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U.S., Canada set up Four Nations Cup final showdown

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WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) — The United States has earned yet another game against Canada, and the Americans really like how they’re playing right now.

Kacey Bellamy scored on a power-play at 4:23 of the first period and the United States beat Sweden 5-0 on Friday night to reach the championship of the Four Nations Cup.

The Americans will play Canada on Sunday looking for their eighth overall title in this tournament and third straight. So far this fall, the United States has won two of the first three games against its biggest rivals in women’s hockey, including a 4-2 win Wednesday night in the round-robin portion of this event.

“We know who they are and they know who we are, and it’s very likely another real good hockey game,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said about playing Canada for the fourth time as part of their pre-Olympic exhibition tour.

The U.S. squad has won three games in four nights scoring 17 goals and allowing only four.

“Obviously, it’s always great to win a game and win three in a row is the ultimate goal, but I’m just happy with the way we’re playing,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said. “I think all the games have been different, a lot of special teams. We’ve done a great job managing our energy, managing our intensity, the way that we want to play. Sticking to dictating the game on our end and just happy with where we’re at right now.”

Kendall Coyne scored two goals in the second. Hannah Brandt had a goal and an assist, and Gigi Marvin had a goal.

This was the 18th game between the United States and Sweden in this event, and the Americans remain undefeated with their seventh shutout in the last nine games between the teams.

They jumped on Sweden’s first penalty when Olivia Carlsson went to the box for high-sticking, needing just 29 seconds to score.

Bellamy skated across the slot in front of the crease and pounced on a rebound of Hilary Knight‘s shot to beat goalie Sara Grahn with a backhander.

Sweden killed off its other two penalties of the period, and goalie Nicole Hensley made a nice stop on a short-handed breakaway attempt by Lisa Johansson at 18:18 of the first. That may have been the biggest of the nine shots Hensley faced.

“It’s critical,” Stauber said. “Anytime a game’s 1-nothing, that’s a game-changing save, and she came up big and had some other real good saves. And that’s not easy on a given night when you only face nine shots on goal. That’s not easy to stay in something like that. So she was mentally focused … She didn’t give any ground.”

Coyne made it 2-0 with her second goal in three games in this tournament 1:35 into the second. Then Coyne made it 3-0 at 4:56, and Brandt scored from the slot midway through the second.

Canada beat Finland 4-0 to advance to the title game. Finland took three of the first four shots, but Brianne Jenner scored on the power play at 13:27 of the 1st for a lead the Canadians never lost.

Canada went 2 of 6 with the advantage while killing all seven penalties. Marie-Philip Poulin had a goal and an assist, and Meghan Agosta added two assists.

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What is the Alpine skiing team event?

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The Alpine skiing team event will make its Olympic debut in PyeongChang

How to watch
Friday, Feb. 23, 9:00 p.m. ET
LIVE EVENT STREAM

Olympic skiing has always been an individual sport. Simply, the fastest skier down the mountain wins the gold medal.

But the world’s best skiers will have to rely on their teammates for the first time in the team event, which is making its Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

The team event will feature 16 teams, or nations, of four athletes (two men and two women). The 16 teams will be arranged in a bracket-style, single-elimination format. Think NCAA March Madness.

A skier from each of the two competing nations will race down the course in a series of head-to-head slalom races. The winner will earn a point for his or her team. The team with the most points after four heats will advance. If the teams have the same number of points, the winner will be the nation with the lower combined time of its fastest male and female competitor.

Teams are allowed to have a maximum of two reserves.

France won the team event at the 2017 World Championships. The U.S., competing without Mikaela Shiffrin, was knocked out in the first round by Canada.

“It’s a really fun event,” said American AJ Ginnis. “The atmosphere—the fact that you get to race with girls and guys and it’s a team effort is really cool.”

Men’s snowboard big air preview

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Now that Anna Gasser of Austria has successfully captured the first-ever Olympic gold medal in women’s snowboard big air, it’s almost time to crown the first-ever Olympic champion on the men’s side.

Big air snowboarding has progressed tremendously in recent years, and there’s been a lot of build-up to these Olympics, so expect heavy tricks to come out quickly in the final.

Or as Mark McMorris put it: “There’s probably [going to be] some mind-boggling s—.”

Every time there’s a big air event, there’s always talk about “quads” — a type of trick that features four inverted flips. It’s such a progressive trick that only two riders have landed a quad in competition, only a few others have done it in training, and many are hesitant to even try.

Read the full preview at NBCOlympics.com