Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Day 3 Storylines to Follow

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2014

Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Day 3 Storylines to Follow

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    Is 2014 the year for Team USA?
    Is 2014 the year for Team USA?David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are now in full swing.

    Winter sports competitors from around the world are vying for top spots in their chosen fields, and the competition between countries to grab the most medals intensifies more and more every day.

    Monday’s action comprises a variety of sports, including Alpine skiing, biathlon and curling. Click through to see the biggest storylines of Day 3 so you can plan your Monday accordingly.

Who's the Fastest Man on Ice?

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    Tae Bum Mo can fly.
    Tae Bum Mo can fly.Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press/Associated Press

    Akin to the 100-meter sprint in the Summer Olympics, the 500-meter speedskate will determine who the fastest man on ice is in 2014. The action is quick and frantic. It lasts no more than 30 seconds, and because of the short length, the athletes have no margin for error.

    Korea’s Tae Bum Mo is the favorite. He captured gold in 2010 and has had an impressive run since, winning the last two world championships to boot. He will hope to become just the fourth man to repeat as 500-meter champion in Olympic history.

Can Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch Repeat as Olympic Champion?

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    Will the favorite win gold?
    Will the favorite win gold?Darko Bandic/Associated Press

    With America’s Lindsey Vonn out of the Olympics, Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch is a heavy favorite to repeat as Olympic champion in the super combined. She edged out America’s Julia Mancuso in Vancouver four years ago in the event and also took home gold in the slalom.

    Mancuso is someone to watch from Team USA. Though she was in top form back in 2010, she hasn’t competed at the same level since. Still, she’s a dark-horse candidate to bust through to the podium based on her past success and Olympic pedigree.

Will Biathlon Favorite Martin Fourcade Rebound After Dismal Start?

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    Is Fourcade's gold medal aim still true?
    Is Fourcade's gold medal aim still true?Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

    Favorite Martin Fourcade of France didn’t live up to expectations in the sprint. Expected to grab gold in the event, he didn’t even end up on the podium Saturday, finishing a distant sixth overall to 40-year-old Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway.

    That tough start will hurt Fourcade in Monday’s pursuit, where competitors race against one another in a free-for-all and start positions are based on the sprint result.

    Still, he had the best biathlon season, according to World Cup rankings, and he will hope to chase down multiple gold medals in Sochi starting Monday. If he can salvage a win in pursuit, he could still make a very big mark in 2014 for France.

Is USA on a Collision Course with Canada in Women’s Hockey?

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    Will it be USA vs. Canada again for gold?
    Will it be USA vs. Canada again for gold?Todd Korol/Getty Images

    Led by forward Hilary Knight, the U.S. women’s hockey team is in fine form as Olympic play begins. They were narrowly edged out by Canada at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games but have established themselves as Canada’s greatest nemesis since.

    The U.S. women haven’t won hockey gold since the inaugural 1998 tournament, but they’ve claimed five of the last seven world championships. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve handled their neighbors the last four times the two have met.

    Get your first glimpse of each team in action on Monday in separate games. The U.S. takes on Switzerland, while Canada faces Finland.

Can Brad Jacobs Lead Canada’s Curling Team to the Promised Land?

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    Jacobs hopes to help Canada three-peat.
    Jacobs hopes to help Canada three-peat.Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

    Jacobs leads a confident Canadian team that went undefeated in the Olympic trials and won gold medals at the last two Olympics. Will he and Team Canada hit the trifecta and capture gold three straight times?

    If so, they’ll likely have to take out main rival Sweden, the reigning World and European champions, as well as a solid Great Britain squad that did not medal in Vancouver.

    Canada faces Switzerland Monday during the continuing qualification round.

Can Anyone Compete with Canada in Moguls?

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    Canada's Kingsbury is taking the sport by storm.
    Canada's Kingsbury is taking the sport by storm.Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    With Canada’s Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Justine and Chloe, knocking heavy American favorite Hannah Kearney down to bronze in the women’s freestyle moguls competition, the Canadian team is now poised to dominate moguls at Sochi.

    With returning gold medalist Alex Bilodeau and rising star Mikael Kingsbury having battled it out on the 2013 World Cup circuit to see who would grab Olympic favorite status, it now appears Canada could be on its way to grabbing the top two moguls spots in both the men’s and women’s events.

    But will it actually happen? Find out Monday.

Can Kate Hansen Break Germany’s Stranglehold on Olympic Luge?

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    Hansen must do her best to compete with Germany.
    Hansen must do her best to compete with Germany.Michael Sohn/Associated Press

    Team USA’s Kate Hansen comes into the Sochi Olympics as the World Cup champion in luge, but if she hopes to carry her success over, she’ll need to battle both her staunch competition as well as a little bit of history. Germany has won gold medals in women’s singles each of the last four Olympic Games as well as 10 medals of a possible 12 over that same span.

    Making matters worse for Hansen will be Germany’s Tatjana Huefner and Natalie Geisenberger, the odds-on favorites in luge. Both ladies are expected to make the podium to continue Germany’s dominance, but can Hansel fly past them Monday to break the cycle?  

Is There Another Apolo Ohno?

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    Ohno has retired from Olympic competition.
    Ohno has retired from Olympic competition.Jemal Countess/Getty Images

    American speedskating legend Apolo Ohno had a historic 2010 Games, adding three medals to the five collected prior, making him the most decorated male Winter Olympian in U.S. history. His speed on the ice and his flair off it helped make him a household name. But now that he’s retired, is there someone out there to take his place?

    A likely candidate to watch on Monday is J.R. Celski, who finished third in 2010 right on the heels of silver medalist Ohno and gold medalist Lee Jung-Su of Korea. With 2010’s gold and silver winners both off the ice in Sochi, look for Celski to skate by race favorite Victor An of Russia and into America’s heart.