What to watch for at the Olympics: Tuesday, Feb. 18
SOCHI -- Lolo Jones, of course, you know. The country’s most famous bobsledder starts Olympic competition today in the first two rounds of the women’s competition at the Sanki Sliding Center. But the Summer Olympics athlete-turned-bobsledder who should really draw your attention is Lauryn Williams.
A three-time Olympian, Williams was the 2004 silver medalist in the 100 meters and part of the 4x100 meter relay at the London Games that won gold two years ago. She earned a spot on the U.S.’s top sled with driver Elana Meyers, and they are SI’s pick to win silver. If Williams wins a gold medal in Sochi, she would become only the second person to win a gold medal in both a summer and winter sport. The only athlete to pull off the feat is Edward Eagan, who won gold in boxing at the 1920 Summer Games in Antwerp and in the bobsled four-man competition at Lake Placid in 1932.
The first two runs of women’s bobsled are part of a day where medals will be handed out in alpine skiing (women’s giant slalom), biathlon (men’s 15km start), freestyle skiing (men’s ski halfpipe), Nordic combined (men’s large hill/10 km cross-country), long-track speed skating (men’s 10,000) and short-track speed skating (women’s 3000-meter relay).
What to watch (all times in Eastern Standard Time)
• CURLING: Norway and Great Britain’s men’s teams will play in a tie-breaker match at midnight, as both finished 5-4 after round robin play.
• MEN'S SNOWBOARD CROSS: The favorite in men’s snowboard cross is Australia’s Alex Pullin, the 2013 world champion, but it should be a wide-open race at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. The race was rescheduled for 1:30 a.m. Tuesday with a shortened format after thick fog forced the postponement of the event. (The seeding runs have been canceled and the competition will now begin with the 1/8 final with athletes seeded according to their FIS points.) Americans Nate Holland and Nick Baumgartner are also medal contenders. Australia’s Markus Schairer, Canada’s Christopher Robanske and Italy’s Omar Visintin (the current world cup leader) will factor as well. Holland is competing in his third Olympics in men's snowboard cross; he finished fourth in Vancouver.
• WOMEN’S SKIING: The alpine skiers return following an off-day off with the women’s giant slalom (the first run is 2:00 a.m., final run is 5:30 a.m.). SI’s pick for gold is Sweden’s Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, the current World Cup leader in the event. Other medal contenders include Switzerland’s Lara Gut, Austria’s Anna Fenniger, Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner (second in the world standings) and Slovenia’s Tina Maze, who took silver in this event in Vancouver. The American to watch is 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin, who will ski in her first Olympic race. (Shriffin will be the favorite in the slalom on Friday.) Fenniger could become the first woman to win the super-G and giant slalom at the same Olympics.
• MEN’S HOCKEY: The playoff rounds begin with Slovenia-Austria (3:00 a.m.), Switzerland-Latvia (noon) and Czech-Slovakia (noon). But the big one here is Russia-Norway (7:30 a.m.) given the in-country paranoia and interest. Russia escaped on Sunday with a 1-0 shootout victory over Slovakia.
• MEN’S NORDIC COMBINED: Germany’s Eric Frenzel is the favorite in the Nordic combined large hill/10km cross-country race. Japan’s Akito Watabe, France’s Jason Lamy Chappuis and Magnus Krog, and Norway's Magnus Hovdal Moan will also contend. Frenzel, the reigning world champion, can become the second athlete to win two individual Nordic combined gold medals at the same Winter Games after Finland’s Samppa Lajunen did it in 2002. The trial round starts at 3:30 a.m.
• SHORT-TRACK SPEED SKATING: The short track competition at Iceberg Skating Palace is heavy today including eight heats in the women’s 1000 (starts at 4:30 a.m.) where the Koreans (Cho Ha-Ri, Kim Alang and Park Seung-Hi) are heavy favorites. The men’s 500-meter heats (starts at 5:15 a.m.) will also be held, featuring Russia’s Viktor Ahn, Canada’s Charles Hamelin and China’s Wu Dajing. Medals will be awarded in the women’s 3000 relay; SI’s picks are South Korea (gold), China (silver) and Italy (bronze). The 3000-meter final will be held at 6:04 a.m.
• MEN'S BIATHLON: Russia’s Alexey Volkov is SI’s pick to win the men’s biathlon 15k mass start which was rescheduled for today, at 5:30 a.m., after the competition was canceled on Sunday and Monday due to fog. Other contenders include Norway’s Tarjei Boe and France’s Martin Fourcade, who won gold in both the men’s 12.5 pursuit and men’s 20k individual. Tim Burke of the U.S. has an outside shot for a medal.
• MEN’S SPEED SKATING: The most anticipated speed skating race of the Olympics -- at least for Holland -- comes today when Sven Kramer goes for gold in the 10,000 meters (8:00 a.m.). Four years ago Kramer, an overwhelming favorite in the race, was disqualified for taking the wrong lane at the crossing after given improper directions from his coach. Countrymen Jorrit Bergsma and Bob De Jong, who won bronze in Vancouver, Belgium’s Bart Swings and South Korea's Lee Seung Hoon, the defending gold medalist, are also medal contenders. If Kramer wins a third Winter Games gold medal, he would equal the Dutch men's record held by Ard Schenk, who won three golds (in 1972) and one silver (in 1968) in speed skating.
• WOMEN’S BOBLSED: Yes, it’s Lolo time. The American hurdler and marketing star hits the bobsled run at 10:15 a.m. for the first of two opening rounds. (Jones is paired with driver Jazmine Fenlator in USA-3, the third U.S. bobsled.) The top American team is Myers (driver) and Williams. Jamie Greubel (driver) and Aja Evans will ride in USA-2. Myers has steered the U.S. to top-five finishes in World Championships and World Cups since winning bronze in Vancouver while Greubel finished eighth in the 2013 world championship. But SI’s pick for gold is the Canadian team of driver Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, the defending champions from Vancouver. It's also worth watching the German team of Sandra Kiriasis and Frnziska Fritz. They won silver at Vancouver in 2002 and gold in Turin in 2006.
• MEN’S SKI HALPIPE: Men’s ski halfpipe could be a very good event for the U.S. with David Wise and 17-year-old Aaron Blunck among the favorites for gold in the sport’s Olympic debut. Torin Yater-Wallace, 18, made the team as a discretionary pick after missing the finals in all five qualifying events with broken ribs. He’s a threat, too, as is Canada’s Justin Dorey. The final run is set for 1:00 p.m. at the Freestyle Center.
Tweet of the day
Wasn't the best day yesterday, still don't remember much! Thanks everyone for the lovely messages pic.twitter.com/qVG8eET3BV— Rowan Cheshire (@Rowan_C_) February 17, 2014
By the numbers
70 -- Shots by the U.S. women’s hockey team against Sweden in a 6-1 semifinal win.
2-7 -- The U.S. men’s curling team in Sochi.
1-8 -- The U.S. women’s curling team record in Sochi.
Around the web
The five stories from Sochi you’ll be talking about on Tuesday:
The Games’ Unfamiliar Honor (Even Among Its Recipients) (By Sam Borden, The New York Times) -- Competitors who finish fourth through eighth in Sochi receive a personally inscribed, autopen-signed, formal Olympic diploma.
Phil and Amanda Kessel are the new faces of U.S. hockey (By Sarah Kwak, SI.com) -- Meet the First Family of U.S. Hockey.
At Sochi Olympics, finding risk is snow problem (By Sally Jenkins, The Washington Post) -- “The logo for this Olympics ought to be a stretcher,” writes the author.
A Mad Dash for Salt Rescues Olympic Slopes (By Sam Dolnick, The New York Times) -- Tales of a desperate plan to bring salt to Sochi.
Why Christin Cooper’s NBC interview of heartbroken Bode Miller should not be controversial (By Cathal Kelly, Toronto Star) -- An opposite take from this one in The New York Times.