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Thursday February 22nd, 2018 9:59PM

The Latest: Shaun White: Sex assault allegations are gossip

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

5:30 p.m.

Shaun White has dismissed the sexual assault allegations made against him in a 2016 lawsuit as "gossip."

White won his third Olympic gold medal Wednesday in the men's halfpipe, then was criticized on social media and questioned in a press conference about allegations made in a lawsuit by a former drummer in White's rock band.

The woman says White sexually harassed and refused to pay her. The lawsuit was settled last May.

White was asked in a media conference if the lawsuit might tarnish his reputation.

He says, "I'm here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff." He adds, "I don't think so."

Reporters attempted to follow up about the lawsuit, but the conference moderator shot them down. White rushed off stage as reporters questioned him about the allegations following the conference.

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5:10 p.m.

The Olympic women's individual biathlon has been postponed due to strong winds hitting the Alpensia Biathlon Center.

Forecasts are predicting gusts of more than 15 mph Wednesday night, making it difficult for competitors to shoot their rifles.

The event has been moved to Thursday, starting ahead of the men's individual biathlon.

Wind has been a problem throughout the Pyeongchang Olympic Games. The women's slalom was also canceled Wednesday and spectators were asked to evacuate the Olympic Park in the coastal city of Gangneung because it was so gusty. The men's downhill and women's giant slalom have also had to be postponed.

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4:20 p.m.

There are sports rivalries, and then there's Korea versus Japan. The fierce grudges over historical persecution cannot be untwined from the sports for many Koreans, and these emotions will be front and center Wednesday when a combined team of North and South Koreans plays regional power Japan in women's hockey.

Both have yet to win a game these Olympics. Both desperately want that win to come against their loathed rival.

South Korean forward Choi Ji-yeon says defeating Japan would bring "much happiness" to the Korean people because of the "bad things that happened with Japan in the past."

The Korean team has had some tough games, and Japan is the favorite. Korea lost 8-0 to Switzerland on Saturday, and then 8-0 to Sweden on Monday. After that game, Korean players vowed redemption in their last preliminary round match against Japan.

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4:15 p.m.

American ski racer Tommy Biesemeyer will miss the men's downhill Thursday after hurting his right ankle while training. The U.S. ski team said Wednesday he was taken to a local clinic to receive treatment and was released.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle will take his place in the race.

Biesemeyer said in a statement: "You are supposed to be optimistic in times like these and say something like, 'I will come back stronger than ever.' But I just can't bring myself to do it. I am honored to have been named to Team USA and walking in the Opening Ceremony is a moment I'll never forget."

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3:55 p.m.

Officials are asking spectators to evacuate the Olympic Park in the coastal city of Gangneung and take shelter indoors because of strong winds.

An announcement in Korean and English advises fans to go inside for safety Wednesday afternoon. Workers are disassembling tents around the park.

Volunteers are also using bullhorns to tell fans to go inside. Many were queued up to go inside the Samsung building near the hockey arena.

Winds are blowing steadily around 23 mph (37 kph) with stiffer gusts rattling and shaking the giant tent anchored with metal beams in Gangneung.

A media work tent was closed because of the gusting winds ahead of a women's hockey game between Japan and Korea.

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3:40 p.m.

American Emily Sweeney is recovering from a frightening crash that knocked her out of the final run of the Pyeongchang Olympic women's luge competition.

Sweeney was still experiencing back pain after Tuesday's crash, and she was being monitored by USA Luge's medical staff. USA Luge says Sweeney is doing well and her parents are visiting with her in the Athletes' Village.

The Pyeongchang Games were Sweeney's first Olympics. Sweeney lost control around a curve considered the track's most treacherous spot, then careened through several more turns before crashing.

The plan is for Sweeney to continue being checked regularly by doctors for the next few days. USA Luge says, "Further steps will be taken, if necessary."

Sweeney doesn't have any other events scheduled at the Olympics.

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3:20 p.m.

The winds are so strong at the Pyeongchang Olympics that officials are closing the media work tent outside the Kwandong Hockey Center ahead of a game between Japan and Korea.

An official asked reporters and photographers to move to work locations inside the hockey rink Wednesday because the media tent was being closed.

Winds are blowing steadily around 23 mph (37 kph) with stiffer gusts rattling and shaking the giant tent anchored with metal beams in Gangneung.

A heavy contingent of media is at the Kwandong Hockey Center for the women's hockey game between Japan and Korea. The two countries have a long and bitter history.

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3 p.m.

Switzerland has edged Sweden 2-1 to take the top spot in Group B of women's hockey at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The win ensures Switzerland, the 2014 bronze medalist, will face either Finland or the Russians on Saturday in the quarterfinals.

Phoebe Staenz scored the game-winner at 11:28 of the third period. Alina Muller also had a goal and an assist, and Christine Meier had two assists. Goalie Florence Schelling made 33 saves for an Olympic record with her ninth career win, breaking a tie with Canada's Kim St. Pierre.

Muller gave Switzerland a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 13:51 of the second period for her tournament-best sixth goal.

Sweden, which hasn't medaled since taking silver in 2006 at Turin, tied it with Anna Borgqvist's power-play goal at 7:35 of the third.

Staenz scored on the power-play to keep the Swiss undefeated. They beat Sweden to win bronze in 2014.

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2:30 p.m.

Next stop is Tokyo in 2020 for the oompah band Kleintje Pils, aka "the Dutch giants on clogs" at the Pyeongchang Games.

It will be full circle if they make it to the Summer Games in two years' time. The brass band, known for their stirring renditions of classics like Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," started out at the 1998 Nagano Games in Japan.

The Dutch already reign supreme on the ice at the speedskating oval and on Wednesday, Kleintje Pils, which translates to "Small Beer," took the infield again.

"Just before leaving for Korea, we studied the song 'Gangnam Style' and it has become our biggest hit here," said Ruud Bakker, who wields a bass drum. "Koreans may be subdued, but this gets them going."

Decked out in their orange-striped shirts, casual pants and wooden shoes, Kleintje Pils had its first performance at a hockey match. "The fans are different. They raised the roof," said Bakker.

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1:55 p.m.

The Chinese pair of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong led Russian skaters Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov by less than a point after the short program in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Sui and Han scored a season-best 82.39 points Wednesday to a breathtaking, almost ethereal version of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah." They embraced on their knees as the music came to an end, holding the pose for a moment as the crowd roared its approval.

Tarasova and Morozov scored 81.68 points to a piano concerto by Rachmaninov to keep them in contention heading into Thursday's free skate.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada were third with 76.82 points. That was less than a point ahead of German favorites Aliona Savchenkno and Bruno Massot.

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12:15 p.m.

Snowboarder Shaun White has won America's 100th Winter Olympic gold medal, throwing down a spectacular final run in the men's halfpipe.

The United States is only the second country to win 100 winter golds. It trails Norway, which started Wednesday with 121. Germany is third with 92.

White's gold was the fourth for the U.S. in Pyeongchang. The others came from snowboarders Red Gerard, Jamie Anderson and Chloe Kim. America has won 14 gold medals in snowboarding since its Olympic debut in 1998, the most of any country.

This is White's third gold medal and first since 2010. He ranks third among Americans in individual winter gold medals, trailing only speedskaters Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden, who have five each.

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12:05 p.m.

Snowboarding star Shaun White is a three-time Olympic champion.

The American threw down a spectacular final run in men's halfpipe to slip by Japan's Ayumu Hirano. White's score of 97.75 was a touch better than Hiramo's 95.25.

The gold medal is the 100th overall gold for the United States in the Winter Olympics, and White is the first American male to win gold at three separate Winter Games.

Australia's Scotty James took bronze.

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11:50 a.m.

The North Korean pairs team of Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sink have scored a season-best 69.40 points to briefly move into second place during the short program at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

North Korea's only pair drew cheers from a large block of uniformly dressed fans for even the most simple of elements in practice. Then, they neatly landed their opening triple twist lift, hit a triple toe and throw triple loop, and were showered afterward with flowers from their fans.

The couple dressed in silver and black and performed to a cover of the Beatles song "A Day in the Life" by English rock guitarist Jeff Beck. They were the 10th among 22 teams to take the ice inside the Gangneung Ice Arena and all the medal contenders were still to come.

Still, their score qualified them for the free skate on Thursday.

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11:40 a.m.

Japan's Ayumu Hirano has vaulted past Shaun White and into first place in the men's halfpipe final.

The 19-year-old Hirano put up a score of 95.25 during his second run to edge past White. Hirano washed out in his first run but responded by throwing back-to-back 1440-degree spins during his second run.

White, attempting to become the first American to win gold in three different Winter Olympics, sat down on his second run to remain in second.

White will get one last shot to surpass Ayumu. White will be the final rider to go in the 12-man final.

___

11:20 a.m.

Mikaela Shiffrin's debut at the wind-blown Pyeongchang Olympics has been postponed a second time.

Plans to run the slalom, with Shiffrin defending her title from 2014, have now been shelved, one hour after the original scheduled start at 10:15 a.m. South Korea time. There had been three delays in hope of waiting out the strong gusts. Now the race will be held Friday instead.

Shiffrin already had her giant slalom race postponed Monday at blustery Yongpyong. That race was moved to a Thursday slot, when winds are forecast to ease.

That creates a busy program for the next two days: Two women's technical races at Yongpyong and two men's speed races at Jeongseon, 30 miles (50 kilometers) away.

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11:15 a.m.

Harley Windsor became the first indigenous Australian to compete at the Winter Olympics when the pairs skater joined teammate Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya on the ice for their short program.

Windsor and his Russian-born partner were among the first pairs on the ice, and their total of 61.55 points was just off their season's best. And it also meant a long wait to find out whether they made the cut from 22 pairs to 16 for Thursday's free skate.

Windsor says he started to "feel a bit nervous" the night before competing, but he was happy with the performance. Both of the 21-year-old Windsor's parents have Australian Aboriginal roots, and his mother Josie was cheering him on from the stands.

___

11:05 a.m.

American snowboarder Shaun White is in the lead after one run in the men's halfpipe final.

The two-time Olympic champion posted a score of 94.25 during his opening set, throwing a quadruple-twisting turn early in his run to set the benchmark at Phoenix Snow Park.

Australia's Scotty James is second after putting up a 92.00. American Chase Josey is third. Japanese star Ayumu Hirano washed out on the first run.

Riders get three attempts down the slushy halfpipe, which softened overnight as temperatures rose.

___

10:50 a.m.

The figure skating program at the Pyeongchang Olympics has resumed with the short program for the pairs competition, where the German pair of Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot are the favorites.

There will probably be just as many eyes on the North Koreans.

Security was a bit tighter at Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday than it was for the team event, most likely because of the presence of Ryom Tae Ok and Ju Sink. They were a strong third at last month's Four Continents and placed 15th at last year's world championships.

And yes, the North Korean cheerleaders are in attendance.

Other favorites include Russian pair Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, two-time world champs Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada, and Chinese pair Sui Wenjin and Han Cong.

___

10:35 a.m.

Mikaela Shiffrin's debut at the Pyeongchang Olympics is in a holding pattern with a third delay to the women's slalom start.

Strong winds, and now some steady falling snow, have put the race at risk on the Rainbow course at Yongpyong.

The opening run is now scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. South Korea time on Wednesday (9:45 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast,) after two previous delays of 15 minutes from the original 10:15 a.m. start. The second leg could then start at 2:45 p.m.

Shiffrin, the defending champion, is due to wear the No. 3 starting bib in an 83-racer lineup.

___

9:45 a.m.

Katie Couric has apologized for saying that the Dutch are so successful in speed skating because skates have been used as a form of transportation when canals freeze in the Netherlands.

Her remark during the Olympics' opening ceremony invited some Dutch mockery on social media from people who said the information was outdated. The Netherlands embassy to the United States invited Couric to visit the country to see all of the innovative ways the Dutch get around.

Couric late Monday tweeted her apologies for being on thin ice with her comments.

The veteran anchor said she was trying to salute the country's historic passion for the sport, but it didn't come out that way.

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More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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