Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Previewing What to Watch For on Day 14

Beau Dure@duresportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2018

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Previewing What to Watch For on Day 14

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    YELIM LEE/Getty Images

    The Olympics are winding down, and with the Alpine women's combined and women's big air snowboarding moved forward a day, the Day 14 agenda is a little thin. Thanks to the rescheduling, you'll even have a short period between midnight and 1:30 a.m. ET in which nothing's on at all. 

    But the smaller schedule just means you can't have four screens of curling along with some short-track speedskating and ski jumping. We still have a marquee prime-time event, and when the sun rises on the East Coast, we'll be immersed in curling, speedskating, biathlon and hockey.

    Here are the stories to watch on the third-to-last day of the Olympics. 

                  

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

Can Anyone Catch OAR's Figure Skaters?

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    XIN LI/Getty Images

    After the short program of women's figure skating, we have a few distinct tiers: 

    The bottom 12 among the 24 who qualified for the free skate (8 p.m. ET) are separated by only 8.13 points, from 52.46 to 60.59. 

    The next six, the third group to skate in the free skate, are clumped together in a 5.04-point range. This group includes the three Americans—Mirai Nagasu, Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell.

    In the final group, four skaters should be battling for bronze. Third place currently belongs to Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond. 

    And then, two skaters representing Olympic Athletes from Russia—Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedevawho will spend most of the second half of their programs airborne.

    Nagasu will try the triple axel that she landed in the team event but not the short program. That could move her up a couple of places, and Tennell is terrific when she skates cleanly. The chances of pulling a Nathan Chen and vaulting 10 places may be minimal, though, given the OAR's jumping prowess.

Will Americans Learn to Love Ski Cross?

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    Felipe Dana/Associated Press

    Americans ski. Americans love racing. So why isn't ski cross bigger in the United States?

    One woman, Tania Prymak, made a good run at becoming the first American woman to compete in the event at the Olympics. But the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association decided not to enter anyone in the Games.

    Thanks to all the rescheduling, the women's ski cross (8 p.m. ET, with the final set for 9:20 p.m.) will have a pretty good TV window. If you want to watch a live event before the last two groups take the ice in women's figure skating, ski cross is your only choice. Will the sport get some love in the spotlight?

    Marielle Thompson of Canada is coming back from an ACL and MCL tear she suffered in October and will be looking to defend her 2014 gold medal. 

Will Canada Be Shut out of Traditional Curling Stronghold?

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    Aaron Favila/Associated Press

    The flip side of John Shuster and the U.S. men reaching the curling final: Canada's Kevin Koe now gets a chance for redemption in the bronze-medal game. 

    Yes, Canada already won gold in mixed doubles, the quirky offshoot of traditional curling that debuted in the Olympics this year. (It only seems like it was years ago.) But then Rachel Homan, the reigning world champion with a reputation for being nearly automatic, missed out on the medal round entirely.

    Consider Canada's history. Homan and her team are the first Canadians not to medal at the Olympics, unless we count the 1924 tournament in which only three teams competed. When curling was reinstated in 1998, the Canadian men's team won silver, then another silver, then three straight golds, while the women's team has earned two bronze, a silver and two gold in the past two decades.

    So Koe, a two-time world champion, is already the first Canadian men's skip not to reach the final. Now he faces a battle for bronze (1:35 a.m. ET) against Switzerland.

    At least Canada is taking it well. The Boston Globe points to reaction showing the growth of the sport worldwide, led by Canadians. (Maybe Americans could take that attitude in women's soccer?)

    The women's semifinals (6:05 a.m. ET) feature South Korea vs. Japan and Great Britain vs. Sweden.

Will Canada, Olympic Athletes from Russia Cruise to Hockey Final?

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Olympic Athletes from Russia, loaded with talent from the KHL, started the Olympics with a stunning 3-2 loss to Slovakia. Since then, they've poured it on with an 8-2 win over Slovenia and a 4-0 drubbing of the USA. They secured another rout in the quarterfinals, beating Norway 6-1.

    Pity the Czech Republic, which squeaked past the USA in a shootout after a 2-2 tie in the quarterfinals and now must face this loaded OAR team in the first men's hockey semifinal (2:40 a.m. ET). 

    Canada, the traditional hockey powerhouse that is now playing without its NHL talent, won two of its group-stage games convincingly but lost to the Czechs in a shootout. In the quarterfinals, goalie Ben Scrivens departed with an upper-body injury early in the second period, but Kevin Poulin came in to complete the 1-0 shutout. 

    Next up for Canada: Germany, which has scrapped its way to one-goal wins over Switzerland and Sweden in the playoffs, in the second semifinal (7:10 a.m. ET). 

How Many More Medals Will the Netherlands Win in Speedskating?

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    JUNG YEON-JE/Getty Images

    In fairness to the Netherlands, the country did send four athletes to the Olympics in events other than short-track and long-track speedskating.

    But their medals have come on the ice, with four in short-track and 13 in long-track. Yes, 13. And they're actually off their pace from Sochi, where they picked up 23 medals on the big skating oval.  

    Kjeld Nuis, the gold medalist in the men's 1,500 meters, will be favored again in the 1,000 meters (5 a.m. ET). He swept the same two races in the 2017 World Championships.

    Also, this is likely Shani Davis' last individual race unless the four-time Olympic medalist keeps going to age 39. He'll skate in the 14th of 18 pairs.

Will Germany Get Revenge in Biathlon Relay?

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    Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

    We mentioned the biathlon relay controversy in the Day 13 preview. Italy's Dominik Windisch cut off Germany's Arnd Peiffer down the stretch and held on for bronze after the jury ruled no foul was committed.

    The German women, two of whom lost out on a medal in the mixed relay, fell way off the pace with some wayward shooting in their relay. Now it's the men's turn to try for revenge.

    And Peiffer needs a shot at redemption as well. The sprint gold medalist shouldn't have been in that position, but he had an uncharacteristic wave of misses on the shooting range.

    Peiffer is just one of three medalists the German men can put forth in the men's relay (6:15 a.m. ET). They can also call in Erik Lesser, who missed the podium by 0.4 seconds in the mass start. In fact, Peiffer was the fourth German to finish to mass start, placing 13th. Twenty seconds later, Windisch was the first Italian man to cross the line.

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