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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Olympics

NHL players have mixed feelings about absence from Olympic hockey

NBC Olympics

For the first time since 1994, a full slate of NHL players are absent from the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Winter Olympics. That has inspired mixed feelings among current players, who are enjoying the tournament but would prefer to be playing in it.

“It’s fun, it’s the Olympics,” said Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, via Bill Beacon of the Canadian Press. “It’s different to be on the other side of the TV, but at the same time it’s exciting and you know how much it means for the guys that are there and what’s at stake.”

New York Rangers forward Rick Nash, a two-time gold medalist, said he ultimately felt it would be better for the game if NHL players were involved.

“I think it’s pretty cool that the guys that went have that opportunity,” Nash said. “They look like they’re having fun. The hockey is fast. It’s pretty good checking hockey. But I think what everyone looks forward to every four years is NHLers to be in the Olympics, especially in the States — how much it grows the game when you have a Canada-U.S. match-up. So I think it’s unfortunate NHLers aren’t there.”

American forward Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets admitted that he didn’t mind not having to travel away from his family to play in the Games.

“You always love representing your country,” Wheeler said. “I had a great experience in Sochi. That being said, it is a sacrifice. I’ve got three young kids and I don’t mind spending the extra time with them either. Had we gone and I was invited, I would have been thrilled about it. But to be here with my family, I’m not all that disappointed about it either.”

The NHL didn’t get the financial return they requested to release NHL players to go to the Olympics, but haven’t ruled out returning to previous policy in 2022. That said, while the tournament may not be of as high quality as it has been in years past, it has allowed for a lot of great moments from some players who wouldn’t otherwise get an opportunity to play on a stage like this.

Lindsey Vonn’s father was not happy with her downhill run

Lindsey Vonn emotional

Lindsey Vonn’s bronze medal run during the downhill was clearly not satisfactory to her father.

Alan Kildow had praise for his daughter, but he made no secret of the fact that he was not satisfied with a bronze medal, and that she should have been more aggressive in her run.

“It’s great skiing, but it reminds me of something that Buddy Werner used to say. He said there’s two places in the race, first and last, and I only want one of them,” Kildow told Josh Peter of USA Today Sports. “She needed to go for it a little bit more. She needed to risk more.

“Just little, little spots. Just not quite risking enough. Not straightening the line out, just the ski was little … not quite carving in some places like it should have. But a great result. A great result.”

For her part, Vonn simply credited her opponents on a great race. Her father, who was seeing her live at the Olympics for the first time, was feeling a little bit less charitable in what was likely her final Olympics.

Adam Rippon hilariously roasts himself in tweet

Adam Rippon

Adam Rippon has become a superstar at the PyeongChang Games, and now he is proving himself to be a self-aware superstar at that.

A Twitter user cracked a joke on Tuesday based around the American figure skater quadrupling his number of followers in the last week.

Rippon himself soon replied, one-upping the tweet with a hilarious self-roast.

For reference, the quad in figure skating (also known as the quadruple) is a difficult jump with four revolutions. Rippon’s refusal to even attempt a quad (either in the team event or in the men’s singles competition) actually became something of a storyline in PyeongChang — though his routine places more of an emphasis on artistic and aesthetic elements rather than challenging jumps.

While his lack of a quad may have played a factor in Rippon’s tenth-place finish in singles, he still took home a bronze medal with the U.S. as part of the team competition. That combined with his newfound viral stardom is more than enough to give Rippon the confidence to poke fun at himself on occasion.

Figure skater Karen Chen reveals advice she got from Kristi Yamaguchi

As she competes in the women’s singles event this week, Karen Chen is carrying with her the advice of one of the true legends of the sport.

In a feature this week by Scott M. Reid of the OC Register, the American figure skater revealed that former Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi has been serving as her mentor and gave her advice before the PyeongChang Games.

“We both had matcha green tea lattes,” said Chen of their meeting for coffee in Fremont, Calif. before her departure for South Korea. “Which was amazing and we just talked and she just shared her experiences and all the fun times she had at the Olympics and she really hyped me up and just got me excited to be here and to soak in this experience. It’s my first time at the Olympics and I want to make sure I make some really amazing memories.

“Keep putting out positive energy and that will keep yourself going,” Chen added about the advice that Yamaguchi offered her.

The two skaters definitely have a lot of common ground — both are Bay Area natives of Asian descent. The 18-year-old Chen is also close to the same age that Yamaguchi was when she won individual gold at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville at 20 years old.

Chen got off to a fairly strong start in her short program on Wednesday (despite stumbling on a triple lutz jump), finishing with a score of 65.90. She definitely isn’t the only member of the United States figure skating team to look to the older generation of Olympians for inspiration either.

Mikaela Shiffrin congratulates ‘GOAT’ Lindsey Vonn on bronze medal

Mikaela Shiffrin

There was some love shared between Team USA skiers on Wednesday in PyeongChang.

Lindsey Vonn won a bronze medal in the women’s downhill event in what she has said will be her final time competing in the event at the Olympics. According to NBC Sports, at 33, Vonn is the oldest alpine skier to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.

That wasn’t lost on Mikaela Shiffrin, who tweeted her congratulations to all of the Americans in the event, especially Vonn, whom she called the “GOAT” – which is an acronym for “greatest of all-time.”

Shiffrin was initially scheduled to compete in the downhill but she pulled out, so she was cheering on her teammates instead. Clearly she was proud of what they were able to accomplish without her in the event.

Lindsey Vonn tears up during emotional interview

Lindsey Vonn emotional

Lindsey Vonn teared up during one heck of an emotional interview after her run in the downhill at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Wednesday.

Vonn entered the race knowing that it was likely to be her final downhill ever at the Olympics. She knew immediately after her run that she was not going to win gold, and she was hoping her time would be good enough to get her the silver medal. She ended up with the bronze.

During an interview with NBC’s Heather Cox after most of the competitors had gone, Vonn broke down when asked about her late grandfather, to whom she had dedicated her performance.

“It’s been really hard for me not to get emotional for so many reasons. I wanted to win so much because of him. But I still think I made him proud. Our family never gives up, and I never gave up. I kept working hard, and I’m really proud of this medal. I know he is too,” Vonn said.

Once the tears began, they kept coming for Vonn when she reflected on her final downhill ski at the Olympics.

“I gave it my best shot. I tried so hard and I worked my butt off. I’m proud to have competed with such aamzing girls. My teammates have been really supportive and helped each other. I’m really happy and proud to have been competing with them. To have their support … it’s been fun.

“It’s sad. This is my last downhill. I wish I could keep going. I have so much fun. I love what I do. My body just probably can’t take another four years. But I’m proud. I’m proud to have competed for my country. I’m proud to have given it my all. I’m proud to hopefully come away with a medal.”

Vonn indeed came away with a medal. She won bronze in the event, becoming the oldest alpine skier to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. She now has three career Olympic medals — one gold and two bronzes.

Lindsey Vonn: Sofia Goggia was ‘untouchable’ in downhill

Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn may not have won gold in what she expects will be her last downhill ever at the Olympics, but she still managed to be complimentary about her opponents.

Vonn praised her friend, Sofia Goggia, for putting together a top time in the event.

“I think I skied really well and I think Sofia is untouchable today,” Vonn said in an interview with NBC’s Heather Cox after her run.

Italy’s Goggia finished with a time of 1:39.22. Vonn was 0.47 seconds behind, which placed her second for a while until she was surpassed by Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel.

Vonn said at the time that she was optimistic her time would stick so she could claim silver. Even though she knew she would not be winning gold, Vonn was proud of how she did.

“I left it all on the mountain like I said I would and I’m proud of my performance.”

The downhill is the event in which Vonn had won her only Olympic gold medal — it came in Vancouver in 2010.