Winter Olympics 2022: USA's Elana Meyers Taylor third in bobsled, Eileen Gu wins another gold, plus pairs figure skating and more from Beijing

Mark Schiefelbein/AP

On Thursday night at the 2022 Winter Olympics, all eyes were on Eileen Gu of China as she won another gold medal, this time in the women's freeski halfpipe. Earlier in this Olympics, she won gold in big air and silver in slopestyle.

Team USA curling lost to Canada in the bronze-medal match, and China's pairs figure skating team of Sui Wenjing and Han Chan crushed its own world record for a short program with a score of 84.41 points. That will give the pair a narrow lead in the top spot heading into the free skate.

Winter Olympics schedule | Medal tracker

Here's the latest action from Beijing:

Two-woman bobsled heats have Meyer Taylor in 3rd

Team USA's Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor are on the quest for their second medals at the Beijing Olympics -- this time in the two-woman bobsled event. At the end of heats 1 and 2, Meyers Taylor, with teammate Sylvia Hoffman, sat in the bronze-medal position with a 2:02:79 finish (0.74 seconds behind the No. 1 spot) after two clean runs. Humphries finished fifth with teammate Kaysha Love, with some small mistakes in the curves adding time to their runs. They finished at 2:03:38.

Germany is in the 1-2 positions after heats 1 and 2, with Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi at the gold-medal position (with a stunning 2:02:05, their second run at 1:01:01 a track record) and Mariama Jamanka and Alexandra Burghardt in the second spot. (The final two heats, on Saturday, will start at 7 a.m. ET.)

Humphries and Meyers Taylor have had massively successful careers in the two-woman bobsled event at the Olympics, medaling in every Olympic Games they've competed in. Humphries won golds in Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014) and bronze in Pyeongchang (2018) for Team Canada, while Meyers Taylor took home silvers in Sochi and Pyeongchang and bronze in Vancouver for Team USA. This is Humphries' first time representing the U.S. after a divisive split with Bobsleigh Canada led her to apply for and receive American citizenship in December 2021.

Humphries and Meyers Taylor went 1-2 in the women's monobob event, which debuted at the Winter Olympics last week. Meyers Taylor became the oldest U.S. woman to win an Olympic medal with the win (at 37 years and 127 days). -- Aishwarya Kumar

Meyers Taylor will carry the flag

Elana Meyers Taylor has been picked to be a flag-bearer again. And this time, she'll be able to take the job.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced Friday night that the four-time Olympic bobsledder will carry the American flag into Sunday night's closing ceremony of the Beijing Games.

Meyers Taylor was chosen to be one of the flag-bearers for the U.S. at the opening ceremony on Feb. 4 but could not participate because she was in isolation after a positive COVID-19 test. That spot instead went to speedskater Brittany Bowe, who led the U.S. delegation into the opening alongside curler John Shuster.

China and Russia square off in pairs skate

Pairs is generally considered the U.S.'s weakest discipline, but both American teams got off to a great start in the short program. Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier got things going with a solid performance that scored 74.23 points. They previously helped Team USA win a silver medal in the team event.

The other U.S. team, Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, scored just 0.1 less, 74.13 points, to slide into the standings behind them. LeDuc, 31, became the first openly nonbinary Winter Olympian. The two teams go into the free skate in sixth and seventh place, respectively.

And finally, there was the highly-anticipated matchup between home country favorites Sui Wenjing and Han Cong and three teams from traditional pairs powerhouse Russia. Sui and Han lost out on gold by an excruciating half a point in Pyeongchang, and today, they came out to secure every point possible. They scored 84.41 points, a new world record to beat the one they set in the team event last week. ROC's Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are right behind them with 84.25 points, while their teammates Anastasia Mishina and Alexander Galliamov are in third, with 82.76.

The free skate, which starts Saturday at 6 a.m. ET, is going to be wild. -- Elaine Teng

Gu wins another gold

In the final women's freeski event of the Olympics, Gu, who is one of only two women who competed in all three freeski events in Beijing, took her third medal and second gold, this time in the halfpipe. She is the first freeski athlete to medal in three events in a single Games.

After the qualifier, Gu said she had more in store for the finals, and she didn't disappoint. She took the lead with her first-run score of 93.25. But in her second run, she went even higher on her opening-hit 900 and added more spins and technicality, including back-to-back alley-oop flat spins for her final two hits. She was awarded a nearly untouchable 95.25, a score that held for the remainder of the contest. -- Alyssa Roenigk

Finland 2, Slovakia 1

Finland beat Slovakia on Thursday night ET in the first of the men's hockey semifinals. Finland has never won gold in Olympic men's hockey -- the country has gotten two silvers and four bronzes, all since 1988. That's six medals in the past nine Olympics. Now, Finland will have a chance at its first gold Saturday night ET.

Meanwhile, Slovakia has never won any medal in Olympic men's hockey, but will play for its first in the bronze-medal game Saturday morning ET. The second semifinal -- ROC vs. Sweden, on Friday morning ET -- will determine who each team plays. -- ESPN Stats & Information

Humphries and Love are ready to go

Kaillie Humphries is a four-time Olympic medalist (with three golds, no less!).

Kaysha Love is a former track star who started bobsled training as a brakewoman in 2020.

The two will pair together in the two-woman on Friday ET:

Despite the above, and Love's rookie status, it's important to note: The duo won a World Cup in December together. They are absolutely medal favorites.

A tribute to Sarah Burke

It's impossible to watch women's freeskiing at the Olympics without thinking about Sarah Burke, a pioneer of the sport who fought for freeskiing's inclusion in the Games. Burke died in a halfpipe training accident 10 years ago, two years before freeskiing was added to the 2014 Olympics.

Her influence is still felt in Beijing. Several recipients of Sarah Burke Foundation scholarships competed at these Games: Winter Vinecki, Liam Gill, Maddie Mastro, Tessa Maud, Dylan Ladd, Elena Gaskell, Megan Oldham and Kristy Muir. -- Alyssa Roenigk

Jackson with a look back at her origin story

We all have to start somewhere -- even Olympians -- and Erin Jackson has the video to prove it. Jackson posted a video of her first time on the ice all the way back in 2016, when she decided to move from inline skating to speedskating. The initial wobbles are to be expected, but the fact that she's looking somewhat competent not 10 minutes into her practice is something else. Some people are just built different.

Mascots getting stuck in doors

As sad as it is to admit, the world was not designed for oversized mascot costumes. Most doors are not built to accommodate people wearing 5-foot-wide inflatable panda costumes. That's just the mascot's burden to bear -- and fortunately for these two, they were able to find helping hands to get them through the worst of it.