The Latest: Blondin, Sato miss mass-start speedskating final

Gold medal winner Ester Ledecka, of the Czech Republic, crosses the finish line during the women's parallel giant slalom final at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

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

8:45 p.m.

Medal favorites Ivanie Blondin of Canada and Ayano Sato of Japan are out of the mass-start speedskating final after crashing halfway through the semifinal at the Pyeongchang Games.

Blondin could not keep her balance on a tight corner and took Sato and Annouk van der Weijden of the Netherlands with her in a three-way crash Saturday.

Even though all got up again, Blondin and Sato gave up the chase and finished outside the top 8 of the 12 semifinalists to go through.

Van der Weijden successfully rejoined the pack and finished second at the line to go through. American Heather Bergsma won the first intermediate sprint to ensure her place in the final.

Favorites Francesca Lollobrigida of Italy and Irene Schouten of the Netherlands led qualifying in the first semifinal.

8:35 p.m.

The International Olympic Committee says it has not yet reached a decision on whether Russia will be reinstated in time for Sunday’s closing ceremony at the Pyeongchang Games.

The Olympic body’s meeting on Saturday lasted nearly four hours.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams says, ”The deliberation will continue tomorrow and their decision has yet been taken.”

Russian athletes have been competing under the Olympic flag because the country’s Olympic committee was suspended for operating a vast doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Two Russian athletes have tested positive for doping at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

8:10 p.m.

An official with the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding team made good on a 12-year-old promise by dyeing his gray beard pink when Kikkan Randall won America’s first gold medal in cross-country skiing.

Vice President of Communications Tom Kelly had told the 35-year-old Randall that he would dye his beard pink if she ever won a medal.

Randall didn’t just win a medal Wednesday. She and Jessica Diggins took gold in the women’s sprint free relay.

That meant Kelly found himself in a hair salon in the Olympic village on Saturday morning. He said the people in the salon were ecstatic when Randall walked in with her gold medal.

Kelly says, ”They thought it was fun. We all thought it was fun. But I’m not sure my wife likes it.”

6:50 p.m.

While millions of people around the world get ready to watch the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, North Koreans are still waiting to see the first event.

The virtual blackout is a telling contrast with how North Korea’s made-for-the-cameras delegation at the games, replete with hundreds of cheerleaders and even one of the country’s most popular singers, was a big hit with the South Korean media and some of the games’ hottest Internet clickbait.

North Korea’s state-run media has never been especially devoted to covering international news events. Their job is more about hailing Kim Jong Un and whatever the ruling regime’s latest propaganda message might be.

On that front they have stayed true to form: The only reports from Pyeongchang as of Saturday afternoon were about the visit of Kim’s younger sister and North Korea’s nominal head of state to attend the opening ceremony.

But even taking into account the North’s reluctance to portray South Korea in a positive light, the blackout is a bit mysterious.

6:45 p.m.

South Korean police say they’ve detained a Canadian ski cross competitor, his wife and a coach for allegedly taking a car during the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Police on Saturday said the three allegedly got into a car in front of a bar and drove it near the Pyeongchang athletes village before they were detained by police on patrol.

Police say all three were intoxicated when they were stopped.

Canadian Olympic Committee chief executive Chris Overholt says an ”incident occurred” just after midnight.

Overholt told a news conference, ”We have confirmation that individuals attached to our team are involved in the investigation and they’re cooperating.”

The police and the Canadian delegation declined to release the names of anybody involved.

Overholt says, ”We take this matter, of course, very, very seriously. However, until we know the results of the investigation, we’re not really in a position to comment much further.”

Police in Pyeongchang and at the Gangwon Provincial Police Agency say the three remain in custody, but likely could be released if they pay a fine.

6:15 p.m.

The American men have won the Olympic gold medal in curling in a stunning and decisive upset of Sweden.

John Shuster skipped the United States to a 10-7 victory on Saturday for only the second curling medal in U.S. history. Shuster was part of the other one, too, as the lead thrower on Pete Fenson’s bronze-winning team in Turin in 2006.

The Americans received a good luck call from Mr. T before the match. The King of Sweden was there, as was U.S. presidential daughter Ivanka Trump.

They saw Shuster convert a double-takeout for a five-ender in the eighth – an exceedingly rare score that made it 10-5 and essentially clinched the win.

5:05 p.m.

Norway’s third-place finish in the new Alpine skiing team event at the Pyeongchang Games has given the country a record 38 medals at a single Winter Olympics.

Norway leads the medals table with 13 gold, 14 silver and 11 bronze. That breaks the record set at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics by the Americans, who won 37 medals.

Norwegian Alpine skier Nina Haver-Loeseth says her teammates have been ”doing so well and you’re standing there and you’re watching them on the podium and it’s just a really nice feeling yourself. So that kind of pushed us to just give it our all.”

Norway’s previous best medal haul at the Winter Olympics was 26, which they won at the 1994 Lillehammer Games and the 2014 Sochi Games.

4:35 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter has paid a visit to the American team’s headquarters at the Pyeongchang Games to meet with Olympians.

Ivanka Trump gave a presidential challenge coin to Garrett Hines, a former U.S. bobsledder and Army reservist. She thanked him for his service.

Hines asked Ivanka Trump if her favorite sport was bobsledding, and she laughed. She said her kids’ favorite is bobsledding, but she prefers skiing.

Ivanka Trump arrived in South Korea on Friday and told President Moon Jae-in that she would use her visit to advocate maximum pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear program.

On Saturday, Ivanka Trump watched snowboarders go on runs at the Big Air jump and saw American snowboarder Kyle Mack take a silver medal.

4:30 p.m.

Iivo Niskanen has captured Finland’s first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Games.

He beat out Russian Alexander Bolshunov with a strong sprint to the finish in the 50 kilometer mass start on Saturday.

Bolshunov took the silver and teammate Andrey Larkov won the bronze. It’s the first time in 11 races that Norway has failed to medal in a cross-country race here.

It turned into a two-man race with about 11 kilometers remaining as Bolshunov and Niskanen opened more than a 1-minute lead over the rest of the pack. But with just more than a kilometer remaining, Niskanen took off and Bolshunov had nothing left in the tank to catch him.

Niskanen won the marathon event in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 22.1 seconds – more than 18 seconds ahead of Bolshunov.

The Norwegians raced without Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, who decided to skip the final men’s race of the Olympic Games and return home to Norway despite having a chance to become the only Olympian at the Pyeongchang Games to win four gold medals.

4:15 p.m.

A Russian bobsledder who tested positive for a banned substance at the Pyeongchang Olympics has admitted doping and been disqualified from the games.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says Nadezhda Sergeeva has accepted a provisional suspension but reserves the right ”to seek the elimination or reduction” of her expected ban from the sport.

Sergeeva, who wore a T-shirt at the start of the games that said ”I don’t do doping,” was the second Russian to test positive at the Olympics. She placed 12th in her event. Curler Alexander Krushelnitsky also tested positive and returned his bronze medal from the mixed doubles competition.

The Russian delegation said in a statement that the substance Sergeeva tested positive for was trimetazidine, a medication used to treat angina. It affects metabolism and is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Russian athletes are competing under the Olympic flag rather than their own and wearing neutral uniforms after the country’s national federation was suspended for operating a doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Russia is waiting to hear if the International Olympic Committee will end the suspension and allow the country to march under its flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony.

4 p.m.

Mr. T has called the U.S. men’s curling team to give them a motivational speech.

The Americans are playing for the gold medal against Sweden at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

It turns out Mr. T, best known for his role in the 1980s television series ”The A-Team,” is quite the curling fan.

He’ll have to stay up late to watch the Americans. The match started at 2:30 a.m. back on the U.S. East Coast.

The Americans are a surprise gold medal game participant after beating Canada in the semifinals. The U.S. has won just one medal in men’s curling, in 2006 in Turin.

Mr. T has been tweeting about both men’s and women’s curling.

3 p.m.

Ester Ledecka has won the second leg of an unheard-of Olympic double, taking the gold medal in snowboarding’s parallel giant slalom to go with her surprise skiing victory in the Alpine super-G earlier in the games.

The Czech star is the first to win gold medals in both sports. She is top-ranked on the snowboarding circuit but never a threat until now in skiing.

She outraced Selina Joerg of Germany to the line in the final and won by .46 seconds, a much more comfortable margin than the .01-second edge in the super-G race that left her staring at the clock in shock.

This time, it was no surprise. Ledecka crossed the line and simply pumped her fist, then offered a long congratulatory hug to Joerg.

2:30 p.m.

Thinking the Olympic hockey arenas look empty? You’re not alone.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel says he’s disappointed with the crowds at some playoff games but acknowledges South Korea is not a hockey country. He says, ”I think the pricing was also relatively high for people.”

Tickets for the bronze and gold medal games run about $140 to $278 U.S. on the Pyeongchang Games website.

At the first Olympics without NHL players since 1994, there have been whole sectors of empty seats at some games.

The crowd of 2,092 that watched Sweden’s quarterfinal against Germany was the lowest attendance at any Olympic men’s game this century. Canada’s quarterfinal game against Finland attracted just 2,265 people.

The Pyeongchang Olympic organizing committee says it sold 80 percent of tickets for hockey.

1:55 p.m.

The International Ice Hockey Federation says it won’t review the use of shootouts to decide Olympic medal-round games.

The IIHF’s insistence on shootouts after one period of overtime was questioned by some fans after the United States beat Canada for the women’s gold medal in a shootout.

IIHF president Rene Fasel says, ”Maybe the Canadians can practice a little more the shootout,” adding, ”I will never convince North Americans to accept (shootouts), but it is like it is.”

Fasel says in a tournament it’s not possible to play more than one period of overtime because players would not be able to recover for later games.

The U.S. men’s team was also eliminated by the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals on a shootout.

1:45 p.m.

The United States biathlon team has announced it will boycott the final IBU World Cup meet in Russia next month.

The U.S. athletes released a statement Saturday saying that the International Biathlon Union’s recent decision to move forward with the March 22-25 event in Tyumen, Russia- despite a recent doping scandal in that country – is ”completely unacceptable.”

The statement says, ”In support of clean sport and our own physical safety, we cannot in good conscience participate.”

The U.S. Biathlon team adds, ”Holding the World Cup Final in Russia now sends an outrageous message of anti-doping indifference to the world.”

The World Cup series website says 28 teams have applied to participate.

Athletes from Sweden and Canada have also expressed reservations about competing in the event.

1:25 p.m.

Confusion reigns over how the International Olympic Committee will decide what to do with the banned Russian Olympic Committee. They could readmit them, continue the ban or hedge with what the IOC says might be a ”partial solution.”

The IOC must announce by Sunday if the Russian Olympic Committee will be readmitted to the Olympic family after being ousted for a massive doping scandal. That would allow about 160 Russian athletes competing in Pyeongchang to fly their own flag on Sunday at the closing ceremony.

They’ve been competing here under a neural flag.

Two strikes against readmission are positive doping tests in Pyeongchang by two Russian athletes, including one who had to forfeit his bronze medal. That’s half of the four doping cases reported so far at this year’s Olympics.

1:15 p.m.

U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml calls his men’s team’s Olympic performance ”disappointing” and acknowledges they ”definitely have to rebuild” before the Beijing Games in 2022.

Riml said Saturday that the American skiing team ”had quite a few ups and downs.” He says it is now time for a ”thorough evaluation” after finishing with three medals, all from Mikaela Shiffrin or Lindsey Vonn.

At Sochi four years ago, when Vonn was sidelined after knee surgery, the U.S. team collected five medals.

This time around, the American men had only one top-10 finish in their five individual events: Ted Ligety came in fifth in the combined.

Riml spoke to the AP after Britain eliminated the U.S. in the first round of the 16-nation team event. He described it as ”a little disappointing.”

1:05 p.m.

Norwegian cross-country skier Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo will not be going for a fourth gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games after all.

Norway’s golden boy is not on the entry list for Saturday’s 50-kilometer mass start.

Norwegian coach Tor Arne Hetland told state broadcaster NRK that the 21-year-old Klaebo was satisfied with three medals and decided to return to Norway early.

Klaebo won gold in the 30-kilometer skiathlon, the 4×10-meter relay and the sprint classic at the Winter Games to tie French biathlete Martin Fourcade for the most gold medals at Pyeongchang.

Klaebo is ranked the eighth-best long distance cross-country skier in the World Cup standings.

12:50 p.m.

Switzerland has beaten top-seeded Austria to take the gold medal in the Olympic debut of the Alpine team skiing event.

Switzerland was up 2-1 in the final matchup when Swiss ski racer Daniel Yule wrapped up the win as Austrian Marco Schwarz skied out along the side-by-side parallel slalom course.

Norway edged France in the bronze medal match. The countries were tied at 2, but Norway’s top skiers were faster. Each team had two male and two female skiers.

The Swiss ski team ended the Pyeongchang Games with two gold medals and seven total. Austria’s ski squad also had seven medals, including three gold. Norway’s Alpine skiers also had seven medals, including one gold.

Several of the world’s top racers, including American Mikaela Shiffrin and Austrian Marcel Hirscher, skipped the event.

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