Norway might have won the most medals of any country ever at a Winter Olympics but it has come at a cost – they have run out of commemorative, gold-coloured shoes.
The Scandinavians were sitting pretty at the top of the medals table on Saturday, the penultimate day of the Pyeongchang Games, with a record 38 medals, 13 of them gold.
That is more than the previous record of 37 won by the USA at Vancouver 2010.
But their gold rush has created a problem – albeit a nice one. Norway ran out of the eye-catching gold-coloured shoes that its triumphant athletes wear at medal ceremonies.
“After the men’s team event in ski jumping we ran out of stock,” said Nils Roine, chief communications officer of the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
“There alone another four pairs were handed out and with gold medals in both the men’s and the ladies’ cross-country relays, the shoes were ripped away.”
Roine said the Norwegian team in South Korea had surpassed all expectations.
“Our ambition was 30 medals in total, but no number was set for gold medals. We will anyhow do our best to provide our athletes with shoes if they win more,” Roine said.
Ester Ledecka sealed the first snowboard and skiing double victory in Olympic history on Saturday as she pulled off a stunning win in the women’s snowboard parallel giant slalom.
Ledecka, 22, beat Germany’s Selina Joerg in a tense snowboard final. Germany’s Ramona Hofmeister took bronze.
The Czech world champion and hot favourite had earlier shocked the world of alpine skiing by capturing gold in last week’s super-G skiing.
The men’s gold medal went to Nevin Galmarini of Switzerland, who beat South Korea’s surprise finalist Lee Sang-ho.
One week ago, Ledecka stunned a strong field including defending champion Anna Veith and American star Lindsey Vonn to win the super-G, becoming one of the stories of the Games.
Ledecka started skiing aged two and snowboarding at five and has competed at world championships in both events.
With Saturday’s win, Ledecka joins Norwegians Thorleif Haug and Johan Groettumsbraten as the only athletes to do a multi-sport double at the Winter Games.
Haug did the cross country and Nordic combined double at the 1924 Olympics and Grottumsbraten won the same events at the 1928 Games.
“She will definitely have a long-lasting impact,” American ski star Lindsey Vonn said earlier of Ledecka.
“With the next generation coming up, everyone wants to experience everything. Millennials are raw – being inclusive and trying other sports is important for them, as it should be.
“Ester can give them hope that competing and being successful in more than one sport is possible.”
Eve Muirhead’s trigger finger deserted her as Great Britain’s curling team were beaten 10-5 by Sweden in their Olympic semi-final at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
Muirhead had deployed her ‘pistol’ to sink favourites Canada on Wednesday but two days later it was more a case of shooting herself in the foot as a calamitous seventh end signalled an emphatic defeat.
For the second consecutive Games the 27-year-old Muirhead will now face the tough task of raising spirits ahead of Saturday’s bronze medal match against their fellow last-four losers Japan.
Muirhead, who has often described her 2014 semi-final loss in Sochi as the most difficult of her career, said: “I definitely don’t think what we went through four years ago can harm us.
“We dealt with a serious loss and came back strongly to win a bronze medal. We’ll move on from the loss and focus on the next game and will go out there to get that bronze.”
Muirhead’s fate hinged on a pivotal seventh end in which it first appeared that Great Britain, trailing 5-3 at the time but with the all-important hammer, would benefit from an uncharacteristic mistake from Swedish skip Anna Hasselborg.
But Muirhead’s bid to draw her final stone to set up at least a two back-fired spectacularly when she clipped one of her own guards, setting up the Swedes to steal a three and with it effectively the match.
Muirhead said: “If my first shot had passed I think we’d have looked good for three but it didn’t and it was a tough draw.
“You’ve got to make these shots, and if you don’t make them against these strong teams like Sweden, you’re going to be on the back foot.”
While the seventh end may have come down to matter of inches, Muirhead’s team were always struggling to assert themselves after falling two down in the second end, and seldom looked like booking a place in their first Olympic final.
Muirhead was badly in need of the same magic which saw her eliminate the Canadians on Wednesday with a raised double take-out, but none was forthcoming from a player who would be the first to admit she has struggled to consistently fire at this tournament.
GB’s Canadian coach Glenn Howard, who received some social media criticism after masterminding his home nation’s demise on Wednesday, said he had no doubts Muirhead’s team would bounce back in the bronze medal match.
“It came down to a couple of shots in the seventh end,” added Howard. “It went from a (possible) 5-5 to an 8-3 and that’s a pretty big hill to come back.
“These girls give their heart and soul in every game they play. Obviously they wanted to get in the gold medal game but the bottom line is they are going into the bronze medal and it is not going to be hard to get them back into shape.”
Japan’s hopes of reaching the gold medal match ended in a comparatively thrilling clash with hosts South Korea on the adjacent rink, home skip Eun-jung Kim drawing the final stone of the extra end to seal an 8-7 win amid tumultuous scenes.
Earlier, Canada’s curling calamity continued when the men’s team followed the women in failing to win a medal, Kevin Koe’s team falling to a 7-5 defeat to Switzerland in their bronze medal match.