Beijing Winter Olympics live updates, schedule: Scotty James goes ballistic in halfpipe final

Scotty James in on the verge of clinching a Bejing Games gold medal, with the Aussie topping the ladder with one run remaining.

Scotty James in on the verge of clinching a Bejing Games gold medal, with the Aussie champion topping the ladder with one run remaining in the men’s snowboard halfpipe final.

James and countryman Valentino Guseli will take on American champion Shaun White in the early afternoon before Australian alpine skier Gret Small takes part in the women’s Super G final at 2pm AEDT.

Meanwhile, Jaclyn Narracott and Greta Small will get their Olympic campaigns underway on Friday.

Earlier, three members of Australia’s men’s snowboard cross team crashed out in qualifying, failing to progress through to the quarterfinals.

Aussie champ goes ‘ballistic’ in half-pipe final

Australian teenager Valentino Guseli sat in second spot of the men’s snowboard halfpipe final following his first run with a commendable score of 75.75.

Countryman Scotty James and Japanese star Ruka Hirano both crashed out in their opening run, while gold medal contender Ayumu Hirano nailed a frontside triple cork, sending an early warning to his competitors. Meanwhile, American champ Shaun White sits fourth with a score of 72.00.

Guseli improved on his score in the second run, registering a 79.75 to provisionally slide into third spot, but White put together a phenomenal run of 85.00 to knock the 16-year-old Aussie out of the top three.

But James blew away the competition with his second run, nailing a frontside 1440 with his final trick and receiving a monster score of 92.50 to slot into top spot.

“We are lost for words right now,” the Channel 7 commentators cried.

“That was unbelievable … Scotty James has just thrown down one of the most crazy technical runs we have ever seen.”

In response, Ayumu Hirano produced an impressive score of 91.75, nipping at the heels of James. Boos echoed around the venue when the Japenese phenom’s score was unveiled, with some pundits suggesting he should not have been behind the Aussie.

Day 7 schedule (Aussies in action)

12.30pm — Snowboard, men’s half-pipe final (Scotty James & Valentino Guseli)

12.30pm — Skeleton, women’s heat 1 (Jaclyn Narracott)

2pm — Alpine skiing, women’s super G final (Greta Small)

2pm — Skeleton, women’s heat 2 (Jaclyn Narracott)

6pm — Cross-country skiing, men’s 15km classic final (Huge Hinckfuss, Lars Young Vik, Phil Bellingham & Seve de Campo)

10.18pm — Shot-track speed skating, men’s 500m heats (Brendan Corey)

11.20pm — Skeleton, men’s singles runs 3 & 4 (Nick Timmings)

* All times AEDT

Olympian apologises as outfit causes mayhem

Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi issued an emotional apology on social media after she was one of five athletes disqualified for violating suit regulations at the Beijing Olympics this week.

“I am very sorry that the chance of winning a medal has been taken away from the Japanese team,” Takanashi, who has a record 61 World Cup wins on her resume, said in an Instagram post.

“It is an undeniable fact that my disqualification changed everyone’s lives. Even if I apologise the medal will not be returned.”

Takanashi was disqualified from Monday’s Olympic mixed team competition due to the size of her suit, which was determined to be two centimetres wider than permitted around her thighs, according to Reuters.

Four other female ski jumpers representing Austria, Germany, and Norway (twice) were also disqualified from the competition for wearing loose-fitting suits.

Slovenia won gold, the Russian Olympic Committee took silver and Canada collected bronze.

Japan’s National Olympic Committee has not yet addressed the situation.

— the New York Post

Gold medallist accuses rivals of ‘corruption’

Olympic gold medallist Nils van der Poel has accused the Netherlands speed skating program of “corruption” over a report that its officials tried to influence the ice makers to set up conditions that benefit Dutch athletes.

Van der Poel made his scathing comments during a news conference at the Olympic Village on Wednesday, three days after his victory in the 5000 meters gave Sweden its first speed skating medal since 1988.

“This isn’t my idea of fair play,” van der Poel said. “The Olympics is higher, stronger, faster. This is corruption. This is trying to alter the field of play in your favour by using unethical and immoral means.”

Van der Poel said he had read an article on a Dutch website that suggested the world’s strongest team is using a scientist to try to make sure the Ice Ribbon oval is set up to its advantage.

While saying he has confidence in Mark Messer, who oversees the ice, van der Poel said the Dutch program deserves to be punished if the report is true.

“This is the biggest scandal in our sport,” he said. “We have doping cases in our sport every now and then. I do not see how this is any less serious.”

Dutch technical director Maurits Hendriks reportedly called van der Poel’s comments “unworthy of an Olympic champion.”

“Measuring the ice temperature has been going on for 20 years,” Hendriks said in Dutch media. “And anyone who comes to the skating rink more often sees that all countries have contact with the ice master.”

The Netherlands has won three of the first four events at the Ice Ribbon and claimed a total of six medals — matching the combined total of every other country. The Netherlands also dominated speed skating at the last two Olympics.

America humiliates China on its own turf

The United States spoiled Olympic hosts China’s first-ever appearance in men’s hockey with an 8-0 thrashing as the geopolitical rivals faced off in a wide-open Beijing tournament lacking NHL glamour.

Meanwhile, perennial gold medal threat Canada dispatched 2018 silver medallists Germany 5-1 in the other match in the Olympic tournament’s “Group of Death”.

The National Hockey League’s late decision to keep their superstars away from Beijing because of Covid sent heavyweights Canada and the US scrambling to assemble squads that are heavy on youth and light on experience at the international level.

But the young Americans had no trouble with a Chinese side packed with US and Canadian players who signed up to skate for China in the Olympic hosts’ maiden appearance in the event.

Sean Farrell, a 20-year-old who plays for Harvard University, whipped in three goals in a long night for China’s US-born goalie Jeremy Smith.

— with AFP and the New York Post

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