Welcome back to SI’s Daily Olympic Digest! A lot happened while we were asleep here in the U.S., so let’s get caught up.
The first medals of PyeongChang have been awarded! Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla won the first gold medal of the games in women’s skiathlon. Kalla, 30, beat out Norwegian favorite Marit Bjorgen, but Bjorgen’s silver medal gives her 11 in her career, the most of any female in Winter Olympics history. Jessie Diggins was a hopeful to medal for the U.S., but finished fifth—still the best finish ever for a U.S. woman in an Olympic cross-country skiing event.
The highly anticipated debut of the unified Korean women’s hockey team didn’t go so well: it fell 8-0 to a speedy Switzerland squad, led by Alina Muller's four goals, which tied the women’s hockey Olympic record. Korean goalie Sojuing Shin made 44 saves in the loss, providing excitement for the packed and boisterous crowd, which included dignitaries from both North and South Korea.
Women’s short track speedskating is where all the action’s at! Speed skating is South Korea’s favorite Winter Olympics sport. Their star, Choi Min-jeong, set a new Olympic record, clocking in at 42.870 seconds, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 500m race. Maame Biney, U.S. first-time Olympian and our Athlete To Root For in Friday's Daily Digest, also moved on to the quarterfinals of the event.
The phenomenon that is mixed doubles curling has officially shuffled to a close for the U.S. in the inaugural event. Siblings Becca and Matt Hamilton, aka the Ham Fam, were eliminated from the round robin event on Saturday by China. The Hamiltons finished with a 1-4 record for the competition.
Team Event: Ice Dance Short Dance/ Ladies Single Skating Short Program/ Pairs Free Skating (8:00 PM ET Saturday on NBC)
The U.S. is ranked second in skating team events heading into Saturday's programs. Canada leads (17), followed by the U.S. (14), while Japan and Russia are tied for third (13). Married couple Chris Knierim and Alexa Scimeca-Knierim had a terrific skate Thursday night during the team short program but landed in fourth place. Look for them to continue their quest for a medal tonight. Also watch out for the popular ice dancing Shib sibs, Maia and Alex Shibutani, who will make their team event debut tonight. Bradie Tennell, 20, will step onto Olympic ice for the first time tonight for the U.S. in the ladies’ single short team program.
Men’s Slopestyle Snowboarding Finals (8:00 PM ET Saturday on NBC)
Move over Shaun White. While the 31-year-old chose to not compete in the slopestyle in PyeongChang, Red Gerard is ready to be the new face of the event. The 17-year-old and first-time Olympian secured a place in the finals. If he medals in this Olympics, Gerard would become the youngest American snowboarder to do so.
Women’s Ice Hockey Preliminary Round USA v. Finland (3:00 AM ET live on NBCSN)
Yes, I know this one is for the early risers. The U.S. women’s hockey team lost the gold medal to Canada in Sochi in 2014, but before the Americans get a rematch with their rivals from the north, they'll have to get through a tough Finnish team that's on the rise and would love nothing more than to score an early upset in the tournament.
Men’s Biathlon 10km Sprint Finals (5:00 AM ET Sunday; live on NBCSN. It will re-air in NBC’s coverage that begins at 3:00 PM ET Sunday.)
The U.S. has never won an Olympic medal in the biathlon event. Lowell Bailey leads the way for the Americans as he goes up against defending Olympic gold medalist Dario Cologna of Switzerland.
Men’s Luge Singles Finals (4:50 AM ET Sunday streaming live on NBCOlympics.com; Airing at 1:30 PM ET on NBCSN and again in NBC’s coverage beginning 7 PM ET Sunday night.)
Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. heads into the final two runs of luge competition in fourth place. The big contender to beat is German Felix Loch, who is looking to win his third straight gold medal in the event.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Apparently Lindsey Vonn’s dog, Lucy, had quite the trek to South Korea. All that travel wore her out. People were worried about Lucy’s jet lag when this photo of her with Vonn surfaced on Twitter.
Lucy captured how yearbook photo day at school often turns out for us humans. You think you look good... until you see the photo and realize you don’t. We’ve all been there, Lucy.
DAILY READING AND VIDEOS
Our intrepid staff on the ground in PyeongChang and in our New York office is already cranking away on the biggest stories so far from the games.
- Our Michael Rosenberg explores Mikaela Shiffrin’s rise as a star
- He also took a look at a perfect Olympic story in Korean speedskater Lim Hyojun.
- Tim Layden tells the story of Hermann Maier's horrific 1998 crash, and the photographer who captured it
- Michael Blinn introduces us to the U.S. women’s hockey team, which features 13 first-time Olympians.
- Here's an Olympic curler that looks just like everyone's favorite video game plumber
- The true comeback story for Shaun White
- Here's what you didn't see at the Opening Ceremonies
ATHLETE(S) TO ROOT FOR
Alex and Maia Shibutani
The popular ice dancing Shib Sibs competed in Sochi but did not medal. They make their team debut tonight in the ice dancing event and are expected to do well for the U.S. throughout the games. Winning an Olympic medal would put them in rare company: no brother-sister duo has medaled since 1984 when American skaters Kitty and Peter Carruthers won silver.
Get to know more about the Shibutani siblings in this fun video.