Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Previewing What to Watch for on Day 3

Beau Dure@duresportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2018

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Previewing What to Watch for on Day 3

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    MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images

    Who doesn't like Mondays?

    Feb. 12 in South Korea (Feb. 11-12 in the United States) offers up a fun mix of classic events (speedskating, biathlon), newer events (snowboard slopestyle) and new twists on old events (figure skating's team event, women's ski jumping).

    And it could be a massive day for Team USA, with several medal events counting Americans among the favorites. Unfortunately, one of the biggest names wearing stars and stripes will have to wait for her hardware. The women's Giant Slalom was postponed due to high winds, delaying Mikaela Shiffrin's highly anticipated Pyeongchang debut. 

    Here are the storylines to watch.

            

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

Can Jamie Anderson Repeat Her Slopestyle Magic?

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    In 2014, Jamie Anderson first caught attention by talking about her excitement at using Tinder in Sochi. More important, she shook off the pressure to lay down a stellar second run in the then-new slopestyle event to take gold in Russia.

    Since then, she has continued to reign among the world's elite. In six World Cup events over the past three seasons, she has four firsts, a second and a third. And she just won the X Games slopestyle, where the final five are also the top Olympic contenders, with a silky smooth second run.

    The qualifying rounds were canceled because of the high winds that have forced a few schedule changes in the mountain events. Sunday's final (8 p.m. ET) will start with all 27 athletes.

    You can also catch Anderson, fellow American Julia Marino and most other slopestyle stars in the new big-air event later in the Games.

Can Adam Rippon and the Shib Sibs Bring It Home?

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Adam Rippon is already making history. He and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy are the first openly gay men to compete for the USA in the Winter Games.

    Rippon will have a tough time cracking the podium in the men's figure skating event in the Games. But in the team event, the USA stands third after Saturday, one point ahead of Italy.

    Even before Nathan Chen's disappointing short program, Rippon was scheduled to compete for the U.S. team in the free skate (8 p.m. ET) on the third and final day of competition. Mirai Nagasu gets the call to get the USA through the women's free skate (9:10 p.m. ET), and the Shib sibs—Maia and Alex Shibutani—get the anchor leg in the free dance (10:20 p.m. ET).

Heather Bergsma and Brittany Bowe Try to Forget Sochi

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    U.S. speedskaters had a rotten time in Sochi. They managed to get one medal in short-track, but a long-track squad filled with accomplished World Cup stars and world champions was shut out.

    Heather Bergsma and Brittany Bowe have had a long wait to get back to this point. Not that they've been sitting around.

    Bergsma, a former inline skater known as Heather Richardson before she married Dutch skater Jorrit Bergsma, has continued to dominate, winning the 1,000 meters and 1,500 meters in last year's World Championships. She also went 6-of-6 in World Cup 1,000-meter races last year and won the 1,500-meter season title.

    Bowe, who played college basketball at Florida Atlantic, won several World Championship medals in 2015 and 2016 but suffered a concussion that forced her out of the 2016-17 season. She and Bergsma have traded off owning the world records in the 1,000 and 1,500.

    Monday's race, the 1,500 meters (7:30 a.m. ET), is an opportunity to exorcise a few demons and cap outstanding careers with the ultimate winter sports prizes.

Will Mikael Kingsbury Complete Best-Ever Moguls Career with Gold?

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    Kin Cheung/Associated Press

    Moguls skiing occupies an unusual middle ground between traditional Olympic events and the X Games competitions; the IOC has added through the years to attract younger viewers. It’s not really "X" enough for the X Games, which moved onto halfpipe, slopestyle and other free-form events. Moguls are more regulated, and time is as much of a factor in the scoring as the tricks skiers do off the two "kickers" on the course. The biggest factor is the paradoxical quest to keep one's legs together during a bunch of bumps.

    But Team USA continues to bring good athletes through this freestyle skiing pipeline. Jeremy Bloom was a top moguls skier who also happened to play college football at Colorado. Today the top U.S. hopeful is Bradley Wilson, who took silver in the non-Olympic event of dual moguls in the 2017 World Championships and took third in a World Cup event in Utah last month.

    The man of the moguls at the moment is Canada's Mikael Kingsbury. He's well on his way to his seventh straight World Cup season title. He had won a staggering 13 straight World Cup moguls and dual moguls events until slipping all the way to second in a January competition. He has medaled in the last four World Championship moguls events, though he only has one gold. And he has Olympic silver from Sochi.

    Kingsbury posted the best score in Friday's qualifying, sailing to the final (7 a.m. ET).

    Only one thing is missing from that trophy case. Kingsbury is only 25, so he could always go for another run, but Pyeongchang presents a golden opportunity.

Will Sarah Hendrickson's Patience Pay Off in Ski Jumping?

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    PETER PARKS/Getty Images

    Ten years ago, a group of dreamers in Utah was pushing hard to get women's ski jumping included in the Olympics. Among them was a tiny athlete, barely in her teens, named Sarah Hendrickson. When the sport was controversially denied a place in the 2010 Olympics, they kept fighting, in part for that youngster who kept flying with the poise of someone much older.

    World Cup competition began in the 2011-12 season, and Hendrickson won the season title by nearly 400 points, taking first in nine of 13 competitions. The Utah native slipped to second place behind Japanese rival Sara Takanashi the next season but still won at the World Championships.

    In 2014, women ski jumpers finally got their place in the Games. But Hendrickson wasn't at full strength, having torn her MCL and ACL a few months before Sochi. She was given bib No. 1, so she at least had the honor of being the first woman to jump in the Olympics, but she has had four knee surgeries since then.

    Now Hendrickson is 23. She's not the World Cup leader or world champion. Can she turn back time in Pyeongchang? Competition starts at 7:50 a.m. ET.

What Will Chloe Kim Show in Halfpipe Qualifying?

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Chloe Kim is one of the athletes to watch in these Olympics by any definition. She's a first-generation Korean American who has relatives in the host nation. She's a phenom making her Olympic debut.

    She's also the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s, and she's the reigning X Games champion.

    We've already seen one U.S. teenager, slopestylist Red Gerard, walk away with gold in South Korea. A win for Kim would be a little less surprising.

    She'll make her Olympic debut in the first qualifying run (11:30 p.m. ET). The second run immediately follows.

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