Shaun White completed his legendary snowboarding career on his own terms, flying down the halfpipe at the Beijing Olympics with the flair that’s been his trademark.
But his final event did not result in his fourth gold medal. White wiped out in his final run Friday and finished fourth in the men’s halfpipe.
(Looking for a recap of Thursday’s events? We’ve got you covered.)
“It would have been nice to just cruise in and have a great, easy first run. But I had to fight for it,” White said after qualifying seventh earlier this week. “I had to work for it. That’s been this entire season, me just grinding it out, working for it.”
Another of Team USA’s biggest stars, Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, returned to action after DNFs in back-to-back technical races for the first time since 2011. Shiffrin had a clean run in the women’s super-G — it was her first- ever appearance in the event in the Olympics — but she finished out of medal contention.
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Russia lifted December doping suspension of skater Kamila Valieva
BEIJING – The International Testing Agency confirmed Friday that Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for the metabolic agent trimetazidine, and a final decision has not yet been reached on whether she can take part in the women’s individual competition, which begins on Tuesday.
In a lengthy statement, the ITA – which oversees the anti-doping program at the 2022 Winter Olympics – confirmed media reports about Valieva’s positive test, specifying that the sample in question was taken on Christmas Day during the Russian Figure Skating Championships. It was analyzed by a lab in Stockholm, Sweden on Tuesday, after the conclusion of the team figure skating event and before the scheduled medal ceremony.
It was unclear why it took so long to analyze the sample after it was taken in December.
According to the ITA, Valieva was then provisionally suspended by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency on Tuesday night. She successfully appealed the suspension before a RUSADA disciplinary committee on Wednesday, which enabled her to practice Thursday and Friday.
The International Olympic Committee, however, now plans to elevate the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, according to the ITA’s statement.
“The IOC will exercise its right to appeal,” the ITA said, adding that “a decision is needed before the next competition the athlete is due to take part in.”
US faces off against Czech Republic in women’s hockey quarterfinals
BEIJING – This quarterfinals matchup will be the first-ever meeting between the US women’s hockey team and the Czech Republic at an international tournament. The Americans are looking to rebound from a 4-2 loss to Canada that wrapped up preliminary play on Tuesday.
Czech goaltender Klara Peslarova has a 1.18 goals against average through four games. Meanwhile, Alex Cavallini will return to net for the Americans after she posted a shutout in her Olympic debut against Switzerland two games ago. Cavallini has looked like the best goaltender for Team USA, although coach Joel Johnson has been intent on using all three netminders on the roster – and he hasn’t started one in consecutive games these Olympics.
Forward Amanda Kessel enters the game leading the US in points with six (five assists, one goal). Alex Carpenter’s four goals lead the squad in that category.
Shaun White concludes snowboarding career with fourth in halfpipe
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Shaun White has more Olympic gold medals in the halfpipe than any other snowboarder. But in his final competition he could not get one more.
White landed four double corks in his first run, earning him a score that was good enough for fourth after the first run. After his second run, he was still in fourth place but fell on his final run finishing his last Olympics just off the podium.
Japan’s Ayumu Hirano won the gold medal on the final run of the competition, landing two triple corks and scoring 96.0 points.
Men’s halfpipe update: Shaun White moves closer to medal position
Australian Scotty James, the 2018 bronze medalist, also laid down a monster run, good for a score of 92.50, and he leads the men’s halfpipe competition with one final attempt remaining for each competitor.
Three-time gold medalist Shaun White had a much cleaner trip down the pipe the second time, posting a score of 82. That puts him fourth overall, ahead of countryman Taylor Gold.
Japan’s Ayumu Hirano completed another triple cork in a clean second run, but the judges gave him a score of only 91.50 so he sits in second.
Men’s halfpipe underway: USA’s Taylor Gold on top after first run
They’ve completed one run and there’s American on top of the halfpipe standings in Beijing. But it’s not three-time gold medalist Shaun White.
Taylor Gold was the only rider to score above 80 points the first time through the order. So his 81.75 is the score to beat at the moment.
Japan’s Ayumu Hirano completed the first triple cork attempted and landed in Olympic history, but fell at the end of his opening run.
White, in the final competition of his career, is currently in fourth place heading into run No. 2. Only the best score of each rider’s three runs will count.
Five iconic moments from Shaun White’s stellar career
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – For more than 20 years, Shaun White has dominated his sport. Between the halfpipe walls, he landed new tricks that helped push snowboarding forward and made himself a household name.
After five Olympics and three Olympic gold medals, that comes to an end with White’s final competition, the halfpipe final in the Beijing Games. The final begins at 9:30 am Friday in Beijing (8:30 pm Thursday night ET).
“The thing I’m the most proud of would be staying on top of a sport that’s ever changing as long as I have,” White said. “The last Olympics, to be in a position where I was the last rider to go, one more run and I had never done that combination of tricks before and just put it down to win, that’s probably my legacy performance.”
As White’s career comes to a close, here’s a look back at the moments that defined it, from the “Flying Tomato” to Olympic redemption.
Injured skier Nina O’Brien begins long journey back to the United States
BEIJING – Getting athletes to the Beijing Olympics was a challenge because of COVID restrictions. Getting one home, on short notice, took an even greater effort.
“It’s been very complicated. I’m lucky I had so many people working on it behind the scenes that I didn’t have to worry,” O’Brien told USA TODAY Sports while she was at the airport. “I got to pick which plan was best for me. But it was not simple logistically.”
Because China’s borders remain largely closed due to COVID, O’Brien couldn’t get a medical plane or a direct flight home. So she had to take an early-morning commercial flight that had her connecting through Tokyo.
“This ended up being the quickest and most convenient way to get home,” O’Brien said.
Russian drug controversy continues to loom over figure skating competition
Medals have yet to be awarded in the team figure skating competition, and we may now know why. The “legal issues” that Olympic officials attributed to causing the delay involve a positive drug test on the gold medal-winning Russian team, USA TODAY’s Christine Brennan reported on Wednesday.
Officials were told the athlete involved is a minor. And 15-year-old Russian skater Kamila Valieva, who’s also the gold-medal favorite in the women’s individual competition, is the only minor on the Russian team.
She, like other Russian skaters, has largely avoided speaking with Western media while in Beijing. But she was seen at practice Thursday.
“She is not suspended,” Olga Ermolina, a spokesperson for the Russian figure skating federation, said according to the Associated Press.
Several media outlets, including Russian newspaper RBC, have reported Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a heart medication used to treat angina and vertigo symptoms. It was added to the IOC’s banned list in 2014 because it can improve endurance and blood flow.
RELATED: USA TODAY’s Nancy Armor lays blame for the controversy squarely on the IOC
Team USA medal count after one week in Beijing: 4 gold, 10 overall
After the first seven days of competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, it’s a good opportunity to look back at some of the highlights for the US team.
Through Thursday’s events, the United States ranks fifth overall in total medals with 10. Austria has the most (13).
Thursday’s three gold medals pushed Team USA to a total of four, trailing only Norway with five and Germany with six.
Taylor Gold takes old-school approach to snowboarding
Taylor Gold knew it was a risk, was reminded often of the gamble he was making by not following the snowboarding crowd. As the world’s top riders followed the sport’s progression to more flips and spins, Gold sought a way to show his unique style in the halfpipe.
After missing the Pyeongchang Olympics because of injuries, Gold’s bet paid off and helped him punch his ticket to his second Games.
Still a stickler for precision, he built on the foundation of his riding with a one-of-a-kind trick linked in a run that others aren’t doing. While the rest of the field has zigged, Gold zagged – and his tricks in combination just might be enough for a medal in Beijing.
Gold, 28, is part of a three-man US contingent in the halfpipe final, which begins at 9:30 am Friday in Beijing (8:30 pm Thursday night ET).
Chinese men’s hockey team has surprising number of North Americans
BEIJING — The majority of the host team’s country was not born here. Many of them do not have Chinese ancestry. Yet they wore “China” on the front of their hockey sweaters with pride and talked about growing the sport they are so passionate about.
“It was unique, seeing as I played for USA, now I’ve played against USA,” said China goaltender Jeremy Smith, who stopped 47 American shots Thursday but played for the US at the 2008 world junior championships. “At the end of the day, I’m thankful and honored to be an Olympian – a Chinese Olympian.”
Of the 22 players who dressed for China in its 8-0 loss to the US at National Indoor Stadium on Thursday, 17 were either born or raised in the United States or Canada.
How is this possible?
International Ice Hockey Federation bylaws stipulated that a person can represent a country in the Olympics if they’ve lived there for two years and played for the national team.
Olympic TV ratings don’t quite reach gold standard for NBC
When NBC Sports’ turn in the rotation to televise a Super Bowl coincided with also broadcasting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the month of February was thought to be an all-out ratings wipeout, leaving others networks in the dust.
So far, that has yet to materialize with the Beijing Games being tuned out in record numbers and Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals hoping to bring in 100 million viewers to help pick up the slack.
Executives from NBCUniversal spoke on a conference call Thursday to discuss their plans and while ratings have been down more than 40% for the Olympics, optimism remains.