Good as Gold: Shaun White soars to 3rd Olympic halfpipe title

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Shaun White, of the United States, celebrates his gold medal after the men’s halfpipe finals at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday. - Kin Cheung | AP photo

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Shaun White put together an epic final run to claim his third gold medal in Olympic men’s halfpipe, slicing through the gray South Korean sky on Wednesday to post a score of 97.75 for the 100th overall gold by the United States in the Winter Games.

The 31-year-old White trailed Japan’s Ayumu Hirano going into the last of the three runs in the 12-man final, but put together a daring set that included consecutive 1440-degree spins. The Flying Tomato threw his board in the air when his winning score flashed, setting off a delirious celebration.

Hirano, who vaulted into the lead during his second run with a score of 95.25, took silver. Australia’s Scotty James earned bronze.

White is the first American male to win gold at three separate Winter Olympics. Speedskater Bonnie Blair won gold in the 1988, 1992 and 1994 Games.

Another delay for skiers

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — The start of Mikaela Shiffrin’s bid for multiple medals at the 2018 Olympics was delayed yet again when the women’s slalom was postponed from Wednesday to Friday because of strong winds.

It’s the third time in four days an Alpine skiing race was shelved because gusts made it too dangerous for competition. Shiffrin originally was supposed to get started with the giant slalom on Monday; that race was rescheduled for Thursday and will now be her first at these Winter Games.

Weather permitting, that is.

The men’s downhill, which was supposed to open the 11-event Alpine program on Sunday, also was shifted to Thursday, when the forecast calls for a lessening of the swirling and blustery wind that has been creating problems.

Now Friday will also be a double-competition day, with Shiffrin attempting to defend her 2014 gold medal in the slalom, which will be held at the Yongpyong Alpine Center that hosts technical races, while the men compete in the super-G at the Jeongseon Alpine Center speed hill about 30 miles (50 kilometers) away.

That super-G was originally scheduled for Thursday but was pushed to Friday once the men’s downhill was moved.

US women beat Russia

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson set an Olympic record for the fastest back-to-back goals by a man or a woman, scoring 6 seconds apart in the second period as the United States shut out the Russians 5-0 on Tuesday night.

Lamoureux-Davidson not only topped Canada’s Caroline Oullette, who scored twice in 16 seconds on Feb. 11, 2006, in a 16-0 rout of Italy at Turin, but also the men’s mark held by Carl Goran Oberg of Sweden in 1960 at Squaw Valley.

With the win, the Americans remain undefeated going into their early Olympic showdown with Canada, which is also 2-0.

The Americans won eight of the last 10 world championships, including an overtime win over Canada last spring for their fourth straight title . But they are at the Pyeongchang Games trying to end a 20-year gold medal drought. The last time these teams met in the Olympics, Canada rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win its fourth straight gold in overtime in 2014 in Sochi.

No medal will be on the line Thursday, just positioning for the semifinals. That made tuning up the offense a must for the Americans with Canada routing its first two opponents 9-1 after a 4-1 win over Finland earlier Tuesday.

Geisenberger defends title

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Natalie Geisenberger refuses to call herself the best women’s luge athlete ever.

The history books may do it for her.

Germany has yet another Olympic gold medalist after Geisenberger prevailed in the women’s luge final on Tuesday — her second consecutive title and one that added yet another page to her burgeoning resume of accomplishments.

“The most of what you reach in sport is an Olympic gold medal,” Geisenberger said.

And now, no luger has ever won more gold than Geisenberger . It’s the third gold in her collection, the two singles wins now paired with the team relay win from the Sochi Games. That ties her with Georg Hackl and Felix Loch — both fellow Germans, of course — for the most in Olympic history.

She’ll go for a fourth gold later this week in the Pyeongchang team relay.

“For me, it was the most big goal or dream — I would say dream — that I wanted to reach,” Geisenberger said.

Geisenberger’s winning time for four runs at the Alpensia Sliding Center was 3 minutes, 5.232 seconds. German teammate Dajana Eitberger was second, nearly four-tenths of a second back. Alex Gough was third for Canada, giving that nation its long-awaited first Olympic luge medal.

For the Americans, it was a night that won’t be forgotten, for an array of reasons. Erin Hamlin’s long career ended with a sixth-place finish in her fourth Olympics, while Summer Britcher struggled and finished 19th and Emily Sweeney failed to finish at all after losing control of her sled on the final run in what was a horrifying crash.

Sweeney was down for several minutes, but avoided serious injury.

“I’m OK,” she told The Associated Press as she left the finish area.

Hamlin was all smiles as she left, completely at ease at the end of a career that saw her win 23 World Cup medals on 12 different tracks, two world championships and Olympic bronze at Sochi in 2014. She was fifth going into the final run and held nothing back, but the storybook finish wasn’t in the cards.

“I was really hoping to end on a more positive note,” Hamlin said afterward, smiling broadly. “But unfortunately, that did not happen. And that’s all right.”

So now, retirement starts. Hamlin said she would sleep in on Wednesday, hang out in Pyeongchang for the remainder of the Olympics, then probably take a trip to Hawaii.

“I’ve kind of experienced all bits of the spectrum,” Hamlin said. “I have been completely devastated by an Olympics, just kind of cruised through one and had fun, was super-elated at one. The years of experience play into it for sure, and keeping everything in perspective I think is big.”

USA Luge picked Britcher — the track record-holder in Pyeongchang — to do Thursday’s team relay. That means Hamlin has competed internationally for the final time.

Hirscher lands his first Olympic gold

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Marcel Hirscher is an idol in ski-crazed Austria, the scruffy-faced winner of six consecutive overall World Cup titles to become the planet’s most dominant Alpine skier.

His exploits on the slopes even inspired a song that became a runaway hit in Austria and will be the only thing that sticks in your head longer than one of his flawless slalom runs.

The 28 year old seemed to have everything — except for an Olympic gold medal. Hirscher has downplayed the glaring absence in a career that includes 55 World Cup victories, 120 podiums and, in two previous trips to the Olympics, one silver medal.

But Pyeongchang will be his final Games. One accomplishment remained.

“I’m here for the mission,” he said a few days ago.

Hirscher made good on the pledge Tuesday. He won the combined event at the Jeongseon Alpine Center on the strength of a mesmerizing trip through the slalom course, seemingly unaffected by swirling wind and bitter cold under sunshine and blue skies.

Even some Austrian journalists covering the event couldn’t restrain themselves, roaring support for their countryman.

“Everyone is saying, ‘Nice career, but an Olympic gold medal is still missing,’” Hirscher said. “This is perfect, unbelievable.”

The pressure of the moment, as usual, didn’t faze him. Because of lingering wind that delayed the start of the 11-event Alpine schedule for two days, organizers moved the beginning of the downhill portion of the combined to the lower super-G start.

Still, wind whipped through the course. Two of the first four downhill competitors crashed. Which way the wind was blowing from minute to minute played a major role in how each skier finished — some skied with a tailwind, others faced a headwind.

“There is only the wind that can be a problem,” said France’s Alexis Pinturault, who won the silver medal.

Hirscher placed 12th in the downhill — the technical specialist was thrilled with the performance — then posted a simple message on Instagram: “first part done.” He added a check mark at the end.

Then Hirscher, the favorite to win the slalom and giant slalom, flew through the slalom with his red skis. Wind kicked up again during the run. It didn’t bother him. The lone mistake — if you can even call it that — came as he teetered on one ski crossing the finish line with the best time, by far, in the event in front of a half-full grandstand.

“Well, it’s not real for now, but I think in a few hours it’ll come closer and especially during the prize-giving ceremony,” Hirscher said. “A dream coming true.”

France’s Victor Muffat-Jeandet won bronze.

Ted Ligety, who won a medal medal in the combined for the U.S. at the Turin Olympics in 2006, finished fifth.

“It’s always a wild card event,” he said. “You never know exactly what is going to happen.”

The other U.S. entries struggled with Bryce Bennett coming in 17th and Jared Goldberg placing 36th, despite a strong showing in the downhill.

— Los Angeles Times

Shaun White, of the United States, celebrates his gold medal after the men’s halfpipe finals at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday. White, of the United States, celebrates his gold medal after the men’s halfpipe finals at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday. Kin Cheung | AP photo

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