Daily Olympic Recap: Team USA collects ski halfpipe, bobsled medals on Day 15

Posted at 4:25 PM, Feb 18, 2022

The U.S. had multiple medal contenders in the men's freeski halfpipe final, Mikaela Shiffrin's final medal opportunity was set to arrive in the Alpine skiing team event, and Elana Meyers Taylor and Kaillie Humphries attempted to make the podium in the final runs of two-woman bobsled. Elsewhere on the penultimate day of the Winter Olympics, Great Britain and Sweden battled for men's curling gold, and Joey Mantia raced in speed skating's mass start event. Here were the updates as they came throughout the night...

Nolte continues Germany’s dominance, Meyers Taylor wins bronze

Two Olympic rookies claimed gold in the women’s two-woman bobsled. Pilot Laura Nolte and push athlete Deborah Levi continued Germany’s dominance in the event. After four runs, they had a combined time of 4:03.96, good for 0.77 seconds faster than compatriots Mariama Jamanka and Alexandra Burghardt. Jamanka was the reigning Olympic champion and was looking to avenge her disappointing monobob finish. Nolte’s finish resulted in Germany’s 8th gold medal of the 9 sliding events contested so far at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Elana Meyers Taylor piloted her team to bronze, her fifth Olympic medal of her career. She was working with Winter Games rookie Sylvia Hoffman, who wins her first career medal. Meyers Taylor now has the most medals of any female bobsled athlete in Olympic history.

Kallie Humphries and Kaysha Love were the other American pair in the event. Humphries had a somewhat uncharacteristic performance, driving her team to the seventh-place finish in her first Olympics competing for the United States.

Results: Bobsled Two-Woman

🥇 Laura Nolte & Deborah Levi (GER)
🥈 Mariama Jamanka & Alexandra Burghardt (GER)
🥉 Elana Meyers Taylor & Sylvia Hoffman (USA)


-- Stephanie De Lancey

Nico Porteous wins ski halfpipe gold; U.S. takes silver, bronze

Heavy winds played a major role in the men's freeski halfpipe final, but in the end, the same three skiers that were on the podium four years ago in PyeongChang stood atop it once again — just in a different order.

New Zealand's Nico Porteous, the 2018 bronze medalist, battled through the wind to put down the run of the day in Run 1. The 20-year-old landed switch tricks in opposite directions up top, followed by back-to-back double cork 1620s and an alley-oop double flatspin 900. Although he fell on his final two runs, Porteous' first-run score of 93.00 held up for the win.

Porteous is the first skier other than David Wise to win Olympic gold in this event. Wise, the two-time defending gold medalist entering the day, finished second, and his teammate Alex Ferreira, the 2018 silver medalist, took third to give the U.S. the other two spots on the podium behind Porteous. Ferreira actually landed a rightside double cork 1620 in his final two runs but didn't execute either run cleanly enough to improve upon his 86.75 from the first run.

As for the other Americans, Birk Irving placed fifth and Aaron Blunck finished seventh. Gus Kenworthy, who is competing for Great Britain this year, finished eighth in the final event of his storied career.

Results: Men's Freeski Halfpipe

🥇 Nico Porteous (NZL)
🥈 David Wise (USA)
🥉 Alex Ferreira (USA)


— Shawn Smith

SEE MORE: David Wise puts down wild Run 1 in halfpipe final for 90.75

Slovakia surprises Sweden, claims bronze

Entering the game, Slovak Juraj Slafkovsky and Sweden’s Lucas Wallmark led the tournament with five goals each. Early on, Wallmark looked hungry to score, with multiple good chances. However, Slovakia’s defense settled down, limiting Wallmark and Sweden’s opportunities. It was scoreless after twenty minutes of play.

In the second period, the 17-year-old Slafkovsky did what he’s done all tournament, get his team on the board. He scored from the half boards after his shot redirected off a Swedish defender.

Later in the period, Slovakia received back-to-back power plays. Samuel Takac buried the puck past Lars Johansson. Slovakia finally converted on the power play after not scoring a power play goal all tournament until the bronze medal game. 

Sweden never really had a good chance to equalize in the third. With under two minutes to go, Slafkovsky sealed the win for Slovakia with his seventh goal of the tournament. It became a celebration when 20 seconds later, Pavol Regenda buried his own empty-netter. After not starting the tournament as Slovakia's goalie, Patrik Rybar shut out Sweden in the bronze medal game for the 4-0 victory. It’s the first medal for Slovakia in men’s hockey.


-- Stephanie De Lancey

Sweden’s Niklas Edin captures elusive gold medal

The men’s gold medal game between Sweden and Great Britain needed extra ends. Sweden was looking for redemption after losing to the U.S. by making a bad throw that opened the door for the Americans to win Gold.

Sweden’s skip Niklas Edin made a perfect shot in the 10th to keep Great Britain to only a point. Originally, the throw looked like it might go outside, but it stayed on its track and knocked Great Britain’s stone away.

In the extra end, Sweden’s early stones landed precisely where they wanted them. Edin left his second-to-last stone short, which left the door open for Great Britain skip Bruce Mouat’s final shot. However, Mouat failed to dislodge a Swedish stone in the button. Sweden won the gold medal without skip Edin having to play his final stone.

After four Olympics and fourth, third, and second-place finishes, Edin is at last an Olympic champion. The silver for GBR is Great Britain’s first medal of the 2022 Games.

Results: Men's Curling

🥇 Sweden
🥈 Great Britain
🥉 Canada


-- Stephanie De Lancey

Schouten ends Olympics with gold in women’s mass start

Irene Schouten skated the perfect final race of her 2022 Winter Games. In the women’s mass start, she waited until the timing was right to make her move to the front on the final stretch. She conserved her energy and crossed the finish line first at 8:14.73 and 60 points to claim her third gold medal of the Games.

Canada’s Ivanie Blondin finished second, just .06 seconds behind Schouten. Italy’s Francesca Lollobrigida rounded out the podium, finishing third. Mia Manganello Kilburg of the U.S. had a great race, coming up just short in fourth.

Results: Women's Mass Start

🥇 Irene Schouten (NED)
🥈 Ivanie Blondin (CAN)
🥉 Francesca Lollobrigida (ITA)


-- Stephanie De Lancey

Photo finish in men’s mass start

Belgian Bart Swings won gold in the men’s mass start. He finished with a time of 7:47.11, .07 seconds faster than Chung Jae-Won’s silver finish. It is Belgium’s first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 74 years. It betters his silver medal from PyeongChang.

The race came down to a full-blown sprint down the last stretch and the finish for bronze was literally a photo finish. Gold medalist in 2018 Lee Seung-Hoon edged out American Joey Mantia by .002 seconds to claim the bronze. After the race, Mantia tried to lobby for a review for interference, but the judges didn't hold an official review.

Results: Men's Mass Start

🥇 Bart Swings (BEL)
🥈 Chung Jae-Won (KOR)
🥉 Lee Seung-Hoon (KOR)


-- Stephanie De Lancey

Alexander Bolshunov continues Olympic dominance

The men’s 50km mass start was shortened to 30km for athlete safety. It was a grueling day on the course, with high winds and cold temperatures.

Entering the race, it was expected to be a showdown between Norway’s racers and ROC’s. However, it became apparent Norway’s skis were not right and the Norwegians struggled to keep pace. They were the only group in the lead to change their skis. Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo even left the race about halfway through. Klaebo was thought to be a medal contender, after already winning four medals at the 2022 Winter Games.

ROC’s Alexandr Bolshunov, whose specialty is the distance events in cross-country skiing, proved it with another gold medal at these Games. The 25-year-old has now won a medal in every Olympic race he’s started (nine total). He also became the first male cross-country skier to win five medals in one Olympics. He got a bit of a “victory lap” coming down the stretch, beating teammate Ivan Yakimushkin by 5.5 seconds. ROC won 11 medals in cross-country at the 2022 Winter Games, the most by any country.

Norway’s Simen Hegstad Krueger rounded out the podium. It was an impressive feat for Krueger who had to recover from testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the Games.

American Scott Patterson finished in 8th, a personal best and three spots better than PyeongChang. It was the third-best finish by a U.S. male cross-country skier in an individual event, and the best since Bill Koch in 1976.

Results: Men's 50km Mass Start

🥇 Alexander Bolshunov (ROC)
🥈 Ivan Yakiushkin (ROC)
🥉 Simen Hegstad Krueger (NOR)


-- Stephanie De Lancey

Weather causes delays

The weather has affected two different sports: Alpine skiing and cross-country.

First, heavy winds forced Alpine skiing's mixed team event (originally scheduled for 9 p.m. ET) to be delayed several times and then ultimately postponed. The event could be run Saturday night, but high winds are again in the forecast.

Then came the announcement that the men's 50km cross-country skiing event (originally scheduled for 1 a.m. ET) has been pushed back by an hour and will be shortened to a 30km race to reduce the time that athletes are exposed to extreme conditions.

— Shawn Smith

Germany eyes podium sweep midway through four-man bobsled

German sleds sit in the top two positions after the first two runs in the four-man bobsled. Francesco Friedrich piloted the top time of 1:57.00, and he is just 0.03 seconds ahead of fellow countryman Johannes Lochner.

Lochner led after the first run, but Friedrich topped him with a time of 58.71 in his second run.

Freidrich is the reigning gold medalist in this event and also defended his gold in PyeongChang in the two-man. Lochner and Christoph Hafer won silver and bronze in the two-man event for the only podium sweep of the Olympics so far.

Hafer sits in fourth in the four-man after the second run as the Germans eye another podium sweep. Germany has claimed five of the last seven gold medals in the four-man event.

U.S. pilots Frank Del Duca and Hunter Church, who are not expected to contend for a medal, sit outside the top 10.


— Eric He