What to watch on Day 2 of Sochi Olympics

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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Sunday, Feb. 9. A complete list of every Sunday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Men’s downhill, 2 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE EVENT LIVE

The medal picture for the marquee skiing event of the Olympics has shaken up over the last few weeks. American Bode Miller, a five-time Olympian with five Olympic medals, is now a legitimate pick for gold despite missing all of the 2012-13 season following knee surgery.

Miller, 36, was the fastest man in two of the three training runs at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort. He would be the oldest Alpine skier to win an Olympic medal.

He’s been the best skier on the mountain,” Aksel Lund Svindal, the reigning world champion and World Cup champion, said of Miller. “So now he looks like the favorite.”

Miller, the 2010 Olympic downhill bronze medalist, has not won a World Cup race in three years but took third in the final pre-Olympic downhill race Jan. 25. A sixth Olympic medal would put him solo second all time among men behind retired Norwegian Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who earned eight.

Svindal, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, has won 11 World Cup races in the same three-year span. He’s been eighth, third and second in this week’s training runs.

Before the training runs, Svindal was a consensus gold-medal favorite, a status cemented when top Austrian hope Hannes Reichelt withdrew from the Olympics with a herniated disk. Italian Dominik Paris, the 2013 world silver medalist, has yet to return to form from a December crash.

Snowboarding, women’s slopestyle, 4:15 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Four-time Winter X Games champion Jamie Anderson could make it a U.S. sweep in snowboard slopestyle following Sage Kotsenburg’s surprise gold Saturday.

Anderson qualified second into the final, passing on her second run after posting a 93.50 in her opener Thursday. Anderson is a slight favorite over 2013 world champion Spencer O’Brien of Canada and top qualifier Anna Gasser of Austria. American Karly Shorr and Australian 2010 Olympic halfpipe champion Torah Bright also qualified straight into the 12-woman final.

Reigning X Games champion Silje Norendal will join the favorites mix if she is one of four to advance out of the 15-woman semifinals, which begin at 1:30 a.m. ET. Americans Ty Walker and Jessika Jenson are also in the semis.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR ….

Speed skating, women’s 3000m, 6:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The first women’s speed skating event of the Olympics is likely to come down to three veteran Olympic champions.

Czech Martina Sablikova is the defending Olympic champion and World Cup leader. German Claudia Pechstein, 41 and a nine-time Olympic medalist, is the only woman to beat Sablikova in a World Cup 3000m this season. The Netherlands’ Ireen Wuest is the 2006 Olympic champion and reigning world champion in the distance.

The U.S. women’s team is likely to end its medal drought since 2002 in Sochi, but it probably won’t come here. Jilleanne Rookard and Anna Ringsred represent the red, white and blue.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Luge, men’s singles, 9:30 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The third and fourth runs will determine the medals at the Sanki Sliding Center. The first two runs saw the same accomplished men in the top three — defending Olympic champion German Felix Loch, seven-time Olympian Russian Albert Demtschenko and 2002 and 2006 Olympic champion Italian Armin Zoeggeler.

Loch leads by .294 over Demtschenko and .744 over Zoeggeler. He’s trying to become the third man to win back-to-back Olympic luge titles, joining Zoeggeler and German Georg Hackl.

Zoeggeler would be the first athlete to win a Winter Olympic medal in six straight Games. Demtschenko, 42, can take the title of oldest Winter Olympic champion in an individual event from Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who set the mark Saturday.

Chris Mazdzer is the top American in 13th, the same place he finished at the 2010 Olympics. The U.S. has never won an Olympic singles luge medal, and that drought will continue.

Figure skating, team event, 10 a.m. ET (Live on NBCSN) CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The first figure skating medals will be awarded following three sets of free skates (men, women and ice dance) from five nations at the Iceberg Palace. The U.S. improved from a tie for fifth to third place Saturday, but it can’t finish higher than second as Russia is well ahead.

The U.S. is expected to send first-time Olympians Jason Brown and Gracie Gold and world ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White up on Sunday, in that order. They must average a little over two spots better than Canada per event to win silver. That is very unlikely.

Really, the Americans should be more concerned with being caught by Italy and Japan, which are three and four points back. The key will be Brown and Gold handling the pressure of their Olympic debuts. The U.S. could even trail Italy and Japan by a point or two going into the free dance finale, since those nations don’t have the firepower to match Davis and White.

Canada needs to finish at least two spots better than Russia per event to overtake the host nation for gold. That is very unlikely. Russia is guaranteed no worse than silver, meaning Yevgeny Plushenko will become the second figure skater to win four Olympic medals.

Ski Jumping, men’s normal hill, 12:30 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The second day of competition will conclude with ski jumping under the lights at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center. Ski jumping has been a daytime affair at all recent Winter Olympics save 2006.

Gold is up for grabs. Four-time Olympic champion Swiss Simon Ammann is among the contenders, as are decorated Austrians Gregor Schlierenzauer, Thomas Morgenstern and Thomas Diethart. Poland, Slovenia, Norway and Germany send top jumpers as well.

And then there’s Japan’s Noriaki Kasai, at 41, in his seventh Olympics and still looking for his first individual medal. He’s got a shot.

The U.S. qualified three men into Sunday’s competition — Nick Alexander, Anders Johnson and Peter Frenette — but neither is expected to contend for medals.

Katie Ledecky talks swimming legacy and life in Gainesville

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OlympicTalk recently caught up with Katie Ledecky to discuss life since moving from Stanford to Florida 15 months ago, her meticulous mindset, and the legacy she continues to build.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can also catch an encore presentation of Ledecky’s performance at the 2022 U.S. Open this Saturday at 4:30 pm ET on NBC.

What does a typical day look like for you Gainesville? Walk me through a full day starting from the minute your alarm clock goes off.

Ledecky: A typical day would be waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning and swimming from 6 to 8. Then I have weights from 8 to 9:15. I get breakfast, have lunch and then take a nap. Then I have practice again at 2 or 3 in the afternoon for another two hours.

Wow, that sounds incredibly busy! Have you had a chance to find any new favorite places to eat in Gainesville?

Ledecky: I’m still kind of finding my spots. There is a breakfast spot pretty close to campus that a lot of the swimmers like, so I go there quite a bit, but I’m still looking. I haven’t gone to very many places more than once.

What are you doing in your free time? Are you coaching?

Ledecky: Yes, I’m volunteering with the [University of Florida] team, but I think of myself more as a teammate. I have a lot of other things going on with sponsorships, but aside from that, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I have a piano and enjoy playing that!

How often do you get to see your family?

Ledecky: My parents, David and Mary, still live in the D.C. area, and then my brother, Michael, lives in New York, so I’m a lot closer to home [than at Stanford]. I see them around the holidays, and they come to a lot of my swim meets.

I know how much you love to stay academically engaged. Are you taking any classes at the University of Florida?

Ledecky: I’m not taking any classes right now. I’m taking a break, but I’m still trying to learn as much as I can just in other areas, reading a lot and watching the news, following different things that I’m interested in. I think at some point, I’ll probably go to grad school, but I’m still figuring out what area that would be in right now.

There’s a quote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I feel like that only scratches the surface of describing your work ethic and mindset. You demand excellence in every area of your life, not just from yourself, but from others around you. Can you talk about where that mindset comes from?

Ledecky: I’ve always had that kind of a mindset. I’m very driven, and I’m always setting new goals for myself no matter what I’ve achieved in the past. I’m always looking forward, I don’t take very many breaks, and so it’s always on to the next goal and making sure I’m doing the little things right and doing the things I need to do to reach my goals.

To be able to perform at the level that you do every single day takes a lot of mental toughness. What do Katie Ledecky’s inner thoughts look like? What do you tell yourself? Any affirmations? 

Ledecky: I try to stay positive no matter how well or how poorly a practice or a race is going. When I’m swimming, I give myself positive mental pep talks along the way throughout a race. I’ll say “keep it up,” “hold pace” or “hit this turn.”

I just want to read you a few tweets… 

You idolized Michael Phelps when you were younger, and now you’re that person for a lot of people. You’re the GOAT. You’re Katie Ledecky. Someone’s idol. What does that feel like?

Ledecky: It’s an honor to have young swimmers look up to me, and I don’t take that lightly. I try to be a good role model and reach out to young kids and sign autographs and take photos if people approach me at swim meets. I hope that there are some young swimmers out there that will grow up to be champions or maybe they’ll just continue to love the sport or find other things that they’re passionate about, but it’s an honor.

Have you had any memorable interactions with young swimmers?

Ledecky:  Yeah, actually the World Cup in Indianapolis [in November]. We were given those giant checks at the end of the meet that you really can’t travel with, so I was able to sign it and give it to one of the basket carriers at the meet. They were thrilled, and it was fun to be able to put a smile on their face.

Give me just one word to describe each of these milestones in your life, starting with the 2012 Olympics.

Ledecky: The first. It was my first international competition and my first gold medal, so that’s the one that’ll probably be the most special for me forever.

OLY-2012-SWIM

2016 Rio Olympics.

Ledecky: Consistency. I was swimming in multiple events at the Olympics for the first time and I just got into a really good rhythm and felt so comfortable in the pool deck. So confident. That was just a very unique feeling.

Tokyo Games.

Ledecky: Tokyo was different with all the COVID protocols. Nobody in the stands. No family there. But it was a lot of fun still, so a lot of great memories with my teammates there.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind at the end of your career? What do you want to be remembered for?

Ledecky: I’d like to be remembered as somebody that worked really hard and gave my best effort every time I got up on the blocks and represented Team USA. Hopefully, I can continue to inspire young kids to work hard in whatever it is that they are passionate about, whether that’s something academic, athletic, or something else. If you find something that you really love, you should go all in on it and try to be the best you can be at it.

You’ve achieved so much in life already personally and professionally, I just want to ask: Are you genuinely happy? Are you satisfied in this season of life right now?

Ledecky: Oh yeah, I’m very happy. I love the sport more and more every year. I get a little sad thinking about the day I will eventually retire–which isn’t anytime soon. I love the sport. I’m trying to just enjoy every day of training and racing and trying to be the best that I can be.

I say this all the time, I never imagined I would even make it to one Olympics and so to be training now to try to qualify for a fourth Olympics is it’s all just icing on the cake at this point and something that I truly enjoy. I enjoy doing it with my teammates, striving for similar goals, and getting to do it with really great people.

Knowing all that you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self — the little Palisades Porpoise?

Ledecky: I don’t have very many regrets or anything in my career, so I think I would just continue to tell myself to have fun and enjoy every moment. Maybe, write down a little bit more early on. I’ve done a better job of journaling and writing down different things so that I can remember them down the road, but I didn’t do as good of a job in 2012 and 2013.

Rapid-fire questions. Race day hype song? 

Ledecky: “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen.

Finish this sentence: I’m not ready for a meet without … 

Ledecky: My suit, cap and goggles.

Did you have AIM back in the day? What was your embarrassing screen name?

Ledecky: I didn’t. I didn’t even have a cell phone until before the London Olympics. I think I actually borrowed my brother’s phone for that, and then we went out and bought an iPad so that I could FaceTime my family from London. I didn’t have an email account either until high school.

Your life is on the line. You need to sing one karaoke song to save it. What are you picking?

Ledecky: Well, USA Swimming did carpool karaoke in 2016 before the Olympics. My car did “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, which is a great karaoke song because it’s like 10 minutes long so maybe I would choose that just as a fun memory. We also did “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen in 2012. Those are two fun songs with some fond memories.

Post-workout meal?

Ledecky: After morning practice, eggs and toast or veggies and eggs. I love breakfast. I could eat breakfast food for all three meals and I’d be satisfied.

Cheat meal? 

Ledecky: Either pizza or a burger.

If you had to choose another Olympic sport to compete in what would it be and why? 

Ledecky: Probably hockey. I’m not good on skates, but it’s my favorite sport to watch.

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Marie-Philip Poulin is first female hockey player to win Canada Athlete of the Year

Marie-Philip Poulin
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Marie-Philip Poulin became the first female hockey player to win Canada’s Athlete of the Year after captaining the national team at the Winter Olympics and winning her third gold medal.

Poulin, 31, scored twice and assisted once in Canada’s 3-2 win over the U.S. in the Olympic final on Feb. 17. She has scored seven of Canada’s 10 goals over the last four Olympic finals dating to the 2010 Vancouver Games — all against the U.S.

Nine different male hockey players won Canada Athlete of the Year — now called the Northern Star Award — since its inception in 1936, led by Wayne Gretzky‘s four titles. Sidney Crosby won it in 2007 and 2009, and Carey Price was the most recent in 2015.

Poulin is the fifth consecutive Olympic champion to win the award in an Olympic year after bobsledder Kaillie Humphries in 2014, swimmer Penny Oleksiak in 2016, moguls skier Mikaël Kingsbury in 2018 and decathlete Damian Warner in 2021.

Canada’s other gold medalists at February’s Olympics were snowboarder Max Parrot in slopestyle, plus teams in speed skating’s women’s team pursuit and short track’s men’s 5000m relay.

In men’s hockey, Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in leading the Colorado Avalanche to the Stanley Cup and the Norris Trophy as the season’s best defenseman.

The Northern Star Award is annually decided by Canadian sports journalists.

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