The 2014 U.S. Olympic trials in Utah mark the final opportunity for America's speedskaters to punch a ticket to Sochi, Russia, and the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Helping to get the new year started on Wednesday, Jan. 1, the final day of speedskating trials features the longest events on the schedule: the men's 10,000-meter race and women's 5,000-meter competition.
Here's a look at the viewing information for these upcoming events:
Where: Utah Olympic Oval, Kearns, Utah
When: Wednesday, Jan. 1, at 5 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports Extra
These long events are grueling tests of endurance, and strategy will play an important role in determining the winner. Getting off to a hot start doesn't necessarily guarantee a strong finish, so the skaters will be conserving their strength for the final push.
On the men's side, there's a clear-cut favorite to win the 10,000-meter race, according to Nick Zaccardi of NBC's OlympicTalk: "[Jonathan] Kuck is expected to win the 10,000m at the Olympic Trials on the final day of skating Wednesday."
Kuck already secured his spot on the Olympic team, thanks to his victory in the men's 5,000-meter on Dec. 27.
Not surprisingly, he's relieved that it's out of the way, as noted by Zaccardi: “It’s nice to have it out of the way,” Kuck said on NBCSN. “A couple more races coming up [at trials], but there isn’t any question mark [about making the U.S. Olympic Team].”
Emery Lehman and Patrick Meek finished in second and third place, respectively, behind Kuck in the 5,000-meter competition, and they'll likely be top challengers once again on Jan. 1.
Over on the women's side, all the contenders will be charging after Jilleanne Rookard, who annihilated her competition in the 3,000-meter race by over four seconds on Dec. 27.
She earned her spot on the Olympic team with the win, as Carmela Diaz pointed out on Twitter:
Jilleanne Rookard has been nominated to represent the US in the 3,000m at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics©Getty Images pic.twitter.com/PeIvlgeHui— Carmela Díaz (@tortugadiaz) December 29, 2013
Anna Ringsred finished in second place in that race, while Theresa Cliff-Ryan finished in third, and both were expected to challenge Rookard in the upcoming 5,000-meter race.
Cliff-Ryan was training for said race on Dec. 30 when she unfortunately took a huge spill after another skater crashed into her, according to Paul Newberry of the Associated Press, via ABC News. Newberry also provides further details on her sustained injuries:
Olympic hopeful Theresa Cliff-Ryan was injured Monday when she landed on her head after being struck on the sidelines by a crashing speedskater, likely ending her quest to make the team for Sochi.
Cliff-Ryan sustained a concussion and had several teeth knocked out, according to her coach, Matt Kooreman, who added that she was lucky the injuries weren't more serious.
Matt Kooreman lamented the untimely accident, via Newberry: "It's really sad," the coach said. "Thought she had a great shot at winning the 5,000."
Cliff-Ryan's injury leaves the door open for another Olympic hopeful to rise to the occasion, however. Make sure to tune into the action on Jan. 1 to find out who it will be.
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