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.

Chad le Clos seeks Sun Yang’s Olympic gold medal for doping case

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NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Chad le Clos believes he has a claim on Sun Yang’s gold medal from the Rio Olympics, with a verdict imminent on the Chinese swimmer’s latest doping case.

“He should be banned. It’s as simple as that,” Le Clos said in an interview with The Associated Press this week. “Anyone who tests positive should be banned. I should get my gold medal back from Rio.

“Not for the moment. I lost that. I don’t really care about that,” Le Clos added on Wednesday. “It’s just for my record. If I break my leg and I can’t swim again I want my record to say, ‘Two individual golds, two individual silvers.’ Because that’s what it should be.”

Le Clos’ Olympic record currently contains one gold medal and three silvers — including a second-place finish to Sun in the Rio Olympic 200m free

Odds are, though, that Sun won’t lose any Olympic titles when the Court of Arbitration for Sport issues its ruling over his alleged refusal to provide blood and urine in September 2018 in a visit by sample collectors to his home in China. During the late-night confrontation, a security guard used a hammer to smash a container holding Sun’s blood as the swimmer lit the scene with his mobile phone.

The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed after swimming federation FINA merely warned Sun and cited doubts about credentials shown by three sample collection officials.

A three-time Olympic champion, Sun could be banished from the sport for up to eight years but any ban likely won’t be backdated before September 2018 — meaning all of his Olympic medals seem safe.

But there’s also the fact that international swimming authorities worked to protect Sun from being banned, according to a Swiss supreme court document.

FINA has faced criticisms in the past for favoring Sun during his career. It did not announce Sun’s three-month ban for doping imposed by Chinese authorities until after it ended in 2014.

“I just hope the system and whatever we have is really accurate,” said Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú, who won three golds in Rio. “I just hope the decisions they are making is fair and is for the sport and not for other reasons.”

The medals that Sun risks losing most are the two golds that he won at last year’s world championships in the 200m and 400m frees. At the event in Gwangju, South Korea, fellow medalists Mack Horton of Australia and Duncan Scott of Britain refused to stand with him on the podium.

Sun has denied any wrongdoing. Any ban imposed in the coming days would likely prevent him from competing at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“I have nothing against anybody. It’s not personal,” Le Clos said. “It’s just how the world should be. If you cheat or if you do something wrong, like if you false start, you get disqualified. It’s simple as that.”

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U.S. Olympic luger Emily Sweeney looks forward from depression bout

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Luge’s World Cup campaign ends this weekend in Germany, where most of the best 100 sliders in the sport will be looking to close their international seasons on a high note.

Emily Sweeney won’t be among them.

Her season ended a couple weeks ago, on her terms.

The U.S. veteran is officially two years into her recovery from a crash at the PyeongChang Olympics that she walked away from — even with a broken neck and broken back — and two years away, she hopes, from being a medal contender at the Beijing Games.

She decided to listen to her body and step away from the frantic end of the season, heading home instead to meet her sister’s new baby and formulate a plan for her offseason.

Here’s what she has learned: Fractures heal, but everything else takes time. So while her body still betrays her from time to time on the track, an additional focus on the mental game is what Sweeney hopes will get her to the medal podium in Beijing in 2022.

“I am very comfortable about thinking about my weaknesses because I failed so much early on,” Sweeney said. “I didn’t make two Olympic teams right in a row. I constantly had to look at myself and say ‘What’s wrong? What am I not like?’ I had to be creative with my training and with the whole process. And so, I think I’m pretty comfortable with challenges.”

That’s why, this season, when she felt like her body couldn’t do it anymore she simply went home. The decision was not easy: Her team is still competing, she has plenty of friends on the circuit and her longtime boyfriend — Italian star Dominik Fischnaller — is a serious contender to win the men’s World Cup overall title.

But a setback right now could throw a serious wrench into her Olympic plans. The problem was pressure, not in the sense of what’s comes with the prospects of winning or losing in competition, but the massive gravitational force that sliders feel and fight through when they are on the ice at speeds often topping 80mph. It takes tremendous strength, and Sweeney’s neck still isn’t always up to the challenge. So, with wear and tear of the season taking a toll, she headed home.

“It’s not a question of if I’m good enough,” said Sweeney, who won a medal at last season’s world championships — cementing her status as one of the fastest women on ice. “I see it in my splits. I would have first-place splits, then get to the pressure and I ended up 15th. I just couldn’t keep going through this cycle of pushing it, pushing it, pushing it and then losing all my speed as soon as I can’t hold my head up anymore.”

So she’s working on her body and her mind.

Sweeney is one of the most-upbeat sliders on the luge circuit; always smiling, always happy, and most of the time her good mood is genuine. After the crash, however, the good mood wasn’t always there, and it took Sweeney some time to realize that there was more wrong than just the fractures in her neck and back.

“I went into a depression,” Sweeney said. “It’s weird saying that. But it feels foreign to me to say I broke my neck and my back two years ago. And it feels dramatic to say, which I guess I need to just get more comfortable with that. But I think that just the way I was raised was like, ‘All right, brush it off and move on.’ And that’s why I think I appear a lot of times like it’s just sunshine and rainbows, but this one forced me to stop. But you have to. And the alternative is to stay at that low and that just becomes miserable.”

From therapy came a plan: Do one thing a day to feel better toward the ultimate goal of medaling in 2022.

Most days, she succeeds. When Sweeney is right, especially in sprint events, few women in the world have a chance of catching her. Her sliding career is peaking. Her mental game, she thinks, is catching up.

And now she’s got two years to put the whole package together.

“Being an Olympian was my dream since I was 7 years old,” Sweeney said. “And then I became an Olympian, and I said, ‘Well, that’s not enough. I want a medal.’”

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