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US 'Rejects' shock Sweden to win men's curling gold

The US men's curling team, once known as "The Rejects," pulled off one the great upsets of the PyeongChang Olympics by beating favorites Sweden 10-7 to clinch an historic gold medal.

24th, February 2018, 07:25pm

Russian ceremony hopes hit by second ban

A second Russian athlete competing at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang is punished after testing positive for a banned substance.

24th, February 2018, 06:28pm

Soldiers killed in Taliban raid on military base

Taliban militants killed 18 soldiers in a pre-dawn assault on a military base in Afghanistan's western Farah province, the Ministry of Defense said, in the deadliest of a string of attacks that shook Afghanistan on Saturday.

24th, February 2018, 04:32pm

Czech Ledecka wins historic second gold

Ester Ledecka becomes the fifth athlete to claim gold in two sports at a Winter Games with a win in the women's snowboarding parallel giant slalom.

24th, February 2018, 04:08pm

Rosie DiManno: Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, the faces of the Pyeongchang Games

PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA—The Face of The Games.The athlete—or athletes — who will be forever remembered by and emblematic of Pyeongchang XXIII.Superstars who glittered in the Olympic firmament, transcending sports as world celebrities.As Usain Bolt was the illustrious Sultan of Sprint in Rio.As Michael Phelps, Aquaman, glorified with seven gold medals in the Beijing pool.As Alberto Tomba skied to marquee fame in Albertville, not just by the grace of gold-silver in giant slalom and slalom but because of his bigger-than-life personality and Casanova rogue-ishness.The luminous Katarina Witt in Sarajevo. The unsmiling wraith Nadia Comaneci in Montreal. Inspirational Cathy Freeman, first Aboriginal champion in Sydney. Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in Salt Lake City and just about every glossy magazine cover for a belated co-gold in pairs figure skating.Who will it be here? Who will own Pyeongchang?Not who should, necessarily, by virtue of achievement and multiple podiums. That doesn’t always translate into razzle-dazzle of global scope.When Norway came panting across the finish line with bronze in women’s cross-country team sprint on Day 12 of the Olympics, the peerless Marit Bjorgen collected her fourth medal of these Games and her 14th career, making her the most decorated Winter Olympian ever, surpassing compatriot Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. Bjorgen — the “Iron Lady’’ — secured a medal in every event she contested up at the Alpensia venue and could collect more hardware in Sunday’s 30km mass start classic. But outside Norway and some of the other nations where cross-country skiing is a passion, you’d have trouble picking Bjorgen out of a lineup.The host country found its heroine in short-track pistol Choi Minjeong, triumphant in 1,500-metre and the 3,000-metre relay but she doesn’t exactly radiate with the grandeur of legendary figure skater Yuna Kim. Maybe the sport is too niche crazy.The Dutch, sheesh, the Dutch. Long-track speedskating supremacists. World champion Kjeld Nuis made it a septet of gold in the Oval on Friday, winning the 1,500 metres. In total, the Netherlands racked up 14 medals on their swooshing epee blades. But, with apologies, they’re almost interchangeable to a non-Hollander.Martin Fourcade became France’s most successful Winter Olympian of all time with a desperate last-stride lunge in the photo-finish 15km mass start biathlon race, a second gold after his earlier victory in the 12.5km pursuit and fourth career top-podium at the Games. But it’s biathlon and, while a brilliant shooter Fourcade may be, the sport doesn’t exactly wow among the non-cognoscenti. (Except, of course, or at least in Canada, when it’s Myriam Bedard doing the shooting and skiing, double-gold in Lillehammer.)Well, that’s the thing. There’s usually a patriotic skew to magnificence, how we judge Olympic showtime pre-eminence. So, for an athlete to seize Pyeongchang by the throat, and the billions watching on TV, they have to command these Games without favour of nationalism. They must appeal from Jamaica to Iceland.Ta-da: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.It’s not Canadian chauvinism which lays the laurels on the ice-dance champions, their second triumph after Vancouver and silver in Sochi.They simply emerged as the most beloved, awesome, popular, photogenic and intriguing athletes of these Games, top-of-the-charts story ’round the planet after their spirited, sensual free dance “Moulin Rouge” routine lifted them to glory over rival training mates Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France.Social media went bonkers, not just over the couple’s splendid performance — a new world record in the short dance — but with endless speculation about the true nature of their relationship. Are they lovers or are they not? Suddenly that was everybody’s business. Inquiring minds demanded to know.And this was the extra dimension which culled the Canadians from the A-list celebrity field.Moir didn’t help matters when, in the post-competition press conference. “We’re the type of athletes that dive head-first into the whole process and I just honestly don’t know where you would find time for that,” he said, in response to a blunt question about their relationship. “Part of the reason maybe why we wouldn’t continue was to open up that side of our life maybe and see where that goes. And that’s as personal as I’ll get, but let’s see what happens.”Legions took that to mean there might be a romantic ever-after now that they’re competitive career has come to an end.Stunning how uplifting that germ of a possibility was on Twitter.Virtue was so taken aback by Moir’s remarks that she almost interrupted to clarify for reporters. Because she knew what he meant. And Moir decided to stop before he rambled straight into the gossip columns.“I was talking about our skating,” a hoarse Moir told the Star, a tad shamefacedly. “But I decided to let him (the reporter) have that one.“I mean, could you imagine? I wish I was that smooth.”When I caught up with the small-c couple on the weekend, they were spinning between media engagements and watching fellow Canadians compete. Moir had almost lost his voice after a day of full-throated cheering at the Canada-U.S. women’s hockey final and the Canadian quarter-final curling match.GIFs of Moir, with toque on his head, a pint of beer in his hand, yelling at the hockey referees had gone viral.“Everyone thought I was hammered,” laughed Moir. “This is just what I look like with a toque on.”Virtue, sighing: “The power of social media. It’s a different Games because of that. The last two Olympics, we didn’t have social media like this. It’s a whole new world for us.”The Star had come seeking an engagement-announcement exclusive. Both rolled their eyes.It’s not such a fantasizing stretch. They certainly do invite the wondering with all their suggestive touching and their smouldering programs, hands on each other on and off the ice.“It’s funny, after 20 years that this is the story,” said Virtue. “Part of me thinks it’s the best compliment because it means we’re doing our job on the ice. And part of me wishes there was a better way to explain our partnership because it’s even better than that. It’s more special to us and so unique. I wish there were better words to describe our friendship, to do it justice.”Moir: “You’d think, after 20 years, we would understand how to explain it better. When you tell the stories that we have tried to, on the ice, we’ve always tapped into that. We talk about how much we love skating together. Part of that’s real. It’s always been so easy for us to have that connection because there is that genuine love you build in 20 years.“I guess it’s human nature to wonder if we’re a couple or not.”They’re not.I think.But they are the darlings of Pyeongchang, the billboard faces of these Games.

24th, February 2018, 04:00pm
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