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[PyeongChang 2018] Women curlers glide smoothly into final four

The South Korean women’s curling team topped the round robin preliminaries with an 11-2 win over the Olympic Athletes from Russia at the PyeongChang Winter Games on Wednesday morning.

The home team, now having seven wins and one loss in the preliminaries, had already made it to the final four as of Tuesday. It is the first time that South Korea has advanced to the semifinals in curling at the Winter Games.

The team will wrap up its round robin session against Denmark later on Wednesday.

The men’s team also beat Japan 10-4 later in the day. 

South Korean women's curling team (Yonhap)
South Korean women's curling team (Yonhap)

In alpine skiing women’s downhill event on Wednesday, Italy’s Sofia Goggia took gold in 1 minute, 39.22 seconds, while Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel took silver with a 1:39.31 and the United States’ Lindsey Vonn took bronze with a 1:39.69.

With the Italian’s victory, Vonn’s bid for a second Olympic downhill gold medal came to a naught, as she had been considered a medal favorite at PyeongChang.

In freestyle skiing men’s ski cross big final on Wednesday, Brady Leman of Canada clinched gold, Marc Bischofberger of Switzerland earned silver and Sergey Ridzik representing the Olympic Athletes from Russia earned bronze.

On Tuesday, Germany swept the podium in the Nordic combined large hill event. Johannes Rydzek finished first in the individual Gundersen large hill/10km competition in 23:52.5, trailed by Fabian Riessle, who came in 0.4 second behind. Eric Frenzel, the normal hill champion at PyeongChang, finished third with a 23:53.3.

In the biathlon mixed relay on Tuesday evening, Martin Fourcade of France became his country’s most decorated athlete in the Olympics as he helped France win another gold. The title was the 29-year-old’s fifth Olympic gold, following two at the 2014 Sochi and his third at PyeongChang. The silver went to Norway and bronze went to Italy.

As of Wednesday 4:30 p.m., Norway led the overall competition with a staggering 11 gold, 11 silver and eight bronze, followed by Germany with 11 gold, seven silver and five bronze and Canada with 9 gold, five silver and six bronze. The Netherlands is in fourth place with six gold, five silver and three bronze, and France in fifth with five gold, four silver and four bronze. South Korea is in the ninth spot with four gold, four silver and two bronze.

South Korea will attempt to score more medals in short track speedskating in the men’s 500 meters, women’s 1,000m and men’s 5,000m relay events on Thursday.

Male skaters Lim Hyo-jun, Kim Do-kyoum, Hwang Dae-heon and Kwak Yoon-gy will compete in the 5,000m relay finals at 9 p.m. at Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, having clocked in at 6:34.510 in a heat event on Feb. 13.

South Korean Shim Suk-hee will race in the women’s 1,000m final A on the same day at 8:29 p.m, and Hwang Dae-heon, Seo Yi-ra and Lim Hyo-jun will compete in the men’s 500m quarterfinals starting at 7 p.m.

In long-track speedskating at Gangneung Oval on Wednesday, the South Korean men’s team will compete in the team pursuit semifinal 1 against New Zealand at 8:22 p.m., followed by the final at 10.17 p.m., if it passes the semis. The women’s team will race against Poland in the team pursuit final D at 8:54 p.m.

In a much-awaited women’s 3,000 meters short track speedskating relay final on Tuesday evening, Shim Suk-hee, Choi Min-jeong, Kim A-lang and Kim Ye-jin clinched gold, edging the Chinese, Italian and Canadian teams.

Choi, already a gold medalist in the women’s 1,500 meters on Saturday, finished the race in 4:07.361, closely trailed by China’s Qu Chunyu. The Italians, who collided with the Canadians and fell, came in third at 4:15.901.

However, with China and Canada receiving penalties, Italy moved from bronze to take silver and the Netherlands moved from the fourth spot to take the bronze.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s sole ice dance team of Min Yu-ra and Alexander Gamelin finished 18th in the ice dance event with their emotional performance to “Arirang.” The duo, both born in the US, represented South Korea at PyeongChang. They posted an overall 147.74 points -- South Korea’s best score in Olympic history.

The Czech ice hockey team beat the US 3-2 in a quarterfinal match on Wednesday. The other quarterfinalists competing on the day were Canada, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Finland and the Olympic Athletes from Russia.

On Tuesday, Norway beat Slovenia 2-1, while Finland beat South Korea 5-2 in the qualification playoffs at Gangneung Hockey Centre.

South Korea battled back from a 3-0 deficit to close the gap to 3-2 in the second period, despite coming up short in the end. A win would have sent them to the final eight.

With the loss, South Korea ended its run in the men’s hockey competition at PyeongChang, having lost all three preliminary games by 14-1.

The men’s coach Jim Paek -- a former National Hockey League defenseman from Canada from 1990–91 to 1994–95, and who won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992 with the Pittsburgh Penguins -- said he “couldn’t be prouder” of his players.

“It was a great experience for everybody here. The way they’ve played and acted, they’re true professionals. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” Paek said. 

Martin Hyun, who has worked for the PyeongChang Organizing Committee as deputy sport manager for ice hockey since January 2015, told The Korea Herald that despite the South Korean male team’s losses, Paek and Richard Park had worked strenuously to build and shape the team to compete in the Olympics.

“The upcoming World Championship A-Pool in Denmark is another great test for our team and I am positive that our players are capable of making an upset,” Hyun said.

As for prospects for the remaining quarterfinalist teams, the Korean-German said “everything is open” in terms of possibilities.

“Anyone can beat anyone else,” he said.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)
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