Beijing Olympics Ice Hockey

Hilary Knight of the United States is congratulated after scoring a goal during the Americans 5-0 win over the Russian Olympic Committee in a preliminary round game on Saturday in Beijing. Petr David Josek/Associated Press

BEIJING — Goalie Nicole Hensley was fine with the United States having difficulty finding its offense through two periods before finally pulling away with a 5-0 win over the Russians on Saturday night.

So long as Hensley kept stopping every shot, the outcome wasn’t in jeopardy for the defending Olympic champions.

“They made it a really hard game, really frustrating for us,” said Hensley, who stopped 12 shots in her 2022 tournament debut at the Beijing Games.

“And I think for us, a little adversity is not a bad thing in a tournament like this to have to get through that,” she added. “If anything, it’s just going to bring us closer together.”

The U.S. (2-0) next plays Switzerland (0-2) on Sunday.

Hilary Knight had a goal and assist, with her no-look backhand pass through the crease setting up Savannah Harmon’s opening goal in the first period. Knight then scored in the second to give her team some breathing room, before the Americans broke things open with three goals in a five-minute span in the third.


Harmon had a goal and two assists, and Grace Zumwinkle, Jesse Compher and Alex Carpenter scored in a game played before a small but vocally pro-Russian crowd.

The U.S. outshot the Russians 62-12 but had difficulty finishing with top-line center Brianna Decker watching on crutches after breaking her ankle in a tournament-opening win over Finland.

Maria Sorokina was exceptional in stopping 37 of the first 39 shots she faced, and 38 overall before being pulled after Carpenter made it 5-0 with 11:16 remaining. Daria Gredzen mopped up by stopping 19 shots for the Russians, who fell to 1-1.

SHORT TRACK SPEEDSKATING: Darting through traffic, zipping around tight turns, avoiding potential disaster with every relay exchange. China eked out its first gold medal of the Beijing Games, winning the Olympic debut of mixed team relay in short track speedskating.

Asia is a hotbed of the sport known as roller derby on ice, although the typically raucous atmosphere Saturday night was greatly subdued by COVID-19 restrictions at the Olympic venues.

Still, the small number of Chinese allowed in the stands at Capitol Indoor Arena celebrated the host nation’s historic win, yelling behind masks and waving tiny flags.


Wu Dajing edged Pietro Sighel of Italy by .016 seconds – or half a skate blade – to claim gold. Hungary earned bronze.

Qu Chunyu, Fan Kexin and Ren Ziwei joined Wu for the victory.

“It was a huge relief,” Wu said. “Now we finally realized our dream on the first day.”

The results were delayed while the referee reviewed the race. Canada was penalized for pushing from behind and causing contact with Hungary late in the race.

That set the stage for China to build a big lead over Italy going into the latter stages of the race. But the Italians rallied, careening around the rink in hot pursuit of the home team. Sighel nearly caught Wu in what would have been a huge upset.

SPEEDSKATING: Irene Schouten gave the mighty Dutch a gold medal in the first speedskating event of the Beijing Games, breaking a 20-year-old Olympic record in the women’s 3,000 meters.


Skating in the last of 10 pairs, Schouten turned in a blazing final lap to post a winning time of 3 minutes, 56.93 seconds. That broke the previous Olympic mark of 3:57.70, set by Germany’s Claudia Pechstein at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

In a fitting bookend to the event, Pechstein skated in the opening pair to become the oldest female athlete in Olympic history at 49. The German finished last, more than 20 seconds behind the winner.

CROSS COUNTRY SKIATHON: Therese Johaug won the first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics, finishing first in the women’s 15-kilometer cross-country skiathlon.

The Norwegian fought wind and frigid temperatures to ski away from a chase group of four, winning in 44 minutes, 13.7 seconds.

The skiathlon is a mass-start race that began with 7.5 kilometers of classic skiing. After two laps around the 3.75-kilometer course, racers came through the stadium and quickly switched to skate skis before heading out for another two laps.

Johaug lead through the first skate lap, opened a gap on the second lap and crossed the line with a comfortable lead.


Russian athlete Natalia Nepryaeva, the current overall World Cup leader, pulled away from the group on the last climb to take silver, 30.2 seconds behind Johaug. Nepryaeva is competing in her second Olympics. She won bronze in a relay race at the Pyeongchang Games.

SKI JUMPING: Slovenia’s Ursa Bogataj took Olympic gold in women’s ski jumping, floating 328 feet with 121 points on the final jump.

Katharina Althaus of Germany earned silver for the second straight Olympics and Bogataj’s fellow Slovenian Nika Kriznar took bronze. Japan’s Sara Takanashi had entered as one of the favorites, but finished fourth.

This was the third time women had jumped for gold in the Winter Olympics.

MEN’S MOGULS: Walter Wallberg of Sweden upset “The King” to take home the gold medal in the men’s moguls at the Beijing Olympics.

Wallberg looked almost in shock when his score of 83.23 flashed on the board, edging defending Olympic champion Mikael Kingsbury of Canada on a bitterly cold Saturday night. Wallberg picked up points for his speed over the smooth and technical skiing style of Kingsbury, whose nickname is the “King of Moguls.”


Now, there’s a new king of the hill.

Ikuma Horishima of Japan took home the bronze. As the athletes were positioning themselves for the post-contest pictures, Kingsbury looked almost confused where to stand and had to switch places with Horishima. Clearly, Kingsbury’s not used to finishing second.

Wallberg’s surprise victory interrupts the men’s moguls dominance of Team Canada, which had won the event in the last three Winter Games.

SNOWBOARDING: Three-time snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White made it clear Saturday that the Beijing Games won’t just be his final Olympics, the 35-year-old American plans to retire from the sport he put on the international map after the halfpipe medal round next week.

“In my mind, I’ve decided this will be my last competition,” he said.

White has been a transcendent force for snowboarding, its most recognizable face for nearly two decades — and not just because of the mop of red hair that inspired his nickname.


Those locks have since been chopped, and White is now an elder statesman for the sport, hobbling into his fifth Olympics after a season marred by an ankle injury, a bout with COVID-19, a late unscheduled trip to Switzerland to secure his Olympic spot and, most recently, a training plan that got thrown off schedule during his stay in Colorado in January.

“I’m sort of pinching myself, with how lucky I am to still be here at this age,” he said during a reflective, 45-minute news conference.

White won gold in his Olympic debut in 2006, just the third time halfpipe snowboarding was held at the Winter Games. The sport boomed in popularity with him at the forefront, and he won gold again in 2010 and 2018. He also has 15 X-Games golds – 13 in snowboarding and two as a skateboarder.

White will hardly be a favorite for a fourth halfpipe gold when the finals are held Friday. Ayumu Hirano of Japan, who finished second to White in 2018, became the first to land a triple cork in competition in December, and the three-flip trick probably won’t be in White’s run.

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