(Updated with final viewership) Officially, Russia isn’t participating in the XXIII Winter Games because of the fallout of a doping scandal, but they owned the ice in PyeongChang as Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva proved last night.

While formally competing under the neutral Olympics Athlete from Russia banner, the duo scored a close gold and silver in ladies’ figure skating. Zagitova’s near-perfect performance is the first gold Russia or the OAR has earned in the 2018 Games.

If Washington DC is nothing but consumed by Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, America picked up some icy fever last night as NBC’s ratings rose from the near-low of Wednesday night. Peaking with a 12.7/22 in metered market results in the 10:30-10:45 PM ET slot as the skating heated up, NBC and NBC Sports Network’s combined primetime coverage Thursday  averaged a 12.0/20.

In total audience delivery, the second Thursday of the XXIII Winter Games snared 17.6 million viewers across NBC, NBCSN and digital platforms. That’s up 7% from the near 2018 Games low TAD viewership of the night before. As with the metered market results, viewership hit its height in the 10:30 – 10:45 PM ET slot with 18.8 million tuning in on broadcast, cable and streaming.

In an Olympics that has seen some harsh lows and near-double-digit declines from Sochi 2014, clearly NBC was giving the people what they wanted last night, even if the stars weren’t American. Put it this way: last night’s primetime was up 8% in metered markets from the night before, which saw the second-worst ratings and viewership outcome for the XXIII Winter Games so far.

It wasn’t all roses being tossed on the ice for the Comcast-owned outlets. Compared to the first Thursday of the 2018 Games, last night’s primetime slid 8% in the MM numbers and was down by the same margin versus the comparable second Thursday of the Sochi 2014 Games, following the general trend of PyeongChang’s ratings compared with 2014.

The total audience delivery for the first Thursday of this year’s game on February 15, 2018 ended up being a struggling 19.2 million.

As it has throughout these Winter Olympics, NBCUniversal has been bundling NBC and NBCSN numbers into one big borscht. As we have throughout the Games, Deadline has been also putting NBC 2018 up against Sochi, which was only shown on NBC. In that matchup, last night’s primetime on the Big 4 net was down 22% from the results of February 20, 2014. That night saw the Olympics up against a then-all-time low-hitting American Idol on Fox.

Last night put the Winter Games up against the finale of the mildly witty counterprogramming of The Bachelor: Winter Games (0.7/3). The end of the timely run of the ABC show was even with its performance of last week.

In other news, we have a flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony on February 25; congrats to gold medalist cross country skier Jessie Diggins: