White makes medal round

<p>Associated Press</p> <p>United States' Shaun White competes during the men's halfpipe qualification round Wednesday in Zhangjiakou, China.</p>

ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Shaun White let up just the tiniest bit as he jerked his body around for a trick – his signature trick, and a trick he's landed without a hitch hundreds of times before.

The next thing he knew, he said, “I'm thinking, 'Wow, I only have one more chance to get this done.'”

After an untimely fall in the first round of qualifying, the most-successful halfpipe rider in history turned the drama up to “11” on Wednesday, coming through huge in a land-or-go-home run that put him into the medal round at his fifth and final Olympics.

“It was not,” White said, “a position I like to be in a lot.”

White found himself there when he eased up ever so slightly and wound up off-balance for the landing of “The Tomahawk” – a trick he invented more than a decade ago that involves a front-side takeoff and then 1260 degrees of spin at a diagonal, off-axis angle.

He most famously stuck that trick to cap off the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, in a “victory run” after his gold medal had already been sealed.

At 35 and with one more contest left in his storied career, White doesn't have that luxury anymore. Still, he wasn't alone in assuming he'd be in a fight to the finish come Friday, where two-time silver medalist Ayumu Hirano and 2018 bronze medalist Scotty James are among those who will be waiting to take his title.

But after the fall in the first of two qualifying rounds, nothing felt certain. In the preliminaries, riders get two chances and their best score counts. The top 12 riders advance. After Round 1, White was in 19th place.

US beats Russians in curling opener

John Shuster delivered a routine draw with the final rock in the extra end, and the United States opened their title defense with a 6-5 victory over the Russian Olympic Committee team on Wednesday night at the Ice Cube curling venue.

The Americans would have won it in regulation except for a Russian rock that was just millimeters closer to the center of the scoring target. And the Russians had a chance in the 10th for the two points that would have delivered a regulation victory, but skip Sergei Glukhov's final shot nicked a guard and slid helplessly to a stop out of the scoring area.

“We got a little fortunate to get have him not make that,” Shuster said. “And then we played a pretty good extra.”

Report: Russian star tests positive

A Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian superstar who was expected to deliver her nation its third straight Olympic gold medal in women's figure skating, tested positive for a banned heart medication before the Beijing Games, the Russian newspaper RBC reported.

The sample was reportedly obtained before Valieva won the European championship last month in Estonia, a performance that solidified her status as the leader of Russia's “quad squad” of elite women's figure skaters headed to Beijing.

The positive test could cost Russia the gold medal from the team competition and threaten Valieva's chance to win the individual competition that starts Tuesday. She is the heavy favorite.