Shaun White

What to watch on Day 4 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. 11. A complete list of every Tuesday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Women’s ski slopestyle final, 4 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE EVENT LIVE

Canada is favored in the Olympic debut of ski slopestyle with Kaya Turski and Dara Howell, who went one-two at the 2013 World Championships.

Turski won the Winter X Games in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and tore an ACL for the third time in August. She came back to win the 2014 Winter X Games in January. Howell was third and fourth at the last two X Games.

The top U.S. skier at this year’s X Games, Maggie Voisin, withdrew from the Olympics after breaking her fibula in training last week and was set to be the youngest U.S. Winter Olympian since 1972. The rest of the U.S. contingent includes X Games silver medalists Keri Herman and Devin Logan, as well as Julia Krass.

Qualification starts at 1 a.m. for the 12-woman final.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Speed skating, women’s 500m, 7:45 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

American Heather Richardson is among a few women who appear to be in the running for silver and bronze in the shortest distance on the program. If she wins a medal, it would be the first for a U.S. women’s speed skater since the 2002 Olympics.

The heavy favorite for gold is reigning Olympic and world champion Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea, who is also the world-record holder. Richardson, who finished sixth in the 500m in her 2010 Olympic debut, has made the podium three times in eight World Cup races this season.

The other contenders are Russian Olga Fatkulina, the 2013 world 1000m champion, German Jenny Wolf, who took silver to Lee in Vancouver, and China’s Wang Beixing, the reigning world silver medalist and Olympic bronze medalist.

The 500m is raced twice with a skater’s times added together for a final standing. Richardson is joined by Americans Brittany Bowe, Sugar Todd and Lauren Cholewinski. Richardson and Bowe are better medal contenders in the 1000m, which comes Thursday.

Women’s cross-country skiing freestyle sprint final, 8:22 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Four-time Olympian Kikkan Randall is favored to win the second-ever U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing medal, first by a woman and first gold by a man or woman.

It could be a showdown with Norway’s Marit Bjoergen in the six-woman final. Bjoergen is the defending Olympic champion and has a chance to become the first Winter Olympian to win six medals in a single Games.

Randall and Bjoergen have split victories in the four World Cup freestyle sprints they’ve entered together this year. Randall will have another shot at a medal in the team sprint Feb. 19.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Women’s luge runs 3 and 4, 9:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

American Erin Hamlin is in position for the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medal ever. She sits third behind two favored Germans after two of four runs at the Sanki Sliding Center.

Hamlin, the 2009 world champion, is .216 ahead of the fourth-place luger but only .052 out of second-place Tatjana Huefner. Hamlin finished 12th and 16th at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics.

Natalie Geisenberger leads and is expected to slide to her second straight Olympic title. The other two Americans, Kate Hansen and Summer Britcher, are 10th and 15th.

Figure skating pairs short program, 10 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Russia begins its quest to regain dominance in an event in which Soviet, Unified Team and Russian skaters won gold at every Olympics from 1964 through 2006. The 2010 Olympic podium included zero Russians.

This year, Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov are the gold-medal favorites, though not by as big of a margin as a few months ago. Stumbles at the Grand Prix Final and European Championships opened the door for Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalists.

Savchenko and Szolkowy skate their short program at 12:25 p.m. ET. Volosozhar and Trankov go at 1.

The U.S. sends two pairs, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir (10:55 a.m.) and Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay (11:01 a,m.). Neither is expected to win a medal following the free skate Wednesday, extending an American pairs drought dating to 1988.

Women’s curling, U.S. vs. Great Britain, 10 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The U.S. faces a measuring stick game against the gold-medal favorites skipped by Scot Eve Muirhead. Curling was founded in Scotland.

Erika Brown, 41, skips a U.S. rink on a mission for the first Olympic medal by an American women’s curling team. She competed in the 1988 Olympics at age 15, when curling was a demonstration sport.

Muirhead and Scotland are the reigning world champions and looking to win Great Britain’s first curling gold since 2002.

Men’s snowboard halfpipe, 12:30 p.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Shaun White will attempt to become the first U.S. man to win the same Winter Olympic event three times. His biggest competition could come from Russian-born Swiss Iouri Podladtchikov, if they make it through earlier qualifying to the 12-man final.

White has dealt with crashes and injuries in the run-up to Sochi and in training at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, putting a little doubt into his favorite status.

Podladtchikov attempts a trick called the YOLO Flip, a cab double cork 1440, that White has added to his repertoire in the last year. However, Podladtchikov has not had a great success rate landing the trick cleanly. If he goes before White in the final start order and can’t put it down, perhaps White won’t have to attempt his 1440.

The other three Americans are medal threats — Greg Bretz, who was 12th in Vancouver; Danny Davis, the reigning Winter X Games champion; and Taylor Gold, the older brother of women’s snowboarder Arielle Gold.

Keep an eye on Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, who took second to White at the 2013 Winter X Games as a 14-year-old.

Women’s ski jumping normal hill, 1:45 p.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

At long last, women will jump at the Olympics. A group of 30 will contest the final round under the lights at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center, following a decade-long fight for inclusion alongside the men, who have been jumping at the Winter Games since the first edition in 1924.

The clear favorite is Japan’s Sara Takanashi, who is 5 feet, 100 pounds and 17 years old. She has won 10 of 13 World Cup events this season after taking silver at last year’s World Championships.

The gold medalist at those worlds was American Sarah Hendrickson, who blew out her right knee in a crash Aug. 21 and furiously rehabbed to make it back in time to compete. This will be her first competition this season, making her medal chances a bit unclear.

The other Americans are 2009 world champion Lindsey Van and U.S. Olympic Trials winner Jessica Jerome.

Maria Sharapova appears set to miss Tokyo Olympics

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Maria Sharapova, who would have a difficult time qualifying for the Olympics next year, committed to play an event in California the week of the Tokyo Games.

Sharapova is scheduled to play World Team Tennis matches in California during the Olympic tennis events in late July, according to a press release. Sharapova’s longtime agent hasn’t responded to a message seeking confirmation that she is ruling out the Tokyo Games.

Sharapova, 32 and the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, was barred from the Rio Games due to her 15-month meldonium suspension in 2016 and 2017. That alone could rule her ineligible for Tokyo, given the World Anti-Doping Agency’s sanctions against Russia on Monday.

Sharapova is ranked No. 131 after a season shortened by shoulder surgery. She would have to be among the top four ranked Russian women after the French Open in June for possible automatic Olympic qualification. She is currently the 14th Russian.

Olympic eligibility rules include minimum participation requirements in Fed Cup, which Sharapova hasn’t done in this Olympic cycle, though exceptions can be made.

Sharapova’s passion for the Olympics is well documented.

She carried the Russian flag into the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and carried the Olympic flame into Fisht Stadium at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony, where she worked for NBC Olympics.

“It was the one thing that my parents allowed me to watch on TV late into the evening was the Olympics,” Sharapova said in 2017. “I grew up watching figure skating and hockey and a little bit of tennis. … Just capturing the Opening Ceremonies and seeing all the countries and the little hats that they wore, and I, as a little girl, I just imagined that maybe it would be me. But I never, ever thought that I would be carrying the flag.

“I received that [flag] honor in a text message, which is a very Russian way of communicating. I originally thought it was a joke, a big fat joke. Then I showed it to my mother, and she [said], no, they probably wouldn’t joke like that.”

In February 2016, Sharapova entered a Fed Cup tie, despite saying she was injured, in order to receive Olympic eligibility. One month later, her failed drug test was announced.

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Russia banned from Olympics, world champs for 4 years; athletes could compete as neutrals

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Russia is banned from the next two Olympics and other major sports events for four years, though its athletes could still compete without representing the country if cleared by anti-doping authorities.

Russia’s hosting of world championships in Olympic sports also face being stripped after the World Anti-Doping Agency executive committee approved a full slate of recommended sanctions for tampering with a Moscow laboratory database.

Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in major events — including world championships — only if they are not implicated in positive doping tests or their data was not manipulated, according to the WADA ruling. “In this circumstance, they may not represent the Russian Federation,” according to a WADA release.

“While I understand the calls for a blanket ban on all Russian athletes whether or not they are implicated by the data, it was the unanimous view of the CRC [compliance review committee], which includes an athlete, that in this case, those who could prove their innocence should not be punished, and I am pleased that the WADA ExCo [executive committee] agreed with this,” WADA CRC chairman Jonathan Taylor said.

There are 145 unnamed athletes within WADA’s “target group of most suspicious athletes” from 2012-15 who would not be allowed to compete at the Olympics, Taylor said, adding that it’s possible those names will be made public. About one-third of them are still active.

Russia’s anti-doping agency can appeal the decision within 21 days. Russia previously signaled it would appeal the ruling.

“The decision will come into effect only when it becomes final ie when either RUSADA accepts it or it is upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” a WADA spokesperson said in an email.

Russia avoided blanket bans for the Rio and PyeongChang Olympics after a state-run doping program was exposed by media and WADA investigations after Russia hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Approved Russian athletes competed as neutrals — “Olympic Athletes from Russia” — including in team sports in PyeongChang. Those Russians combined to earn two gold medals (figure skater Alina Zagitova and men’s hockey) and 17 overall, compared to the leading 33 Russia earned at the Sochi Olympics before medals were stripped for doping.

“Will Russian athletes be accepted as Olympic Athletes from Russia?” during the ban, Taylor said. “No, they are neutral athletes, which means not representatives of any country. Not representatives of Russia.”

Going forward, “they cannot use the name of the country in the name of the team,” WADA president-elect Witold Bańka told The Associated Press.

Two of the 168 Russians who competed in PyeongChang failed drug tests and were punished for doping.

More recent evidence shows that Russian authorities tampered with a Moscow laboratory database to hide hundreds of potential doping cases and falsely shift the blame onto whistleblowers, WADA investigators and the International Olympic Committee said last month. “Flagrant manipulation” of the Moscow lab data was “an insult to the sporting movement worldwide,” the IOC said last month.

“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order … but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial,” WADA president Craig Reedie said.

Russia will be allowed to participate in the Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland, that open Jan. 9.

WADA’s inability to fully expel Russia from the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Games frustrated the doping watchdog’s vice president.

“I’m not happy with the decision we made today. But this is as far as we could go,” said Linda Helleland, a Norwegian lawmaker who serves on WADA executive committee and has long pushed for a tougher line against Russia. “This is the biggest sports scandal the world has ever seen. I would expect now a full admission from the Russians and for them to apologize on all the pain all the athletes and sports fans have experienced.”

Although the IOC has called for the strongest possible sanctions, it wants those sanctions directed at Russian state authorities rather than athletes or Olympic officials.

“To allow Russia to escape a complete ban is yet another devastating blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport and the rule of law,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement. “And, in turn, the reaction by all those who value sport should be nothing short of a revolt against this broken system to force reform.”

Russia’s Olympic champion women’s handball team is currently competing at the world championships in Japan. Its next match is Tuesday against Montenegro. Russia has been the scheduled host for the world luge championships in Sochi in mid-February.

The “major sports” events that fall under WADA’s sanctions do not include European Championships or other non-world championships events such as tennis’ upcoming Australian Open.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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TIMELINE: Russia’s recent history of sports doping