The Korea Herald


[PyeongChang 2018] Canadian ice darlings finish in style for last-minute gold

Unified Korean female hockey team ends competition

By Joel Lee

Published : Feb. 20, 2018 - 17:22

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The Canadian figure skating pair of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir conjured up a smoldering finish to secure a last-minute victory in the ice dance at the PyeongChang Winter Games on Tuesday.

The Vancouver 2010 ice dance champions looked destined for silver after French rivals Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron came out strong, breaking their own free dance and combined score mark at 205.28. However, skating last to the music of “Moulin Rouge,” Virtue and Moir pulled out the dance of their lifetimes to earn 206.07 points, narrowly edging out the French. 

Bronze went to American siblings pair Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani with 192.59.

“We are so grateful to our team for having prepared us for this. We are taking in every single moment,” Virtue said afterward.

“We love to skate together and we love to play the characters that we’re playing,” Moir said before the event. “After 20 years, if you don’t have love for each other -- do you know what we’ve been through together?”

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Canada's Scott Moir compete in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. (Yonhap) Canada's Tessa Virtue and Canada's Scott Moir compete in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. (Yonhap)

Virtue, 28, and Moir, 30, both originally from Ontario, have competed together for 20 years. Although they claim to be romantically uninvolved, Moir revealed in a recent media interview that they used to date -- when he was 10 and Virtue was 8.

“It’s been a fun ride to be together. It’s been a joy our whole career. We’ve spent hours in dark, crappy hockey rinks doing programs like this to be in this limelight and to enjoy this moment together,” he added.

The Canadians were the heavy favorite going into the event at Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, one of two cities hosting the 2018 Winter Games. They helped Canada win its first gold medal in the team event at PyeongChang on Feb. 12, finishing on top in the free dance with a 118.1-point performance. 

With Tuesday’s victory, Virtue and Moir have become the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history with their third gold and fifth medal overall. They also join Pasha Grishuk and Evgeniy Platov of Russia as the only figure skaters to win two golds in the event. 

Having settled for two silver medals in the ice dance and team event at the Sochi Games four years ago, the duo said they will retire after PyeongChang.

South Korea’s sole ice dance team of Min Yu-ra and Alexander Gamelin finished 18th at the event with their emotional performance to “Arirang.” The two, both born in the US, represented South Korea at PyeongChang and scored 86.52 points and posted an overall 147.74 points.

On the same day, the unified Korean women’s hockey team lost to Sweden 6-1 in the seventh place match of the women’s tournament at the Olympics. It was the team’s final contest in the competition. Korea lost all five games it played here by a combined score of 28-2, but it has been hailed in many corners as a symbol of peace.

As of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Norway led the overall competition with 11 gold, nine silver and eight bronze, trailed by Germany with 10 gold, six silver and four bronze and Canada with eight gold, five silver and six bronze. The Netherlands is in the fourth spot with six gold, five silver and two bronze, and the United States is fifth with five gold, three silver and four bronze. South Korea is No. 9 with three gold, two silver and two bronze.  

In women’s freestyle skiing halfpipe on Tuesday, Canada’s Cassie Sharpe won gold with a score of 95.8. The silver went to France’s Marie Martinod, and the bronze went to the United States’ Brita Sigourney. 

In the curling men’s round robin at the Gangneung Curling Centre on Tuesday, Korea secured its third victory by beating Switzerland 8-7, but still fell short of moving on to the semifinals. As only the top four teams of the 10 participating countries move on to the playoffs, the Korean team, having lost five times, will not make it to the final four regardless of the result of the upcoming match with Japan on Wednesday.

The South Korean women’s curling team also scored a 9-6 round robin win against the Americans on the same day.

South Korean Cha Min-kyu clinched the silver in the men’s speedskating 500 meters Monday evening, finishing second by a whisker behind winner and world No. 1 Havard Lorentzen of Norway. 

Cha came in at 34.42 seconds -- 0.01 second behind the Norwegian -- at Gangneung Oval. Cha’s teammates Kim Jun-ho and Mo Tae-bum clocked in at 35.01 and 35.154 for 12th and 16th, respectively.

The bronze medal went to Gao Tingyu of China at 34.65 seconds.

Cha’s record ties that of Casey Fitzrandolph of the United States at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. 

“I am very happy because I finished in the top three as I had planned,” said Cha following his win. “When I saw my record, I felt that I had succeeded in meeting my goal. But I feel it’s a little shame that I couldn’t top the race by a mere margin of 0.01 second. I thought winning the gold was possible after looking at my record.”

The 24-year old sprinter, who was No. 9 in the 2017-2018 world rankings, became the third South Korean Olympic medalist in the men’s 500 meters speedskating, following Lee Kang-seok winning bronze at Turin 2006 and Mo Tae-bum taking gold in 2010.

In the two-men bobsled on Monday, Canada and Germany shared gold in a frenzied climax where both teams finished in a dead heat. The Canadian duo Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz snatched their first-place finish alongside the German duo Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis. Both teams had combined times of 3:16:86. 

With no silver, the bronze went to the Latvian team of pilot Oskars Melbardis and brakeman Janis Strenga, who secured the Baltic nation’s first medal at PyeongChang. 

Finishing with a combined time of 3 minutes, 17.4 seconds, the South Korean tandem of pilot Won Yun-jong and brakeman Seo Young-woo finished sixth out of the 30 participating teams in the two-man bobsled competition Monday. 

In men’s ski jumping on Monday, Team Norway of Daniel Andre Tande, Andreas Stjernen, Johann Andre Forfang and Robert Johansson captured the gold. Silver was earned by the German team of Karl Geiger, Stephan Leyhe, Richard Freitag and Andreas Wellinger, while bronze went to the Polish team of Maciej Kot, Stefan Hula, Dawid Kubacki and Kamil Stoch.

South Korea’s male speedskating team will attempt to win its first gold in the team pursuit event Wednesday. Lee Seung-hoon, Chung Jae-won, Kim Min-seok and Joo Hyong-jun will race in the men’s pursuit semifinals against New Zealand at Gangneung Oval. If the team advances, it will face the winner between the Netherlands and Norway on the same day to advance to the final. 

The country’s women’s curling team will face the Olympic Athletes from Russia and Danish team in Wednesday’s round robin matches, while the men’s curling team will square off against the Japanese team on the same day.

By Joel Lee (