Beijing Olympics Freestyle Skiing

Justin Schoenefeld, center, celebrates with Christopher Lillis, left, and Ashley Caldwell during the mixed team aerials finals Thursday in Zhangjiakou, China. Gregory Bull/Associated Press

ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Ashley Caldwell thinks of Christopher Lillis as family, and Justin Schoenefeld as something even more.

Together, they’re Olympic gold medalists.

The trio of Americans won gold in the Olympics’ first mixed team aerials event Thursday, giving the United States its first medals in the freestyle skiing discipline since Jeret “Speedy” Peterson in 2010.

Caldwell was a precocious, breakout star when she made her Olympic debut as a 16-year-old at the 2010 Vancouver Games. The 2017 world champion is now in her fourth Olympics but had never finished higher than 10th.

Caldwell and Schoenefeld have been dating for about three years, making her breakthrough to an Olympic podium all the sweeter.

“I’ve been in the hunt for a gold medal my entire career,” Caldwell said. “To do it with these guys is incredible. Chris has been like a brother to me forever, and Justin is the love of my life, so that really helps.”

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It’s the first American medal in aerials since Peterson won silver at Vancouver. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot a year later.

The last Americans to win gold were Eric Bergoust and Nikki Stone in 1998.

Lillis’ back double full-full-double full was given the highest score of any trick in the finals, and gold was assured for the U.S. when Schoenefeld followed with a clean back double full-full-full.

“This has been a three-year process for us, for me getting ready for this Olympic Games and being able to throw those quintuple twisting triples,” Lillis said. “I was just happy to get the opportunity to throw one and to put it down.”

Two-time medalist Jia Zongyang cost China a chance at gold when he flipped forward on his landing, and the host country settled for silver. Canada won bronze.

MEN’S HOCKEY: Sean Farrell had a hat trick and delivered one of the team’s two no-look assists as the Americans routed China 8-0 in the host country’s Olympic men’s hockey debut.

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Farrell delivered his behind-the-back pass from behind the net to Noah Cates and also scored the fourth, fifth and eighth U.S. goals. Andy Miele delivered another no-look assist on Brian O’Neill’s goal, Minnesota center Ben Meyers roofed a backhander, and Matty Beniers flashed the offensive ability that made him the second pick in the 2021 NHL draft with his goal.

Seven of the eight U.S. goals were scored by a player currently in college. The U.S. next faces archrival Canada, which beat defending silver medalist Germany 5-1 in its tournament opener. That showdown is set for Saturday afternoon in Beijing – late Friday night in the U.S.

FIGURE SKATING: Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian superstar who was expected to deliver her nation its third straight Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating, practiced as usual on Thursday, hours after reports surfaced that she had tested positive for a banned substance.

Valieva tested positive for a heart medication before the Beijing Games, the Russian newspaper RBC reported.

The sample was reportedly obtained before Valieva won the European championship last month in Estonia, a performance that solidified her status as the leader of Russia’s “quad squad” of elite women’s figure skaters.

It’s unclear if Russia is appealing or fighting the result, though her light-hearted appearance at her regularly scheduled practice implies that the federation isn’t accepting any finding that would eliminate her.

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“She is not suspended,” Russian figure skating federation spokeswoman Olga Ermolina said, offering no further detail.

The International Skating Union, the sport’s governing body, said in a statement it “cannot disclose any information about any possible anti-doping rule violation.”

A positive test could not only cost Russia the gold medal from the team competition but threaten Valieva’s chance to win the individual competition. It starts Tuesday, and she is the overwhelming favorite.

The drug detected, trimetazidine, is a metabolic agent that helps prevent angina attacks and treats vertigo, according to the European Union’s medicines agency. It is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency because it can help endurance and increase blood flow efficiency, both of which could help a figure skater.

CURLING: In a rematch of the Pyeongchang men’s gold medal match, Sweden beat the United States 7-4 to take an early lead in the round-robin standings and hand the defending champions their first loss of the Beijing Games.

The result left the Americans hoping for a rematch, which could happen only if they both qualify for the playoffs.

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SPEEDSKATING: Irene Schouten of the Netherlands completed a sweep of the women’s distance events at the Beijing Games, setting another Olympic record with a victory in the 5,000 meters.

Schouten won the 3,000 on Saturday, also setting an Olympic mark on the opening day of speedskating at the Ice Ribbon oval.

She was even more dominant in the longest women’s race with a winning time of 6 minutes, 43.51 seconds. That took down the 20-year-old Olympic mark held by Germany’s Claudia Pechstein (6:46.91).

No one else was even close. Schouten finished 4.67 seconds ahead of Isabelle Weidemann of Canada, while the bronze went to Martina Sáblíková of the Czech Republic (6:50.09).

LUGE: Germany wrapped up a gold medal sweep of the four luge events in Beijing by winning the team relay.

Natalie Geisenberger, Johannes Ludwig and the doubles team of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished in 3 minutes, 3.406 seconds at the Yanqing Sliding Center, 0.080 seconds ahead of silver-medalist Austria and 0.948 seconds ahead of bronze-medalist Latvia.


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