Hanyu makes history in Korea

Ledecka pulls off a major shock


PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — “Ice Prince” Yuzuru Hanyu clinched the first back-to-back men’s Olympic figure skating title in 66 years on Saturday as snowboarder Ester Ledecka pulled off a major shock as she skied to women’s super-G gold.

Hanyu lost his balance twice in his free skate but a total score of 317.85 gave the peerless Japanese gold with room to spare over compatriot Shoma Uno and Spain’s Javier Fernandez.

America’s Nathan Chen had earlier become the first skater to land six quads in competition but despite his Olympic free-skate record of 215.08, it was only enough for fifth.

Hanyu, greeted by a shower of Winnie the Pooh stuffed toys, his mascot, air-kissed Uno and theatrically leapt onto the podium at the award ceremony.

The 23-year-old becomes the first man since America’s Dick Button in 1952 to take the title twice in a row — and into the bargain, wins the landmark 1,000th gold medal in Winter Olympics history.

“I’m not fully healed, I really pushed it hard and there were some jumps and elements that I could not perform, but I forced myself to do so,” revealed Hanyu, who damaged ankle ligaments in a training accident in November.

“My injuries were more severe than I thought, but I’ve been fortunate to make it to the Olympics, and that I’m able to smile now explains what I’m feeling.”

Meanwhile, Ledecka of the Czech Republic pulled off one of the great Winter Games shocks when she won the super-G, with American star Lindsey Vonn sixth.

Ledecka, favorite in the snowboard parallel giant slalom in a week’s time, clocked 1min 21.11sec to edge defending champion Anna Veith of Austria by one-hundredth of a second. Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather took bronze.

Not only did Ledecka deprive Veith of what looked like a rare double, she pushed Vonn further down the leaderboard after the American paid the price for an error at the bottom of the course.

“All the other girls didn’t risk a lot. There must be a lot of pressure on them. I was just trying to do my best run,” said Ledecka, who appeared stunned by her achievement.

“I am so surprised about all of it. I’m really trying to win and do a good run every time, but I didn’t really realize that this really can happen.”

Vonn said the outcome was “definitely shocking”.

“She beat me in training in Lake Louise — that was also surprising,” Vonn said.

“I feel like in the Olympics a lot of things can happen, it’s not that she didn’t deserve it, but there’s a lot of pressure on the favorites.”

In other sports Jamaica’s women made their bobsleigh debut in their original sled, despite the donation of a new model from a beer company following a dispute with their former coach.

Marit Bjoergen equaled her compatriot Ole Einar Bjoerndalen as the most decorated athlete in Games history as she anchored Norway to victory in the 4x5km cross country relay.

And Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud took Olympic freestyle silver in the women’s ski slopestyle Saturday, just a day after being taken to hospital after a concussion scare.

Gold went to Gremaud’s fellow Swiss, Sarah Hoefflin — who also hurt herself in training. Britain’s Isabel Atkin won bronze. — AFP