Winter Olympics day 13: USA v GB curling semi-final and figure skating – live! – The Guardian

Curling: In the second semi final, Sweden are 1-0 up over Canada after two ends.

Sweden’s Christoffer Sundgren.
Sweden’s Christoffer Sundgren. Photograph: Brynn Anderson/AP


Curling: It’s a big steal for the USA in the second end! Out comes the measuring stick, is it two or three points? Just two. But that’s a wonderful start from the Americans. Bruce Mouat’s enjoyed two ends with the hammer and GB are yet to score. Yikes.

Figure skating: For the lead Mariah Bell (USA) requires 120.47 and she gets there with ease, 136.92 her score. Into the gold medal position she moves. Lovely stuff.

Mariah Bell of the United States.
Mariah Bell of the United States. Photograph: Natacha Pisarenko/AP


Figure skating: Mariah Bell (USA) is skating to kd lang’s Hallelujah, which she, of course, performed so memorably at the opening ceremony at Vancouver in 2010. Blimey, 12 years ago. It’s a performance to match: the big moment – triple lutz, double toe, double toe – is spot on. I suspect we have a new leader – over to the judges.


Figure skating: As I was typing the below, Eliska Brezinova (CZE) looked on track to jump into that gold medal position but, sure enough, she fell with her triple lutz! Correspondent Kurt Perleberg emailed yesterday to ask me whether I believe in miracles. Well, not usually, but at the Olympics, I believe in something bigger. Anyone in Ekaterina Kurakova’s (POL) corner must feel the same at this stage.

Figure skating: Nobody can top Ekaterina Kurakova. To think, she was the final skater qualifying for the free skate, with six cut from the pack in the short program. But her 126.76 tonight still has her one point ahead in top spot. Given 13 skaters have followed her, and there are only ten to go, she’s permitted to dream big at this point.

Ekaterina Kurakova.
Ekaterina Kurakova. Photograph: Fred Lee/Getty Images


Curling: Team GB have the hammer for this opening end and will need to use it well with the USA popping a shot at the top of the button with their final stone. If Mouat is on target he should be able to hit it on the nose, and he does, but whacks it hard enough that there’s nothing left in the house. So, a blank end to begin.

Curling: Time for the semi-finals in the men’s competition! As I touched on earlier, a brilliant morning for Team GB – they knocked off Canada in the final session and then Sweden lost to Switzerland, so into first (with an 8-1 record) they land after the round robin. Their opponent in this high-stakes clash is the USA, who finished fourth, but were responsible for the only loss Bruce Moaut’s team experienced in that lengthy first stage. On the other lane, it’s Sweden up against Canada. Go!

The Icemen cometh.
The Icemen cometh. Photograph: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images


Figure Skating: Alright, we shift focus to our other medal event of the night, the women’s figure skating free skate at Capital Indoor Stadium. 13 athletes of the 24 in the running; still a long way to go before the Russians. Team USA’s Karen Chen records only the sixth best score we’ve seen so far, a 115.82 placing her fifth.

Nordic Combined: Norway’s 14th gold and 11th involving cross country skiing at these Winter Olympics – what an extraordinary team. As for Japan, they have broken into the top three with such a gutsy performance, so close a silver medal. “Ryota Yamamoto,” says the TV commentator, “a name to watch in the years to come.”

GOLD – Norway 50:41:01

SILVER – Germany 51:40:00

BRONZE – Japan 51:40:30

Gold for Norway!

Nordic Combined: Jørgen Graabak crosses the line with his arm raised – what a finish, they can’t be beaten on this snow. Now the race for silver is on! Japan’s Ryota Yamamoto is giving it his all in the final climb but German’s Vinzenz Geiger, the individual champion in this event, getting to the line first. Austria miss out.

Norway celebrate winning the gold medal.
Norway celebrate winning the gold medal. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters


Nordic Combined: With Jørgen Graabak skiing last, the individual champion last week, Norway were always go be tough to beat after Oftebro’s final sprint, and so it looks halfway through his leg, now out to a 41 second lead over the chasing pack of Japan, Germany – who have caught up again – and Austria, who led the race early but are battling for a medal at all as we reach the business end. Now 1500m to go and Norway’s buffer has grown to 61 seconds! Graabak is cruising to yet another gold!

Nordic Combined: What a sprint from Jens Luraas Oftebro to finish his leg! Wow! His shift in gear puts ten seconds between Norway and Japan as they make the final transition, Austria crossing with the Japanese. As for Germany, they are now 36 seconds off the pace and surely just about finished in terms of winning a medal.

Nordic Combined: Another breakaway from German’s Eric Frenzel, falling ten seconds behind the lead pack as they approach the final kilometre and last nasty climb. “This is where the front three need to really push the advantage home.”

Eric Frenzel of Germany in action.
Eric Frenzel of Germany in action. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters


Figure skating: Ten of the 24 skaters have now had their say with the situation the same at the top with Ekaterina Kurakova (POL) still in the lead. We’re not far away from the Americans, Karen Chen and Mariah Bell, who perform 13th then 15th.

Nordic Combined: The great Eric Frenzel, with three gold medals over the last couple of Winter Olympics, was never going to let this get away from him entirely, catching the top three by the time they reach the 2.5km mark. At the front of the foursome, it’s Norway’s Jens Luraas Ofterbro’s turn to do a shift up the front. This is building towards an tremendously exciting finish over the next quarter of an hour or so.

Nordic Combined: Right, just beyond halfway through this race and Germany haven’t enjoyed a good start to leg three, Eric Frenzel dropping seven seconds behind the lead pack of Lukas Greiderer (AUT), Jens Luraas Oftebro (NOR) and Akito Watabe (JAP). A wonderful opportunity for Japan to consolidate their position.

Nordic Combined: The lead pack of four have about 1500m to go in the second leg of this relay with Germany’s Julian Schmid leading Austria’s Johannes Lamparter, Norway’s Epsen Andersen and Japan’s Hideaki Nagai. The status quo suits the overall leaders, Austria, with Lamparter taking the race lead on the final climb.

Figure skating: A third of the field have completed their free skate in the women’s competition. Leading the way is Poland’s Ekaterina Kurakova who scored 126.67 to finish with 185.84 across her two performances – a lead of three points to Austria’s Olga Mikutina. But to put that in perspective, Russians Valieva and Shcherbakova were both in the 80s with their short program; it’ll take something extraordinary from these early competitors to get anywhere near the podium positions.

Nordic Combined: They caught him. At the first exchange, Germany lead Japan over the line, a second from Rehrl (AUT) in third. Their accumulated lead remains healthy but it’s game on. 1km into the second leg and Johannes Lamparter has taken the race lead back for the Austrians, still in that aforementioned trio, plus Norway.

Nordic Combined: Franz-Josef Rehrl has broken away in the lead for Austria, already 19 seconds ahead of Norway’s Epsen Bjoernstad, who is chasing with Germany’s Manuel Faisst and Japan’s Yoshito Watabe. Now on to the second loop of the course, the climb, the chase pack are going to work as they approach the halfway mark. A reminder that all four athletes will complete a 5km leg in this relay.

Franz-Josef Rehrl of Austria.
Franz-Josef Rehrl of Austria. Photograph: Lindsey Wasson/Reuters


The Nordic combined – Men’s Team Large Hill/4x5km – has recommenced with the skiing section. Austria led the way after the jumping, with Norway and Germany second and third. The women’s single figure skating (free progam) is ongoing. The men’s curling semi-finals are coming up. And that’s all from me – I shall hand you over to Adam Collins.

Adam Collins

Thanks Luke, another top stint from you. It’s 7pm in Beijing, the start of the 13th night session of these Winter Games. And owing to what will play out at the Capital Indoor Stadium over the next couple of hours, it might turn out to be both the most memorable and controversial of the entire fortnight. Becaause, that’s right: it’s the free skate of the women’s figure skating, which means Kamila Valieva, the ROC’s genius 15-year-old, is expected to win the event. Provisionally, at least. There’s no predicting how her drugs saga will play out in the aftermath of these Games, but she’ll skate last tonight after banking a two point lead over her countrywoman, world champion Anna Shcherbakova, in the short program on Tuesday.

Kamila Valieva has a training session ahead of the free skate.
Kamila Valieva has a training session ahead of the free skate. Photograph: Valery Sharifulin/TASS

Starting right now is another medal event, the Nordic Combined Team Gundersen for the men. In short, this is a four-man event where they all have a run down the ski jump before taking to the cross-country course. Germany are the defending champions, standing on the podium four years ago with Norway and Austria. After the jumps, those three teams remain in the top positions with in reverse order from Pyeongchang with the Austrians leading the way, albeit by what converts to just an eight second lead over the Norwegians and 11 seconds from the Germans. Now to the relay, where each athlete has a 5km gruelling sprint ahead of them.

Then in about an hour we’ll return to the Water Cube where it’s men’s semi-finals night in the curling! Team GB enjoyed a great morning session to end the group stage, easily accounting for Canada and then watching Sweden go down 10-8 to the Swiss – so, they leapfrogged them into top spot, finishing with an excellent 8-1 record. The only downside is that they are up against the USA in the round of four, the only team to knock Bruce Moaut’s team so far at Beijing. Meanwhile, the Swedes face Canada in the other semi, who they defeated 7-4 the first time around.

Okay, to the snow and ice we go! Stay in touch throughout, via email or twitter.


The medal table, in which Great Britain’s team are yet to trouble the scorers, is here:

The schedule, and live scores, are here:

Our team of writers have been busy as per usual, from Canada’s triumph in the women’s ice hockey to Mikael Shiffrin’s ongoing disappointment in the skiing – plus further controversy over China’s human rights record. Here’s what we’ve published so far today:

Great Britain’s male curlers will be on the ice in a little over an hour for their semi-final against the USA. Here is PA Media’s report, from a earlier today, after Great Britain’s closing round robin win against Canada:

Great Britain’s men’s curling team will play for a place in the Olympic after brushing aside Canada to finish top of the round robin standings. Bruce Mouat’s side claimed a 5-2 win to end an impressive group stage with an 8-1 record – but next up they must meet the USA, the reigning champions and the only team to get the better of them so far.

Great Britain’s Bruce Mouat.
Great Britain’s Bruce Mouat. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

However, Mouat is in no doubt his side have moved on since their 9-7 loss last Friday, and believes the setback in what was only their second game in the competition will not prove a decisive factor. He said: “We’ve learnt a lot about the ice in the last four or five days. We know what kind of throws we need to make shots.

“The second game that we had was against the USA, which we did lose, but we’ve learnt so much from that point that I’m really confident we can come out and play better. We will just have to relax into the game and try and not feel the extra pressure that the semi-finals is going to put on and just try and enjoy ourselves which is when we play our best.”

Mouat and his teammates Hammy McMillan, Bobby Lammie and Grant Hardie came into the tournament as the world’s No 1-ranked team and runners-up in last year’s World Championship behind Sweden. Sweden, led by the veteran Niklas Edin, whom Mouat’s men defeated earlier in the competition, face the Canadians in the second semi-final.


Women’s single skating – free skating: Eva-Lotta Kiibus of Estonia, in fact, has just assumed the bronze-medal position, knocking Feigin of Bulgaria down to fourth.

Ekaterina Kurakova of Poland (incidentally, who used to compete for Russia) stays top of the free program figure skating right now. Lindsay van Zundert (Netherlands) second, Alexandra Feigin (Bulgaria) is third. But we are still quite a long way from the business end of the event, and of course another appearance by Kamila Valieva of the ROC team.

Tears of joy for Ekaterina Kurakova.
Tears of joy for Ekaterina Kurakova. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images


Courtesy of my colleague, Niall McVeigh, some more from that Mikaela Shiffrin interview that was on the BBC a few minutes ago:

“My plan, well, it was quite simple. Just make the turns, try to be clean, fresh on the outside skis. Specifically, I just wanted to be calm from the start and get into my tempo and just build it from there. Oh man, I just wanted to get a full run of slalom! I don’t know if there’s anybody who ever had so many opportunities to get a medal in the Olympic Games, and actually failed so many times on it.

“I’ve had a lot of support over the last few weeks, I appreciate it so much … and I’ve also had a bit of a crap storm of ‘What went wrong, caved under the pressure, choked’, all this stuff, and there’s probably some truth to all of it. It feels like there’s not a lot to learn, just try to keep focusing on good skiing – what’s the phrase, take it on the chin? Like … If I can be the biggest joke of the Games, at least someone’s smiling!”


Japan’s Miho Takagi clinched her first gold of the Beijing Olympics, following up on the three other medals she has already won in the Winter Games so far, as she sailed to victory in the women’s 1,000 metres speed skating.

Takagi kept close to the pace set by the silver medallist Jutta Leerdam at the onset of the race. Despite falling behind at one point, she breezed through the final lap half a second ahead of Leerdam’s time and finished in an Olympic record of 1min 13.19sec. The 27-year-old punched the air in delight upon seeing her record. Leerdam of the Netherlands claimed silver in 1min 13.83sec, while Brittany Bowe (USA) took bronze in 1min 14.61sec.

“I’m happy, but after the race I was a little sad with my corner that cost me some seconds,” said Leerdam. “I had too much speed and wasn’t used to it. I just thought ‘oh’, and hammered one more lap.”

Takagi, who clocked the fastest time this season of 1min 11.83sec , has won two individual medals in Beijing, finishing second in the 1,500m behind Ireen Wüst and winning a surprise silver in the 500m. The gold medal appeared to be just within reach as she raced ahead of her Canadian rivals towards the finish line in the women’s team pursuit, until a fall by her sister and team mate Nana Takagi cost them the title. That silver medal, which was accepted solemnly amid tears, was the sixth of Takagi’s career and made her the most decorated Japanese female Olympian. (Reuters)

Miho Takagi Japan celebrates after skating to set a new 1,000m speed skating Olympic record.
Miho Takagi Japan celebrates after skating to set a new 1,000m speed skating Olympic record. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images


Two skaters have finished in the women’s figure skating – free program. Ekaterina Kurakova of Poland leads, currently, with a combined score of 185.84. But it won’t be long before she’s knocked off the top. There are 25 skaters to go in total, finishing with the leader after the short program, Kamila Valieva.

Mikaela Shiffrin said it was not the weight of expectation that led to her failing to finish her third race at the Winter Olympics. The American was a strong favourite to win gold in the combined event and was well placed after finishing fifth fastest in the morning’s downhill.

But returning to the Ice River course, where she had skied out in both the giant slalom and slalom, her favourite events, Shiffrin missed a gate and skied out yet again. There were no tears, as there were after she skied out of the slalom last week, and no excuses as she discussed her failure at these Games.

Mikaela Shiffrin leaves the course after missing a gate during the slalom in the women’s combined event.
Mikaela Shiffrin leaves the course after missing a gate during the slalom in the women’s combined event. Photograph: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

“In general, people want to be able to say it’s a pressure thing,” she said. “There are certainly points during the Games where I felt the weight of pressure and expectations. But, in general, when I was racing, it wasn’t the case. And it certainly wasn’t more than I ever experienced in my career before. The pressure is there. It’s always there. I don’t feel uncomfortable or even unfamiliar with it.

“Today, I felt I had a pretty calm, solid mentality. Nothing too crazy. Of course I wanted to win a medal. But before that I just wanted to take the opportunity to ski another run of slalom on this hill. The whole shebang in sport is that you can have preparation, you can have confidence … You can have all these pieces and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have literally no idea why we keep coming back and doing it, especially after today. But I’m going to come back out tomorrow and ski some parallel GS (giant slalom) because I’m that much of an idiot.” (Reuters)