Thanks to a few high-profile final events on the slate for Day 5 at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, NBC's TV schedule is loaded with action on Wednesday.
To this point in the proceedings, Norway has emerged as the nation to beat, coming in with 11 total medals, including four of the gold variety. Canada and the Netherlands both have nine total medals, while host Russia and Team USA round out the top five with seven.
There are 18 medals up for grabs on Day 5, and it's likely we'll have a new leader in the medal-count standings after the day is done.
Here's a look at the television schedule for Wednesday, Feb. 12, followed by a closer examination of the day's key events.
|NBC||3 p.m. - 5 p.m.||Nordic Combined (Individual Hill)|
|NBC||8 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.||Alpine Skiing (Women's Downhill), Speedskating (Men's 1,000-meters), Snowboarding (Women's Halfpipe), Figure Skating (Pairs Free)|
|NBC Sports Network||3 a.m. - 7 a.m.||Curling (M): USA vs. DEN, Nordic Combined (Indiv. Normal Hill - Jumping Phase)|
|NBC Sports Network||7 a.m. - 10 a.m.||Hockey (USA vs. CAN)|
|NBC Sports Network||10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.||Nordic Combined (Indiv. Normal Hill - X-Country Phase), Figure Skating (Pairs Free Skate)|
|NBC Sports Network||1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.||Luge (Men's Doubles)|
|NBC Sports Network||5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.||Hockey (Game of the Day)|
|USA||5 a.m. - 8 a.m.||Curling (W): USA vs. CHN|
|USA||12 p.m. - 3 p.m.||Hockey (M): CZE vs. SWE|
|MSNBC||3 a.m. - 5:30 a.m.||Hockey (W): SUI vs. FIN|
|MSNBC||12 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.||Hockey (M): LAT vs. SUI|
|CNBC||5 p.m. - 8 p.m.||Curling (M): SUI vs. GBR|
Will U.S. Speedskater Shani Davis Win Again?
American speedskater Shani Davis, 31, won the men's 1,000-meter race at the past two Olympic Games, and he's got his sights set on a three-peat.
Davis didn't look strong in the 500-meter, finishing in 24th place, but that's never been his strongest race. He's far better in the 1,000-meter (obviously) and 1,500-meter races—a point Willie Cornblatt of NBC Olympics was quick to make after his disappointing finish:
And Shani finishes in fifth, not a surprise, just warming up for the middle distances #speedskating— Willie Cornblatt (@WillieCornblatt) February 10, 2014
Nobody should expect the American legend to fizzle on Wednesday, however, when the 1,000-meter race commences. He's just as fired up as ever to compete and knows he has a huge target on his back.
“People are shooting for me,” Davis said recently, via John Powers of the Boston Globe. “I have the biggest target on my back and people really strive to beat me. That’s all they train and aim for. In the 1,000, I’m the man. My job is to try to defend it.”
It's going to be fascinating to see if he can live up to his goals.
Can Anyone Stop Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov?
The Russian figure skating duo of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov lit up the scoreboard with a world-record score of 84.17 in the short program on Tuesday, as relayed by RIA Novosti (Russian News & Information Agency):
With the exceptional performance, the pair heads into Wednesday's free program with a 4.53-point lead over Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy.
As pointed out by Rachel Cohen of the Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports), it's going to take another strong showing on Day 5 to secure the gold.
"They'll need to match that vitality in the free skate with Savchenko and Szolkowy in range," Cohen wrote. "The Germans, who skate last Wednesday, are four-time world champs but are missing one piece of hardware from their collection."
As amazing as the Russians have been thus far, they'll need to continue putting on a show for the home crowd on Wednesday to finish in first place.
Will Team USA Continue Dominating the Women's Halfpipe?
2014 marks the fifth Olympic Games in which the women's halfpipe has been contested. In the four previous Games, Team USA has claimed six of the 12 total medals in this event, including two gold medals and two silvers.
Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter both have two Olympic medals, and they'll both attempt to add to their collection on Wednesday.
Clark, who won gold in 2002, has lofty expectations, as relayed by Lean In:
Words of inspiration from Olympian Kelly Clark: "I want to break down the walls between impossible and possible." pic.twitter.com/67e4XHOyfV— Lean In (@LeanInOrg) February 11, 2014
In addition to her own teammates, who'll likely be Clark's biggest competition for gold, Australian snowboarder Torah Bright (gold-medal winner in 2010) will challenge for the top rank once again.
But judging by Clark's record-breaking score of 95.0 at the 2014 Winter X Games leading up to the Olympics, she's in fine shape to claim another Olympic gold this year.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78.