- Associated Press
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

GANGNEUNG, South Korea | Ecstasy, heartbreak and a crash.

Kind of sums up the American ice dance experience at the Winter Olympics.

The Shib Sibs — Maia and older brother Alex Shibutani — added a bronze medal in the event to their team bronze early in the Pyeongchang Games.

U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue made two key errors in their free dance and slid from third to fifth.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates had an even bigger slip-up: the rare ice dance fall.

Still, a third, fifth and 12th with a major mistake should not be underplayed.

“It’s great for us and it’s great for Team USA,” Maia Shibutani said after they moved up from fourth place and held off a Russian couple to give the United States a podium spot for the fourth straight games: a gold, two silvers and a bronze.

“It feels like gold,” Alex Shibutani added. “It’s unbelievable.

“It’s such an honor to represent your country in the Olympics, and our sport is such a strong event, as you saw from the marks,” he said, noting that the top two duos — gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, silver winners Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France — set world records Tuesday. “It’s amazing to have that Olympic moment we dreamed of.”

The Shibutanis also believe their performance could lead to more siblings and more Asian-Americans in ice dance. Alex noted how rare each combination is.

“We had no path to follow,” he said. “There was no blueprint for us. (Coach) Marina Zueva had no experience with siblings or Asian-American ice dancers and we had to discover by ourselves our own path.”

That path led them from ninth place at the Sochi Games to two U.S. championships. They also have three world championships medals. And now, an Olympic jewel.

“It’s really been a leap of faith we had to take,” Maia Shibutani said. “We really have discovered we need to be ourselves.”

Also Tuesday, the United States men’s hockey team advanced to the quarterfinals with a 5-1 win over Slovakia, and Canadian skier Cassie Sharpe won gold in the women’s freestyle halfpipe.

South Korea won a penalty-filled final in the women’s 3,000-meter short-track relay and Frenchman Martin Fourcade became the first athlete to win three gold medals at the Pyeongchang Olympics when he anchored France to victory in the biathlon mixed relay. Germany swept the nordic combined large hill event podium with Johannes Rydzek winning gold, Fabian Riessle taking silver and Eric Frenzel earning bronze.

Sharpe, emphatically

Sharpe posted the top two scores of the day in the women’s freestyle halfpipe, soaring to gold with a pair of thrilling runs. She earned a 95.80 on her second set — highlighted by a 1080-degree spin — that was the highest-ever score in the sport’s brief Olympic history.

Women’s freestyle halfpipe debuted at the Sochi Games four years ago.

Marie Martinod of France earned silver and Brita Sigourney of the United States won bronze.

Doping drama

Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic became the third athlete at the Pyeongchang Games to test positive for doping.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol in an in-competition test. Fenoterol is a drug designed to open the airways to the lungs.

It’s the second straight international tournament from which Jeglic has been suspended. He was banned two games at the world championships last year after swinging his skate at a Switzerland player.

The other two athletes who have tested positive for doping are Japanese short-track speedskater Kei Saito and Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky, who won bronze in mixed doubles. The Russian delegation confirmed a second test for Krushelnitsky is positive for the banned substance meldonium.

Penalties mar short-track relay

South Korea won the penalty-filled women’s 3,000-meter short-track relay final while Italy took silver and the Netherlands earned bronze. China and Canada were penalized, meaning Italy moved from bronze to silver and the Netherlands was elevated from the B final, which they won in a world-record time of 4 minutes, 3.471 seconds.

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