Lindsey Vonn, Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon highlight another star-studded day in Pyeongchang. Vonn, who hasn’t skied in the Olympics in eight years, makes her much-anticipated return in the Super-G. Chen and Rippon will try to cement medals for the U.S. in the men’s figure skating free skate. Plus, the U.S. hockey team faces an old nemesis: The Russians (even if they’re playing under a different flag).
Here are our "7 to Watch" in Pyeongchang for Friday:
1. Russians Skate Away With Big Win Over U.S. Men’s Hockey
Russia’s men's hockey players overpowered the United States Saturday in Pyeongchang, running away with the latest round of a storied rivalry 4-0 (even if the players were wearing a different flag).
The game, played hours after U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities for an alleged election meddling scheme, was out of the Americans’ reach by the end of the second period, when a shot from former New Jersey Devils player Ilya Kovalchuk whizzed into the American net with 0.2 seconds left on the clock.
The NHL is not participating in the Olympics, leaving both teams — but especially the Americans — a shell of what they could be, and it’s shown for the U.S., who finished the group phase of the Olympic tournament with a win, a loss and an overtime loss.
Both teams will progress to the elimination round, but the two wins for the Olympic Athletes from Russia, as the team is known due to their country’s Olympic doping ban, earned them a bye to the quarterfinals. Routing the Americans likely returns the Russians to their pre-tournament status as favorites.
As for the Americans, captain Brian Gionta drew hope from the way they bounced back from a loss to Slovenia in their first game, saying Saturday, "We still have plenty of tournament left in us."
2. Vonn Makes Long-Awaited Return to Olympics, Places 6th in Super-G
After injury kept her out of Sochi in 2014, Lindsey Vonn returned to the Olympics and placed sixth in the super-G. She earned bronze in the event eight years ago.
Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic won gold, Austria’s Anna Veith, the defending champion, took silver and Tina Weirather, of Liechtenstein, earned bronze. Ledecka was shocked by her own finish, and could be heard saying “How did that happen?” after the run.
On Twitter, Vonn dedicated the race to her grandfather, who died in November. After her run, she said was “disappointed,” but “not upset."
She plans to compete in the downhill—she won Olympic gold in 2010— early next week, and the combined later in the week. She is the all-time winningest female Alpine skier with 81 World Cup wins and at 33, she is trying to be the oldest woman to win an Olympic Alpine medal.
3. Japan’s Hanyu Wins Skating Gold; Chen Finishes 5th
Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu skated to gold in men’s figure skating Saturday, after dominating back-to-back days, including an Olympic record-breaking score on the first night in the men’s short program.
Team USA’s Nathan Chen fought back from 17th to finish fifth with a dazzling free skate. Japan’s Shoma Uno won silver. Spain’s Javier Fernandez took bronze, the country’s first-ever figure skating medal.
Chen, a two-time U.S. champion, seemingly succumbed to the pressure and massive expectations in Friday’s short program and fell on all his jumps. But the 18-year-old came roaring back on Saturday, attempting six quad jumps and landing five of them cleanly — two Olympic firsts. Chen’s 215.08 points for the free skate were a personal high.
Team USA’s youngest athlete, Vincent Zhou, finished sixth and Adam Rippon finished 10th.
4. Krueger’s Silver Ends US Speedskating's Long Medal Drought
John-Henry Krueger squeaked into the 1000-meter semifinal, powered into the final and ended up on the podium Saturday, his silver standing as the first American speedskating medal since the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The Olympic debutant stayed in the front of the pack for the first several laps of the final round, which allowed him to avoid a big crash that wiped out the three skaters behind him. Canadian Samuel Girard won gold while South Korean Seo Yira took bronze.
South Korea won the day’s other short track speedskating medal, the women’s 1500 meters. Choi Min-jeong shot away from the field in the last couple of laps and cruised to victory. It was redemption after her heartbreaking finish in the 500-meter final earlier in the Games, when she was penalized after crossing the finish line second. Choi’s gold medal is South Korea’s third at Pyeongchang.
5. Switzerland’s Hoefflin Wins Gold in Slopestyle, USA’s Maggie Voisin Falls Short to Finish 4th
A pair of Swiss freeskiers landed big tricks and earned the top two spots on the podium in PyeongChang. Sarah Hoefflin took the gold medal with a score of 91.20 on her third and final run. Her teammate, 18-year-old Mathilde Gremaud scored 88.00 on the first of her three runs in the finals but couldn't top Hoefflin.
U.S. skier Maggie Voisin was in position for the bronze until Isabel Atkin, who was born in Boston but competes for Great Britain, came through with an 84.60 to knock her off the podium and capture third.
Voisin was one of two Americans in the final. She finished fourth, while teammate Devin Logan, a silver medalist in Sochi, took 10th.
6. Brandt Sisters Share Love of Hockey
Two Minnesota sisters have an unbreakable bond despite the fact that they're competing on two different teams in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Hannah and Marissa Brandt join TODAY to talk about their special connection as sisters as both compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in hockey.
Hannah Brandt is playing for Team USA in women's hockey and Marissa Brandt was invited to represent her birth country, South Korea.
Their parents say the most important thing is that they are both positive and caring women.
Watch their interview here.
7. Viral Video Proves You Should Never Give Up
One of the best videos in the snowboarding cross competition has to be the semifinal race where two crashes wiped out almost the entire lineup.
At one point, a competitor was crawling on his hands to try and get back into the race.
It wasn't until the very last second that a surprise appearance by one of the first to wipe out proves to those watching that you really should never give up.
The message the rider gives to kids at the end is worth the price of admission.
Check it out here.