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Figure skating team, Kingsbury claim Canada's first gold medals of Games


A veteran group of decorated figure skaters and moguls star Mikael Kingsbury earned Canada its first gold medals of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., clinched Canada top spot in the team figure skating competition Monday after finishing third in the women's free skate, before teammates Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice dance segment of the event.

"I didn't want to let my team down. I just skated with all my heart and just was in the moment completely," said Daleman. "I have such an incredible, strong team. Not only are we strong as individuals and as a team, but also as a country, and I really am glad with what we've done, and we stepped up and made Canada proud this week."

Daleman's 137.14-point performance added eight points to Canada's cumulative score, bringing it up to 63. Olympic Athletes from Russia were second at 58 and the United States was third with 53. Daleman's performance clinched gold because neither Russia or the U.S. could catch the Canadians once Virtue and Moir stepped on the ice.

Although the Canadian ice dancers could've taken it easy with gold a sure thing, Virtue and Moir put in a beautiful performance, taking the top spot in the free dance with 118.10 points. That brought the Canadians final score up to 73, well ahead of the competition.

Later, Kingsbury, 25, of Deux-Montagnes, Que., captured his first Olympic title, winning the men's moguls with a dominant score of 86.63 in the third and final run. Australia's Matt Graham took silver with 82.57 while Daichi Hara captured bronze with 82.19.

Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebonne, Que., finished fourth with 77.02.

Kingsbury, the World Cup leader and Sochi Games silver medallist, was the top qualifier after scoring 86.07 points Friday. He's won six straight World Cup season titles and is on track for a seventh.

That boosts Canada's medal count to seven (two gold, four silver, one bronze) — one behind Norway.

Canada's figure skating gold medal was set up by three-time world champion Patrick Chan earlier in the day. He placed first with a score of 179.75 in the men's free program, keeping the veteran Canadian team in first place and setting the stage for Daleman.

Chan, Virtue, Moir and pairs skaters Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel are all competing in what will likely be their final Olympics and had targeted gold in the team event, knowing they could give each other a golden send off.

Within an hour of the figure skating gold, Canadian snowboarder Laurie Blouin earned silver in the women's slopestyle.

Sporting a black eye after a nasty crash in training a few days ago, Blouin overcame high winds to nail a clean second run for 76.33 points. The reigning world champion from Stoneham, Que., Blouin was second behind American Jamie Anderson, who scored 83.00 on her first run. Enni Rukajarvi of Finland took bronze with a score of 73.91.

"Now I'm here in second place, I just don't believe it," said Blouin. "It's a dream come true."

Brooke Voigt of Fort McMurray, Alta., finished 21st and Spencer O'Brien of Courtenay, B.C., was 22nd.

The start of the competition was delayed for about 75 minutes due to the conditions at windswept Phoenix Park.

In mixed doubles curling, Canada moved within a victory of gold and assured itself of at least a silver with an 8-4 win over Norway in the semifinal.

Ottawa's John Morris and Winnipeg's Kaitlyn Lawes downed Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten for their seventh win in eight outings.

But it was a nail-biting affair with the Canadians leaving early points on the ice. After four ends, Canada led 3-2 but Lawes was curling at 41 per cent. Morris was at 81 per cent.

"I was obviously a little bit frustrated with not being able to finish it off with my last rock," said Lawes. "I tried not to get too frustrated and let it bug me. And John was a huge support. He just kept saying 'Be patient. Let's figure it out. We've got eight ends. We can use all eight, so let's just take our time here.'"

Lawes rallied to finish the game curling at 74 per cent. Morris finished at 82 per cent. 

Up 5-4, Lawes delivered with her last rock in the seventh with a hard-sweeping hit-and-stick for three — and some much-needed breathing room.

Canada will face Switzerland for the gold medal Tuesday while Norway takes on a Russian team for bronze.

The Canadian Press

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