ICYMI at Pyeongchang: Disappointment for Vonn, history for Hanyu, heartbreak for Christie
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- Team USA's only medal on Day 8 of the Pyeongchang Games came from a somewhat unexpected sport: short-track speedskating. Figure skater Nathan Chen made a stirring comeback a day after his shocking short program; Lindsey Vonn failed to medal in the super-G; and there was more bad news for Britain's Elise Christie. Here's what you missed Saturday from South Korea.
Yuzuru Hanyu would like to thank his ankle. After nearly three months off the ice due to an ankle ligament injury, the 23-year-old Japanese skater successfully defended his Olympic title on Friday, becoming the first man to win back-to-back golds since 1952. "You did a great job today," he said to that ankle.
Hanyu came into these Games as figure skating's biggest global star. He will leave them having staked his claim to be the greatest men's figure skater of all time. His win capped a historic day for the sport all around. Performing to "Man of La Mancha," Spain's Javier Fernandez won his country's first-ever figure skating medal. It took him three Olympics to do it. "Today was super-important for figure skating in Spain," he said. "A lot of people were watching, even if it was in the middle of the night."
American Nathan Chen, who came into Saturday in 17th place after a disastrous short program, almost made a run at the podium. He landed an unprecedented five quads -- and received points for a sixth -- winning the free skate with a personal-best score of 215.08. It wasn't enough, ultimately, but Chen, who finished fifth, can leave Pyeongchang with his head held high.
What?!?!?! Completely inhuman display of ridiculousness!!! 6 quads...beautiful skating. Guys beyond. Congratulations @nathanwchen (excuse my chicken scratch) ����#bowdown #figureskating pic.twitter.com/PjbTGM5pfr- Kristi Yamaguchi (@kristiyamaguchi) February 17, 2018
You're the beast!! Thanks for the support. Hope recovery's going well��- Nathan Chen (@nathanwchen) February 17, 2018
Lindsey Vonn's Olympic comeback did not start the way she had hoped, as she finished sixth in the super-G. Instead, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic, who had never made the podium in 23 World Cup alpine races and also competes in snowboarding, shot to first place ... by 0.01 seconds. "I was not prepared that I would be at this ceremony," Ledecka said of her surprise victory. "And I don't have on any makeup." Ledecka's last name bears a certain similarity to one very successful U.S. summer Olympian, who didn't fail to notice the resemblance.
Frustrating to be so close to the podium and to have made such a big mistake...but that's ski racing. I'm proud of the way I skied and how I attacked the course. I gave it my all and came up short. That's life. Now it's on to the Downhill! ����- lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) February 17, 2018
After missing the Sochi Olympics because of swine flu, John-Henry Krueger won a silver medal in the 1,000-meter race, clinching the first U.S. individual medal in short track speed skating since 2010. He joins Apolo Anton Ohno as the only Americans to have ever medaled in this event. Canada's Samuel Girard edged out Krueger by 0.214 seconds, and Seo Yira of Korea took third.
There was more heartbreak for Great Britain's Elise Christie, who came to Pyeongchang as one of her country's most heralded medal prospects. She crashed out of the 500-meter on Tuesday, and four days later was taken to the hospital after another dramatic collision in the 1,500-meter race. With South Korean president Moon Jae-in watching from the stands, Choi Min-jeong, who was disqualified from that same 500-meter race, left her competitors in the dust on Saturday.
Redemption for Choi Min-jeong. After losing 500m silver to Kim Boutin of Canada, which has been controversial for S Korean fans, Choi leaves everyone in the dust in the 1500m, winning gold. Choi afterwards, "Mom, I won gold. Let's finally go on a family vacation"- Joseph Kim (@josungkim) February 17, 2018
Two Swiss skiers and a Brit took the podium in slopestyle on Saturday, but it could easily have been two Brits and a Swiss. Gold medalist Sarah Hoefflin spent her teenage years in England and went to university in Cardiff but decided to compete for her native Switzerland at the Olympics. "No, I'm not British. Sorry!" she said. "I still think a lot about Great Britain, but sorry, I'm not going to change countries. Sorry, I'm staying Swiss." Luckily for the U.K., their very own Isabel Atkin won the bronze, Britain's first-ever medal in skiing. (Though, dare we point out, she was born in Boston!) Team USA's Maggie Voisin just missed the podium, coming in fourth.