As Tony Granato watched the clock wind down in overtime, he found it hard to believe that an elimination game at the Olympics had to go to a shootout.
The Czech Republic knocked Granato’s United States team out in the quarterfinals in the same skills competition used in the NHL for the regular season but never playoff games. It took a shootout for the US women’s team to beat archrival Canada for the gold medal, and although Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s goal and Maddie Rooney’s saves provided theater, such a classic game going to a shootout felt wrong.
‘‘It’s hard when it’s all said and done to say that it gets decided by a bunch of breakaways, but that’s the rules,’’ Granato said.
And it’s likely to stay the rule even after two important medal-round games at the PyeongChang Olympics ended in shootouts instead of teams continuing to play until someone scores like in the Stanley Cup playoffs. International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel said continuous sudden-death overtime is not possible in a tournament.
‘‘You cannot let the team play the whole night,’’ Fasel said Saturday at a news conference in PyeongChang. ‘‘Yes, it’s a skills test, but it’s a game . . . I will never convince North Americans to accept that but it is like it is.’’
Fasel added, ‘‘Maybe the Canadians can practice a little more the shootout,’’ and Granato was the first to admit that winning in a shootout doesn’t tarnish anything. US women’s hockey coach Robb Stauber knows it can go both ways.
‘‘Yesterday the men’s team lost in a shootout, and two of our coaches said, ‘God that’s a terrible way to lose,’ ’’ Stauber said. ‘‘And my first response was, ‘Unless you’re on the other end.’ ’’
Last minute for IOC
The International Olympic Committee left a decision whether to reinstate Russia to the PyeongChang Olympics until the day of the Closing Ceremony.
The IOC must announce by Sunday if the Russian Olympic Committee will be readmitted to the Olympic family after being ousted because of a massive doping scandal. That would allow about 160 Russian athletes competing at the PyeongChang Games to fly their own flag at the Closing Ceremony. They have been competing under a neutral flag under the name ‘‘Olympic Athletes from Russia.’’
The IOC could readmit the Russian team, continue the ban or hedge with what it has described as a ‘‘partial solution.’’
Two strikes against readmission are positive doping tests by two Russian athletes at the Games, including a curler who had to forfeit his bronze medal. That’s half of the four doping cases reported so far at this year’s Olympics.
The positive tests come after the IOC had said Russian athletes had been ‘‘rigorously tested’’ months before the games — and during them.
Before the executive board meeting, Adams said the Russian scandal would be debated by the full membership on Sunday, ‘‘but whether there will be a vote or not, I'm not able to say.’’
He also said ‘‘a partial lifting [of the ban] is an option that is available to discuss and decide — should it be necessary.’’
Bach is almost certain to make the final decision. He has argued individual athletes should not be punished for the sprawling, state-run scandal. He has also seemed hesitant to move against a powerful member like Russia.
The executive board is often seen as a rubber stamp, and even more so the full membership. Many of those members have left Pyeongchang, including the IOC’s two strongest dissenting voices: Richard Pound of Canada and Adam Pengilly of Britain. They have been the only two members to openly oppose Bach.
Fulfilling a promise
An official with the US Ski and Snowboarding team made good on a 12-year-old promise by dyeing his gray beard pink when Kikkan Randall won America’s first gold medal in cross-country skiing.
Vice president of communications Tom Kelly had told the 35-year-old Randall that he would dye his beard pink if she ever won a medal.
Randall didn’t just win a medal Wednesday. She and Jessica Diggins took gold in the women’s sprint free relay.
That meant Kelly found himself in a hair salon in the Olympic village Saturday morning. He said the people in the salon were ecstatic when Randall walked in with her gold medal.
Kelly said, ‘‘They thought it was fun. We all thought it was fun. But I’m not sure my wife likes it.’’
US Biathlon boycott
The US biathlon team announced it will boycott the final IBU World Cup meet in Russia next month.
The US athletes released a statement saying the International Biathlon Union’s recent decision to move forward with the March 22-25 event in Tyumen, Russia— despite a recent doping scandal in that country — is ‘‘completely unacceptable.’’
The statement said, ‘‘In support of clean sport and our own physical safety, we cannot in good conscience participate.’’
The US Biathlon team added, ‘‘Holding the World Cup Final in Russia now sends an outrageous message of anti-doping indifference to the world.’’
Athletes from Sweden and Canada have also expressed reservations about competing in the event.