Thursday provides a compact viewing window into the excellence in athletics that Minnesota has produced for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Of the 30 U.S. Olympians with Minnesota ties in Beijing, 24 are expected to compete over 24 hours in Central time — starting when the clock nudged past midnight and Minnesotan curlers John Shuster, John Landsteiner and Chris Plys began their match against Sweden.
And it will end a little past midnight Friday morning, when the nine players on the U.S. women’s hockey team with Minnesota ties wrap up their quarterfinal against the Czech Republic.
Follow how the day unfolds here.
The U.S. team lost 7-4 in a preliminary round match to Sweden.
This was billed as the rematch of the gold medal game four years ago in Pyeongchang, where Shuster’s takeout deluxe in the eighth end fueled a 10-7 win. There was little on the line Thursday, as Team USA (1-1) has seven more matches to qualify for the knockout stage.
It was not the day to draw conclusions about the USA men, who are ranked fourth in the world, about their ability to defend their gold medal victory from four years ago. If anything, it could be seen a business as usual, as Sweden beat Team Shuster 10-4 during preliminaries before the USA rebounded and rolled past them in the gold medal game.
“So, we play them plenty,” said Shuster, of Chisholm. “At this level, you see each other a ton and we all are really pretty good friends, even though we’re out here battling at the Olympics.”
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Two days after she won an Olympic bronze medal in the freestyle sprint, the Afton’s Jessie Diggins skier was back on the cross-country course at Zhangjiakou for Thursday’s 10-kilometer classic.
Diggins placed eighth in her third race of the Beijing Games, reaching what is likely the halfway point of her Olympic schedule. Norway’s Therese Johaug won the race in 28 minutes, 6.3 seconds, edging out Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen by four-tenths of a second. It’s Johaug’s second gold medal of these Games.
Finland’s Krista Parmakoski captured bronze, by one-tenth of a second over Natalia Nepryaeva of the Russian Olympic Committee.
“I was really, really happy today,” Diggins said. “I was focused on my process. This is undoubtedly my weakest event, but I was just so focused on enjoying it.
“It was like, ‘Great. No pressure.’ This is just my day to go out there and enjoy racing at the Olympics.”
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Tabitha and Tara Peterson, sisters from Eagan, helped the U.S. improve to 2-0 in pool play with a 7-5 win over a Danish team that also includes a pair of sisters, skip Madeleine Dupont and Denise Dupont. You can watch a replay at 4 p.m. on CNBC.
The American men, with nine players with Minnesota ties, opened their Olympic tournament with an 8-0 victory over China, whose rosters includes several North Americans who play professionally for a Chinese team in the Kontinental Hockey League. Delano’s Ben Meyers of the Gophers had a goal and two assists and Stillwater’s Noah Cates of Minnesota Duluth had a goal. Brock Faber (Maple Grove/Gophers), Matthew Knies (Gophers) and Drew Helleson (Farmington) each had an assist.
Read more from LaVelle E. Neal
It was Friday in China when Team Shuster returned to the Ice Cube to beat Great Britain 9-7 to improve to 2-1 in round-robin play.
It’s one thing to trail Canada. It’s another to trail the Czech Republic.
Yet here was U.S. women’s hockey team in the second period. It needed every inch of sinew it had to beat a team that was ranked seventh in the world but was even farther behind in terms of talent level.
But former Gopher Gophers Lee Stecklein fired a shot from outside the circle with 13 minutes left in the third to give Team USA a 2-1 lead. Savannah Harmon struck from near the right post with just over three minutes left and Kendall Coyne Schofield added an empty-net goal to complete a 4-1 win that was a grind.
Team USA reaches the semifinals. It has medaled in every Olympics since 1998.
Read more from La Velle E. Neal III
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