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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.


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.


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.


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.

Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

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Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

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