Around the Games: Day 0 - 2014 Winter Olympic Games

Preview: Kikkan Randall hoping to give U.S. first gold in cross-country skiing

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EVENT SCHEDULE
Tomorrow – Women’s skiathlon, 5 a.m. ET
Sunday – Men’s skiathlon, 5 a.m. ET
Feb. 11 – Men’s/women’s individual sprint, Session One at 5 a.m. ET, Session Two at 7 a.m. ET
Feb. 13 – Women’s 10km classic, 5 a.m. ET
Feb. 14 – Men’s 15km classic, 5 a.m. ET
Feb. 15 – Women’s 4x5km relay, 4:50 a.m. ET
Feb. 16 – Men’s 4x10km relay, 5 a.m. ET
Feb. 19 – Men’s/women’s team sprint, Session One, 4:15 a.m. ET and Session Two at 6:45 a.m. ET
Feb. 22 – Women’s 30 km mass start, 4:30 a.m. ET
Feb. 23 – Men’s 50 km mass start, 2 a.m. ET

TV SCHEDULE
Tomorrow – 5:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN (also on NBC’s daytime coverage starting at 2:30 p.m. ET)
Sunday – 5:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN (also on NBC’s daytime coverage starting at 2 p.m. ET)
Feb. 11 – 5 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN (also on NBC’s daytime coverage starting at 3 p.m. ET)
Feb. 13 – 5:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN
Feb. 14 – 5 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN
Feb. 15 – 5:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN (also on NBC’s daytime coverage starting at 3 p.m. ET)
Feb. 16 – 5 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN (also on NBC’s daytime coverage starting at 3 p.m. ET)
Feb. 19 – 5:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN (also on NBC’s daytime coverage starting at 3 p.m. ET)
Feb. 22 – 4:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN (also on NBC’s daytime coverage starting at 2:30 p.m. ET)
Feb. 23 – 2-6 p.m. ET, NBC

MORE: NBCOlympics.com video – Inside the intense cross-country training

U.S. OUTLOOK
The Americans’ best opportunity for success is on the women’s side. Two-time World Cup individual sprint champion Kikkan Randall (pictured) is a threat to become the first American, man or woman, to win Olympic cross-country gold. Jessie Diggins, who teamed up with Randall to win the 2013 team sprint world championship, could also make an impact in her first Olympics.

As for the men, Simi Hamilton and Andrew Newell are solid sprinters but will have to work hard just to keep within striking distance. Noah Hoffman faces the same scenario in the distance events.

INTERNATIONAL OUTLOOK
Four years ago, Norway took the most overall medals (nine) and gold medals (five) in cross-country skiing. That may occur again in Sochi. Marit Bjorgen and Petter Northug are their main stars, with Bjorgen looking to continue her bid to become the most decorated Winter Olympian ever and Northug itching to add to the two golds he won in Vancouver. Their toughest competition may come from within their own team – such is the depth of the Norwegians.

Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk could challenge but is dealing with a foot injury, while Switzerland’s Dario Cologna is working his way back from tearing a ligament in his right ankle last November. Both won individual golds in Vancouver.

Triplets set for Olympic history in Rio (video)

Luik sisters
NBC News
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Estonian sisters Leila, Liina and Lily Luik are set to become what is believed to be the first set of triplets to compete in an Olympics, according to Games historians.

The Luiks, identical triplets born Oct. 14, 1985, remain the only Estonian women to meet the Olympic qualifying time for the marathon. And since a nation can send three qualified athletes to the Olympic marathon, all three are in line to go to Rio.

The Estonia athletics federation’s qualifying cutoff is Wednesday. It doesn’t believe any other Estonians will register an Olympic qualifying time by then.

With most marathons taking place on weekends, it appears the Luiks are safe, even though none has run faster than 2:37, and the Olympic medal winners will likely be running in the low-to-mid 2:20s.

MORE: Ethiopian legend not on Olympic marathon team

Paralympic champ Markus Rehm still hopes for Olympic spot

Markus Rehm
Getty Images
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COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — Paralympic long jump champion Markus Rehm is still hoping to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro despite a scientific study’s inconclusive findings on whether his carbon-fiber prosthesis gives him an unfair advantage over able-bodied athletes.

Wolfgang Potthast of the German Sport University in Cologne said Monday that it was “difficult if not impossible” to determine whether the 27-year-old Rehm gets an advantage or not.

The study conducted by the German Sport University along with the University of Colorado and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tokyo found that athletes with a running-specific prosthesis have an impaired ability in the run up but a better technique for the long jump, leaving open the question of whether a prosthesis helps or hinders the athlete.

“The study could not identify any advantage through the prosthesis, and I think that for me is a good result,” said Rehm, who is hoping to compete both at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August and at the following Paralympics.

“I want to bring the Paralympic and Olympic sport closer together. To give both sides the chance to profit from this.”

Rehm is aiming to be the second athlete with a carbon-fiber prosthesis to compete at the Olympics and Paralympics after South African runner Oscar Pistorius in 2012.

To become eligible under a new rule introduced last year by the IAAF, Rehm has to prove that his prosthesis gives him no advantage over athletes with a similar disability or non-amputee long jumpers.

“I’ve taken the first step with the study, so now I await a step in return from the world body,” said Rehm, who lost his lower right leg in a wakeboarding accident when he was 14.

Rehm won the gold medal at 2012 London Paralympics and holds the world record in his competition class at 8.40 meters. Rehm also won the German national title in 2014 over non-amputee athletes, drawing a mixed reaction.

He was then prevented from competing for the German team at the European Championships, with track and field officials saying the prosthesis could give him an unfair catapult effect.

“Since the German championship in 2014 it has been an ordeal. It’s difficult for me to hear these charges [of having an advantage]. I don’t want to have any advantage. On the other hand, you feel you have to apologize to other athletes,” Rehm said. “There were times when I asked myself if it was worth it.”

Under current rules, Rehm is not eligible for the German team.

“There is no finding that has found an advantage,” Friedhelm Julius Beucher, president of the German National Paralympic Committee, said reacting to the study. “It’s not a question of fairness but a case of discrimination.”

MORE: 100 Olympic storylines as Rio Games approach