Blue-and-white athletes all done at Winter Olympics

The blue-and-white finished in eighth place out of 10 teams at the Gangneung Ice Arena.

February 23, 2018 06:31
2 minute read.
Blue-and-white athletes all done at Winter Olympics

Israeli skier Itamar Biran, 19, had a disappointing ending to his Olympics experience in South Korea, missing a gate and thus not completing his run in the Slalom event yesterday. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Israeli delegation’s participation at the Pyeongchang Olympics came to an end on Thursday when skier Itamar Biran failed to complete his first run in the men’s Slalom.

Biran, who also took part in the Giant Slalom, finishing in 49th place, saw his Games come to an end after missing a gate between Intermediate 1 and 2.

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Israel sent a record 10 athletes to the 2018 Games, double its largest delegation in six previous appearances at the Winter Olympics.

Seven of those athletes took part in the figure skating competitions, with Israel qualifying for a team event at the Winter Games for the first time.

The blue-and-white finished in eighth place out of 10 teams at the Gangneung Ice Arena, thanks in large to Alexei Bychenko, who registered the second highest score among the men in the short program.

Bychenko also recorded Israel’s best result in the Games, finishing the men’s figure skating competition in 11th place overall to improve on Michael Shmerkin’s 16th-place finish 24 years ago.

Shmerkin was the first Israeli to compete at the Winter Olympics in 1994 and his achievement in the men’s event remained unmatched until last weekend, when both Bychenko and Daniel Samohin finished in an impressive 11th and 13th positions.

The 30-year-old Bychenko, who was competing in his second straight Games, improved significantly on his 21st-place finish from Sochi in 2014. Bychenko recorded the best-ever result for an Israeli man at the figure skating world championships in Helsinki last year, ending the event in 10th place to earn Israel a second berth in the men’s competition at the Olympics.

The 19-year-old Samohin, the gold medal winner at the 2016 world junior figure skating championships, made the most of the opportunity with a convincing performance in Pyeongchang.

Israel’s other figure skaters didn’t fare as well, with Evgeni Krasnopolski and Paige Conners ending the pair competition in 19th place out of 22 teams, Adel Tankova and Ronald Zilberberg finishing 24th and last in the ice dance event and Aimee Buchanan coming 10th and last in the women’s short program as part of the team competition despite setting a new personal best.

The blue-and-white also had little to celebrate away from the Gangneung Ice Arena. Israel’s short-track speedskater Vladislav Bykanov experienced a frustrating Olympics, failing to make it past the heats in the 500-meters, 1,000m and 1,500m. Bykanov also came up short in the heats of all three events in Sochi four years ago.

A.J. Edelman became the first Israeli to compete in the skeleton at the Olympics, but finished 28th out of 30 competitors.

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