The Latest: Koreas make history in their 1st Olympic game

Maame Biney of the United States in action during the ladies' 500 meters short-track speedskating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) The Latest on the Pyeongchang Olympics (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

The Koreans have made Olympic history with the puck dropping in their first Olympic game with their women’s hockey lineup featuring three North Koreans under an unprecedented agreement.

And a North Korean forward nearly gave the historic combined team a lead.

Jong Su Hyon shot the puck from the left circle on a power play in the first period only to catch the crossbar, glancing off harmlessly.

Then Switzerland responded by jumping out to a 2-0 lead, scoring 61 seconds apart midway through the period

Trailing didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of home fans, who kept chanting in support with the North Korean cheerleaders rinkside leading the cheers. During a timeout, the cheerleaders tried to start fans doing the wave only to see that trickle out as play resumed.

9:40 p.m.

The Dutch resumed where they left off four years ago, dominating the Olympic speedskating Oval and getting a clean sweep of medals in the women’s 3,000 meters, with outsider Carlijn Achtereekte leading the way.

Achtereekte raced in the first half of the program with the also-rans, but her time of 3 minutes, 59.21 seconds was good as gold as double 3,000-meter Olympic champion Ireen Wust finished .08 seconds behind.

Bronze went to Antoinette de Jong for the amazing Dutch sweep.

In Sochi four years ago, the Netherlands won 23 of 36 medals. They’ve started 3 for 3 at the Pyeongchang Games.

9:25 p.m.

Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier wasn’t just good. She was perfect.

The 24-year-old budding biathlon star hit all 10 targets to win her first gold medal in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint on Saturday night at the Pyeongchang Games.

Dahlmeier had won five of six possible medals at last year’s World Championships. Coincidentally, the one event she didn’t win was this one.

She appeared exhausted as she finished, falling to the ground, her face inches from the snow and her skis spread apart in a frog-like position.

Only three women out of 86 competitors hit all 10 targets on a cold and blustery night. However, the other two failed to crack the top 15 because they took too long to shoot those targets.

Norway’s Marte Olsbu captured the silver medal and Veronika Vitkova from the Czech Republic took home the bronze.

9:20 p.m.

South Korea recovered from a crash to earn a place in the women’s 3,000-meter relay final at short-track speedskating.

The South Koreans won their semifinal heat on Saturday night, drawing wild cheers from the home crowd at the packed Gangneung Ice Arena.

Canada also advanced to Tuesday’s final, along with China and Italy.

The U.S. women didn’t qualify for the event.

9:15 p.m.

The field is set for the men’s 1,500-meter short-track speedskating final.

After the crash-filled semifinals, nine skaters advanced to the final later Saturday night.

Among them is defending Olympic champion Charles Hamelin of Canada.

American J.R. Celski finished sixth and last in his semifinal heat and didn’t advance after being penalized. Joining Celski on the sidelines was his teammate John-Henry Krueger, who also got penalized.

World record holder Sjinkie Knegt will try to become the first Dutch short-track speedskater to win an Olympic title in the chaotic sport.

Among others in the 1,500 final are Liu Shaolin Sandor of Hungary, Lim Hyo-jun and Hwang Dae-heon, both of South Korea, and Semen Elistratov, a Russian skater who is competing under the Olympic flag at the games.

9:05 p.m.

Coach Sarah Murray is playing three North Korean forwards as required in the deal creating the first combined Korean team in Olympic history.

The women’s hockey coach faced some tough decisions after negotiations led to 12 North Korean players being added to her roster on Jan. 25. She had to scratch three of her South Korean players for Saturday’s game against Switzerland at the Kwandong Hockey Center.

The North Korean forwards are Kim Un Hyang, Jong Su Hyon and Hwang Chung Gum.

Neither country has played women’s ice hockey in the Olympics before. South Korea only received a berth as a host country.

Fans cheered as the Koreans took the ice for pregame warmups.

But the cheers might have been louder if not for a backup outside the arena getting fans through the gates.

8:50 p.m.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier says there’s hope the ”tender dialogue” between the Koreas at Pyeongchang will foster an improvement in diplomatic relations beyond the Olympics.

Steinmeier visited the German House in Pyeongchang as medal competition was getting was underway.

He says only months ago there were doubts over North Korea’s participation in the Olympics. He says, ”Certainly three weeks ago no one would have thought that there would be a united team which entered the stadium together.”

The rare invitation to Pyongyang for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, delivered by Kim Jong Un’s sister, has accelerated the diplomatic warming.

By those measures, Steinmeier say, ”What we’re seeing right now is at least a sign.” He says he’s not sure it can hold long term but notes, ”At least you can have hope.”

8:40 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are chatting while watching Olympic speedskaters compete just hours after Moon received a historic invitation to visit North Korea.

Aides did not immediately say whether the invitation was discussed as the two sat next to each other viewing several heats Saturday.

They were seated not far from a section of North Korean cheerleaders who attended the Olympics in a sign of warming ties between the two Koreas that Pence and other U.S. officials have warned against.

Moon and North Korea’s 90-year-old ceremonial head of state will jointly attend the unified Korean women’s ice hockey team’s first match later Saturday evening with Pence.

8:30 p.m.

American teenager Maame Biney is safely through to the quarterfinals of the 500 meters in her short-track Olympic debut.

The 18-year-old speedskater finished second in her heat behind China’s Fan Kexin on Saturday night. Biney was born in Ghana and moved to the U.S. as a 5-year-old.

The other American, Lana Gehring, was eliminated after finishing third in her heat. Only the top two skaters in each heat advance.

Among the big names moving on to Tuesday’s quarterfinals are Canadian teammates Kim Boutin and Marianne St-Gelais, Italy’s Arianna Fontana, Britain’s Elise Christie and South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong.

Shim Suk-hee of South Korea was a three-time medalist at the Sochi Games but was eliminated Saturday after finishing third in her heat.

8:10 p.m.

Korean fans are very, very excited about making history with their combined women’s hockey team at the Pyeongchang Games.

Hundreds of fans waved flags with many featuring the Korean Peninsula, and they chanted while waiting outside in gusting winds for officials to open the doors at the Kwandong Hockey Center 90 minutes before Korea plays Switzerland.

A capacity crowd of 6,000 is expected for the game, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s 90-year-old nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, among them.

The men boarded a train for Gangneung after lunch in Seoul with Kim Yo Jong, sister of Kim Jong Un.

It’s unclear if she will be joining the leaders to watch a roster featuring 12 North Koreans.

7:55 p.m.

The first night of short-track speedskating is underway at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

All three Americans have advanced to the semifinals of the men’s 1,500 meters. Three-time Olympian J.R. Celski and John-Henry Krueger nearly fell in their heats, while a crash involving two skaters allowed Aaron Tran to move on in the 13 +-lap race.

South Korea’s three skaters – Hwang Dae-heon, Lim Hyo-jun and Seo Yira – also qualified for the semis to the delight of the home crowd, which roared any time one of their skaters was in the lead. Short track is hugely popular in the host country.

World record holder Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands safely moved on, as did defending Olympic champion Charles Hamelin of Canada.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen are in the crowd.

7:35 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is cheering on U.S. speedskaters at the Winter Olympics before departing South Korea for Washington.

Pence and his wife are viewing the short-track competition Saturday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife. Eight Americans are participating in the event.

It’s the final stop on a six-day trip that Pence hoped would increase pressure on North Korea as it seeks to use the games to pursue an opening with the South.

Pence’s efforts to keep the spotlight on North Korea’s nuclear program and human rights abuses have taken a back seat to the widely viewed images of the two Koreas marching under one flag during Friday night’s opening ceremony – and to the invitation by dictator Kim Jong Un for South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit the North.

7:25 p.m.

Norwegian cross-country skiing star Marit Bjoergen says this will be her final Olympics.

Bjoergen has won her 11th Olympic medal, taking silver in the 15-kilometer skiathlon, making her the most decorated female Winter Olympian ever.

The 37-year-old is still hoping to pass biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who has 13 podium finishes, before the end of these Olympic Games. She won’t say how many races she plans to participate in in Pyeongchang, only that she will participate in the women’s sprint on Tuesday.

”I haven’t thought about that. For sure it’s my last Olympics, but for me, I have to focus on doing good races,” Bjoergen said. ”I think when I’m finished with the Olympics I can look behind me and see how many medals I have. For me it’s important to do the race and have the focus there.”

7:10 p.m.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven is hailing Charlotte Kalla, who won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Lofven wrote on Instagram ”Sweden’s first gold hero at the Olympic Games! Congratulations Kalla.”

Kalla won gold ahead of Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen in the women’s 15-kilometer skiathlon.

7:05 p.m.

Sara Hjalmarsson scored 1:53 into the third period and Sweden held off Japan 2-1 in a thrilling game to open the preliminary round for women’s ice hockey at the Pyeongchang Games.

This was only Japan’s third appearance in the Olympics for women’s ice hockey, and they had to start off pool play against a country that took home silver in 2006 and bronze in 2002.

Sweden took a 1-0 lead 2:21 into the game when Fanny Rask scored from a tough angle, squeezing the puck between Nana Fujimoto’s head and the post.

The Japanese tied it up with 3:08 left in the second period.

The Swedes took the lead back thanks to a great takeaway by Erika Grahm who then passed the puck backward to Hjalmarsson in the slot for the go-ahead goal.

6:55 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is not directly addressing news that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a visit, as the two Koreas use the Olympics as an opportunity for renewing ties amid concerns over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah says, ”The vice president is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions.”

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, delivered the invitation to Moon on Saturday.

Pence has meant to use his trip to the Olympics to caution the South against ”falling for” the North’s overtures, which in the past have been used as stall tactics to allow for continued development of its nuclear program.

6:45 p.m.

An army of high-flying drones expected to light up the sky at the opening ceremony of the Olympics was grounded.

Viewers of NBC’s tape-delayed broadcast in the United States still saw it, but it was a pre-recorded version from a rehearsal.

Intel Corp. was expected to launch 300 drones as part of an extravagant light show, but those plans were scrapped. International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams says the drones weren’t deployed because of an ”impromptu logistical change.”

NBC aired a light show, but it was from Intel’s launching of 1,280 drones in December in Pyeongchang.

The incident was reminiscent of the Sochi Games in 2014, when one of the five Olympic rings failed to light – but Russian state television aired rehearsal footage of it happening.

6:15 p.m.

Speedskater Shani Davis has declined to talk to reporters for a second day in a row about the controversy over how the U.S. Olympic Team chose its flag-bearer for the opening ceremony.

Davis, who skipped the ceremony, trained Saturday but walked by journalists afterward without stopping to answer questions.

After luger Erin Hamlin was picked to carry the flag, a tweet from Davis’s account said Team USA ”dishonorably” used a coin toss to make the decision and added the (hash)BlackHistoryMonth2018 hashtag. Davis is black and Hamlin is white. The coin toss happened after they tied 4-4 in a vote by fellow athletes.

Team spokesman Matt Whewell says Davis is intent on staying focused on his Olympic races for now. His first race is Tuesday’s 1,500 meters.

A tweet from his account a few hours after the opening ceremony read, ”It has been such an honor to have represented the greatest, most diverse country in the world at the last five Winter Games during the same month as (hash)blackhistorymonth (hash)goTeamUSA Watch `Origins of Black History Month.”’

6 p.m.

American cross-country skier Jessie Diggins says nerves may have gotten the best of her before the women’s 15-kilometer (9.3-mile) skiathlon, causing her to throw up shortly before the race.

Diggins was third in the World Cup rankings coming in but finished fifth on Saturday at the Pyeongchang Games.

The 26-year-old says, ”I need to work on a few things to manage stress.”

She says she also struggled with cramping in her triceps during the race and will reconsider her hydration plan moving forward. Overall, though, she says she did the best she could and got the most out of her body.

Diggins says it wasn’t her best race, but she still feels like she’s in a ”good place” to become the first American cross-country skier to win a medal since Bill Koch in 1976.

5:05 p.m.

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Games and Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen took silver in the women’s 15-kilometer skiathlon to become the most decorated female Winter Olympian ever.

Bjoergen captured her 11th career medal Saturday, breaking a three-way tie with Russian Raisa Smetanina and Italian Stefania Belmondo.

Kalla won the race by more than seven seconds, breaking away from the pack in the final 2 kilometers to avenge her loss to Bjoergen in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Jessica Diggins finished fifth, failing to become the first American woman to earn a medal in cross-country skiing.

Krista Parmakoski of Finland finished third.

4:30 p.m.

Race organizers say they expect ”challenging” conditions to stage the Olympic men’s downhill on Sunday.

Team leaders have been told the weather forecast is ”partly cloudy but the wind will be strong.” Race-time temperatures will be below freezing on the Jeongseon hill.

Gusts and tailwinds affected a shortened practice run on Friday but eased for the final training session Saturday.

Race director says Markus Waldner ”it was good enough to have a race today. Tomorrow we will see.”

Waldner says a decision whether to delay the 11 a.m. start, or postpone the race, is expected at 10 a.m.

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

Comments are closed.