Snowboarders Max Parrot and Mark McMorris won Canada’s first medals of the Pyeongchang Olympics on Sunday, and speed skater Ted-Jan Bloemen and freestyle skier Justine Dufour-Lapointe kept the hardware coming.
In his Olympic debut Bloemen took the silver in the men’s 5,000 metres, finishing second only to Dutch legend Sven Kramer.
Bleomen, 31, didn’t believe he had his best performance Sunday but said he gave it everything he had.
“That perfect race where you get into a flow and just fly to the finish, it doesn’t always happen and it didn’t happen today,” Bloemen said. “But I made the most out of it and I got everything out of myself that I had. I’m a little bit disappointed that I didn’t have more to give today. But overall I’m really happy and really proud to be on the podium and it’s a really big reward for my whole team.”
Bloemen finished in the 5,000 in 6:11.616. He skated head-to-head with Sverre Lunde Pedersen, edging the Norwegian by two-thousandths of a second.
The Dutch-born, Calgary-based skater said he didn’t know if he had beaten Pedersen when he crossed the finish line.
“I was just trying to catch that guy in front of me. I was so tired I could barely stand on my legs but just taking every risk and giving it all to get ahead.”
Parrot and McMorris claimed silver and bronze, respectively, in men’s slopestyle. Parrot fell in his first two runs but nailed his third to bump McMorris out of the silver medal position with a score of 86.00.
“It’s my first Olympic medal, so it’s a little check next to that,” said Parrot, who is from Bromont, Que. “It’s mission accomplished for me here. I’m really happy.”
Dufour-Lapointe took the silver medal in women’s moguls.
In other results, Canada’s mixed-doubles curling team of John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes finished round-robin play with a 7-3 rout of South Korea. The Canadians finished the round robin at 6-1 and had already qualified for the semifinals.
In figure skating, ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, women’s singles skater Kaetlyn Osmond and pairs stars Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford made sure made sure Canada kept a solid grip of first place in the team event.
In women’s hockey, Rebecca Johnston and Melodie Daoust each scored twice as Canada opened its quest for a fifth consecutive Olympic women’s hockey title with a 5-0 win over the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
And in luge, Calgary’s Sam Edney finished sixth in his final Olympic men’s singles race. That’s the best ever Olympic result for Canada in the event.
After two days of competition, Canada’s four medals is good for a third place tie with Germany on the overall medals table. Norway leads with eight, followed by the Netherlands with five.
Germany leads all nations with three gold medals.
McMorris had been sitting atop the standings after his second-run score of 85.20 before American Redmond Gerard surpassed him with 87.16 points in his final attempt. McMorris fell in his last trip down the course.
It’s the second Olympic bronze for McMorris, who is coming back from life-threatening injuries suffered in a backcountry crash less than a year ago.
The 24-year-old from Regina suffered breaks to his jaw and left arm, a ruptured spleen, a stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung. He spent 10 days in hospital and was on a liquid diet for six weeks.
“I’m on the podium. I probably shouldn’t even be here,” said McMorris.
From the start of his recovery, he was determined to get back to his previous snowboarding form. McMorris showed he could do it by winning a World Cup just eight months after the crash.
“The lowest point (was) not being able to move,” he said of the time after the crash. “Being super uncomfortable, not being able to talk, that sucked. It was for one stupid mistake. I wish I could take that back every day of my life.”
McMorris, who won bronze four years ago at the Sochi Games when slopestyle made its Olympic debut, hit a tree off a jump during a trip to the backcountry with some friends, including his brother Craig.
In women’s slopestyle, Laurie Blouin of Stoneham, Que., was cleared to return to the hill after suffering an apparent head injury during a training session earlier this week at Phoenix Park. She was on the start list for Sunday’s qualification round, which was postponed due to poor weather.
“Canadian snowboarder Laurie Blouin has been cleared for practice by Team Canada medical staff,” Canada Snowboard spokesman Brendan Matthews said in an email. “Following thorough testing and evaluation including an independent second opinion, Blouin is asymptomatic and is cleared for practice this morning.”
The reigning world champion took a hard fall Friday when her board got stuck in a crack after she landed a double jump. Blouin was taken to a regional hospital as a precaution before returning to the athletes’ village later that day.
Most of the slopestyle competitors will also compete in the big air event in Pyeongchang, a new addition to the Olympic program for 2018. The big air finals are set for Feb. 23-24 at Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre.
In figure skating, three-time ice dancing world champions and Olympic gold and silver medallists Virtue and Moir scored 80.51 points for their short dance to the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil,” “Hotel California” by the Eagles and Santana’s “Oye Como Va.”
Osmond of Marystown, N.L., earned a 71.38 score in the women’s competition, good for third in her segment of the event. That added eight points to Canada total for a combined score of 35 points.
Evgenia Medvedeva’s 81.06 points were best in the women’s competition on Sunday, giving the Olympic Athletes from Russia 10 points for a cumulative score of 31, good for second.
The United States sat third after the women’s with 29 points. Japan and Italy also qualified for the next round.
The Dutch-born Bloemen holds world records in the 5,000 (6.01.86) and 10,000 (12:36.30), erasing marks set by Kramer.
The 31-year-old Kramer, a four-time Olympian who has dominated the sport, won the event in Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2014.
Coming into Pyeongchang, Kramer’s Olympic medal tally stood at three gold, two silver and two bronze. He has won the world all-round championship nine consecutive years and set the Olympic 5,000 record (6:10.76) in Sochi.
The Olympic 10,000 metres is set for Thursday with the team pursuit Feb. 21.
Bloemen’s father Gerhard-Jan was born in Bathurst, N.B., and lived in Canada for seven years before his family returned to the Netherlands in 1964. Ted-Jan Bloemen made the move to Canada in June 2014, finding a speed skating home after spinning his wheels in the talent-rich Dutch system and missing out on Sochi selection.
Kramer is chasing Finland’s Clas Thunberg and American Eric Heiden, who both have won five Olympic speed skating golds.
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