’ve ever seen, with an outcome that is going to change her life and even make it more terrible,” Boitano texted just hours after the event.
“I can’t watch this,” Wagner wrote on Twitter. “They all look devastated. This just shows that these children are put in a position that is so wildly unhealthy and harmful to them. I’m sick to my stomach.”
— Christine Brennan
Armour: Drug cheats steal far more than Olympic medals
BEIJING – The outrage over figure skating phenom Kamila Valieva’s presence in Beijing has centered largely on Russia’s blatant, and continued, contempt for the norms and values of the Olympics. Russia technically doesn’t even have a team here, punishment – weak as it is – for its efforts to rig the system with a state-sponsored doping program.
But the anger over the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to hold the medals ceremony for the team figure skating event is just as fierce. Why should the American and Japanese athletes be punished, robbed of their chance to stand on a podium during the actual Games, because of Russia’s wrongdoing?
USA TODAY’s Nancy Armour spoke with two athletes who experienced a similar loss four years ago. They found it’s impossible to replace a memory that never existed, one more thing stolen by the cheaters.
Team USA tops 20-medal mark
The results could have been better on Thursday at the Beijing Olympics for the United States, but Team USA did add two more medals to its overall total.
The U.S. women’s hockey team fell to Canada and will take home the silver medal after winning gold four years ago. In addition, speedskater Brittany Bowe won the bronze medal in the women’s 1,000 meters. That brings the United States’ total to 21 medals, tied with Germany for third overall.
Norway leads the way with 13 gold medals and 28 total. Germany is second with 10 golds and the U.S. is third with eight.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Winter Olympics live updates: Eileen Gu looks for medal trifecta in women’s freeski halfpipe