PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) – The Latest from the Pyeongchang Olympics (all times local):
American figure skater Adam Rippon says he doesn’t want his team to be distracted by his animosity toward Mike Pence over the U.S. vice president’s conservative stance on gay rights.
The openly gay Rippon criticized the White House last month for choosing Pence to lead the official U.S. delegation for Friday’s opening ceremony. Pence has been considered an opponent of the LGBT community after signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as governor of Indiana.
Critics say the legislation encourages discrimination against gay people.
Rippon said after practice Thursday that he would be open to speaking with Pence after the games.
The figure skating program begins Friday with the men’s and pairs short programs in the team competition. Rippon is due on the ice Monday, when he tackles the men’s free skate for Team USA.
A lawyer for 45 Russian athletes and two coaches says hearings have concluded in their last-ditch attempt to compete at the Pyeongchang Olympics, but there is no ruling yet.
Philippe Baertsch, representing the 47 Russians, says the Court of Arbitration for Sport panel will issue a decision within the next 24 hours.
He adds “we are hopeful that the panel will follow our argumentation and respect the rights of the athletes.”
Elena Nikitina, a skeleton bronze medalist who attended the hearing, says “everyone was pleasant and we were listened to.”
The head coach of the hastily assembled joint North and South Korean women’s Olympic hockey team says it’s important for members to march together in the opening ceremony to show they are unified.
Asked if marching together is a political statement, coach Sarah Murray says putting the team together was a political statement, but now it’s just one team.
Murray, who is Canadian, says her worst-case scenario was that the players wouldn’t talk to each other, but she says they eat together, have meetings together, and mix and talk in the locker room.
The team has played together just once before, but she says the chemistry is better than she could have imagined. Their first game is Saturday against Sweden.
Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Canada has found the fastest line in the first Olympic downhill training session despite a balky back and two creaking knees.
Osborne-Paradis finished in 1 minute, 40.45 seconds Thursday on a demanding but not overly tricky course. Kjetil Jansrud of Norway was second, 0.31 seconds behind Osborne-Paradis. Mauro Caviezel of Switzerland wound up third.
The downhill race is set for Sunday.
Over the years, Osborne-Paradis has dealt with a herniated disk and soreness in a surgically repaired left knee. Now, he has what he calls a “grumpy” right knee. Still, he found speed on a track that requires a racer’s full attention. Explained Jansrud: “You can’t afford putting out a hand and go a kilometer slower, because it’s going to cost you a medal.”
Shaun White says he is working on the tricks that Japan’s Ayumu Hirano used to win the halfpipe at the Winter X Games last month.
Hirano became the first snowboarder to string together back-to-back 1440-degree jumps in what was widely regarded as the best show ever seen in a halfpipe.
White says “he’s really pushing it, and he did an amazing combination that I’m working on myself. I don’t think we’ve seen my best run.”
White’s best run, at least this season, came at Snowmass in an Olympic qualifier in January. White used one 1440, along with his patented Double McTwist 1260, to win the contest with a maximum score of 100 – one of the rare times that mark has ever been handed out.
It established him as the man to beat at the Olympics. But a short two weeks later came the X Games, where Hirano strung together his back-to-back 1440s – the first time that had ever been done in a competition – and Scotty James finished a close second on a run that included three 1260s, including one in which he rides and spins backward into the wall to execute the double cork.
Reigning men’s gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan will not participate in the team event that opens the figure skating program Friday as he continues to recover from an ankle injury he sustained in November.
Japan will go with Shoma Uno and Keiji Tanaka in the men’s short program and free skate.
Hanyu sustained ligament damage in his right ankle while practicing for the NHK Trophy in November, and his recovery has been slower than expected. He only began training on ice last month, though his Canadian coach Brian Orser said this week that Hanyu will be “100 percent” for the men’s competition beginning Feb. 16.
Hanyu is trying to become the first skater to defend his Olympic title since Dick Button in 1952.
The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency is blaming underfunding for sports seeming to be losing ground to doping and cheating.
Craig Reedie says “we are 50 percent underfunded in terms of what everyone wants us to do.”
Reedie says WADA’s annual budget is about $30 million. Half comes from national governments, which is matched equally by the International Olympic Committee. Speaking at the Pyeongchang Olympics, Reedie says he hopes to see a 50 percent increase in the next several years, pushing governments for more.
The IOC – which relies on WADA to give its events credibility – has the resources to pay more.
The IOC’s revenue for the last complete four-year Olympic cycle – 2013 through 2016 – was $5.7 billion. That means the IOC’s contribution to WADA and the fight on doping is miniscule.
Says WADA’s Director General Olivier Niggli: “We think that currently the fight against doping is under-funded, worldwide.”
North Korea says it is not interested in meeting U.S. Vice President Mike Pence while he is in South Korea for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Pyongyang is sending a senior delegation – including Kim Jong Un’s younger sister – and rumors had circulated such a meeting could be in the works. A top Foreign Ministry official seemed to rule that out in comments carried by North Korea’s state-run media Thursday.
“We have no intention to meet with the U.S. side during the stay in South Korea,” the official was quoted as saying. “We are not going to use such sports festival as the Winter Olympics as a political lever. There is no need to do so.”
Pence is scheduled to arrive in South Korea from Japan on Thursday.
The most prized Olympic titles in Alpine skiing will be won this month on downhill courses raced only once before, and lined with trees that are sacred as symbols of fertility.
Only after the South Korean region was picked as host in 2011 were the wide speed tracks in Jeongseon cut through the forest. The mountain is now a pure competition venue for the Pyeongchang Games rather than a hub for ski tourism.
The best downhillers have each had only one World Cup race to fully test the jumps and terrain in cold air sweeping down from Siberia.
Lindsey Vonn, the 2010 Olympic champion, says it’s a very unique course. The men’s downhill race is Sunday and the women race on Feb. 21.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport says six more Russian athletes have filed appeals seeking to compete at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The six include two world champion speedskaters, Denis Yuskov and Pavel Kulizhnikov, plus athletes from biathlon and ski jumping.
All six were originally refused invitations to compete by the International Olympic Committee. All have previously served bans of various lengths for failed drug tests. The IOC had said it wouldn’t invite athletes previously banned for doping.
Seven Russian support personnel have filed appeals in another case.
The court says the new cases will be heard separately from ongoing hearings for 45 Russian athletes and two coaches. The opening ceremonies are Friday.
South Korea says the number of people treated and quarantined for norovirus following an outbreak in Olympic areas has increased to 86 as authorities struggle to track the spread of the disease.
Hong Jeong-ik from South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday the number of cases is likely to continue to rise because authorities are screening more areas for the disease.
Officials had initially confirmed 32 cases among security personnel and sequestered about 1,200. Because the sick workers handled security, 900 military personnel have been brought in to work at 20 venues.
The Olympic organizing committee said 63 of those sickened, mostly security staff, were staying at a youth training center in Pyeongchang. The committee did not say where the other 23 were staying but did say 12 are police officers, seven are committee staff and four are press support staff.
Hong says officials suspect the outbreak was caused by contaminated water but that an ongoing epidemiological survey has yet to confirm that.
Norovirus is a common, infectious bug that causes unpleasant symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting but doesn’t require medical treatment.
Some of the Russian athletes seeking last-ditch admission to the Pyeongchang Olympics have arrived for their appeal hearings.
Forty-five Russian athletes and two coaches are seeking to overturn the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to invite them to the games. If they win, it would force the IOC to accept athletes it considers to be linked to doping offenses.
In attendance for Thursday’s hearing at a luxury resort near the Olympic facilities are Elena Nikitina, the 2014 bronze medalist in women’s skeleton, and luger Tatiana Ivanova, who won silver in the team event in 2014.
Nikitina says she is optimistic about winning the case.
Other athletes whose cases will be heard include Viktor Ahn, a six-time Olympic gold medalist in short-track speedskating, and cross-country ski gold medalist Alexander Legkov.
A few of the Russians have said that even if they win, they won’t take up their invitations because they haven’t been training.
Erin Hamlin will carry the U.S. flag into Friday’s opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The four-time Olympic luger was chosen by fellow Team USA Olympians for the honor. Hamlin is retiring at the end of the Olympics, after nearly two decades of racing competitively.
Hamlin says “it is definitely a privilege and honor to be the one to lead the team.”
The native of Remsen, New York, won a bronze medal at the 2014 Sochi Games and is a two-time world champion. She’s also the fourth luge athlete to carry the U.S. flag into an Olympics.
The Pyeongchang Olympics have begun with a curling competition featuring a pair of U.S. siblings in a showdown against a Russian husband-and-wife team competing in neutral uniforms with no national insignia.
The opening ceremony is still a day away, but the games are already underway. Among the athletes are 168 Russians who are being forced to compete under the neutral banner of “Olympic Athletes from Russia” as punishment for doping in Sochi in 2014. Others who were barred altogether have filed appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and are still hoping to be allowed to participate.
The first event is mixed doubles curling, which is making its Olympic debut. The more familiar single-gender version of curling will begin later in the games.
There were four games played simultaneously Thursday morning.
More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org/