7 to Watch Friday: Curling, Closing and Who's Already Bolted?

The U.S. men’s curling team, coming off back-to-back Olympics finishing near the bottom of the tournament, looks to complete a stunning turnaround by winning its first-ever gold medal.


The U.S. men’s curling team, coming off back-to-back Olympics finishing near the bottom of the tournament, looks to complete a stunning turnaround by winning its first-ever gold medal.

Teenager Red Gerard, who won America’s first gold in Pyeongchang, looks to add more hardware to his collection.

Snowboarder Ester Ledecka, who shocked everyone (including herself) by winning a skiing gold medal, will try to match it with a medal in her native sport.

There will be plenty of excitement in Pyeongchang on Saturday (starting Friday night in the U.S.). Here are our must-watch events: 

1.  USA Curling Rocks! Men Win Historic Olympic Gold

For the fifth straight game, skip John Shuster and Team USA rattled the best curlers in the world, and again came away with a win — for the U.S.'s first ever Olympic curling gold medal — by defeating Sweden 10-7.

Shuster converted a double-takeout for a 5-point end in the eighth — an exceedingly rare score that made it 10-5 and essentially clinched the win.

"Tell you what, it was a lot of fun," Shuster said after the match. "And that's where the week changed for us and changed for me, was to allow myself to go out there and enjoy it and let the work show through. Holy cow."

It was the first 5-point end the U.S. has had in these Olympics. They've had only one 4-point and five 3-point ends leading up to this game.

"On the morning of February 19, Matt's (Hamilton) birthday, the day we played Canada, I woke up and said 'I have a choice. I have a choice to rewrite my story, to write the story of this team,'" Shuster said.

Shuster was on the only other U.S. team to win an Olympic medal — he was the lead thrower on Pete Fenson's bronze-medal team at the 2006 Turin Games.

The Americans received a good luck call from Mr. T before the match. Diddy posted a pre-match good luck message online. And the King of Sweden was in attendance for their gold medal win.

Sweden takes home the silver medal for the second time since curling returned to the Olympics in 1998. Switzerland won the bronze by defeating Canada early Friday morning.

2. American Kyle Mack Takes Silver in Men’s Snowboard Big Air

Sebastien Toutant of Canada won gold in men's snowboard big air on Saturday at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Team USA's Kyle Mack took silver, while Billy Morgan of Great Britain took bronze.

The favorites were Canadian riders Max Parrot and Mark McMorris. Earlier in these Olympics, both athletes won slopestyle medals (Parrot earned silver, McMorris took bronze), but they are just as good — if not better — in big air.

3. Skaters From Japan, Korea Win Gold in First Olympic Mass Start Event

Japan’s Nana Takagi blasted past opposition in the final straightaway to win the first women’s mass start speedskating gold medal, ahead of Kim Bo-reum of South Korea. This is Takagi’s second gold medal of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Irene Schouten of the Netherlands was leading into the final straightaway but went too wide on the final corner and had to settle for bronze Saturday.

In the men’s event, top favorite Lee Seung-hoon skated a masterful race and unleashed a final sprint that no one could match to take gold for South Korea. He has now won 5 Olympic medals from 2010 through 2018.

Behind him, Belgian inline skater Bart Swings held on to take silver ahead of Koen Verweij of the Netherlands on Saturday.

In a tactical race, 5,000-meter champion Sven Kramer went for gold with four laps to go, but the Dutchman was caught just as he entered the final lap. From then on, it was a race among the trio, and Lee’s skills on the tight final corner paid off.

It was the first South Korean gold medal at the Gangneung Oval.

Joey Mantia was the final skater to advance out of the men’s semifinal 2 with three points. Mantia, the reigning world champion, finished ninth in the final.

Brian Hansen missed out on the final after finishing in tenth with just one sprint point.

Mia Manganello and Heather Bergsma both advanced to the women’s final. Manganello finished seventh in the semifinal with one sprint point, while Bergsma qualified with five points. In the final, Bergsma finished tenth and Manganello finished 15th.

The mass start event made its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang. Rather than racing in pairs around the oval, the mass start has up to 24 competitors racing simultaneously.

“Mass start’s amazing, because as soon as you cross the line, you know who first, second and third are,” Mantia said previously. Bergsma

had said she likes mass start "because you have to have a tactic with it."

Star U.S. skiers Mikaela Shiffrin, left, Ted Ligety, center, and Lindsey Vonn, right, will not join the alpine skiiing team event debuting at the 2018 Winter Games on Feb. 24.

4. Switzerland Wins Gold in 1st-Ever Olympic Alpine Team Event

It was a team effort.

Switzerland took down top-seed Austria on Saturday to win gold in the first-ever Olympic Alpine skiing team event.

The Swiss team was leading 2-1 and locked up the win when Austrian Marco Schwarz skied out along the side-by-side parallel slalom course. The team event victory marks the seventh gold in Pyeongchang for Switzerland’s ski team.

Norway edged France in the bronze medal match.

Some of the world’s top racers, including Americans Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin and Austrian Marcel Hirscher, skipped the event.

5. Ledecka Gets Second Olympic Gold, This Time in Snowboarding

Ester Ledecka won the second leg of an unheard-of Olympic double, taking the gold medal in snowboarding's parallel giant slalom Saturday to go with her surprise skiing victory in the Alpine super-G earlier in the Winter Games.

The Czech star, top-ranked on the snowboarding circuit but never a threat until now in skiing, is the first to win gold medals in both sports.

She outraced Selina Joerg of Germany to the line in the final and won by .46 seconds, a much more comfortable margin than the .01-second edge in the super-G race that left her staring at the clock in shock.

6. Nagasu Thought of Skate as 'Dancing With the Stars' Audition

After making Olympic history as the first U.S. woman to land a triple axel during the figure skating competition, Mirai Nagasu is looking forward to new opportunities, which might include "Dancing With the Stars."

The figure skater who helped win a bronze in the team event mentioned to reporters how she went into her free skate program thinking of it as an audition for "Dancing With the Stars," which has featured other American figure skaters, like Evan Lysacek.

"I thought of today as my 'Dancing with the Stars' audition, that's what [teammate] Adam [Rippon] told me to do," Nagasu said. "So I tried to smile as much as I could even though I popped the triple axel.

7. Jessie Diggins Named US Flag Bearer for Closing Ceremony

Jessie Diggins has one more big Olympic moment awaiting her. 

Diggins — who thrust herself across the finish line to give the Americans a dazzling gold medal in the cross-country team sprint — has been selected as the U.S. flagbearer for Sunday night's closing ceremony at the Pyeongchang Games. She's the first cross-country skier to carry the U.S. flag into an Olympic ceremony since Bill Koch did the honors at Albertville's opening in 1992.

Watch her interview on Today here.

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