Canada's Mikael Kingsbury in the Freestyle Skiing qualifying round. Photo: Reuters / Issei Kato
Canada's Mikael Kingsbury in the Freestyle Skiing qualifying round. Photo: Reuters / Issei Kato

It was heartbreak on the slopes for local favorite Seo Jung-hwa in the first round of qualifying for the women’s moguls final at Phoenix Park in Pyeongchang on Friday.

The South Korean ski star received a tremendous ovation from home fans. But her dreams turned to despair when she fell before the final jump and finished last.

As the 27-year-old picked herself up, the disappointment was etched on her face. “That was so unlucky,” the commentators gasped. At least, Seo has a second chance in the second qualifying round on Sunday.

In the men’s event, Choi Jae-woo finished 20th in the men’s freestyle competition after a few “difficult” moments. “I wanted to do well, but I guess the pressure was too high, and it affected me,” he told the media.

Uno figures it out

Shoma Uno looked nearly as cool as the ice he was skating on after a near-perfect performance at the Gangneung Arena. The 20-year-old helped Japan finish in third place behind Canada and the United States at the halfway point of the first round of the figure skating team event.

Skating to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Uno dazzled with a series of clean quad jumps and fluid step sequences.

Despite wobbling on his initial quad flip, the silver medallist at last year’s World Championship held on.

“It wasn’t a perfect performance, but I thought it was pretty good overall,” Uno said. “I thought I might fall on the flip, but I managed not to, so that gave me confidence.”

Yet falls marred the performances of the Canadian veteran Patrick Chan and the rising United States star Nathan Chen, who is making his Olympic debut.

The 27-year-old Chan, who won silver in the individual and teams event at Sochi in 2014, struggled with his jumps, taking a tumble on his opening quad toe-loop and triple Axel.

“It was not the best but this is the advantage of a team event – it’s what we can each contribute,” he told the media. “If anything, I think I was too eager on the jumps.”

Chen also had problems. The 18-year-old hung on to land his opening quad flip but toppled over attempting a routine triple Axel.

“I just wasn’t thinking about the right thing technically. I was ahead of myself in terms of how to land a jump, how to get out,” he said. “In the individual event, I’ll be more ready.”

Winds of discontent

Thar she blows was the cry echoing around the men’s downhill course on Friday. High winds delayed the start of the second day’s training for the men’s event, which is due to take place on Sunday.

On Thursday, Markus Waldner, the International Ski Federation chief race director, confirmed that organizers were considering alternative plans in case strong winds forced the postponement of this weekend’s blue-ribbon event.

Still, the option of moving it forward by a day has already been discarded by Olympic officials.

“Winds in excess of 30 knots (55.6 kilometers per hour) would halt the gondola that transported skiers to the top of the mountain for the opening race of the 2018 Olympics,” Waldner said.

USA in ‘coin’ controversy

Team USA were accused of acting “dishonorably” by tossing a coin to decide who will carry the flag at the opening ceremony. Shani Davis, a speed skater, criticized the decision on Twitter after luge competitor Erin Hamlin was selected ahead of him for the role.

Davis was the first black athlete to win an individual Olympics gold in 2006 and will be competing in his fifth Games. He used the hashtag ‘Black History Month’ to make his point.

Hamlin and Davis were among eight nominees to carry the Stars and Stripes and were tied at four votes each after a ballot on Wednesday. It had already been agreed before the vote by the US Olympic Committee that a tie would be broken by a coin toss.

Scrambled in translation

It would be fair to say that the 109-strong Norwegian contingent at the Olympics was left shell-shocked. Included on chef Stale Johansen’s shopping list was an order for 1,500 eggs.

But somehow that was scrambled in translation and 15,000 appeared when the groceries were delivered.

Talking to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Johansen said he could not believe it when he “received half a truckload of eggs” and that there was “no end to the delivery”.

“It was absolutely unbelievable,” he added. Fortunately, no one ended up with egg on their face as the 13,500 surplus stock was returned to a supermarket.

– with Reuters