The Latest: N. Korean pairs skaters draw wild cheers

Ayumu Hirano, of Japan, jumps during the men's halfpipe finals at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) The Latest on the Pyeongchang Olympics (all times local):

11:50 a.m.

The North Korean pairs team of Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sink have scored a season-best 69.40 points to briefly move into second place during the short program at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

North Korea’s only pair drew cheers from a large block of uniformly dressed fans for even the most simple of elements in practice. Then, they neatly landed their opening triple twist lift, hit a triple toe and throw triple loop, and were showered afterward with flowers from their fans.

The couple dressed in silver and black and performed to a cover of the Beatles song ”A Day in the Life” by English rock guitarist Jeff Beck. They were the 10th among 22 teams to take the ice inside the Gangneung Ice Arena and all the medal contenders were still to come.

Still, their score qualified them for the free skate on Thursday.

11:40 a.m.

Japan’s Ayumu Hirano has vaulted past Shaun White and into first place in the men’s halfpipe final.

The 19-year-old Hirano put up a score of 95.25 during his second run to edge past White. Hirano washed out in his first run but responded by throwing back-to-back 1440-degree spins during his second run.

White, attempting to become the first American to win gold in three different Winter Olympics, sat down on his second run to remain in second.

White will get one last shot to surpass Ayumu. White will be the final rider to go in the 12-man final.

11:20 a.m.

Mikaela Shiffrin’s debut at the wind-blown Pyeongchang Olympics has been postponed a second time.

Plans to run the slalom, with Shiffrin defending her title from 2014, have now been shelved, one hour after the original scheduled start at 10:15 a.m. South Korea time. There had been three delays in hope of waiting out the strong gusts. Now the race will be held Friday instead.

Shiffrin already had her giant slalom race postponed Monday at blustery Yongpyong. That race was moved to a Thursday slot, when winds are forecast to ease.

That creates a busy program for the next two days: Two women’s technical races at Yongpyong and two men’s speed races at Jeongseon, 30 miles (50 kilometers) away.

11:15 a.m.

Harley Windsor became the first indigenous Australian to compete at the Winter Olympics when the pairs skater joined teammate Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya on the ice for their short program.

Windsor and his Russian-born partner were among the first pairs on the ice, and their total of 61.55 points was just off their season’s best. And it also meant a long wait to find out whether they made the cut from 22 pairs to 16 for Thursday’s free skate.

Windsor says he started to ”feel a bit nervous” the night before competing, but he was happy with the performance. Both of the 21-year-old Windsor’s parents have Australian Aboriginal roots, and his mother Josie was cheering him on from the stands.

11:05 a.m.

American snowboarder Shaun White is in the lead after one run in the men’s halfpipe final.

The two-time Olympic champion posted a score of 94.25 during his opening set, throwing a quadruple-twisting turn early in his run to set the benchmark at Phoenix Snow Park.

Australia’s Scotty James is second after putting up a 92.00. American Chase Josey is third. Japanese star Ayumu Hirano washed out on the first run.

Riders get three attempts down the slushy halfpipe, which softened overnight as temperatures rose.

10:50 a.m.

The figure skating program at the Pyeongchang Olympics has resumed with the short program for the pairs competition, where the German pair of Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot are the favorites.

There will probably be just as many eyes on the North Koreans.

Security was a bit tighter at Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday than it was for the team event, most likely because of the presence of Ryom Tae Ok and Ju Sink. They were a strong third at last month’s Four Continents and placed 15th at last year’s world championships.

And yes, the North Korean cheerleaders are in attendance.

Other favorites include Russian pair Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, two-time world champs Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada, and Chinese pair Sui Wenjin and Han Cong.

10:35 a.m.

Mikaela Shiffrin’s debut at the Pyeongchang Olympics is in a holding pattern with a third delay to the women’s slalom start.

Strong winds, and now some steady falling snow, have put the race at risk on the Rainbow course at Yongpyong.

The opening run is now scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. South Korea time on Wednesday (9:45 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast,) after two previous delays of 15 minutes from the original 10:15 a.m. start. The second leg could then start at 2:45 p.m.

Shiffrin, the defending champion, is due to wear the No. 3 starting bib in an 83-racer lineup.

9:45 a.m.

Katie Couric has apologized for saying that the Dutch are so successful in speed skating because skates have been used as a form of transportation when canals freeze in the Netherlands.

Her remark during the Olympics’ opening ceremony invited some Dutch mockery on social media from people who said the information was outdated. The Netherlands embassy to the United States invited Couric to visit the country to see all of the innovative ways the Dutch get around.

Couric late Monday tweeted her apologies for being on thin ice with her comments.

The veteran anchor said she was trying to salute the country’s historic passion for the sport, but it didn’t come out that way.

9:05 a.m.

The favorite in the men’s halfpipe is Shaun White.

The bookmakers at BetDSI Sportsbook have made White a better than even-money favorite to win his third gold medal. The American is listed at minus-125, meaning bettors would have to wager $125 to win $100 on a White victory.

He is followed by Australia’s Scotty James, at 3-1 ($100 to win $300), and Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, at 7-2 ($100 to win $350).

Hirano is coming off a Winter X Games title in which he became the first man to repeat 1440-degree flips on the halfpipe. White skipped the X Games, but scored a 100 on a run in an Olympic qualifier last month. James has been among the most technically perfect riders this season and finished a close second to Hirano and White at those earlier events.

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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