Hanyu dazzles, Shiffrin flops

Jagdish ends poor 103rd, India’s campaign over

Pyeongchang : Japan’s defending champion Yuzuru Hanyu produced a stunning short programme to surge into the lead in men’s figure skating as Mikaela Shiffrin’s bid to retain her slalom title started with her vomiting and ended in heartbreak at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Friday.

A day after she staged an astonishing comeback to win the giant slalom, American ski star Shiffrin finished fourth in her strongest discipline after being sick at the start gate in her first run and initially complaining of virus-like symptoms.

After the slalom was won by Swedens Frida Hansdotter, the 22-year-old Shiffrin said that she was pulling out of Saturdays super-G. The Olympics in South Korea has been victim of a health scare with more than 200 people falling victim to a debilitating norovirus, including two Swiss athletes.

Initially Shiffrin said the vomiting “almost felt like a virus kind of puking”, but later she said that she was well and had been scratching around for an excuse for her below-par performance.

  Indian skier Jagdish Singh  finished a dismal 103rd in the men’s 15-km free cross-country race at his debut ending another disappointing campaign for the country at the quadrennial extravaganza.

On a day of drama, when South Korea won a lunar new years gold in the skeleton, Norways dominance in alpine skiings men’s super-G came to an abrupt end.

Norway have won every Olympic title in men’s super-G since the 2002 Games.

But this time the prize went to Austria’s Matthias Mayer, the downhill winner in Sochi four years ago, with Norway’s best finisher, the defending champion Kjetil Jansrud, taking a disappointing bronze medal.

In figure skating, Japans Hanyu topped the men’s competition with a thrilling short programme, dispelling fears that an ankle injury which has kept him out of competition since November would dent his title chances.

He will take a hefty four-point lead into Saturdays decisive free skating as arch-rival Nathan Chens challenge came unstuck in spectacular fashion.

Six-time European champion Javier Fernandez of Spain heads the pack chasing after the peerless Hanyu. Korean new year celebrations, which open Friday, were given a timely boost with a second gold medal of the Games for the hosts.

Skeleton speedster Yun Sung-bin dominated the day on the icy chute to win Asia’s first medal ever in the daredevil event.

The two Swiss athletes became the first competitors infected by the highly contagious norovirus, striking an embarrassment to their Korean hosts.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Jagdish clocked 43.03 minutes to be the 103rd skier to cross the finish line in a line-up of 119 at the Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre.

Jagdish’s time was 9:16.4 minutes slower than Switzerland’s Dario Cologna, who took his third straight Olympic gold by clocking 33:43.9. Norway’s Simen Krueger (34:02.2) won the silver, while Denis Spitsov (34:06.9), an Olympic Athlete from Russia, took home the bronze.

The disappointing finish aside, it was quite a feat for Jagdish to even compete at the Games. He almost didn’t make it after the Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI) and his employer, the Indian Army, delayed his departure until the 11th hour over the nomination of a coach to accompany him.

The Indian, who trains at the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) at Gulmarg, was around 40 seconds slower than the leader at the initial 1.5km mark but the gap widened as the race progressed.

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