PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic of, Feb 17 – Japan’s figure skating icon Yuzuru Hanyu skates for gold in a decisive men’s free programme on Saturday while American ace Lindsey Vonn skis for a place in history.
Here with five highlights on day eight of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics:
Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu has a firm hand on a second Olympic gold medal going into the decisive free programme in men’s figure skating. Hanyu is bidding to become the first skater since American Dick Button in 1948/1952 to claim back-to-back Olympic titles and he could not have got off to a more encouraging start. His flawless short programme on Friday showed he had made a full recovery from the right ankle injury that has kept him out of competition since last November.
American Lindsey Vonn is set to make her Pyeongchang Olympics debut in the women’s super-G. One of the most recognisable faces in winter sport, Vonn won the gold in the downhill in 2010 but missed out on the Sochi Olympics four years later through injury. Aged 33, she is the favourite for another gold, a victory that would make her the oldest women’s medallist in alpine skiing history. As well as the super-G, Vonn is racing in the downhill and the combined in Pyeongchang.
There is no title or medal involved, but the men’s group B game between the USA and the OAS, the name given to the Russian team playing here, is likely to be compelling. Ice hockey clashes between the two are always tense. The outcome of the match this time will count towards which of the two gets a bye into the quarter-finals of the Olympic tournament. The USA, weakened by the absence of their NFL stars, are the underdogs this time round and the Russians, who last won the Olympic title in 1992 believe their time has come. The USA won their last ice hockey gold in 2006 with the Canadians dominating in 2010 and 2014.
Double Olympic champion four years ago, Kamil Stoch of Poland lines up for the men’s large hill competition after finishing a disappointing fourth in the normal hill a week ago. Andreas Wellinger of Germany won that gold medal against all the odds and he will attempt to capture back-to-back golds. But the odds favour 30-year-old Stoch. The event will likely be the Olympic farewell of Japan’s Noriaki Kasai, at 45 the first man to have competed in eight winter Olympics. He finished 21st on the normal hill but will try to go out on a higher note in his last event.
Short-track speed skating
South Korea’s teenage star Choi Min-jeong gets a second chance for gold in the women’s 1500m after she missed out in dramatic fashion in her first event four days ago. Choi was edged out by half a blade by Arianna Fontana of Italy for first place in the 500m and was then disqualified for interference. Choi, 19, is favourite in the 1500 but faces a strong challenge from an elite field including Elise Christie of Britain, the defending World Champion.