Rafael Arutunian can fix uncomfortable figure skating boots and mend bad jumping habits with equal ease, molding materials and technique with the sureness of a coach who has analyzed axels and scrutinized salchows for 40 years at rinks in Armenia, Russia and the United States.
But what makes him so successful is his ability to see into his skaters' minds and hearts and provide the precise motivation they need, a gift whose value goes beyond teaching how to make an efficient entrance to a jump or nail a landing.
Arutunian, 60, will coach Americans Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon and Czech skater Michal Brezina at the Pyeongchang Olympics, a trio he has coached at the Rinks-Lakewood for nearly two years.
Kirill Kaprizov’s quick shot from the right circle during a power play gave the Olympic Athletes From Russia a 4-3 overtime victory over surprise finalist Germany and the gold medal in the men’s Olympic hockey tournament.
Kaprizov, whose NHL rights are owned by the Minnesota Wild, had a goal and four assists after he ended the game and the tournament nine minutes and 40 seconds into sudden-death play. Teammate Nikita Gusev, whose rights are owned by the Vegas Golden Knights, had two goals and two assists.
The gold medal was the first won by the team known variously as the Olympic Athletes From Russia / Russia / the Unified Team since a 1992 triumph in Albertville, France, as the Unified Team.
John Shuster’s last throw in the eighth end of the Olympic curling final clacked off one Swedish stone and knocked it into another, sending them both skittering out of scoring range.
Five yellow-handled American rocks were left behind.
The score, known as a five-ender, is so rare it has only been topped once before in the history of the men’s or women’s Olympic final. And it effectively clinched gold for Shuster’s erstwhile “rejects,” who rallied from the brink of pool play elimination to claim only the second curling medal ever for the United States.