Thursday preview: USA takes on Canada in women’s hockey; Germany sets eyes on mixed team luge gold

Thursday preview: USA takes on Canada in women’s hockey; Germany sets eyes on mixed team luge gold

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The U.S. Women’s Hockey team will take on Canada on Thursday at the Pyeongchang Olympics. At 2-0 respectively, both these Group A teams have yet to lose a game.

American cross-country skier Jessie Diggins will compete in her third — and personal best — event with the hope of winning her first medal. (She will become the first American woman to win a cross-country Olympic medal if she wins.) Diggins came close in the skiathlon event but finished fifth.

Germany is in a good position to defend gold in the mixed-team relay luge.

Here are the key events to look for Thursday in South Korea:

Figure skating

Mixed pairs, free program (Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET/Thursday, 10:30 a.m. local time): Germany, China and Canada will fight for a place on the top of the podium in the figure skating mixed-pairs free skate Thursday. China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong finished first in the short program Tuesday (the top 16 pairs from the short program qualify for the free skate on), followed by Russian athletes Vladimir Morozov, Evgeniya Tarasova.

Although Germany’s Bruno Massot and Aljona Savchenko finished fourth, they are still one of the heavy favorites to take home the gold. North Koreans Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, the only athletes from their country to qualify for the Pyeongchang Olympics on merit, skated their best short program of the season, posting 69.40 points (a career high).

Look out for Team USA’s husband-wife pair of Chris Knierim and Alexa Scimeca Knierim who, despite not skating their best short program of the season, will try to come back strong and compete for a medal.

Alpine skiing

Men’s downhill (Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. ET/Thursday, 11:30 a.m. local time): The event was originally supposed to take place Sunday but was canceled because of unsafe 50 mph winds. Norway fans will want to look out for this event, which features two athletes — Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud – who are top medal contenders. Jansurd clocked the fastest time in the Olympic test event, while Svindal, a Sochi silver medalist, is No. 2 in the World Cup rankings.

These two will face tough competition from Austria’s Matthias Mayer, who is looking to defend his downhill gold medal. (If he makes, it, he will be the first man to defend a downhill gold medal.) Also, let’s not rule out the World Champion from Switzerland, Beat Feuz, who will look to win his first Olympic medal.

Ice hockey

Women’s, preliminary round (Wednesday, 10:10 p.m. ET/Thursday, 12:10 p.m. local time): Group A’s USA and Canada — great rivals and the only two teams that have ever won gold at the Olympics since the sport was introduced into the Olympics in 1998 — will face off for the first time in Pyeongchang on Wednesday in a final preliminary-round game. Both teams are coming into the game with two wins each. Team USA beat Finland 3-1 after and routed the Russian athletes 5-0 to take a 2-0 lead. Canada had a similar journey, beating Russia 5-0 and then Finland 4-1. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semifinals.

Snowboarding

Men’s snowboard cross, big final (Thursday, 12:45 a.m. ET/2:45 p.m. local time): Will this be Australian snowboarder Alex Pullin’s year to win a medal in snowboard cross? In Vancouver, he finished first in the qualifiers, but was eliminated in the first round of competition. In Sochi, he was eliminated in the quarterfinals. The former world champion will look to flip the scripts in Pyeongchang when he competes Thursday. Team Australia also has other medal contenders in the event in 2016 X Games winner Jarryd Hughes and Olympian Cameron Bolton. Another player to watch is the 2014 Sochi Olympics gold medalist from France, Pierre Vaultier.

Cross-country

Women’s 10km freestyle (Thursday 1:30 a.m. ET/3:30 p.m. local time): Team USA’s Jessie Diggins missed out on medals in the classic sprint and skiathlon. She made the final of the classic sprint but finished sixth and placed fifth in the skiathlon. But her best event will be the 10km freestyle event Thursday. If Diggins wins, she will become the first American woman to medal in cross country at the Olympics.

Also look out for the top medal contenders in Norway’s Heidi Weng (a 2014 Sochi Olympics bronze medalist in 15km skiathlon) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (a 2014 Sochi Olympics gold medalist in team sprint and silver medalist in sprint).

Biathlon

Men’s 20km individual (Thursday, 6 a.m. ET/8 p.m. local time): France’s Marin Fourcade won two gold medals at the Sochi Olympics — one in 12.5km pursuit and one in the 20km individual. He is already halfway toward replicating his Sochi performance. He won gold at the 12.5km pursuit in Pyeongchang on Monday, his fifth Olympic medal. Giving him tough competition will be Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bø (who owns multiple World Championship medals to his record). He will compete for his first Olympic medal.

Speedskating

Men’s 10000m (Thursday, 6 a.m. ET/8 p.m. local time): Dutch skater Sven Kramer has had a perfect Olympics so far. He won his third consecutive 5000m gold Saturday, becoming the first man to achieve the feat. When he comes out to skate Thursday, he will look to continue his winning streak and take home his first-ever gold medal in the 10000m event. (Kramer won silver in Sochi.) If there is one skater who can stop Kramer from winning, it would be fellow Netherlands skater Jorrit Bergsma. He won the 2014 Sochi Olympics gold medal in this event.

Luge

Mixed team relay (Thursday, 7:30 a.m. ET/9:30 p.m. local time): Germany has the most medals in this event and they will look to add one more Thursday. Natalie Geisenberger, who won gold in the women’s singles event, will be back for the mixed-luge event, along with teammates Felix Loch (who missed out on his third consecutive singles gold by finishing fifth), Tobias Arlt and Tobias Wendl. Will the team be able to win its second team relay gold? They will face Austria, Italy, U.S. and Canada — all medal contenders.

Breaking Sports News

via http://www.espn.com – TOP http://www.espn.com

February 14, 2018 at 09:02AM

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