Olympic Daily Preview - Monday, February 17th
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Seven medal events are on tap for the second Monday of the Sochi Olympics.
Medals will be awarded in ice dancing and it appears to be a two-team race for gold. Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the short dance program on Sunday with a record score of 78.89, edging Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir for the top spot. The defending Olympic champions earned a score of 76.33.
It's simply been a battle between the two couples, who also double as training partners, for the past four years.
Virtue and Moir won Olympic gold four years ago in front of the home crowd in Vancouver and captured the world title in 2010 and 2012. Davis and White finished behind the Canadian duo at the 2010 Olympics and at the '10 and '12 worlds, while finishing ahead of them for world gold in 2011 and 2013.
The United States has never won gold in the competition, which made its Olympic debut at the 1976 Innsbruck Games. In addition to the silver won by Davis and White four years ago, the duo of Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto captured silver in 2006 and the team of Colleen O'Connor and James Millns won bronze in 1976.
A pair of Russian teams are in the mix for bronze. Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov thrilled the home crowd and placed third with a score of 73.04, while Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev finished fifth at 69.97. The French pair of Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat sit in between.
The medal round in women's hockey gets underway on Monday, with the U.S. and Canada on a course to meet in Thursday's gold medal game.
Canada, which has won the past three Olympic tournaments since the U.S. claimed gold in 1998, will face off against Switzerland later in the day after the Americans battle Sweden.
The Swiss moved into the medal round thanks to a 2-0 win over Russia on Saturday, while Sweden advanced with a 4-2 triumph against Finland. Both Canada and the U.S. secured spots in the semifinals by finishing first and second, respectively, in the top-tier Group A.
The first medals in bobsled will be handed out in the men's two-man. Russia is in position to win gold after the first two runs were held Sunday at Sanki Sliding Center, while the top team from the United States sits third midway through the competition.
The Russian sled piloted by Alexander Zubkov posted the best time in each run Sunday and holds a lead of .32 seconds over Switzerland heading into the final two runs on Monday. Russia completed its two runs in 1 minute, 52.82 seconds.
The U.S. sled piloted by Steven Holcomb was second after the first run, but fell to third overall after posting only the eighth-best split of Run 2. The Americans are .36 seconds behind Russia for first place and .04 seconds behind the Swiss.
Holcomb piloted the four-man sled that won a surprising gold four years ago in Vancouver, giving the U.S. its first Olympic gold in bobsled since 1948. The Americans haven't medaled in two-man bobsled since 1952 and last won gold in the event in 1936.
A second sled from the U.S. piloted by Cory Butner was third after the first run, but now sits in 11th place. A third American team is in 13th place.
Justin Kripps has piloted Canada's top sled into fourth place. The Canadians are .44 seconds behind Russia for first and .08 seconds behind Holcomb and the Americans.
Two sets of medals will be awarded in biathlon on Monday, a day after the men's 15-kilometer mass start was postponed due to fog.
The men will hit the course in the morning for the mass start event, as Frenchman Martin Fourcade aims for his third gold medal in Sochi. Fourcade, a silver medalist in the mass start at the Vancouver Games, has won gold in both the individual and pursuit at these Olympics. Another win on Monday would allow Fourcade to tie a 46-year-old French record for gold medals in a single Olympics.
The U.S., meanwhile, has never won an Olympic biathlon medal, but Tim Burke has been the team's best performer in this event.
The running of the women's biathlon 12.5-kilometer mass start is set for later on Monday, and like Fourcade, Darya Domracheva of Belarus will be after a third gold medal in Sochi. Domracheva has already earned two gold medals at the 2014 Games by winning the individual and pursuit competitions. The owner of three Olympic medals overall, Domracheva also was the champion in the mass start at the 2013 World Championships.
Norway's Tora Berger expects to challenge Domracheva for gold in Monday's event. Berger, a gold medalist in the individual event at the Vancouver Games, finished second to Domracheva in the pursuit on Tuesday.
Susan Dunklee of the U.S. is in the event but is not considered to be in contention for a medal. Her best result so far in Sochi was a 14th-place finish in the sprint event. Canada's Rosanna Crawford also will compete in the event.
One day after a disappointing run by American Lindsey Jacobellis in the women's snowboard cross, the men take their turn in the event.
It marks the third time for snowboard cross in the Olympics and American Seth Wescott has won gold on the men's side the previous two Games. He won't compete in Sochi, so it will be up to Nate Holland, who finished fourth in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Trevor Jacob, Nick Baumgartner and Alex Deibold to try and keep the gold with the U.S.
Canadian Robert Fagan returns after finishing fifth in Vancouver, while Italy's Omar Visintin and Jarryd Hughes of Australia could medal contend. France's Tony Ramoin, who won bronze four years ago, is also in the field.
Belarusian freestyle skier Alexei Grishin returns for his fifth Winter Olympics, looking to repeat in the men's aerials on Monday.
Grishin also claimed a bronze in 2002 and gives his country a strong presence in this event along with Anton Kushnir.
China could also dominate the podium in the form of 2010 bronze winner Liu Zhongqing, reigning world champion Qi Guangpu and Jia Zongyang.
The lone American in the field is Mac Bohonnon. Jeret Peterson, who claimed silver in Vancouver, tragically killed himself less than 18 months after competing in 2010.
Austria has yet to reach the podium in men's ski jumping, but the nation will have another chance on Monday in the men's team event. The Austrians have won the last two Olympic gold medals in the team competition, but the best results thus far in Sochi have come from Thomas Diethart and Michael Hayboeck, who were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the normal hill event. The team event takes place on the large hill.
Thomas Morganstern and Gregor Schlierenzauer were part of Austria's gold medal effort four years ago in Vancouver and will join Diethart and Hayboeck for Monday's effort. Morganstern, competing after a nasty crash last month left him hospitalized, was 14th in the normal hill and failed to qualify for the final in the large hill. Schlierenzauer was seventh in the large hill.
Kamil Stoch has won each of the individual events in Sochi and will anchor the Polish team that includes Maciej Kot, Piotr Zyla and Jan Ziobro. Stoch will try to join Finland's Matti Nykanen as the second man to win a third ski jumping gold in a single Olympics. Nykanen turned the trick at the 1988 Games in Calgary.
Japan, which won team gold in 1998, features large hill silver medal winner Noriaki Kasai. Germany is also considered a medal threat. The Germans, behind large hill fourth-place finisher Severin Freund, captured the silver medal four years ago and won gold in Salt Lake City.
The United States team will consist of Peter Frenette, Nicholas Fairall, Anders Johnson and Nicholas Alexander.
The 12 four-man teams will be trimmed to eight after the initial round and the combined total of the two jumps for each team member will decide the medals.
Round-robin play in curling's ends Monday with 11 matches on the slate. Both the U.S. men and women have been eliminated from medal contention, while both Canadian rinks have already advanced to the semifinals.
The Canadian women are 8-0 and have a chance to become the first women's team to go undefeated through round-robin play at the Olympics if they can beat South Korea on Monday. The Swedes, who joined Canada in Wednesday's semifinals after improving to 6-2 on Sunday, will face Japan on Monday.
On the men's side, both Canada and Sweden were able to punch tickets to the semifinals on Sunday and neither side is in action on Monday. China is currently in third place with a 6-2 record with Great Britain and Norway next with 5-3 marks. The Brits will take on the Chinese on Monday, while Norway faces 3-5 Denmark.