Olympic Daily Preview - Tuesday, February 18th

The Sports NetworkFebruary 17, 2014 

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Seven medal events are scheduled for the second and final Tuesday of the Sochi Olympics.

The women's giant slalom is set for Tuesday morning at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center and the United States has a chance to medal with both Julia Mancuso and Mikaela Shiffrin in the field.

Mancuso, a four-time Olympic medalist, won gold in the giant slalom at the 2006 Winter Games but she finished eighth in the event four years ago in Vancouver. The 29-year-old hopes to claim her second medal in Sochi after winning bronze in the super combined.

Competing at her first Olympics, the 18-year-old Shiffrin is the reigning world champion in the slalom. She also finished sixth in the giant slalom at the 2013 worlds.

Slovenia's Tina Maze, winner of Sochi gold in the downhill, claimed silver in the giant slalom at last year's worlds and also grabbed silver in giant slalom four years ago in Vancouver. Austria's Anna Fenninger won gold in the super-G in Sochi and was the bronze medalist in the giant slalom at the 2013 worlds.

Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg is the defending gold medalist in giant slalom and is also in the field. Rebensburg was 11th in the GS at last year's worlds and has placed ninth and 15th, respectively, in the super-G and downhill in Sochi.

Sven Kramer of the Netherlands tries for another speedskating gold medal on Tuesday at the Adler Arena. Kramer, already a gold medalist in the 5,000 meters, will be the last of 14 skaters in the 10,000 on Tuesday. He would have entered the event as the defending Olympic champion at the distance, but was disqualified four years ago in Vancouver after an incorrect lane change.

That mistake helped South Korea's Seung Hoon Lee win gold four years ago. Lee will be in the final pairing Tuesday with Kramer and is coming off a disappointing 12th-place finish in the 5,000.

The Dutch have dominated the men's speedskating events in Sochi, winning nine of the 12 total medals -- three gold, three silver and three bronze. Jorrit Bergsma, a bronze medalist in the 5,000 meters, and veteran Bob de Jong, give the Dutch an opportunity for still another sweep. Bergsma won the 10,000 meters at the 2013 World Single Distances Championships on this oval, while the 37-year-old de Jong won gold in the 10,000 meters at the 2006 Olympics and took a bronze at the distance four years ago in Vancouver.

Emery Lehman and Patrick Meek will take the ice for the Americans.

After seeing the event postponed due to fog on consecutive days, the men's biathlon 15-kilometer mass start plans to finally award medals on Tuesday. The event was originally set for Sunday but dense fog scratched the event from the schedule. The event was rescheduled for Monday but once again fog forced the mass start to be postponed.

The women's mass start, which was scheduled for later in the day on Monday, was able to go through as planned and hopefully the men's event can follow suit on Tuesday.

Frenchman Martin Fourcade will aim for his third gold medal in Sochi in the mass start. Fourcade, a silver medalist in the mass start at the Vancouver Games, has won gold in both the individual and pursuit at these Olympics. Another win on Monday would allow Fourcade to tie a 46-year-old French record for gold medals in a single Olympics.

The U.S., meanwhile, has never won an Olympic biathlon medal, but Tim Burke has been the team's best performer in this event.

Fog also postponed the running of the men's snowboard cross on Monday and the event has been rescheduled for Tuesday. It marks the third time for snowboard cross in the Olympics and American Seth Wescott has won gold on the men's side the previous two Games. He won't compete in Sochi, so it will be up to Nate Holland, who finished fourth in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Trevor Jacob, Nick Baumgartner and Alex Deibold to try and keep the gold with the U.S.

Canadian Robert Fagan returns after finishing fifth in Vancouver, while Italy's Omar Visintin and Jarryd Hughes of Australia could medal contend. France's Tony Ramoin, who won bronze four years ago, is also in the field.

The first two runs of the women's two-man bobsled event are scheduled for Tuesday. The U.S. will have three sleds in competition, including one piloted by Jazmine Fenlator, who will have American hurdler Lolo Jones as her brakeman.

Jones, who finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2012 Summer Games in London, is not the only track and field star in competition for the U.S. bobsled team in Sochi. Lauryn Williams, a two-time Olympic medalist at the Summer Games, will also serve as brakeman for Elana Meyers

A third U.S. sled will be piloted by Jamie Greubel.

Kaillie Humphries piloted a Canadian sled to gold four years ago in Vancouver and also won last year's world championships. Humphries and brakeman Heather Moyse figure to have a solid chance to repeat as Olympic champions in Sochi.

Medals will be awarded Wednesday after the completion of the third and fourth runs.

The U.S. will try to recapture some of its nordic combined magic from the Vancouver Games when medals are handed out Tuesday for the large hill event.

Bill Demong and Johnny Spillane claimed gold and silver in this event at the Vancouver Games. Demong, who owns the only gold ever won by the U.S. in nordic combined, will be back to defend his Olympic title but Spillane is now retired.

Demong will be joined in the event by fellow Americans Todd Lodwick and brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher. Along with Demong, Spillane and Brett Camerota, Lodwick helped the U.S. win silver in the nordic combined team event in Vancouver.

The Americans did not have a good showing in the normal hill event earlier in Sochi, with Demong leading the country with a 24th-place finish. Bryan Fletcher was 26th and his brother ended in 33rd place.

Lodwick, the flag bearer for the U.S. at the opening ceremony in Sochi, is competing at his sixth Winter Games. He did not start the cross country portion of the normal hill event after placing 34th in the ski jumping segment. Lodwick has been bothered by a shoulder injury, but he will be ready to go on Tuesday.

Germany's Eric Frenzel, Japan's Akito Watabe and Magnus Krog of Norway won gold, silver and bronze, respectively, in the normal hill event in Sochi and expect to challenge for gold in Tuesday's competition.

The Olympic debut of the freestyle skiing halfpipe event is set for Tuesday with the men battling for gold at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. The Americans figure to have a good shot at gold, as the U.S. claimed the top two steps at the podium at the most recent world championships in Voss, Norway.

David Wise won gold for the U.S. at worlds and Torin Yater-Wallace was second. Aaron Blunck also will compete for the Americans in Sochi after finishing sixth at the 2013 World Championships.

Lyman Currier gives the U.S. a fourth competitor in Tuesday's field.

Canada also has four skiers in the event and is led by Mike Riddle, who finished fourth at the last worlds.

France's Thomas Krief was the bronze medalist at the worlds and also is in the field in Sochi.

The qualification and final rounds are both scheduled for Tuesday.

The final race of the women's 3,000-meter relay is scheduled for Tuesday in short track speedskating and South Korea will try to win gold in the event for the fifth time in six Winter Games.

The Koreans had won four straight Olympic titles in the relay before failing to medal four years ago in Vancouver. They actually crossed the finish line first in Vancouver, but were later disqualified for impeding with the Chinese team. The infraction awarded China the gold, with Canada and the United States taking silver and bronze in that order.

Four teams made Tuesday's medal race, including the Koreans and Chinese, who will be joined by Italy and Canada in a battle for gold.

There also will be heats for the women's 1,000 and men's 500 on Tuesday at Iceberg Skating Palace.

A quartet of elimination games are on Tuesday's schedule in men's hockey and the host team may have the most pressure. Russia was hoping to avoid this round, but came up short of a bye into the quarterfinals with a second-place finish in Group A and will take on Group B cellar-dweller Norway. The Russians hope history repeats itself, as the Canadians had to win a qualification round game four years ago in Vancouver before going on to win the gold medal. Tuesday's winner will meet Finland in Wednesday's quarterfinals.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia will renew hostilities. Teammates long ago while playing for Czechoslovakia, the Czechs have dominated since the nation split in 1993, winning a gold medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2006. This will mark the third straight Olympic meeting and the Slovaks are still looking for a win, having dropped a 3-1 decision four years ago in the preliminary round and a 3-1 triumph in the 2006 quarterfinals to their neighbors. The United States awaits the winner on Wednesday.

In the other games, Slovenia will battle Austria and Switzerland will meet Latvia. Top-seeded Sweden will face the Slovenia-Austria winner, while Canada will take on the Switzerland-Latvia victor.

The curling tournament has reached its elimination stage and Tuesday's action features just one tiebreaker, as Norway and Great Britain will square off on the men's side to determine the last of four semifinalists. Both finished round-robin play at 5-4 after losses on Monday and Tuesday's winner will advance to a semifinal matchup with top-seeded Sweden.

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