Golden days for the Olympic record-breakers
Austrian Marcel Hirscher goes for a title treble as Japanese sensation Yuzuru Hanyu plans a 'wonder jump'
Majestic is the only word to describe him. Marcel Hirscher produced another amazing performance to win his second gold medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea after lifting the giant slalom title.
The 28-year-old Austrian had already wrapped up the Alpine combine event earlier in the week and is now a hot favorite to continue his golden run in Thursday’s men’s slalom, his favorite event.
“Wow. It was not so easy to be the absolute favorite in this discipline,” he told the media. “I knew I had to give it 100 percent and I had to battle, and that is what I did.”
But what was remarkable about Hirscher’s show on Sunday was the massive winning margin of 1.27 seconds over Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, who took the silver medal. France’s Alexis Pinturault finished with a bronze.
Still, the Olympic giant slalom title was one of the few honors missing from Hirscher’s trophy collection until his fabulous run in Pyeongchang.
“It was hard to drive in the second round,” Hirscher told Austria’s ORF television. “I made a few small mistakes. Despite the lead, I went all or nothing. I put everything on one card.”
And it paid off with defending champion Ted Ligety describing Hirscher’s performance as “pretty phenomenal.”
The 33-year-old American was 20th-fastest after a slow first run in the morning, and finished more than three seconds back and outside the top 10. “Marcel is always able to bring out those incredible performances,” he said. “It’s amazing to be able to watch that.”
Yuzuru plans another date with history
What do you do when you have just created Olympic history? For skating sensation Yuzuru Hanyu, it means doing the impossible again.
Barely 24 hours after winning back-to-back gold medals in the men’s figure skating for the first time in more than half a century, he announced plans to perform a quadruple Axel. The jump has never been completed by a skater.
“Right now, I have no intention to stop,” he told a news conference on Sunday after winning gold a day earlier with a flawed yet captivating free skating program.
“I’ve already achieved my dreams,” he added. “But there are still things I want to do in skating.”
At the top of that list is to land a quadruple Axel, which is believed to be technically possible, but would require an extra half-turn in the air on top of the four already needed for any successful quad. Nobody has achieved it.
“I want to do one, because nobody else has,” the 23-year-old said. “One of my coaches has called the Axel ‘the king of jumps’ and I would like to aim for a quad.”
But that will have to wait until he gets back to full fitness after taking painkillers for a damaged right ankle, which threatened his career on the ice. The initial problem was so complicated that nobody really knew how to treat it, he pointed out to a packed media gallery.
“Everything depends on my ankle. I’ve been taking painkillers, injections would have been better but that wasn’t possible. So, I’ve just taken lots and lots of painkillers,” Yuzu said.
“To be honest, the situation is unclear even now. All I can say is that if I wasn’t taking painkillers, I couldn’t do the jumps or land them. I need some time to recover,” he added.
Super ‘shock’ for Ledecka
Ester Ledecka was convinced she would wake and realize it was all a dream. The 22-year-old snowboarder and skier still could not believe she had snatched the gold medal in one of the most prestigious Alpine events – the Winter Olympics super G,
With a pair of borrowed skis from giant slalom gold medallist Mikaela Shiffrin, she set a blistering time of 1 minute 21.11 seconds to win the title. “I thought there must be some mistake,” Ledecka told a news conference. “I thought they’d switch the times for someone else’s!”
To put her victory into perspective, she had never even finished in a top three spot in a World Cup super G event. This was, after all, her other persona as her main claim to fame is being a world snowboard champion.
“I am so surprised about all of it,” Ledecka said. “I’m really trying to win and do a good run every time, but I didn’t really realize that this really can happen.”
The goal medal hanging around her neck proved that it did.
It was always going to be bruising. Goals from Ilya Kovalchuk and Nikolai Prokhorkin helped the Olympic Athletes from Russia win a brutal 4-0 victory against the United States men’s hockey team to claim the top spot in their preliminary round group.
It meant the Russians will go directly into the quarter-final round, giving them an extra day of rest and cementing their credentials as one of the tournament favorites. The Americans face a qualification playoff on Tuesday.
Kovalchuk is now the leading scoring Russian Olympian in history with 13 career goals, two ahead of Pavel Bure’s previous best of 11.
“I still have some gas left in my tank, so I hope I score some more,” Kovalchuk told the media. “I think we played well. We came out strong. We scored the first goal then our goalie made some great saves.”
– with Reuters and AFP