Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Previewing What to Watch for on Day 6

Beau Dure@duresportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2018

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Previewing What to Watch for on Day 6

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    Aaron Favila/Associated Press

    Thanks to the windy weather earlier in the week, we'll have not one but two Alpine skiing events Wednesday.

    We think. The weather is supposed to calm down long enough to get a few runs in. That would be nice. It's one thing for high wind to wipe out a downhill or a ski jump. It's another when we see a slalom and a biathlon event postponed.

    So we should see Mikaela Shiffrin on Wednesday night in the U.S. (Thursday morning in South Korea).

    Team USA also will be out to end those pesky medal droughts in biathlon and women's cross-country skiing. 

    Pairs skating wraps up with the free skate. Luge continues with the team relay, running for only the second time in the Olympics. We'll have more medals at stake in men's speedskating and men's snowboard cross, and early runs in men's skeleton and women's aerials.

    And we'll have full days in curling and hockey, though the U.S. men's hockey team has the day off.

                    

    To watch live Olympics coverage in real time, including the highlighted events detailed below, you can visit NBC's Olympics site. Reminder: South Korea is 14 hours ahead of Eastern time, so an event that takes place Thursday morning in Pyeongchang will be on Wednesday night in the U.S.

Will Mikaela Shiffrin Finally Get a Chance to Compete?

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    Alessandro Trovati/Associated Press

    The postponements may take a toll on Mikaela Shiffrin's quest for multiple medals, as she'll face a condensed schedule. We're more than halfway through the first week, and we've yet to see her ski.

    Not even a training run.

    In the slalom, she's about as certain a favorite as you can find in an event where a rough patch of snow or ice can trip up anybody. In the giant slalom, she has several World Cup wins but hasn't done better than second in a World Championship or the overall World Cup standings.

    So if this event goes ahead, it's not a matter of Shiffrin vs. the snow monster. It's Shiffrin vs. two-time and reigning world champion Tessa Worley of France. And Shiffrin vs. World Cup giant slalom leader and 2010 gold medalist Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany.

    In other words, this should be a great event. The favorites compete early in the first run (8 p.m. ET) and will be reseeded for the second run (11:45 p.m. ET).

Can Sensations Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford Win a Medal?

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    You may have heard of Eric Radford. He is, according to the BBC and other outlets, the first openly gay man to win Winter Olympic gold, which he accomplished in the team figure skating event.

    Now he and partner Meagan Duhamel are perched on the podium after the short program in the pairs event. In the process, they've made a star out of American singer-songwriter April Meservy, the Toronto Star reported, after using her cover of U2's With or Without You as their accompaniment.

    The Canadian pair is third behind China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, and the Olympic Athletes from Russia's Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov. They have a slim lead (76.82 to 76.59) over Germany's Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot. They'll be in the free skate's final group (8:30 p.m. ET) 

    But tune in early to catch inspiring Americans Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, whose story of love through illness and recovery was made for Valentine's Day. You'll also want to see North Koreans Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik, whose short program to Jeff Beck's guitar cover of the Beatles' A Day in the Life brought down the house. Other than the hockey players who are competing for a unified Korean team, they're the only North Korean athletes in these Games.

    And in the middle of the program, China's Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao will skate to music from Star Wars. (Duhamel and Radford have an Adele song lined up; Tarasova and Morozov have opted, somehow, for Christina Aguilera.)

Can Nick Baumgartner Get Elusive Snowboard-Cross Medal?

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    Laurent Salino/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

    Snowboard cross is no longer in the X Games. That's unfortunate.

    For those who don't know, this is one of the few "extreme" sports that doesn't require judges. It's a race. Specifically, a series of races, starting with a time-trial qualification (9 p.m. ET) that seeds riders for the knockout rounds that follow (11:30 p.m. ET, with the final around 12:45 a.m. ET).

    Nick Baumgartner has a great track record in the event. He has bronze medals from the 2009 and 2015 World Championships, along with a fourth-place finish last year. He's reached 14 World Cup podiums in 77 starts, and he was a close fourth in a World Cup event last month in Turkey.

    He hasn't managed to translate that success into an Olympic medal, where he has been twice eliminated in the first round.

    He's not the only American with a shot. Mick Dierdorff and Jonathan Cheever each have a World Cup podium finish this season, and Hagen Kearney won a World Cup event last season.

Can Aksel Lund Svindal Come Up with One More Speedy Downhill Run?

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Let's repeat a bit of what we wrote a few days ago, when the men's downhill was supposed to run.

    The U.S. men aren't likely to figure into the medals in this event (9:30 p.m. ET). But we don't watch the Olympics just to see Americans. It's time to pay proper respect to the Norwegian legend, two-time World Cup overall and two-time World Cup downhill champion Aksel Lund Svindal. The 35-year-old skier took one of each medal in the 2010 Olympics but was shut out in 2014, finishing fourth in the downhill.

    Svindal is one of the favorites again this time around, along with World Cup downhill leader Beat Feuz of Switzerland and Italy's Dominik Paris.

    We can update a bit after the men's combined event, which organizers did manage to run. Svindal was second in the downhill phase, 0.07 seconds behind Germany's Thomas Dressen, but decided not to race the slalom phase. 

    Dressen doesn't have a big resume, but he did win the World Cup race on Austria's famed Kitzbuhel course earlier this season.

USA and Canada Renew Women's Hockey Rivalry

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    This game (10:10 p.m. ET) isn't The Big One. That's likely, if not all but certain, to take place in the final, where Canada and the United States typically face off for Olympic gold. 

    In the literal sense, little is at stake here. Both teams have clinched a spot in the semifinals. Neither will feel threatened after taking out the third and fourth seeds by nearly identical scores. Each team beat the Olympic Athletes from Russia 5-0. The USA beat Finland 3-1; Canada added one more to win 4-1.

    But this is still a matchup of the dominant powers of women's hockey. It's always worth watching.

Jessie Diggins Gets Another Shot at 1st U.S. Women's Cross-Country Medal

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    Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Images

    We've said it for several days. The U.S. women's cross-country team is getting closer to its first Olympic medal.

    Jessie Diggins has been close twice already. She was fifth in the 15-kilometer skiathlon Saturday. Then she made it to the final in the sprint but finished fifth.

    Next up: The 10-kilometer freestyle (1:30 a.m. ET), in which Diggins has a World Championship medal (silver, 2015) and a World Cup win this season. 

Lowell Bailey Chases Another Biathlon 1st

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    For the first time, an Olympic biathlon event (6:20 a.m. ET) will run with an American as the reigning world champion.

    Lowell Bailey has had a few good results over his long World Cup career. Four years ago, in his third Olympics, he was a respectable eighth in the 20-kilometer individual.

    Last year, everything fell into place. One of the last athletes on the course, Bailey knocked down all 20 targets and found a final push on the last lap to win the world championship.

    He hasn't been in great form this season. But can you count out a world champion?

    Also, thanks to a postponement, we'll have World Championship silver medalist Susan Dunklee in the women's 15-kilometer individual (3:15 a.m. ET). 

Can the USA Take Another Luge Medal?

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    Marianna Massey/Getty Images

    That was unexpected. 

    Chris Mazdzer had finished 13th in each of his two previous Olympic singles appearances. His career best in the World Championships was fourth. He's had a few World Cup wins but not much else to suggest he was a medal contender.

    Now he's a silver medalist after an impressive singles run. And he has a shot at another in the team relay (7:30 a.m.), where Summer Britcher and the pair of Matthew Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman will join him. Britcher had a wildly inconsistent performance in the women's luge, finishing 19th overall but setting a track record in her second run. Mortensen and Terdiman were sixth in their first doubles run but faded to finish 13th overall.