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Many of the biggest stars of the Winter Olympics will take the stage on Day 5. Chloe Kim and Shaun White are making their first appearances in snowboard halfpipe qualifying, Mikaela Shiffrin will try to bounce back in the slalom after her she recently crashed out of the giant slalom, and Alex Hall will lead a strong American contingent into the men's freeski big air final. Stay tuned for updates throughout the night...
Women's Snowboard Cross
For 16 years, Lindsey Jacobellis has been the poster child for hard luck at the Olympics. A series of incidents, most notably her famous crash in Torino, have prevented her from winning gold each time despite her dominance and longevity in an unpredictable sport.
Now at 36 years old, Jacobellis is finally an Olympic champion. She won every heat race en route to the gold medal on Wednesday, eliminating 2018 champion Michela Moioli in the semifinal and then outdueling French star Chloe Trespeuch in the big final. Once Jacobellis grabbed the holeshot in the final, Trespeuch was unable to get around her despite applying pressure the entire race.
With the win, Jacobellis is now the oldest snowboarder in Olympic history to win a medal. She's also won the United States' first gold medal of the 2022 Winter Games, ending the country's longest-ever wait for a gold medal.
Results: Women's Snowboard Cross
🥇 Lindsey Jacobellis (USA)
🥈 Chloe Trespeuch (FRA)
🥉 Meryeta Odine (CAN)
— Shawn Smith
Alpine Skiing: Women's Slalom
Heartbreak and exaltation.
With Mikaela Shiffrin watching bleary-eyed from the bottom of the hill, her strongest competitor -- Slovakia's Petra Vlhova -- jumped and whooped and hugged her team following a blazing Run 2 that secured her the gold medal -- her first Olympic medal.
Austria's Katharina Liensberger took the silver and Switzerland's Wendy Holdener earned bronze.
Paula Moltzan was the top American finisher, in eighth place. Katie Hensien finished 26th and AJ Hurt slotted 34th.
Shiffrin made her return to Olympic action two days after skiing out of the giant slalom and it was anything but triumphant. The all-time leader in World Cup slalom races seemed to slip in her signature event and missed the fifth gate on the unforgiving "Ice River" course, ending her run mere seconds after it began.
Shiffrin, who faltered on the seventh gate in the GS, sat on the side of the course for nearly 30 minutes after her DNF and before skiing down to endure a lengthy string of media interviews.
"I mean I had every intention to go full gas and there wasn’t really space in the course to slip, not even a little," she said. “It makes me second guess the last 15 years, everything I thought I knew about my own skiing and slalom and racing mentality."
Results: Women's Slalom
🥇 Petra Vlhova (SVK)
🥈 Katharina Liensberger (AUT)
🥉 Wendy Holdener (SUI)
— Nate Stuhlbarg
Men's Snowboard Halfpipe Qualifying
More Olympic drama for Shaun White, this time in the qualifying round.
White, a three-time gold medalist and snowboarding legend, has said that he'll be retiring after these Olympic Games, but the end nearly came sooner than expected when he fell on his signature trick, the double McTwist 1260, during his opening run of the prelim. Facing elimination, White came through in the clutch once again by landing his second and final run — bringing back memories of his performance in the Olympic final four years ago — and safely moving into fourth place.
While he's no longer considered the favorite in halfpipe, White is still capable of landing many of the biggest tricks and is always a podium contender. The question is: Does he have the triple cork that may be needed for victory?
Ayumu Hirano has landed the triple cork in multiple contests. His Japanese teammates Ruka Hirano (no relation) and Yuto Totsuka have landed it in training. Australian Scotty James is rumored to have been working on the trick at a private halfpipe. All four of those riders easily qualified for the final, setting up what could be a historic showdown in just two days.
— Shawn Smith
Men's Freeski Big Air Final
One day after the women put on an epic show at the Shougang Big Air venue, the men followed suit with a huckfest full of 1620s, 1800s and 1980s. Norway's Birk Ruud was untouchable from the start, stomping a switch triple cork 1920 and double bio 1800 on his first two runs to ultimately win the gold medal.
The U.S. earned its fifth silver medal of these Winter Olympics thanks to Colby Stevenson. The Park City native landed a nose butter triple cork 1620 and switch double cork 1800 during the contest to finish as the runner-up ahead of Swedish legend Henrik Harlaut.
American Alex Hall entered as one of the favorites, and he delivered a high-scoring trick on his second run by landing a double cork 1980 with his signature Buick grab. But in big air, skiers are judged on their best two tricks (out of three runs), and neither of his other attempts scored high enough to put him in medal position. Had Hall landed his final trick, a switch 2160, he likely would have shaken up the podium though.
Results: Men's Freeski Big Air
🥇 Birk Ruud (NOR)
🥈 Colby Stevenson (USA)
🥉 Henrik Harlaut (SWE)
— Shawn Smith
Women's Snowboard Halfpipe Qualifying
Heavily favored to defend her gold medal in women's halfpipe, Chloe Kim was able to cruise into tomorrow's final without having to reach too deep into her bag of tricks. Kim landed a strong first run that included a cab 900 and a switch backside 540 — enough to put her atop the leaderboard. Although Kim fell on her second run, no rider came close to topping her 87.75 score, and she'll head into the final as the top qualifier.
The most surprising result of the day involved Kim's teammate Maddie Mastro, who was unable to put down a run of her usual quality and was forced to spend a large portion of the contest on the bubble for the 12-rider final. It looked as though Mastro, who has been working on a double cork, might squeeze her way in, but she was eventually knocked out of 12th place by one of the last riders to drop and narrowly missed the cut.
— Shawn Smith