South Korea hails a new national hero with a love of gold
Yun Sung-bin grabs the men's skeleton title while Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu wows the crowd in the Gangneung Ice Arena
On a national holiday, he was a national hero. Yun Sung-bin won South Korea’s second gold medal at the Winter Olympics with a performance of speed and precision.
The 23-year-old did not just beat his rivals in the men’s skeleton, he annihilated them in Pyeongchang when he finished 1.63 seconds ahead of Nikita Tregubov, an Olympic Athlete from Russia, and Britain’s Dom Parsons.
In the process, he set a track record on his final run.
“I was a little worried about racing on the morning of the Lunar New Year,” Run told the media after his epic run. “It’s a national holiday so I thought not many people would come to support [me].
“But so many people came to watch and I know many more watched on TV. That support really helped push me to get the gold,” he added.
Yun also became the first Asian athlete to win a medal in the history of the Olympic skeleton competition and the emotion showed when he talked to the media. At times, he could not quite take in what he had achieved.
After his final run, he sank to his knees as he soaked up the adulation of the crowd, thanking them for their raucous support as they chanted: “Yun Sung-bin, Yun Sung-bin!”
“Getting the gold medal in any Olympics is a very great result but getting the gold here in my home country is a very great honor, much bigger than that,” he said.
“I’m just happy that I achieved my dream,” he said. “When I crossed the finish line, the first thing that popped into my head was the gold medal.”
An ice skating spectacular
Yuzuru Hanyu hypnotized a delirious crowd with a stellar short program in the men’s figure skating competition. The defending champion executed all his jumps and spins with exceptional technique and grace, earning him first place and 111.68 points, which was just 1.04 away from his personal best.
It also kept him on track to becoming the first man in 66 years to win back-to-back Olympic figure skating golds when the long program takes place on Saturday.
“Yuzu” has not competed since October because of an ankle injury, but took to the ice as a horde of Japanese fans shouted “Fight!” and was showered with Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals at the end of his performance.
“I just felt happy to skate and be on the ice again,” he told the media. “I’m satisfied with every element and I’m really happy because I was really feeling the music. I wanted to say to everyone ‘I’m back.’”
He did that with the crowd cheering at Gangneung Ice Arena when he landed his first jump, a quad loop, and when he hit his triple Axel.
“It was pretty much as I’d been practicing, my body moved as I wanted it to,” he said. “Jumps like the Axel, the Salchow and the toe loop are all jumps that have been with me for years.”
Hip, hip hooray
Matthias Mayer produced a brilliant run to win the men’s super G and claim his second alpine skiing gold. The 27-year-old Austrian beat Switzerland’s Beat Feuz and Norway’s defending champion Kjetil Jansrud in a time of 1 minute 24.44 seconds.
It was a remarkable display of power and guts.
“I didn’t know if I would start the downhill,” Mayer said. “I had real pain in my hip.”
His win shattered Norway’s dominance in the event, which stretched back to 2002. “This is unbelievable,” Mayer said.
Shiffrin lacks golden touch
What a difference a day makes. Mikaela Shiffrin wowed the Olympic crowd on Thursday with a gold medal run in the women’s giant slalom.
But 24 hours later, she could only finish fourth to Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter in the slalom competition with an uncharacteristic low-key performance.
“I’ve been skiing aggressively in slalom all season. I’ve been confident, comfortable,” Shiffrin, who was aiming for four golds in Pyeongchang, told the media. “Coming here and skiing the way I did, really conservative, was a huge disappointment … That’s how life goes.”
Swiss skiers contract norovirus
Two Swiss freestyle skiers are the first athletes confirmed to have been hit by a highly contagious norovirus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, the Swiss Olympic team confirmed on Friday.
More than 200 people have contracted the virus, most of them security staff and Games personnel.
A Swiss team spokesperson said one of the athletes was Fabian Boesch but did not want to name the other as relatives had not yet been informed.
“Everyone else is safe. We did everything we could,” the spokesperson told Reuters. “We took them away from the rest of the team and now they have to recover.”
– with Reuters and AFP