Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 15

Sochi Olympic Daily Recap: Day 15

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After falling to Canada in the semifinals, the U.S. men’s hockey team tried to shift focus to this morning’s bronze medal game against Finland.

But the Americans were never able to get going as the Finns, led by a two-goal effort from Teemu Selanne and a shutout performance from Tuukka Rask, earned their fourth men’s hockey medal in the last five Winter Olympics with a 5-0 victory.

U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick allowed all five Finnish goals, but didn’t receive any offensive help either as the team failed to score for the second game in a row.

After the game, he took the team to task for their effort overall while also acknowledging his own shortcomings, saying: “My job is to stop the puck, and I didn’t do that very well. Team effort. We weren’t good.”…

Meanwhile, giant slalom winner Ted Ligety of the U.S. attempted to earn a medal in an event that’s not his best – the slalom. He was a solid sixth after the first run, but was one of multiple big names that failed to finish their second run. The gold went to 34-year-old Mario Matt of Austria, who becomes the oldest Alpine skiing champion in Olympic history…

American-born Russian snowboarder Vic Wild triumphed once again, this time claiming the parallel slalom for his second gold in these Games. He charged from 1.12 seconds down to win his semifinal and then took the final by a mere .11 of a second. Austria’s Julia Dujmovits won the women’s gold…

On the final day of speedskating, the Dutch put an exclamation point on their medal spree at Adler Arena with wins and Olympic records in both the men’s and ladies‘ team pursuit. With that, they finish out with eight golds and 23 medals in speedskating alone

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen’s stellar third leg (10-for-10 in shooting) for Norway in the biathlon men’s relay was not enough for him to earn a record ninth Winter Olympic gold. Norway’s anchor, Emil Hegle Svendsen, missed multiple shots in the final shooting range and took a penalty lap that helped knock the Norwegians to fourth at the finish. At the front, Anton Shipulin pulled away on the final straight to win for Russia

And in cross-country skiing, Norway’s Marit Bjorgen won her third Sochi gold and sixth of her Olympic career in the women’s mass start. The event was swept by the Norwegians with Therese Johaug and Kristin Stoermer Steira taking silver and bronze respectively…

Four-man bobsled got underway and after the first day, it’s tight at the top. The defending Olympic champions from the U.S., led by driver Steven Holcomb, currently run fourth at just .17 of a second behind the leaders from Russia – who themselves only hold a lead of four one-hundredths of a second over Latvia. Germany is third at just one one-hundredth of a second ahead of the Americans…

Today’s bobsled action did not go without incident, as Canada’s third sled flipped over and eventually slid past the start/finish line on its side. Thankfully, driver Justin Kripps and his teammates were able to walk away from the track. At last report, the racers were being looked over by doctors as part of standard procedure…

Outside of competition, the head of Canada’s freestyle skiing team confirmed that the ashes of the late Sarah Burke were spread upon the halfpipe course at Rosa Khutor. The freestyle pioneer battled hard to have ski halfpipe included in the Sochi Olympics prior to her death in January of 2012…

South Korea’s Olympic committee and skating union officially filed a protest against Adelina Sotnikova’s surprising gold medal win over Yuna Kim. Whether it’ll be effective, however, may be another story…

Dutch speedskater and 10,000m Jorrit Bergsma boycotted today’s team pursuit event – not that it had any impact (see above)…

The science behind the runs that got Mikaela Shiffrin her gold medal in women’s slalom was explained

The Sochi Polar Bear once again made his presence known during today’s USA-Finland hockey match-up…

Canadian and Slovenian officials accused France of using illegally modified suits in their men’s ski cross sweep…

Adult-sized onesies have now become the hottest fashion statement among the Sochi competitors…

And IOC president Thomas Bach had lots of praise for Ukraine’s Olympians and the country’s gold in the biathlon women’s relay.

U.S. Olympic Committee to hire infectious disease specialists for Zika

Christ the Redeemer
AP
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The U.S. Olympic Committee will hire two infectious disease specialists to advise potential Olympians who are worried about the Zika outbreak in Brazil.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun sent a letter Wednesday to all possible Olympians, acknowledging the growing worries over the virus.

“I know that the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil is of concern to many of you,” Blackmun wrote. “I want to emphasize that it is to us, as well, and that your well-being in Rio this summer is our highest priority.”

The letter goes on to spell out much of the information that’s already been relayed by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The virus is spread by mosquitoes. About 20 percent of those infected display mild symptoms, including body aches and rash. But pregnant women and those considering getting pregnant have greater reason for concern because the virus can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by an abnormally small head.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this week, U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo said if the Olympics were being held now, she wouldn’t go.

Blackmun told The Associated Press that Solo’s comments “made us realize we need to provide concise and accurate info for our athletes.”

At least one of the two infectious disease specialists will be a woman, Blackmun said.

In addition to those two hires, the USOC will post updates to its website at USOC.org/RioTravelUpdates.

The USOC’s decision to hire the specialists was first reported by USA Today.

The letter, addressed to prospective members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic delegation, says “no matter how much we prepare … there will always be risk associated with international competition. Each country, each venue and each discipline will present different risks and require different mitigation strategies.”

Blackmun said the USOC is monitoring the frequent updates regarding Zika. The letter makes note that “rapid testing to determine if an individual is infected is expected in the near future.”

“First and foremost, we want to make sure our athletes have accurate information because they’re concerned,” Blackmun said. “Based on what we know now, the primary threat is to unborn children.”

MORE: Zika won’t stop Olympics; only war has done that, historian says

Alex Morgan scores 12 seconds into U.S. Olympic qualifying romp (video)

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Alex Morgan wasted no time igniting the U.S. women’s soccer team’s Olympic qualifying campaign.

The striker scored the first of her two goals 12 seconds into the Americans’ CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament-opening 5-0 rout of Costa Rica on Wednesday in Frisco, Texas.

It’s believed to be the fastest goal in U.S. Soccer history, according to U.S. Soccer.

“I think we shocked Costa Rica’s confidence a little bit,” Morgan said on NBC Sports Live Extra. “We’ve been working on that play, so I’m glad that we executed it perfectly.”

Crystal DunnCarli Lloyd and Christen Press also scored for the Americans, who are ranked No. 1 in the world. Costa Rica is ranked No. 34.

“Overall, we brought the fight,” Lloyd said on Live Extra. “We’ve got to put this one to bed and move on.”

The first three goals came in the first 15 minutes.

GOAL VIDEOS: Dunn | LloydMorgan’s second | Press

The U.S. is in one of two CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament groups with Costa Rica, Mexico (ranked No. 26) and Puerto Rico (No. 108).

It plays Mexico next on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra. Mexico crushed Puerto Rico 6-0 earlier Wednesday.

The top two nations per group will advance to the tournament semifinals, and the Feb. 19 semifinal winners advance to the Rio Games in August.

The U.S. is heavily favored to qualify for Rio, where it would go for its fourth straight Olympic title. The next-best North American team is ranked No. 11 (Canada, which is in the opposite CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament group).

If the U.S. and Canada win their respective groups, they would not have to play each other to qualify for the Olympics.

The U.S. roster for Olympic qualifying includes 13 of the 23 players from the World Cup, led by Olympic champions Morgan, Lloyd and Hope Solo, who blanked Costa Rica on Wednesday.

All 15 matches of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament will be streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra.

MORE: No Olympics for Messi, but another Argentine star striker possible

2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Schedule

Frisco, Texas – Toyota Stadium
Houston, Texas – BBVA Compass Stadium
Times U.S. Central (U.S. Eastern in parentheses)

FIRST ROUND
Group A: USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica
Group B: Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana

Wednesday, Feb. 10 (Frisco)
Mexico 6, Puerto Rico 0                                 5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA 5, Costa Rica 0                                    7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 11 (Houston)
Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago                  5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guyana                                           7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

Saturday, Feb. 13 (Frisco)
Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico                              12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
USA vs. Mexico                                                 3 p.m. (4 p.m.) NBCSN at 9:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, Feb. 14 (Houston)
Guyana vs. Guatemala                                     12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.)
Trinidad vs. Canada                                          3 p.m. (4 p.m.)

Monday, Feb. 15 (Frisco)
Mexico vs. Costa Rica                                       5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
USA vs. Puerto Rico                                          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) LIVE on NBCSN

Tuesday, Feb. 16 (Houston)
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guyana                         5 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Canada vs. Guatemala                                      7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.)

SEMIFINALS

Friday, Feb. 19 (Houston)
Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up          4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m.) ***
Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up          7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) ***

FINAL

Sunday, Feb. 21 (Houston)
Semifinal winners                                            4 p.m. (5 p.m.) NBCSN at 11 p.m.

***USA’s semifinal, should the USA advance, will air LIVE on NBCSN