Shaun White

What to watch on Day 4 of Sochi Olympics

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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Tuesday, Feb. 11. A complete list of every Tuesday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Women’s ski slopestyle final, 4 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE EVENT LIVE

Canada is favored in the Olympic debut of ski slopestyle with Kaya Turski and Dara Howell, who went one-two at the 2013 World Championships.

Turski won the Winter X Games in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and tore an ACL for the third time in August. She came back to win the 2014 Winter X Games in January. Howell was third and fourth at the last two X Games.

The top U.S. skier at this year’s X Games, Maggie Voisin, withdrew from the Olympics after breaking her fibula in training last week and was set to be the youngest U.S. Winter Olympian since 1972. The rest of the U.S. contingent includes X Games silver medalists Keri Herman and Devin Logan, as well as Julia Krass.

Qualification starts at 1 a.m. for the 12-woman final.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Speed skating, women’s 500m, 7:45 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

American Heather Richardson is among a few women who appear to be in the running for silver and bronze in the shortest distance on the program. If she wins a medal, it would be the first for a U.S. women’s speed skater since the 2002 Olympics.

The heavy favorite for gold is reigning Olympic and world champion Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea, who is also the world-record holder. Richardson, who finished sixth in the 500m in her 2010 Olympic debut, has made the podium three times in eight World Cup races this season.

The other contenders are Russian Olga Fatkulina, the 2013 world 1000m champion, German Jenny Wolf, who took silver to Lee in Vancouver, and China’s Wang Beixing, the reigning world silver medalist and Olympic bronze medalist.

The 500m is raced twice with a skater’s times added together for a final standing. Richardson is joined by Americans Brittany Bowe, Sugar Todd and Lauren Cholewinski. Richardson and Bowe are better medal contenders in the 1000m, which comes Thursday.

Women’s cross-country skiing freestyle sprint final, 8:22 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Four-time Olympian Kikkan Randall is favored to win the second-ever U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing medal, first by a woman and first gold by a man or woman.

It could be a showdown with Norway’s Marit Bjoergen in the six-woman final. Bjoergen is the defending Olympic champion and has a chance to become the first Winter Olympian to win six medals in a single Games.

Randall and Bjoergen have split victories in the four World Cup freestyle sprints they’ve entered together this year. Randall will have another shot at a medal in the team sprint Feb. 19.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Women’s luge runs 3 and 4, 9:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

American Erin Hamlin is in position for the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medal ever. She sits third behind two favored Germans after two of four runs at the Sanki Sliding Center.

Hamlin, the 2009 world champion, is .216 ahead of the fourth-place luger but only .052 out of second-place Tatjana Huefner. Hamlin finished 12th and 16th at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics.

Natalie Geisenberger leads and is expected to slide to her second straight Olympic title. The other two Americans, Kate Hansen and Summer Britcher, are 10th and 15th.

Figure skating pairs short program, 10 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Russia begins its quest to regain dominance in an event in which Soviet, Unified Team and Russian skaters won gold at every Olympics from 1964 through 2006. The 2010 Olympic podium included zero Russians.

This year, Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov are the gold-medal favorites, though not by as big of a margin as a few months ago. Stumbles at the Grand Prix Final and European Championships opened the door for Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalists.

Savchenko and Szolkowy skate their short program at 12:25 p.m. ET. Volosozhar and Trankov go at 1.

The U.S. sends two pairs, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir (10:55 a.m.) and Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay (11:01 a,m.). Neither is expected to win a medal following the free skate Wednesday, extending an American pairs drought dating to 1988.

Women’s curling, U.S. vs. Great Britain, 10 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The U.S. faces a measuring stick game against the gold-medal favorites skipped by Scot Eve Muirhead. Curling was founded in Scotland.

Erika Brown, 41, skips a U.S. rink on a mission for the first Olympic medal by an American women’s curling team. She competed in the 1988 Olympics at age 15, when curling was a demonstration sport.

Muirhead and Scotland are the reigning world champions and looking to win Great Britain’s first curling gold since 2002.

Men’s snowboard halfpipe, 12:30 p.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Shaun White will attempt to become the first U.S. man to win the same Winter Olympic event three times. His biggest competition could come from Russian-born Swiss Iouri Podladtchikov, if they make it through earlier qualifying to the 12-man final.

White has dealt with crashes and injuries in the run-up to Sochi and in training at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, putting a little doubt into his favorite status.

Podladtchikov attempts a trick called the YOLO Flip, a cab double cork 1440, that White has added to his repertoire in the last year. However, Podladtchikov has not had a great success rate landing the trick cleanly. If he goes before White in the final start order and can’t put it down, perhaps White won’t have to attempt his 1440.

The other three Americans are medal threats — Greg Bretz, who was 12th in Vancouver; Danny Davis, the reigning Winter X Games champion; and Taylor Gold, the older brother of women’s snowboarder Arielle Gold.

Keep an eye on Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, who took second to White at the 2013 Winter X Games as a 14-year-old.

Women’s ski jumping normal hill, 1:45 p.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

At long last, women will jump at the Olympics. A group of 30 will contest the final round under the lights at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center, following a decade-long fight for inclusion alongside the men, who have been jumping at the Winter Games since the first edition in 1924.

The clear favorite is Japan’s Sara Takanashi, who is 5 feet, 100 pounds and 17 years old. She has won 10 of 13 World Cup events this season after taking silver at last year’s World Championships.

The gold medalist at those worlds was American Sarah Hendrickson, who blew out her right knee in a crash Aug. 21 and furiously rehabbed to make it back in time to compete. This will be her first competition this season, making her medal chances a bit unclear.

The other Americans are 2009 world champion Lindsey Van and U.S. Olympic Trials winner Jessica Jerome.

London Marathon preview; runners to watch

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World records are under threat from male and female runners at the London Marathon on Sunday (3:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

The forecast calls for the warmest London Marathon in its 38-year history (a high Sunday in the low 70s, though likely cooler for the morning start times).

The elite fields, stronger than for last Monday’s Boston Marathon, include the greatest marathoners of this generation — Eliud Kipchoge and Mary Keitany — plus arguably each Kenyan’s top rival at the moment.

Five runners to watch in each field …

Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya
2016 Olympic champ
2015, 2016 London Marathon winner
Ran 2:00:25 in Nike’s sub-two-hour marathon attempt last May

In Kipchoge’s last start in London, he missed countryman Dennis Kimetto‘s world record by eight seconds, prevailing in 2:03:05 in 2016. Since, Kipchoge won the Olympic title, had what he deemed his greatest performance in the sub-two-hour (non-record-eligible) event and extended his marathon win streak to seven races over four years in rainy, humid Berlin last September. The 33-year-old has refused to get into world-record talk, telling media he just wants to run “a beautiful race” Sunday.

Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia
Second-fastest marathoner of all time (Berlin 2016, 2:03:03)
World-record holder in 5000m, 10,000m
Eight Olympic/world titles in 5000m, 10,000m

Credentials from 5000m to marathon make a strong case that Bekele is the greatest runner of all time, ahead of Usain Bolt and Kipchoge. He really started taking aim at the world record after that 2016 Berlin breakthrough. Bekele was runner-up with foot blisters in London last year, nearly three minutes slower than in Germany, and failed to finish his other two marathons in 2017. “To have the records for 5000m to marathon would be something – no one else has done that. I feel like that would make me the greatest ever,” Bekele said, according to marathon organizers.

Mo Farah, Great Britain
2012, 2016 Olympic champ in 5000m/10,000m
Second marathon
8th at 2014 London Marathon

Farah’s primary goal Sunday is modest in comparison to Kipchoge and Bekele — break the British marathon record of 2:07:13. Farah, repeating in a press conference Tuesday that he is ranked 27th in the world in the distance, said he still intends to go out with the leaders even if they start on world-record pace. It’s his first marathon since switching full-time to road running after last season and his second overall after his 2:08:21 in London four years ago.

Guye Adola, Ethiopia
Second to Kipchoge at 2017 Berlin Marathon in 26.2-mile debut

Adola came out of nowhere to finish 14 seconds behind Kipchoge in Berlin on Sept. 24 in the fastest-ever marathon debut on a record-eligible course, sticking with Kipchoge until the last mile. Afterward, we learned Adola didn’t know he was running until four days before the race and wasn’t meant to start with the elite group. The 27-year-old was second and fifth in half marathons in January and February, not particularly impressive.

Daniel Wanjiru, Kenya
2017 London Marathon winner

Wanjiru won his major marathon debut last year, then returned to London for the world championships on Aug. 6 and was eighth. Neither of those fields was as strong as Sunday’s is shaping up to be. Just 25, Wanjiru will be tested like never before.

Mary Keitany, Kenya
2011, 2012, 2017 London Marathon winner
Ran fastest marathon by a woman without male pacers
2014, 2015, 2016 New York City Marathon winner

The 5-foot-2 mother of two smashed Paula Radcliffe‘s women-only world record by 41 seconds in London last year, clocking 2:17:01. She’ll run with male pacers Sunday in a bid to break Radcliffe’s world record of 2:15:25 from the 2003 London Marathon (the first time since 2003 London has male pacers for the women’s race). Keitany was stunned by Shalane Flanagan at her last marathon in New York City in November but came back in February to lower her half marathon personal best. “I’ve had Paula’s record in mind since I started my career,” the 36-year-old Keitany said.

Tirunesh Dibaba, Ethiopia
2017 Chicago Marathon winner
2017 London Marathon runner-up
Third-fastest female marathoner of all time
Eight Olympic/world titles in 5000m/10,000m

The Baby-Faced Destroyer is the only woman in the field whose personal best is within two minutes of Keitany’s. There’s reason to believe she can be closer to Keitany than last year (55 seconds behind, and that’s after stopping briefly with two miles left with stomach problems). Dibaba is four years younger than Keitany, with a decorated track background and just one year into her full-time marathon career.

Gladys Cherono, Kenya
2015, 2017 Berlin Marathon winner

The woman with the third-fastest personal best in the field has never raced London and was fifth in her only major marathon outside of Berlin. She was eighth in a half marathon in February, more than two minutes behind Keitany.

Rose Chelimo, Bahrain
2017 World champion
2017 Boston Marathon runner-up

Impressive second year as a marathoner in 2017. Chelimo, 28, was born in Kenya but switched to Bahrain in 2015. Though this is her London Marathon debut, her world title came in London in August. She did not impress at the world half marathon championships last month, finishing 14th overall and fifth among runners from Bahrain.

Vivian Cheruiyot, Kenya
Fourth at 2017 London Marathon in 26.2-mile debut
Four Olympic medals in 5000m/10,000m
Four world championships in 5000m/10,000m

Credentials similar to but not quite as impressive as Dibaba in terms of track medals, early marathon experience and age (34 to Dibaba’s 32). Cheruiyot finished more than five minutes behind Keitany and Dibaba in her 26.2-mile debut in London last year. She dropped out of the New York City Half Marathon on March 18 with a breathing problem in the cold weather but insisted she’s healthy for Sunday.

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Lance Armstrong settles $100 million lawsuit with U.S. government

Lance Armstrong
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong has reached a $5 million settlement with the federal government in a whistleblower lawsuit that could have sought $100 million in damages from the cyclist who was stripped of his record seven Tour de France victories after admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout much of his career.

The deal announced Thursday came as the two sides prepared for a trial that was scheduled to start May 7 in Washington. Armstrong’s former U.S. Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis filed the original lawsuit in 2010 and is eligible for up to 25 percent of the settlement.

Seeking millions spent sponsoring Armstrong’s powerhouse teams, the government joined the lawsuit against Armstrong in 2013 after his televised confession to using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs and methods. Armstrong had already retired, but the confession shattered the legacy of one of the most popular sports figures in the world.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Armstrong said he’s happy to have “made peace with the Postal Service.”

“While I believe that their lawsuit against me was meritless and unfair, and while I am spending a lot of money to resolve it, I have since 2013 tried to take full responsibility for my mistakes and inappropriate conduct, and make amends wherever possible,” he said. “I rode my heart out for the Postal cycling team, and was always especially proud to wear the red, white and blue eagle on my chest when competing in the Tour de France. Those memories are very real and mean a lot to me.”

The settlement clears the 46-year-old Armstrong of the most damaging legal issues still facing the cyclist since his downfall. He had already taken huge hits financially, losing all his major sponsors and being forced to pay more than $20 million in damages and settlements in a series of lawsuits. The government’s lawsuit would have been the biggest by far.

Armstrong is still believed to be worth millions based on a vast investment portfolio and homes in Austin, Texas, and Aspen, Colo. He also owns a pair of bicycle shops in Austin and WeDu, an endurance events company. He also hosts a regular podcast in which he interviews other sports figures and celebrities and has provided running commentary on the Tour de France.

Armstrong had built a worldwide following during his career winning races and fighting cancer.

His personal story of recovering from testicular cancer that had spread to his brain, while forcefully denying persistent rumors of doping, had built his Lance Armstrong Foundation cancer charity into a $500 million global brand and turned him into a celebrity. The foundation, which removed him from its board and renamed itself Livestrong, has seen donations and revenue plummet since Armstrong’s confession.

Armstrong’s team was already under the Postal Service sponsorship when he won his first Tour de France in 1999. The media frenzy that followed pushed the agency to sign the team for another five years. Armstrong and his teams dominated cycling’s marquee event, winning every year from 1999-2005.

Armstrong’s cheating was finally uncovered in 2012 when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, armed with sworn testimony from Landis and other former teammates, moved to strip Armstrong of his titles.

One of Armstrong’s fiercest critics was frustrated by the settlement. Betsy Andreu, whose husband Frankie was a former Armstrong teammate, was the first to testify under oath about his performance-enhancing drug use in a 2005 civil lawsuit.

“It’s utterly shocking that the government settled for so little,” Andreu said.

Andreu and her husband were close with Armstrong when the men were teammates before Andreu retired in 2000. Armstrong later strenuously denied Betsy’s claims of drug use and tried to publicly discredit her, which succeeded for years. She wanted the case to go to trial.

“I would have liked to have been questioned under oath. That’s my goal. And whether or not the jury would have convicted him would have been a different story, but it would have been nice to have my say under oath. He tried to destroy me.,” Andreu said.

Landis, himself a former doping cheat who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, sued Armstrong under the federal False Claims Act, alleging Armstrong and his team committed fraud against the government when they cheated while riding under the Postal Service banner. According to court records, the contract paid the team, which was operated by Tailwind Sports Corp., about $32 million from 2000 to 2004. Armstrong got nearly $13.5 million.

Under the lawsuit, the government could have pursued “treble” damages, which could have reached the $100 million range. As the person who filed the original lawsuit, Landis is eligible for up to 25 percent of the settlement, which will include an additional $1.65 million paid to Landis’ attorneys.

Armstrong had claimed he didn’t owe the Postal Service anything because the agency made far more off the sponsorship than it paid; Armstrong’s lawyers introduced internal studies for the agency that calculated benefits in media exposure topping $100 million. The government countered that Armstrong had been “unjustly enriched” through the sponsorship and that the negative fallout from the doping scandal tainted the agency’s reputation.

Armstrong had been the target of a federal criminal grand jury, but that case was closed without charges in February 2012. Armstrong had previously tried to settle the Landis whistleblower lawsuit, but those talks broke down before the government announced its intention to join the case.

“I am glad to resolve this case and move forward with my life,” Armstrong said. “I’m looking forward to devoting myself to the many great things in my life — my five kids, my wife, my podcast, several exciting writing and film projects, my work as a cancer survivor, and my passion for sports and competition. There is a lot to look forward to.”

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