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.

‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ primetime special covers social justice, combating inequality

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Athletes, including Olympians, discussed social justice, locker room conversations about race and ways that sports can help combat inequality in “Race and Sports in America: Conversations,” airing Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Olympic Channel, Golf Channel and NBC Sports Regional Networks.

NBC Sports’ Damon Hack hosted roundtables with active and retired athletes at the American Century Championship Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, last week.

Panelists, including Olympians James Blake and Charles Barkley and Tokyo Olympic hopeful Stephen Curry, also reflected on personal experiences.

Barkley, an Olympic gold medalist in 1992 and 1996, said coaches recently reached out to him to speak to their teams.

“First of all, relax and breathe,” Barkley said. “This crap started 400 years ago. We can’t do nothing about that. We can’t do anything about systematic racism. What I challenge every Black person, every white person to do: What can I do today going forward?

“You have to ask yourself, I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Because if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Blake, a retired former top-five tennis player and 2008 Olympian, was wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and arrested by a plainclothes New York City police officer in 2015 in a case of mistaken identity caught on video. The police officer’s punishment was a loss of five vacation days.

“The first thing I said when I got tackled was, I’m complying 100 percent,” Blake said. “And that shouldn’t have to be your response the first time you interact with a police officer. And because that’s the way my dad taught me is stay alive. Do whatever you can to stay alive. Sort it out later with lawyers or however you want to do it, and stay alive in that moment. The fact you have to have those rules in 2020 means maybe we have to do something drastic to change the way police interact with the African-American community and the way the community interacts with the police.”

Curry said his daughters, 7-year-old Riley and 5-year-old Ryan, asked questions about the images they recently saw. He’s not shielding them, but rather being honest about society, going back centuries.

“We have to continue to double down and double down and keep people accountable in all walks of life, all industries, all forms of leadership, the judicial system, all those type of things,” Curry said. “And hopefully for my kids’ generation, their kids, we will see change. I’m hopeful and optimistic about, but I understand how much work will need to go into that.”

The full list of athletes who participated in the “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” roundtables:

• Charles Barkley – 1992 and 1996 Olympic basketball champion
• James Blake – 10-time ATP tennis champion, 2008 Olympian
• Stephen Curry – two-time NBA MVP, two-time FIBA world champion
• Troy Mullins – World Long Drive competitor
• Anthony Lynn – Los Angeles Chargers head coach
• Jimmy Rollins – World Series champion shortstop
• Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings tight end
• Ozzie Smith – Major League Baseball Hall of Famer

Additionally, Hack was joined by Super Bowl champion running back Jerome Bettis for an extended interview that will be published on NBC Sports’ digital and podcast platforms.

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Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

Shelby Houlihan
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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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