Back to the figure skating, Nikolaj Majorov has qualified for the free skate! We can only hope it’s half as entertaining as his short program.
Jin Boyang is still leading by quite some distance. Twenty skaters to go.
France’s Tess Ledeux spun like a top in the air to post a 93.00, just behind her first jump of 94.50 for a total of 187.50. Top two count, so she’ll need to go bigger than 93 to improve on that, but she might not need to.
Canada’s Megan Oldham slots into fourth ahead of Kirsty Muir, who will need to be more aggressive on her last jump to get onto the podium.
In related news, if I hear “she’s going big” one more time from our commentators, I’m hitting mute. Not a mute grab. Mute.
World champion Anastasia Tatalina is mathematically eliminated from gold medal contention in the big air after a big crash. She’s unhurt but upset.
Norway’s Sandra Eie has now accounted for the other two crashes. That’s gotta hurt.
Eileen Gu has moved into second place ahead of Muir, which seems strange to me because she just didn’t do that much in the air. Big amplitude, sure, but the ski jumps are elsewhere.
Here’s another look at this postmodern facility.
Kirsty Muir’s second jump is less, um, rotational than her first one, going 900 instead of 1280. But it’s as clean as a new sheet on a lint roller, and she’s rewarded with a strong 78.75, far better than the first five to go. Skiers must have two scores with different rotational directions, and she opted to go conservative with this one.
She’s bumped out of the top spot by Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud.
The first crash of the big air event belongs to Norway’s Sandra Eie, who seemed to have a bit of a hiccup on the takeoff and just didn’t have enough hang time to do whatever she was attempting. She’s OK.
World champion Anastasia Tatalina of Not Russia has a sketchy landing.
But then France’s Tess Ledeux lands a double cork 1620, the equivalent of a quad axel in figure skating. She takes the lead from Gu.
Canada’s Megan Oldham, who posted the top score in qualifying, is a little less sensation this time.
Reminder: Three jumps, top two count.
Standings after one jump 94.50 Ledeux (FRA) 93.75 Gu (CHN) 90.25 Muir (GBR) 89.25 Gremaud (SUI)
Scratch that, Killi has the lead no more, because 17-year-old Team GB skier Kirsty Muir landed a beautiful double cork (off axis) 1260 to score 90.25.
Two athletes later, it’s China and Stanford’s Eileen Gu, who has dominated this event internationally this year. She holds up at the top of the ramp for a very long time, then swerves down the ramp and … one, two, three, four rotations? Apparently so. Four times 360 is 1440, so that’s what that is.
That’s a 93.75, bumping Muir to second place.
Meanwhile, in figure skating, the Zamboni has finished.
Canada’s Olivia Asselin has landed the best of the first five jumps in the freestyle skiing big air final. That is according to … me. But I’m not a judge, so she’s actually fourth. The USA’s Darian Stevens does worse. Apparently something about not holding a grab long enough.
Norway’s Johanne Killi has the lead.
The big air venue, which sits next to a big power plant, is one or all of these things …
1. A cool use of an urban landscape.
2. A dystopian nightmare.
3. A revised cover for the Pink Floyd album Animals.
China’s Jin Boyang displaces Nikolaj Majorov atop the figure skating leaderboard by landing a couple of big quads. Boooo!
Nah, he earned it.
Quick reminder that the women’s freestyle skiing big air final starts in 10 minutes, with the USA’s Darian Stevens, Canada’s Megan Oldham and Britain’s Kirsty Muir in the final 12.
The favorite is China’s Eileen Gu, who grew up in San Francisco and has deferred admission to Stanford University but has opted to compete for her mother’s home country.
Switzerland’s Luka Britschgi lands a quad but can’t catch Majorov.
The goal for a lot of these early skaters is to finish in the top 24 so they get to do a free skate in two days. Thirty skaters entered, but we’re down to 29 due to Vincent Zhou’s unfortunate exit.
Incidentally, Majorov’s “interpretation of the music” score was a mere 7.61, because figure skating judges are terrible.
Well, that was pretty good. Majorov doesn’t plan a quad jump, but his triples are smooth, except for one. He emotes with the music about as well as anyone you’ll see in figure skating.
While we’re talking about that — why do so few figure skaters do anything that relates to the music? So many routines could easily be replaced by Cowboy Mouth singing Jenny Says, and it’d be the same, just louder.
Anyway, Majorov does one gymnastics-style half-cartwheel thing on one hand that you don’t usually see in this sport. By the time he’s done, he has already burst into tears of joy.
I think I have a new favorite figure skater.
The good news for Canadian Roman Sadovsky is that he didn’t fall. The bad news is that he didn’t fall because he didn’t do a couple of his planned jumps. Spins looked nice, though. He also wiped his nose on his hand several times, so if you see him in Beijing, maybe avoid the fist bump for now.
On to Majorov …
Kurt Perleberg asks, “Why was Day 3 so bad for Team USA?”
I don’t know, so I’ll just blame Christian Pulisic.
Ten minutes to the men’s short program, and the most interesting performance in the early going may belong to Sweden’s Nikolaj Majorov. Not because he’s a contender, but because he’s skating to Disturbed’s cover of The Sounds of Silence.
But what about Team GB? First up is Kirsty Muir in the big air final. The mixed doubles curlers play for bronze against Sweden, and there are cross-country sprinters and one speed skater as the day goes on.
But what about Australia? Day 3 was quiet. Day 4 will be a bit more interesting, with Brendan Kerry due up in figure skating and a bunch of cross-country skiers ready to sprint at 3 am Eastern time, which I believe is March 2039 in Australia. (More precisely, it’ll be 7 pm.)
To tide you over until then, here are your medalists ..
Hello all, and to my fellow Americans, condolences on a not-so-good horrible Day 3. From Mikaela Shiffrin wiping out to Red Gerard just missing out on another slopestyle medal to Brittany Bowe finishing 10th to most women’s freestyle skiers missing out in qualification … yeah, it wasn’t a very good day.
And even the good news, silver in the figure skating team event, had a dark lining, with Vincent Zhou taking his team medal as consolation after a Covid test ruled him out of the individual competition.
Farther north, Canada had a simply outstanding day, with two medals in the slopestyle, one in short-track speed skating and the stunner, a bronze in the mixed team ski jumping event. That event was marred by controversy, because when you think “controversial Winter Olympic sport,” you of course think “ski jumping.”
But the USA! USA! USA! will have its shot at revenge against Canada in women’s hockey, where the two teams have combined to win nearly every gold and silver medal since the dawn of time. There’s little at stake here other than an infinitesimally easier path to the final, but they don’t do “friendly” in this rivalry.
The USA also will have Nathan Chen in the men’s short program figure skating and Darian Stevens as the last woman standing in freestyle big air. If you’re staying up all night, you can see Jessie Diggins, whose sprint for gold was one of the most exhilarating moments of the 2018 Games, trying to capture another medal in the individual sprint.
Times are all in local Beijing time. For Sydney it is +3 hours, for London it is -8 hours, for New York it is -13 hours and San Francisco is -16 hours.
10am Freestyle skiing – another new event as it is the first ever Olympic women’s Freeski Big Air contest 🥇
10.40am – 3.43pm Snowboard – both the men’s and women’s parallel giant slalom will be decided today 🥇
11am Alpine skiing – the men’s Super-G 🥇
12.10pm and 4.40pm and 9.10pm Ice hockey – the day opens with the US and Canada clashing in the preliminary round. Both countries are guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals but will be wanting to lay down a marker 🏒
2.05pm and 8.05pm Curling – the bronze medal match and then the final in the mixed doubles could deliver Team GB’s first medal of the Games 🥇
4pm – 8pm Cross-country skiing – the women’s and men’s sprint free competition runs all afternoon and into the early evening in Beijing 🥇
4.30pm Biathlon – today it is the turn of the men to do their 20km individual race 🥇
6.30pm Speed skating – on Tuesday the men race in the 1,500m🥇
7.50pm and 9.35pm Luge – runs three and four of the women’s singles will decide the medals 🥇
The full schedule, which will automatically update for your timezone, can be found here.