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What to watch on Day 11 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.  18. A complete list of every Tuesday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Women’s giant slalom, 12:30 a.m./4 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH FIRST RUN | SECOND RUN

At last, Mikaela Shiffrin makes her Olympic debut. The 18-year-old Vail native begins with her secondary event, but one she could definitely win a medal in, potentially gold.

She finished sixth at the 2013 World Championships and has taken two giant slalom podiums and four top-10s in five starts this season.

This race is missing 2013 world champion Tessa Worley and contender Tina Weirather due to injuries. The favorite may just be Austrian Anna Fenninger, who won the super-G here and has been top five in the giant slalom each of the past three World Cup seasons.

Slovenian Tina Maze dominated giant slalom during her record-shattering 2012-13 season but ranks ninth in the discipline this season. Swedes Jessica Lindell-Vikarby and Maria Pietilae Holmner are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 this season and looking for their first Olympic medals.

2006 Olympic giant slalom champion Julia Mancuso is also in the field, but she’s better suited to speed events.

Men’s snowboard cross, 1:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

This event was postponed Monday due to heavy fog and will now skip seeding races and begin with elimination rounds.

A new Olympic champion will be crowned at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. The only men’s gold medalist the event has ever known, American Seth Wescott, did not make the Olympic Team.

The U.S. sends four other men, including Nate Holland, who was fourth at the 2010 Olympics, Nick Baumgartner, Trevor Jacob and Alex Deibold.

The top international contenders include Australia’s Alex “Chumpy” Pullin, who has played in a reggae band named “Love Charli,” and Austrian Markus Schairer. They were the top two finishers at the 2013 World Championships.

Men’s hockey qualification playoff, Slovenia-Austria, 3 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The winner of this No. 8-9 matchup gets top overall seed Sweden in the quarterfinals. Neither Austria nor Slovenia has ever won an Olympic hockey medal and both went 1-2 in group play, not posing a threat to the power nations.

In fact, Slovenia is in its first Olympic hockey tournament. Its star, Anze Kopitar, exited a game against the U.S. on Sunday feeling ill but is expected back in the lineup.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Biathlon, men’s 15km mass start, 5:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

This is the third straight day organizers will try get the last men’s individual event of the Olympic biathlon program in. Fog pushed it back on both Sunday and Monday.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is expected to take aim at the solo record for most Winter Olympic medals for the third time after his opening gold in the 10km sprint.

Bjoerndalen, 40, has been stuck on 12 career medals, finishing fourth in the 12.5km pursuit and 34th in the 20km individual event. He is not a medal favorite here (but Norway is in later relays). France’s Martin Fourcade is the star, looking for his third straight gold.

Speed skating, men’s 10,000m, 7 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The Netherlands could sweep a speed skating event for the fourth time at Adler Arena. They did so a year ago in this grueling race at the World Single Distance Championships, also at Adler.

Two-time Olympic 5000m champion Sven Kramer is the heavy favorite, just as he was in 2010, when he infamously failed to change lanes on a late lap and was disqualified after finishing with the fastest time.

His biggest competition is thought to come from countrymen Jorrit Bergsma, who beat Kramer at 2013 worlds, and Bob de Jong, 37, who has won a medal of every color in this event dating to 1998.

If somebody is to break up the orange party, it will likely be Belgian Bart Swings or South Korean Lee Seung-hoon, who won the 2010 Olympic title after Kramer’s DQ.

The U.S. contingent is Emery Lehman and Patrick Meek.

Nordic combined large hill, 10km portion, 7 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Americans Bill Demong and Bryan and Taylor Fletcher look to improve upon finishing 24th, 26th and 33rd in the normal hill event last Wednesday.

Demong is the defending Olympic champion here but is not considered a medal threat. The favorite to succeed him was German Eric Frenzel, the normal hill gold medalist, but he is out with a virus. (UPDATE: Frenzel ended up entering)

That opens up the gold-medal picture a bit. Two contenders are the normal hill silver and bronze medalists, Japan’s Akito Watabe and Norway’s Magnus Krog.

Men’s hockey qualification playoff, Russia-Norway, 7:30 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Russia was the top team to miss out on an automatic quarterfinal berth, so they’ll have to take care of the lowest-ranked team out of 12 to earn its quarters berth against Finland.

It shouldn’t be troubled by Norway, which has lost all seven of its Olympic games in Vancouver and Sochi.

Ilya Kovalchuk missed part of Sunday’s game due to injury and sat out at least part of practice Monday to rest, according to the Russian coach.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Women’s bobsled runs 1 and 2, 10:15 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The first two of four runs to determine medals will take place at Sanki Sliding Center.

The race for gold is expected to come down to defending champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada and American Elana Meyers. They were separated by one point this World Cup season — Humphries taking the overall standings 1,629 to 1,628.

Meyers will drive USA-1 with Olympic track champion Lauryn Williams as her push athlete. Williams, in her first season bobsledding, could become the second person to win golds at a Summer and Winter Games.

USA-2 driver Jamie Greubel is also in the medal mix, paired with push athlete Aja Evans. USA-3 is driven by Jazmine Fenlator with two-time Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones. Fenlator and Jones have an outside shot at a medal.

Men’s hockey qualification playoffs, Czech Republic-Slovakia, 12 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVESwitzerland-Latvia, 12 p.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The Czech Republic-Slovakia winner will advance to play the U.S. in the quarterfinals. Surely, the U.S. wouldn’t mind playing 10th seed Slovakia a second time following a 7-1 drubbing in their opening game.

The seventh seed Czechs, led by grizzleds Jaromir Jagr and Petr Nedved, lost by a combined three goals to Sweden and Switzerland in group play.

No. 6 Switzerland will be favored against No. 11 Latvia, with the winner getting Canada in the quarterfinals. Switzerland beat Latvia 1-0 in group play.

The Swiss gave Canada all sorts of trouble in group play at the 2010 Olympics, forcing a shootout before falling 3-2. In this tournament, Swiss goalie Jonas Hiller has given up zero goals in playing two of three group-play games.

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

David Wise, married with a daughter in Reno, Nev., is the three-time reigning Winter X Games champion, 2013 world champion and favorite for gold should he make it through qualifying in this debut event.

The field behind Wise includes several skiers with medal aspirations, including American Torin Yater-Wallace, who was second to Wise at the 2013 X Games and World Championships. Yater-Wallace missed the rest of the Olympic selection events after breaking two ribs in a Dec. 14 crash, a few weeks after suffering a collapsed lung. The other Americans are Aaron Blunck and Lyman Currier.

Canada’s Justin Dorey and Mike Riddle and France’s Kevin Rolland and Thomas Krief are also in the medal picture.

World Health Organization rejects Olympic postponement call

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BERLIN (AP) — The World Health Organization said there is “no public health justification” for postponing or canceling the Rio Olympics because of the Zika outbreak.

The assessment, in a statement early Saturday, came after 150 health experts issued an open letter to the U.N. health agency calling for the Games to be delayed or relocated “in the name of public health.”

Friday’s letter cited recent scientific evidence that the Zika virus causes severe birth defects, most notably babies born with abnormally small heads. In adults, it can cause neurological problems, including a rare syndrome that can be fatal or result in temporary paralysis.

The authors also noted that despite increased efforts to wipe out the mosquitoes that spread Zika, the number of infections in Rio have gone up rather than down.

WHO, however, said that “based on current assessment, cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus.”

Several public health academics have previously warned that having hundreds of thousands of people travel to the Aug. 5-21 Games in Brazil will inevitably lead to the births of more brain-damaged babies and speed up the virus’ global spread.

The Geneva-based U.N. health agency argued that Brazil is one of almost 60 countries and territories which are reporting transmission of the virus by mosquitoes, and that “people continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons.”

“Based on the current assessment of Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the games,” it said. “WHO will continue to monitor the situation and update our advice as necessary.”

It pointed to existing advice for pregnant women not to travel to areas with Zika virus transmission, among other recommendations.

WHO declared the spread of Zika in the Americas to be a global emergency in February.

Its statement Saturday made no direct reference to the health experts’ letter, which also highlighted the decades-long collaboration between WHO and the International Olympic Committee.

The authors said the “overly close” relationship “was last affirmed in 2010 at an event where the Director-General of WHO and president of the IOC signed a memorandum of understanding, which is secret because neither has disclosed it.”

The IOC rejected the idea that the two organizations are too close, saying in an emailed comment that it “does not currently have an MoU with the World Health Organization.”

The last one, it added, “outlined cooperation between the two organizations to promote physical activity to fight strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and obesity.”

MORE: Rio Olympic, Paralympic medals reveal date set

Mo Farah leads Olympic, World champions notching wins at Pre Classic

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Olympic champion Mo Farah of Great Britain won his third 10,000m title in the Prefontaine Classic on Friday night.

Farah, who 2012 Olympic 5000m and 10,000m titles, pulled out front with about two laps to go and withstood Kenyan William Malel Sitonik with a surge on the final turn to finish in 26 minutes, 53.71 seconds at Hayward Field.

“I am really happy where I am,” Farah said. “I am in a lot better shape than I was in 2012.”

It was Farah’s second straight victory in the event at Pre and third overall. In all three wins he has finished under the 27-minute mark.

The 33-year-old’s last outdoor events on a track came at August’s World Championships in Beijing, where he swept the 5000m and 10,000m at a second straight Worlds.

Farah trains with the Nike Oregon Project. His teammate, U.S. Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp, opted not to run at Pre and instead focus on the Olympic Trials in July. Rupp has already made the Olympic marathon team, but he could make a bid for a double in the 10,000m.

The Prefontaine Classic continues Saturday with coverage on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. A full broadcast schedule is here.

Kenyan Hellen Obiri won the women’s 5000m in 14:32.02, surging on the final lap for a personal best. The top American finisher was Molly Huddle, 16 seconds behind for 11th place.

Olympian Alysia Montaño won the 800m in 2:00.78. Known for running with a flower in her hair, Montaño is a six-time U.S. 800m champion.

“I knew it was going to be a little cold, a little windy,” she said. “So I knew it was going to be a little bit different, like in terms of just feeling it out and not going for a really quick time.”

World champion Joe Kovacs won the shot put with a throw of 72 feet, 7 ¼ inches, the best mark in the world this season. Croatian Olympic champion Sandra Perković won the women’s discus. Earlier, two-time World champion Pawel Fajdek of Poland won the men’s hammer.

U.S. Olympic champion Brittney Reese won the long jump with a leap of 22-8½.

“Just to get that win, it sets me up good for my season, and it shows that I’m in form and good shape going into Rio,” Reese said.

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