The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, have nurtured a lot of compelling competitions thus far, but there are still plenty of events remaining for what has become a tight medal race between the most decorated nations.
Norway leads the overall medal count with 13, while the USA and the Netherlands are knotted at 12 and host Russia has 11. Even though Germany is one further back at 10, the country occupies the No. 1 spot in the overall rank, thanks to seven gold medals, per Sochi2014.com.
With this close of a medal count through six days, it's worth tuning in to as much action as possible on Friday to see which countries step up and help their causes.
Below is a look at the current medal count, which medal events are on the upcoming schedule and a general preview of the wealth of world-class athleticism that Day 7 has to offer.
|2014 Winter Olympics Medal Schedule - Day 7|
|Event||Time ET||Time GMT||Time MSK|
|Men's 15-kilometer Classic Cross-Country||5 a.m.||10 a.m.||2 p.m.|
|Men's Super Combined Alpine Skiing||6:30 a.m.||11:30 a.m.||3:30 p.m.|
|Women's 15-kilometer Individual Biathlon||9 a.m.||2 p.m.||6 p.m.|
|Men's Free Skating Figure Skating||10 a.m.||3 p.m.||7 p.m.|
|Women's Heat 4 Skeleton||11:50 a.m.||4:50 p.m.||8:50 p.m.|
|Ladies' Aerials Final - Freestyle Skiing||1:12 pm.||6:12 p.m.||10:12 p.m.|
Day 7 Preview
Kicking things off in Sochi on Friday will be the opening run of the men's super combined Alpine skiing, as competitors will embark on the downhill run at 10 a.m. local time. However, the medalists won't be decided until the afternoon in Russia when the slalom run is completed and the two scores are combined.
The first set of hardware will be handed out at the conclusion of the men's 15-kilometer classic cross-country event, which is an implicit test of endurance and battling the wintry elements.
Headlining those competing include this year's 15-kilometer classic and 15-kilometer freestyle champion Dario Cologna of Switzerland.
Among the top contenders should be 2010 gold medalist Marcus Hellner, Axel Teichmann (Germany, silver medalist in 2010) and two-time Vancouver Games bronze medalist Johan Olsson of Sweden. That stacked of a field should provide plenty of drama even in such a long-ranging race.
Croatian alpine skier Ivica Kostelic has won three silver medals in his Olympic career without reaching the top of the podium. Interestingly enough, his father, Ante Kostelic, designed the super combined slalom course where the veteran will try to find glory on Friday.
Bill Pennington of the New York Times reported on that fascinating subplot, and asked American Bode Miller what he thought of the layout at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center and about how he figures to perform.
"Depending on where you are in the bib draw, the course and snow will change a lot," said Miller. "It’s going to be tough because of all the good slalom skiers who will be out there."
Miller has fallen short of expectations in Sochi after an eighth-place finish in the men's downhill, but he has a shot—albeit a long one—at redemption in this competition even with his rustiness in slalom.
Then comes the women's 15-kilometer individual biathlon, where reigning Winter Games gold medalists in Slovakian stalwart Anastasiya Kuzmina and Belarus' Darya Domracheva figure to be leading the way.
Perhaps the most compelling storyline is that of 19-year-old men's figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu. The Japanese sensation logged a world-record 101.45 score in Thursday's short program to outdo rival Canadian Patrick Chan, whose performance was solid but not spectacular enough to compete.
Now Hanyu holds a big advantage entering the free skating portion of the event, where another excellent routine will easily net him the gold. The New York Times' Juliet Mancur weighed in on Hanyu's magnificence:
NBCOlympics.com's Nick McCarvel felt the gaudy score was justified based on how well Hanyu executed his routine:
Not that the other events will be diminished in any way, but there is a certain fascination and majestic quality to figure skating that the other sports can't quite match. If viewers were to tune into just one portion of the Day 7 coverage, watching Hanyu likely make history wouldn't be a bad option.
But fear not, extreme adrenaline junkies, because wrapping up Friday will be the ladies' aerial freestyle skiing finals, followed by the fourth and final heat of the women's skeleton event.
Going off the massive jumps that these skiers undertake seems terrifying to the average individual as does diving headfirst at blazing speeds on a path of ice. These are just other prime examples of what make the Winter Olympics so extraordinary.
So whether fans enjoy the more laid-back, longer-developing events or the instant, pulse-pounding spectacles, there is something for everyone to enjoy on Friday in Sochi.
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