Winter Olympics 2014 Schedule: Top Events on Tap for Day 8

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Winter Olympics 2014 Schedule: Top Events on Tap for Day 8
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

We've reached the midpoint of what's been an entertaining 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, but there are still a lot more gold medals to be handed out.

Through Friday's action, the United States were tied with Norway atop the total medal count leaderboard, while everyone is still trying to catch up to Germany in the gold department. 

It's a good thing Day 8 comes on a Saturday, as Americans can stay home from work and get to see some live action taking place in Russia. Here's a look at the updated medal count plus a look at the top three events scheduled for Saturday.

 

Men's Hockey: USA vs. Russia

Time: 7:30 a.m. ET

Live TV: NBC Sports Network

Live Stream: NBC Live Extra

The Americans and Russians have been paired together in Group A for the men's hockey tournament, and this will represent the first clash of two great powers so far.

Team USA opened the tournament in blazing fashion, drubbing Slovakia 7-1 on the strength of a second-period salvo that included six goals in a span of less than 14 minutes. Leading the way was Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny, who had a unique reaction to the game, per Kevin Allen of USA Today.

Paul Stastny has always taken as much pride in wearing the USA jersey as his father, Peter, owned wearing the Slovakia sweater.

Unquestionably, some of his relatives must have had mixed feelings Thursday when Paul scored a pair of goals to help power USA to a 7-1 shellacking of Slovakia in their opening game of the Olympic men's hockey tournament.

"It's always fun to play Slovakia," Paul said before the tournament. "Parents, a lot of family are from Slovakia, so it's always something unique and I enjoy doing."

Meanwhile, Russia defended their home ice with a dominant 5-2 win over Slovenia in their first Olympic competition.

On Friday, USA Hockey announced that Jonathan Quick will start for the Americans again on Saturday.

There is so much firepower on both the USA and Russian squads that the defenses and goalies will have to be alert at all times. Chief among Russia's top scoring threats are Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk, while America's attack is highlighted by Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and Zach Parise. But it's the depth on every line that makes this one to watch, as it will be All-Star level hockey throughout.

Except this isn't a meaningless exhibition game, it's the Olympics. Thirty-four years after the United States pulled off the "Miracle On Ice" against U.S.S.R. in Lake Placid, N.Y., you can be sure that historic game will be revisited plenty during Saturday's broadcast.

 

Men's Ski Jumping Large Hill

Lars Baron/Getty Images

First Round: 12:30 p.m. ET

Final Round: 1:35 p.m. ET

Live TV: None 

TV Coverage: NBC Primetime (8 p.m. ET)

Live Stream: NBC Live Extra

Poland's Kamil Stoch will be looking to double up his gold medal count on Saturday when he takes on the K-125 large hill in the men's ski jumping competition.

Earlier in the Winter Games, Stoch shook off illness and claimed a first-place finish in the normal hill competition. As Joe Fleming of USA Today shared, Stoch took another jump once he reached the top of the podium.

Meanwhile, Slovenia's Peter Prevc took silver and Norway's Anders Bardal claimed the bronze. That trio figures to be in contention for podium spots again, along with others like Germany's Severin Freund.

If the training runs and earlier Olympic ski jumping action have taught us anything, it's that this is one of the most high-risk, high-reward events throughout the Winter Games, as there have been some big spills that have led to injuries.

Stoch and 2010 large hill winner Simon Ammann of Switzerland have also taken notable falls during training, but will still compete in the large hill. The same can't be said about Russia's Mikhail Maksimochkin, who fractured his ribs in a training run Wednesday and had to be sent to the hospital, per Dennis Passa of the Associated Press.

This sport is already entertaining enough, but the unforgiving course makes this one even more intriguing to watch.

 

Men's Speedskating 1,500-meter Race

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Time: 8:30 a.m. ET

Live TV: None

TV Coverage: NBC Primetime (8 p.m. / 7 p.m. CT)

Live Stream: NBC Live Extra

The U.S. team has had a disappointing start to the 2014 Winter Games and American star Shani Davis will try to change things with a podium finish on Saturday.

Speedskating is always one of the most entertaining sports during the Winter Olympics, as skaters jockey for position while moving at incredibly fast speeds on the ice. Davis has faltered so far in Sochi, as he finished eighth in the 1,000-meter race and 24th in the 500-meter.

Following his subpar finish in the 1,000-meters, when he was vying to win his third straight Olympic gold medal in the event, Davis wasn't making any excuses to Wayne Drehs of ESPN.com.

There's no excuse, man. Nothing physical that went wrong or anything else. I just didn't have the speed in the lap and that's something I've always had against my competitors. That's a part of the race I usually shine in. But today for some reason I wasn't able to do it.

Heading into Saturday's race, Davis is considered among the top medal contenders, along with Russia's Denis Yuskov and Dutch star Koen Verweij.

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