The Latest: US’ Biney makes it to short-track quarterfinals

Canada's Patrick Chan falls in the men's single short program team event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

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

8:30 p.m.

American teenager Maame Biney is safely through to the quarterfinals of the 500 meters in her short-track Olympic debut.

The 18-year-old speedskater finished second in her heat behind China’s Fan Kexin on Saturday night. Biney was born in Ghana and moved to the U.S. as a 5-year-old.

The other American, Lana Gehring, was eliminated after finishing third in her heat. Only the top two skaters in each heat advance.

Among the big names moving on to Tuesday’s quarterfinals are Canadian teammates Kim Boutin and Marianne St-Gelais, Italy’s Arianna Fontana, Britain’s Elise Christie and South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong.

Shim Suk-hee of South Korea was a three-time medalist at the Sochi Games but was eliminated Saturday after finishing third in her heat.

8:10 p.m.

Korean fans are very, very excited about making history with their combined women’s hockey team at the Pyeongchang Games.

Hundreds of fans waved flags with many featuring the Korean Peninsula, and they chanted while waiting outside in gusting winds for officials to open the doors at the Kwandong Hockey Center 90 minutes before Korea plays Switzerland.

A capacity crowd of 6,000 is expected for the game, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s 90-year-old nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, among them.

The men boarded a train for Gangneung after lunch in Seoul with Kim Yo Jong, sister of Kim Jong Un.

It’s unclear if she will be joining the leaders to watch a roster featuring 12 North Koreans.

7:55 p.m.

The first night of short-track speedskating is underway at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

All three Americans have advanced to the semifinals of the men’s 1,500 meters. Three-time Olympian J.R. Celski and John-Henry Krueger nearly fell in their heats, while a crash involving two skaters allowed Aaron Tran to move on in the 13 +-lap race.

South Korea’s three skaters – Hwang Dae-heon, Lim Hyo-jun and Seo Yira – also qualified for the semis to the delight of the home crowd, which roared any time one of their skaters was in the lead. Short track is hugely popular in the host country.

World record holder Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands safely moved on, as did defending Olympic champion Charles Hamelin of Canada.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen are in the crowd.

7:35 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is cheering on U.S. speedskaters at the Winter Olympics before departing South Korea for Washington.

Pence and his wife are viewing the short-track competition Saturday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife. Eight Americans are participating in the event.

It’s the final stop on a six-day trip that Pence hoped would increase pressure on North Korea as it seeks to use the games to pursue an opening with the South.

Pence’s efforts to keep the spotlight on North Korea’s nuclear program and human rights abuses have taken a back seat to the widely viewed images of the two Koreas marching under one flag during Friday night’s opening ceremony – and to the invitation by dictator Kim Jong Un for South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit the North.

7:25 p.m.

Norwegian cross-country skiing star Marit Bjoergen says this will be her final Olympics.

Bjoergen has won her 11th Olympic medal, taking silver in the 15-kilometer skiathlon, making her the most decorated female Winter Olympian ever.

The 37-year-old is still hoping to pass biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who has 13 podium finishes, before the end of these Olympic Games. She won’t say how many races she plans to participate in in Pyeongchang, only that she will participate in the women’s sprint on Tuesday.

”I haven’t thought about that. For sure it’s my last Olympics, but for me, I have to focus on doing good races,” Bjoergen said. ”I think when I’m finished with the Olympics I can look behind me and see how many medals I have. For me it’s important to do the race and have the focus there.”

7:10 p.m.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven is hailing Charlotte Kalla, who won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Lofven wrote on Instagram ”Sweden’s first gold hero at the Olympic Games! Congratulations Kalla.”

Kalla won gold ahead of Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen in the women’s 15-kilometer skiathlon.

7:05 p.m.

Sara Hjalmarsson scored 1:53 into the third period and Sweden held off Japan 2-1 in a thrilling game to open the preliminary round for women’s ice hockey at the Pyeongchang Games.

This was only Japan’s third appearance in the Olympics for women’s ice hockey, and they had to start off pool play against a country that took home silver in 2006 and bronze in 2002.

Sweden took a 1-0 lead 2:21 into the game when Fanny Rask scored from a tough angle, squeezing the puck between Nana Fujimoto’s head and the post.

The Japanese tied it up with 3:08 left in the second period.

The Swedes took the lead back thanks to a great takeaway by Erika Grahm who then passed the puck backward to Hjalmarsson in the slot for the go-ahead goal.

6:55 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is not directly addressing news that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a visit, as the two Koreas use the Olympics as an opportunity for renewing ties amid concerns over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah says, ”The vice president is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions.”

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, delivered the invitation to Moon on Saturday.

Pence has meant to use his trip to the Olympics to caution the South against ”falling for” the North’s overtures, which in the past have been used as stall tactics to allow for continued development of its nuclear program.

6:45 p.m.

An army of high-flying drones expected to light up the sky at the opening ceremony of the Olympics was grounded.

Viewers of NBC’s tape-delayed broadcast in the United States still saw it, but it was a pre-recorded version from a rehearsal.

Intel Corp. was expected to launch 300 drones as part of an extravagant light show, but those plans were scrapped. International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams says the drones weren’t deployed because of an ”impromptu logistical change.”

NBC aired a light show, but it was from Intel’s launching of 1,280 drones in December in Pyeongchang.

The incident was reminiscent of the Sochi Games in 2014, when one of the five Olympic rings failed to light – but Russian state television aired rehearsal footage of it happening.

6:15 p.m.

Speedskater Shani Davis has declined to talk to reporters for a second day in a row about the controversy over how the U.S. Olympic Team chose its flag-bearer for the opening ceremony.

Davis, who skipped the ceremony, trained Saturday but walked by journalists afterward without stopping to answer questions.

After luger Erin Hamlin was picked to carry the flag, a tweet from Davis’s account said Team USA ”dishonorably” used a coin toss to make the decision and added the (hash)BlackHistoryMonth2018 hashtag. Davis is black and Hamlin is white. The coin toss happened after they tied 4-4 in a vote by fellow athletes.

Team spokesman Matt Whewell says Davis is intent on staying focused on his Olympic races for now. His first race is Tuesday’s 1,500 meters.

A tweet from his account a few hours after the opening ceremony read, ”It has been such an honor to have represented the greatest, most diverse country in the world at the last five Winter Games during the same month as (hash)blackhistorymonth (hash)goTeamUSA Watch `Origins of Black History Month.”’

6 p.m.

American cross-country skier Jessie Diggins says nerves may have gotten the best of her before the women’s 15-kilometer (9.3-mile) skiathlon, causing her to throw up shortly before the race.

Diggins was third in the World Cup rankings coming in but finished fifth on Saturday at the Pyeongchang Games.

The 26-year-old says, ”I need to work on a few things to manage stress.”

She says she also struggled with cramping in her triceps during the race and will reconsider her hydration plan moving forward. Overall, though, she says she did the best she could and got the most out of her body.

Diggins says it wasn’t her best race, but she still feels like she’s in a ”good place” to become the first American cross-country skier to win a medal since Bill Koch in 1976.

5:05 p.m.

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Games and Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen took silver in the women’s 15-kilometer skiathlon to become the most decorated female Winter Olympian ever.

Bjoergen captured her 11th career medal Saturday, breaking a three-way tie with Russian Raisa Smetanina and Italian Stefania Belmondo.

Kalla won the race by more than seven seconds, breaking away from the pack in the final 2 kilometers to avenge her loss to Bjoergen in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Jessica Diggins finished fifth, failing to become the first American woman to earn a medal in cross-country skiing.

Krista Parmakoski of Finland finished third.

4:30 p.m.

Race organizers say they expect ”challenging” conditions to stage the Olympic men’s downhill on Sunday.

Team leaders have been told the weather forecast is ”partly cloudy but the wind will be strong.” Race-time temperatures will be below freezing on the Jeongseon hill.

Gusts and tailwinds affected a shortened practice run on Friday but eased for the final training session Saturday.

Race director says Markus Waldner ”it was good enough to have a race today. Tomorrow we will see.”

Waldner says a decision whether to delay the 11 a.m. start, or postpone the race, is expected at 10 a.m.

4:20 p.m.

Russian International Olympic Committee member Yelena Isinbayeva says Russian athletes at the Pyeongchang Games will be more successful because of anger that others were excluded.

Isinbayeva, the pole vault world record holder, says on Instagram that ”everything will definitely work out for us.”

She says, ”After all, when they’re angry and enraged, Russians are unbeatable.”

Isinbayeva adds she finds it ”terrible” that many Russian athletes failed to pass an IOC vetting process examining whether they were linked to doping schemes.

She says she is ”very disappointed for all the clean athletes who weren’t let in, who didn’t even get an explanation of why they were excluded.”

Isinbayeva didn’t attend this week’s IOC session in Pyeongchang because she is heavily pregnant.

3:35 p.m.

U.S. hockey coach Robb Stauber knows whom he plans to start in net when the American women kick off their quest for Olympic gold, but he just hasn’t told his trio of goaltenders yet.

Not that waiting to hear who gets the honor of playing Sunday against Finland is bothering Maddie Rooney, Alex Rigsby or Nicole Hensley. They’re all preparing as if Stauber will be tapping them first as the Americans start their quest to end the country’s 20-year drought without Olympic gold.

The Pyeongchang Games are the first Olympics for all three goalies, so prior experience at the world’s biggest tournament for women’s hockey won’t be a deciding factor.

Stauber says he’s also leaving himself some room to change his mind as well in a short tournament.

2:55 p.m.

Yuna Kim’s an Olympic gold medalist and a two-time world champion figure skater, but she still gets nervous, including at Friday’s opening ceremony.

The South Korean performed on a tiny ice rink propped high in the air with 35,000 fans looking on at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Kim skated for about 30 seconds and then took the torch from two North and South Korean ice hockey players who climbed 120 steps to deliver it.

Kim says, ”When I was on the ice rink, I couldn’t really see the spectators in the stadium. I was only thinking I could fall, so I shouldn’t make any mistakes.”

She didn’t.

The two hockey players had no chance to practice. She was concerned, but it went according to script, with Kim delivering the flame to the cauldron.

2:15 p.m.

Early start times for figure skating at the Pyeongchang Olympics are good for U.S. audiences who get to watch in primetime, but not always so great for the athletes.

Competition begins at 10 a.m. each day, and that means 5 a.m. wake-up calls. That’s because of the 14-hour time difference with the U.S. East Coast.

The early starts may have contributed to some tumbles by big names in the opening day of the team competition. Patrick Chan of Canada and Nathan Chen of the U.S. both fell during their short programs. Russian skater Mikhail Kolyada was next, falling twice during his short program as part of the team competition.

Waking up at 5 gives the skaters just an hour to get dressed and board the bus to the arena for 7 a.m. practice.

Then, they have to sit around a couple of hours until their moment in the spotlight. There isn’t enough time to head back to their rooms, so most pass the time trying to rest and relax, often listening to music and going through their programs in their minds.

1:10 p.m.

Pyeongchang Olympic organizers are investigating a possible attack on their internet and Wi-Fi systems about 45 minutes before the opening ceremony.

Organizing committee spokeswoman Nancy Park says the defense ministry and a cybersecurity team are investigating the outage. She says the outage didn’t affect Friday’s opening ceremony or any competitions.

She says systems were almost back to normal about 15 hours after the problems were discovered.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports servers were shut down to prevent damage to technical systems, causing problems with the Pyeongchang Olympic website.

Park declined to call it a cyberattack and says they don’t want to speculate since they’re still trying to identify where it came from.

11:55 a.m.

Mikaela Shiffrin can’t help but laugh when a reporter asks what her reaction is to being compared to Michael Phelps, the U.S. swimmer who is the most decorated Olympian in history.

”You’re crazy,” the American ski racer replied. ”OK, he has, what, 23 medals?”

Actually, Phelps’ haul is 23 golds – and 28 medals in all.

Shiffrin’s only medal so far is a gold in slalom at age 18 in 2014 at Sochi. She comes to the Pyeongchang Games with a chance to become the first skier to win that race twice in a row at the Olympics.

She will also be among the favorites in Monday’s giant slalom, could contend for a medal in the combined on Feb. 23, and might also enter the downhill and super-G.

For now, though, she’ll only commit to entering the slalom and giant slalom.

”I would like to compete in everything,” she said. ”I’m not sure if I’m actually going to have the energy to do that.”

More AP Olympic coverage:

Comments are closed.