And last but not least, here’s the Daily Briefing. And with that, for the final time for these wonderful Beijing Winter Games, I’ll thank you for your company and bid you farewell. But be sure to stick with the blog for the rest of the week. Bye now!
Figure skating: And here’s Sean Ingle writing from one of the most captivating and dramatic Olympic finals ever stages. I know Anna Shcherbakova won the gold – and what a champion she was – but it’s Alexandra Trusova’s routine for bronze I’ll never forget. And then there’s Kamila Valieva’s falls and tears.
And… exhale. That’s the end of tonight’s action, which might make this a good time to take the edge off by flicking through the best photos from Beijing on day 13.
Curling: It will be Sweden v Great Britain playing for gold! Canada have fluffed their lines on the final stone of the night! Brad Gushue was left with too much to do from left to right so he tried to run the double instead. The first part of the plan worked but it doesn’t roll back far enough to get even one! They miss out on the extra end by an inch, Sweden winners 6-4 in the end. Gushue has his head in his hands. Wow.
Team GB are into the men’s gold medal match!
Curling: Alright, Shuster has given himself a route to two shots. However, Mouat has one on the button as it is and can take out the US red on the eight foot line – surely that’s his play? It is. And it is away. However, the yellow doesn’t stick around. Good but not perfect. “It all comes down to this,” says Steve Cram. “All of the chatter, all of the bravado, the criticism of his own team. He still, though, has a chance… this would be incredible if he can do it.” He doesn’t! It’s GB with the steal and Bruce Mouat lets out a roar. What a victory this has been, eliminating the defending champions. They take it 8-4 in the end. What a performance.
Curling: A good stone from the USA; Bruce Mouat won’t be able to knock that away. Instead, they elect to erect a guard on the left hand side – that has to be dealt with by John Shuster, who calls a time out to work it through with two stones left.
Curling: Surely that’s enough for Team GB, using their third-last stone to knock out the only red in the house. The USA have the hammer and three left; two of those will need to end up as points to take this to an extra end. Speaking of which, that’s exactly where Sweden and Canada look to be going with six stones left in regulation.
Curling: A correction from the below – the USA have the hammer in this final end, currently 4-6 down. So, if they can snaffle two points here, it’ll be extra time.
Curling: Sweden convert with the hammer, breaking the deadlock in the penultimate end of their semi against Canada to take the lead 4-3. Canada hold the advantage in the tenth – an extra end the most likely scenario on that side of the Water Cube.
Curling: Alright, back to the water cube, deep into the ninth. A reminder that the Americans have the hammer here, so as long as Team GB can keep them to one shot and hold their nerve in the tenth, well, yes… that’s the plan. Alright, shot for USA – John Shuster is found a way through. He’ll have one further crack at it after Bruce Mouat’s final stone – and here he goes… boom! He taps back the US red and loads up the degree of difficulty on the Shuster. Steve Cram on BBC notes a “look of resignation” on the look of the frustrated skip’s face, and he misses everything! That’s a brilliant steal from the Brits, they’re 6-4 up with one end to go.
Also earlier, the sorry story that has been Mikaela Shiffrin’s Olympics. Let’s hope she returns in four years and wins the lot – something like that.
Curling: In case you missed it, Team GB’s women are also into the final four after everything went right for them in the final round robin matches earlier today.
And with the figure skating sorted, that’s the medals all won for the night. Norway, through their victory in the nordic combined teams event, add another gold and increase their lead at the top over Germany, who didn’t strike gold on day 13.
Curling: A big old gear shift from an Olympic final that will be spoken of forever in the sport of figure skating to the more sedate curling rink at the water cube. We pick up the Team GB v USA clash with the score still 5-4 in favour of the Brits but John Shuster has the hammer. “He’s not the Olympic champion for nothing,” says Steve Cram as he blasts Bruce Mouat’s shot out of the house. That’s two scoreless ends in a row as they move to the ninth. As for Sweden and Canada, they’re level 3-3 deep in their eighth; Sweden’s Nikilas Edin to go last with work to do and he sneaks it in there. So, the higher-ranked Swedes take a one point lead with two ends to play.
Gold for the ROC!
It’s official, the world champion takes gold at the Olympics as well – Anna Shcherbakova has done it. And Kaori Sakamoto holds on for bronze! So well deserved, she didn’t put a foot wrong in either performance despite not enjoying the quads that the Russians – Alexandra Trusova especially – can pull off at will. A word for Trusova, who topped the free skate with her 177.13 – five quads, incredible. If not for her poorer short program, she would be atop the podium. But that’s Anna Shcherbakova’s medal to enjoy – clean, clinical and all with a beaming smile. Meanwhile Valieva, with a 141.93, finishes fourth and is visibly shattered. They are picking up everything on the television coverage – she’s sobbing uncontrollably.
GOLD – Anna Shcherbakova (ROC) 255.95
SILVER – Alexandra Trusova (ROC) 251.73
BRONZE – Kaori Sakamoto (JAP) 233.13
Figure skating: Quad flip into triple toe to start for Shcherbakova and makes it! And another quad flip for good measure. She’s away. They’re the only quads scheduled, will she adapt and throw in another now in response to Trusova? She doesn’t – triple lutz/triple loop comes next – and landed with a smile on her face. Faultless! It might be the case that on any other night, she’s winning this. Surely that’s silver but it can’t overtake Trusova on the free skate alone – she’ll need every bit of the six mark buffer she had over her from the short program. All eyes on the judges – “It is going to be so, so close.” 171.54 is the required score move into first… and she’s done it! 175.75! Shcherbakova snatches the lead by four marks! And now, to finish, Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old genius to finish the competition. Performing to Bolero. Strap in.
Figure skating: Kaori Sakamoto (JAP) was brilliant in the short program, finishing third. And this is fine work again, hitting every note, but there is no way she can knock off Trusova in the absence of a quad. She’s every chance to slot into the silver position before Shcherbakova and Valieva finish the show. “Gorgeous,” declares the TV commentator. 153.29 for 233.13 – that’s the silver medal skate for now. To the business end now, big time. Here’s the world champion, Anna Shcherbakova. The 17-year-old is going to have a dart at two quads here as well. Here we go.
Curling: A blank end suits Team GB, USA unable to take advantage of the hammer in the sixth. Bruce Mouat’s team stay at 5-4 up with four ends to go. And the same result over at Sweden and Canada, who remain tied a 3-3 after six ends.
Figure skating: Quads everywhere! Alexandra Trusova, blimey – quad flip, quad salchow – bang, bang! A tiny stumble on the quad toe when over-rotating but this is different gravy. The sequence in the middle involves a yoga backbend to die for. Now for the next round of jumps… quad lutz, triple toe combo! If she stays on her feet here she is going to be in the lead by a mile. The Stooges take over on the music to finish, good grief. “Astounding!” says the TV commentator. That’s the word for it. 177.13! Only eight marks off the World Record and her career best. What a time for it. She leads by 37! What a staggering few minutes in the history of the figure skating.
Figure skating: Wakaba Higuchi (JAP) every chance of taking even after a small fall. Other than that, triple lutz, triple toe – the combinations were all on point. She also started with the triple axle, so it’s all there – no quads, though. Do the judges treat her kindly? Yup! 140.93 is enough for a lead of one solitary mark. To Alexandra Trusova, the first of the three remarkable Russians. Here come the quads.
Curling: Bruce Mouat with the hammer and hits right back with it! Two points, the lead changes again, Team GB 5-4 up after five. Also at the halfway mark, Sweden and Canada are 3-3 in the other semi final. You can feel it already: extra ends are coming.
Figure skating: Six skaters in this final group – find a telly for this, we’re going to see some extraordinary quads between now and the end. It’s You Young first up, the Korean performing to Les Miserables. And goes wallop early with the triple lutz/triple toe. “This is so sweet,” says the TV commentator when she hits the triple lutz/triple salchow. “Exquisite timing on the triple flip,” he adds. If she skips cleanly through the spins and combinations – and she does – You Young is surely the leader. Comfortably so, too – 142.75 is the score, the skate of the night, making 213.09 to go into top spot by about five marks. Now the first of the two Japanese skaters in this final group, Wakaba Higuchi. Performing to The Lion King; she’s away.
Curling: The pressure is on John Shuster with this final stone, needing to do a lot right to navigate a busy house… and he’s nailed it! Out goes the GB shot, replaced by two for Team USA. The Americans are up 4-3 after four. Over on the other lane, Sweden have picked up two of their own in that end, leading the Canadians 3-1.
Figure skating: Disappointment in the eyes of Lorena Hendrickx as she ends her routine, the Belgian trying to process why she didn’t attempt her scheduled triple salchow. “Four points down the drain,” the assessment of the TV commentator. And it’s those points that cost her top spot, 136.70 her free skate score for a 206.79 total; two points adrift. And that’s the end of a brilliant third group. Six skaters left including three Russians, headlined by Kamila Valieva. They’re warming up now.
Figure skating: Stirring stuff from Alysa Liu, Tchaikovski providing the soundtrack to her energetic burst, every jump landed. Just 16 years of age, having endured a bout of Covid last month, she can be proud of that. Ooh, but a deduction is detected – she a final rotation on the triple axle. Still enough to overtake Kim Yelkim (KOR) on the basis of the ambition showed? It is! 139.45 for the free skate making 208.95 – we have a new leader, the American six marks clear. Over to Lorena Hendrickx (BEL).
Curling: Team GB are on the board with a bumper third end. This time the hammer works for Bruce Mouat, drawing a third shot on the button to take the lead 3-2.
Figure skating: “Oh yes!” roars the TV commentator as Kim Yelim finishes another cracker of a performance. “This third group has taken the competition to a new level.” It sure has. That’s the first time we’ve seen a triple salchow into a double toe/double toe. The assumpion from the commentators is that the Korean is about to overtake Bell (USA) and move into the provisional gold medal spot… and she does. But only just – 0.3 of a mark after a 134.85; the third best free skate score so far. Two competitors to come in this group and eight in total. Next up: Alysa Liu (USA).
Figure Skating: Right, the ante has been upped now that we’re into the top ten! Following Bell, Anastasiia Gubanova (GEO) completes a flawless routine of her own, which included a high-scoring triple flip/triple toe combination. But the presentation score didn’t quite match the elements, 135.58 leaving her 1.32 points out of first.
Curling: It’s a big steal for the USA in the second end! Out comes the measuring stick, is it two or three points? Just two. But that’s a wonderful start from the Americans. Bruce Mouat’s enjoyed two ends with the hammer and GB are yet to score. Yikes.