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Saturday August 18th, 2018 5:57PM

The Latest: Americans in, Oestberg out of classic sprint

By The Associated Press
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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on the Pyeongchang Olympics (all times local):

8:40 a.m.

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, the 2014 silver medalist from Norway, finished fourth in her quarterfinal heat and failed to advance to the semifinals of the women's classic sprint.

Americans Jessie Diggins and Sophie Caldwell are still in contention and hoping to set a new benchmark for the United States. No American female has ever won an Olympic cross-country skiing medal.

Diggins appears to be the best hope. She had the second-best time in the quarterfinals, behind only Yulia Belorukova, an Olympic athlete from Russia.

Maiken Caspersen Falla, the gold medalist in the event in Sochi, was also among the 12 to qualify for the semis.

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8:15 p.m.

American John-Henry Krueger has advanced to the quarterfinals of the men's 1,000 meters in short-track speedskating.

Krueger won his heat, avoiding a collision that knocked down two other skaters.

His teammate, J.R. Celski, wasn't so lucky. The three-time Olympian was taken down in a three-man crash that caused him to need work on his right skate.

Pavel Sitnikov, the Olympic Athlete from Russia who caused the pileup, was penalized for impeding.

That left Celski and two other skaters to compete in the re-start. Celski was in contention early before finishing third, one spot out of advancing to the next round on Saturday.

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7:25 p.m.

American teenager Maame Biney has been eliminated from the 500 meters in short-track speedskating.

Biney landed in a tough quarterfinal that included former world champion Fan Kexin of China. The 18-year-old from Virginia trailed throughout after trying to go for the lead early and getting crowded out by Fan and Sofia Prosvirnova of the Olympic Athletes from Russia.

Only the top two in each heat advance to the semifinals later Tuesday.

Tough luck also befell medal contender Marianne St-Gelais of Canada, who was penalized for impeding shortly after the start of her heat and left the ice.

Among those moving on are Arianna Fontana of Italy, Elise Christie of Britain, Kim Boutin of Canada and crowd favorite Choi Min-jeong of South Korea. Choi survived a three-way photo finish for second and the crowd cheered wildly when she advanced.

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7:10 p.m.

Jarl Magnus Riiber has led all three jumps in training for the nordic combined individual Gunderson normal hill at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The 20-year-old Norwegian hasn't won on the World Cup circuit this season and upstaged the gold medal favorites on the eve of the normal hill final.

Japan's Akito Watabe, who leads the World Cup standings, had a second-place finish and a third-place finish in Tuesday's training at Alpensia Ski Jumping Center.

Norway's Jan Schmid, who is second in the standings, finished fourth in the final jump for his best result of the day.

Nordic combined features ski jumping and a cross-country ski race. The athlete who wins the ski jumping stage starts first followed by the remaining athletes in their order of finish.

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7 p.m.

Canada has beaten Finland 4-1 in pursuit of the country's fifth straight gold medal in women's hockey

Meghan Agosta and Melodie Daoust each scored a goal and an assist. With the win, the Canadians now have outscored consecutive opponents 9-1 going into their preliminary round showdown against their biggest rivals, the United States.

Finland came to the Olympics third in the world, yet the Finns have scored just two goals combined against Canada and the United States. The Americans play the Olympic athletes from Russia in the second game.

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin and Jillian Saulnier also scored. Shannon Szabados made 22 saves for the win.

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6:45 p.m.

They were born in America, but members of Nigeria's first-ever bobsled team say they're representing the culture they were raised in. For these first-generation immigrants, their African heritage is second nature and a chance to show the world their pride and pioneering spirit in Pyeongchang.

Akuoma Omeoga grew up in Minnesota, where she was raised on Nigerian food, language and culture. Next week, the 26-year-old will represent her parents' homeland in the Winter Games. She'll hurtle down the bobsled track with her tresses dyed green as a tribute to the country. The other team members are fellow brakeman Ngozi Owumere and driver Seun Adigun.

The country is one of eight African nations competing in South Korea as part of the largest contingent of African athletes ever at a Winter Games.

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4:45 p.m.

Olympic flag bearer Pita Taufatofua is concerned about his home country of Tonga after it was hit by a cyclone that destroyed Parliament House as well as churches and homes.

The 34-year-old cross-country skier thanked people on Facebook for their messages of support and said he still hasn't heard if friends and family are safe.

Taufatofua gained international attention at the Winter Olympics when he marched bare chested into the opening ceremony carrying his country's flag. He also marched bare chested in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, albeit in more mild conditions.

Now that he's in South Korea preparing to compete, part of him wishes he was back home with his countrymen. In the meantime, he is looking to help raise funds for the damaged country.

He competed in the Summer Olympics in taekwondo and decided to try his hand at cross-country skiing. He only picked up the sport within the last two years, but managed to qualify for the games on his last attempt.

He's not expected to compete for the medal.

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3:50 p.m.

Marcel Hirscher of Austria has won the men's Alpine combined event, the first career Olympic gold medal for one of skiing's greats.

Hirscher used his elite skills in the slalom leg to rise from 12th place after the opening run of downhill.

His combined two-run time was 0.23 seconds faster than silver medalist Alexis Pinturault of France. Another Frenchman, Victor Muffat-Jeandet, took bronze, 1.02 behind Hirscher.

The fastest downhill racer, Thomas Dressen of Germany, dropped to ninth place, trailing Hirscher by 2.44. Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway did not even bother to race the slalom despite placing second in downhill.

Hirscher has a record six overall World Cup titles as the season's best all-round skier, and four career world championships gold medals.

But he had taken just a silver medal — in slalom at the 2014 Sochi Olympics — from two previous Winter Games.

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3:20 p.m.

Shaun White has won halfpipe qualifying at the Pyeongchang Olympic Games and will drop in last for what's shaping up as an epic final.

The two-time gold medalist scored a 98.5 to edge Australia's Scotty James for the prime spot in Wednesday's three-run final.

Sochi silver medalist Ayumu Hirano of Japan finished third.

Hirano won the Winter X Games last month with back-to-back 1440-degree double corks, a combination that had never been successfully landed in competition. White has said he's working on the same tricks, while James has the most technically on-point package in the game.

Also in the 12-man final will be Americans Ben Ferguson, Jake Pates and Chase Josey.

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2:30 p.m.

Ryan Zapolski will start in goal for the U.S. men's hockey team in its opener against Slovenia.

USA Hockey announced the decision Tuesday, removing the kind of intrigue the women's team had before naming Maddie Rooney.

Zapolski was the no-doubt No. 1 goaltender. He was the first player late general manager Jim Johannson brought up to coach Tony Granato last summer. The 31-year-old from Erie, Pennsylvania, has been one of the best players in the Kontinental Hockey League this season.

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1 p.m.

The governing body of world skiing is being hit hard with questions about why it allowed the women's slopestyle event to go ahead amid bitter winds and iced-over jumps.

Forty-one of the 50 runs ended with either a rider falling or bailing out because she could not build up enough speed to reach the crest of a jump.

International Ski Federation spokeswoman Jenny Wiedeke says only one team "voiced concerns" about going ahead with the event. She declined to name the country. It was different at the end of the runs when riders complained openly in the mix zone, the area where athletes speak to reporters.

Wiedeke says "we know it was very difficult conditions for the riders." She says "no athlete is forced to go down and compete."

Wiedeke says the federation has concussion protocols and "most teams come with their own doctors. Those that don't, there are local doctors on hand and we also have an official FIS doctor. So there are plenty of people on hand to diagnose if they feel it's necessary."

She also acknowledged the course was very difficult, even in perfect conditions.

Wiedeke says "at the Olympic Games we set our courses to the highest international standard. We're very pleased with the entire course-building process. Very cold temperatures here have created ideal snow conditions for our events."

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12:25 p.m.

With a long break between the team competition and the ice dance and women's events at the Pyeongchang Olympics, many figure skaters are leaving the Olympics atmosphere for a few days of quiet training.

The pairs program begins Wednesday and the men take the ice for their individual event Friday, but the rest are off until next week.

Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and the women's contingent of Kaetlyn Osmond, Gabrielle Daleman and Larkyn Austman were on their way back to Seoul for a few days of work in an out-of-the-way rink.

Mirai Nagasu became only the third woman and first American to land a triple axel in Olympic competition, helping the U.S. secure its bronze. Now, she's headed to a secret location outside the host city of Gangneung with teammates Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell to keep the jump sharp. They'll be joined there by the three American ice dance teams.

Russian and Japanese skaters, meanwhile, are heading to Japan.

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11:35 a.m.

Chloe Kim's coronation is complete.

The 17-year-old from Torrance, California, dominated the Olympic women's halfpipe snowboarding final on Tuesday, soaring to a gold medal four years in the making.

Kim put up a score of 93.75 on the first of her three finals runs and then bettered it with a near-perfect 98.75 on her final run with the gold already well in hand. With members of her family in the stands, including her South Korean grandmother, Kim put on a show that delivered on her considerable pre-Olympic hype.

Liu Jiayu took silver with an 89.75 to become the first Chinese snowboarder to medal at the Olympics.

American Arielle Gold, who pondered retirement last summer, edged teammate and three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark for bronze.

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10:50 a.m.

A team of Russian athletes have won the bronze medal in mixed doubles curling after beating Norway 8-4 and recovering from a rare tumble on the ice.

The Russians' win on Tuesday gives them the distinction of nabbing the first-ever Olympic medal in mixed doubles curling. The event is making its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang.

The most dramatic moment of the match came in the third end, or round. Russia's Anastasia Bryzgalova was strategizing with her teammate Aleksandr Krushelnitckii when she suddenly seemed to lose her footing. She recovered but seconds later, her foot went flying out from under her. She promptly landed on her backside.

It is very rare for a curler to fall in professional curling.

Canada will face off against Switzerland later Tuesday in the mixed doubles gold medal match.

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10:30 a.m.

The first doping case of the Pyeongchang Olympics has been announced.

Japanese short-track speedskater Kei Saito has tested positive for acetalozamide, a diuretic that is also a masking agent which can disguise the use of other banned substances.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says Saito "accepted on a voluntary basis to be provisionally suspended and to leave the Olympic Village."

Saito did not race in any event before the test result from a pre-competition sample was confirmed.

CAS says its judging panel handling Olympic doping cases will issue a final verdict after the games are over.

The highest court in world sports handles the prosecution of doping cases, and the International Olympic Committee is responsible for testing athletes.

In a statement, Saito denied intentionally doping and said he was "extremely shocked" by the results.

"I have never considered doping. I have never used anabolic steroids so I have never needed to try to hide it," he said in the statement.

He said he accepted the provisional suspension because "I do not want to be a disturbance to my teammates competing at the Olympic Games ... and will leave the team and the athletes village voluntarily."

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