The controversial women's figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics came to a close Thursday. Russian skater Kamila Valieva, who tested positive for banned heart drug trimetazidine in December but was cleared to skate Monday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, finished off the podium -- despite earning the top score in the short program -- after a mistake-laden free skate.
Valieva finished fourth. Americans Mariah Bell, Alysa Liu and Karen Chen were also in the field. Liu (total score of 208.95) and Bell (total score of 202.30) both finished in the top 10, earning seventh and 10th place, respectively.
Elsewhere Thursday morning, Great Britain defeated the USA in the men's curling semifinal. The Americans, skippered by John Shuster, were the reigning gold medalists. The win guaranteed the Brits their first medal of these Games.
Earlier in the Olympic action, if you're a fan of Team USA -- or just a fan of watching the world's best -- Wednesday night (Eastern time) was tough to watch. Canada beat the United States in women's hockey, and after a promising start in the combined, Mikaela Shiffrin skied out in her final individual race.
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ROC -- Shcherbakova, not Valieva -- wins figure skating gold
After a week of intense scrutiny, pressure and criticism for her positive doping test, ROC's Kamila Valieva skated her worst performance of the season to finish fourth. Widely expected to win gold, she fell on two quads and stepped out of other jumps to finish off the podium. The 15-year-old sobbed after receiving her score.
Her teammates and training partners Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova won gold and silver, but their triumphs were marred by Valieva's result. Shcherbakova stared blankly away from the cameras while Trusova descended into tears.
Japan's Kaori Sakamoto won bronze.
Because Valieva finished off the podium, the women will receive medals, which would not have been the case had she medaled.
Americans Mariah Bell and Alysa Liu got their Olympic moments. Bell fought through her jumps and performed beautifully through k.d. lang's rendition of "Hallelujah." The 2022 U.S. national champion finished 10th. "I need a drink," her coach Adam Rippon was heard saying as she left the ice.
Liu was all smiles after her skate. The 16-year-old put on a show and landed all her jumps -- though she did not get credit for an attempted triple axel. She finished highest of the Americans, in seventh. Bell hugged her as she awaited her score.
Earlier, Karen Chen, in 13th after the short program, finished her second Olympics with a disappointing performance. The triple loop, which has bedeviled her throughout the Games, felled her yet again. Chen fought back tears as she came off the ice, but she will go home having won silver in the team event. -- Elaine Teng
Canada bests the U.S. in women's hockey
Canada won Olympic women's ice hockey gold 3-2 over archrival Team USA in the latest thrilling chapter of the sport's greatest rivalry.
Marie-Philip Poulin had two goals and an assist, while goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens made 38 saves. Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel had the U.S. goals.
🥇 GOLD 🥇#TeamCanada beats Team USA 3-2 to win gold at #Beijing2022 🤩🏆🎉— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) February 17, 2022
This is Canada's fifth Olympic gold medal in women's hockey.
Details on their victory: https://t.co/5cJy0svwgZ pic.twitter.com/KTdDBO6znG
This was the sixth meeting between the U.S. and Canada for Olympic women's ice hockey gold since the event was added in 1998. The Americans have won twice (1998, 2018), while Canada has won gold five times -- four times against the U.S. and in 2006 against Sweden, when the U.S. settled for bronze.
Canada finished the tournament with an Olympics record 57 goals scored. It previously defeated the Americans 4-2 in the preliminary round. -- Greg Wyshynski
Shiffrin skis out
Mikaela Shiffrin entered the slalom portion of the combined race in fifth place after an impressive downhill run, looking to reverse her Olympic woes with a medal in her last individual race of the 2022 Games.
But it wasn't to be.
The 26-year-old crashed out of the race, and recorded her third "Did Not Finish" in Beijing. She appeared to be fighting tears on the side of the course.
Shiffrin was candid in an interview with NBC prior to the slalom run about how she was feeling entering what has long been considered her signature event.
"I'm not feeling totally confident with the slalom," Shiffrin said. "I mean, I have a recurring image of myself skiing out on the fifth gate again, so I'm just going to do my best."
Shiffrin will have one last chance to earn an Olympic medal in Beijing on Saturday in the mixed team parallel slalom competition. She will become just the second woman in history to compete in all six Alpine events in the Olympics, joining her rival Petra Vlhova, who did so in 2018, the first year of the team event. -- D'Arcy Maine
Every American qualifies for men's ski halfpipe finals
All four American skiers qualified for halfpipe finals -- and David Wise is on track to become the only three-time Olympic medalist in freeski halfpipe history. The two-time defending Olympic champion, Wise qualified fourth into Saturday's final.
The top spot went to Wise's teammate, three-time Olympian Aaron Blunck. New Zealand's Nico Porteous qualified second, and U.S. skier Birk Irving, the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics gold medalist, qualified third.
Unlike the past two Games, Wise did not come into this year's event as the favorite. He last won a major event -- X Games Aspen -- in 2018 and spent the past three years recovering physically and mentally from a broken femur. But over the past several weeks -- including a bronze-medal performance at the X Games -- Wise has looked every bit the defending Olympic champ and a challenger for the podium once again.
American skier Alex Ferreira, the silver medalist from Pyeongchang, qualified seventh.
Gus Kenworthy, who competed for the U.S. in the past two Winter Olympics and was part of the U.S. slopestyle sweep in Sochi, is skiing for Great Britain and grabbed the final qualifying spot. Kenworthy announced three years ago that he would ski for Team GB to honor his mother, Pip, who is British. Kenworthy was born in England and could become the rare athlete to medal in the Olympics for two countries. -- Alyssa Roenigk
Did you know?
The sheets of ice on which curling is being held at the Olympics is the exact spot -- down to the very pools -- where Michael Phelps won eight gold medals for the U.S. back at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. This New York Times article lays out how the organizers meticulously built sheets of ice on surfaces that were once Olympic-sized swimming pools. That meant filling the pools with concrete, then meticulously filtering the water used to freeze the ice (curling requires a pure form of ice without the presence of salts, minerals and ions.) -- Aishwarya Kumar
Gu leads the way in halfpipe qualifiers
With a mix of grabs, big spins and superior execution, two-time Olympic medalist Eileen Gu of China qualified at the top of the field for Friday's freeski halfpipe final.
Gu's first-run score of 93.75 was five points better than the field. In her second run, Gu opted to go even bigger and topped herself with a 95.50.
"Halfpipe is all about fun and pushing myself and the limit," Gu told NBC after her second run.
When asked what she thought about the finals-level skiing in the contest, Gu said she, too, held back.
"I'm not going all out," Gu said. "I have a few more tricks. But given it's the Olympics, I want to be consistent and do my best. I have to put a safety run down first, but there are some things I am hoping to bring out if I have the opportunity [Friday]."
Canada's Rachel Karker, a former ballet dancer and gold-medal contender in the halfpipe, qualified second. Kelly Sildaru of Estonia, the only athlete other than Gu who is competing in all three freeski events, opted not to take her second run and qualified third with her first-run score.
Three American skiers finished in the top 12. Brita Sigourney, 32, the 2018 bronze medalist in halfpipe, improved on her first-run score to qualify seventh into Friday's final. Hanna Faulhaber, a 17-year-old senior at Basalt (Colorado) High School who grew up skiing with the Aspen Valley Ski Club, launched the biggest airs of the contest and finished eighth. And 24-year-old Carly Margulies, who is competing in her Olympic debut -- and her first contest in nearly two years -- is two months out from her seventh knee surgery and qualified 10th. "I'm still in disbelief that I'm here," Margulies said after the contest. "I'm speechless."
Devin Logan, a three-time Olympian and the slopestyle silver medalist from Sochi, finished one spot out of qualifying in 13th. -- Roenigk
Men's curling makes it through
The U.S. men's curling team is in to the playoffs, keeping the dream of a second consecutive Olympic gold alive. After trailing 0-2 against Denmark, the U.S. men made a huge comeback, which included a three-point steal in the fourth end to take them up 5-2. Riding on that lead, the team comfortably won the game 7-5.
While the team was busy winning, it's important to note they were also winning in style, courtesy of Matt Hamilton's always buzzworthy shoes:
And, the shoutouts continued, with The Rock weighing in with both an epiphany and wishes of good luck:
Took me a sec to figure this out 🙋🏽♂️— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) February 16, 2022
I did not know that the thing being pushed on the ice - which for years I've been referring to as "the gimmick they push" is actually called THE ROCK. Very cool.
But nowhere near as cool as @MattJamilton's focus, flexibility & hair. LFG!! 🇺🇸🪨 https://t.co/xGVXvQWaHp
Unfortunately, things didn't pan out for the U.S. women, who fell to Japan 10-7 earlier on Wednesday, and are now out.
The men's team will play Great Britain in the semifinals on Thursday. -- Aishwarya Kumar
"Curling is cool, fool!"
Team USA curling fan Mr. T sent out a message ahead of the round-robin finale against Denmark. If John Shuster & Co. secure the final playoff spot, it will also open up the opportunity for a second straight gold medal.
Before tonight's big match vs Denmark, curling super fan @MrT wished @TeamShuster good luck.— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 17, 2022
You can watch tonight at 8ET on @CNBC and @peacockTV. (Via @usacurl) #WinterOlympics | #WatchWithUS pic.twitter.com/elHyJ1FcZC