Friday was a tough day for the Americans in PyeongChang, who saw a handful of disappointing performances at the Winter Olympics. It was also a day of inspiration and Olympic spirit on the cross-country skiing track, politics at the hockey rink and relief for a Jamaican bobsled team that found itself without a sled. Here’s what you may have missed while you were sleeping through Olympic action.
Nathan Chen’s disappointment
Nathan Chen, at just 18 years old, went to PyeongChang as a medal favorite, if not the gold-medal favorite, in men’s figure skating. On Friday, he capped off a day of disappointment for Team USA across South Korea. Americans went medal-less, and Chen’s flop was the biggest – literally. He fell multiple times during his short program, and is in 17th place out of 24 skaters heading into the free skate – the final day of the men’s competition. His medal dreams are all but dashed, and the U.S. is on pace for its worst Winter Olympic medal haul since last century.
The Jamaicans got their bobsled back … sort of
The Jamaican women’s bobsled team almost saw its Olympic debut run off the rails when its German coach quit on Wednesday and threatened to take the bobsled with her. But the Jamaicans got some love from their home country’s most famous brewers when Red Stripe stepped up to set them up with a new ride. Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell appear on track to start qualifying runs on Saturday.
Mikaela Shiffrin puked, then failed to medal in her best event
Mikaela Shiffrin blew away the field in her first event in PyeongChang on Thursday. In the slalom race on Friday, her quest for four gold medals went awry. She apparently vomited before her first run, and later attributed the sickness to nerves. She then finished fourth in an event in which she was heavily favored. Having already pulled out of Friday’s super G race, and with talk that she could pull out of the downhill event as well, Shiffrin’s Olympics took a significant turn for the worse on Friday.
The shirtless Tongan made his Winter Olympics debut
Don’t worry. He wore a shirt. Pita Taufatofua, the Tongan flag-bearer famous for his oiled pecs and abs displayed at the Olympics Opening Ceremony in Rio and PyeonChang, competed in the 15-kilometer cross country skiing race Friday. His finish wasn’t great (third to last), but his story still is. An Olympic athlete from a small South Pacific island nation just making it to the Winter Olympics is beyond impressive. His performance and personality have Yahoo’s Jay Busbee comparing him to Tim Tebow.
Russian hockey fans draw ire of Olympic security
Russia has made a lot noise for its large presence in PyeongChang, despite an alleged ban by the International Olympic Committee. With 168 athletes and a swarm of fans supporting the Olympic Athletes from Russia, it’s a tough pill for many to swallow that there are any teeth to the IOC’s punishment for the country’s doping infractions in 2014 in Sochi. Russian fans showed up to cheer on their hockey team Friday in a game against Slovenia and brought some pro-Russia propaganda with them that quickly got shut down by security. While the ban hasn’t kept Russian athletes from PyeongChang, Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel points out that their medal count appears to be suffering because of it.
Lindsey Jacobellis comes up short again
Lindsey Jacobellis is widely considered the greatest racer in the history of snowboard cross. She’s won 10 X Games titles and five world championships. But she will come out of her fourth Olympics without a gold medal. After her infamous second-place finish in 2006 and crashes in 2010 and 2014, Jacobellis finished fourth on Friday, off the podium. At 32, she may very well end her Olympic career with just one medal.
Mexico provides dramatic last-place finish
Last place doesn’t usually get much attention at the Olympics, or anywhere, frankly. But German Madrazo gave cross country skiing fans and Mexican supporters back home a show on Friday when he took made a celebratory push cross the finish line waving a giant Mexican flag at the 15-kilometer cross country skiing race. Like his Tongan counterpart, German doesn’t really have a natural home habitat to practice his craft. His joy and reception from fellow competitors at the finish gave a glimpse of the Olympic spirit that often defines the Games.