What to watch on Day 5 of Sochi Olympics

Shani Davis
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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Wednesday, Feb. 12. A complete list of every Wednesday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

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

Julia Mancuso became a medal favorite here by winning the downhill portion of the super combined Monday en route to a bronze medal. If she makes the podium again, she will match Bode Miller for the most career U.S. Olympic Alpine medals (five).

The favorite, though, is Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who won the super combined. Hoefl-Riesch is the World Cup overall and downhill leader and looks to win her fourth Olympic medal, all gold.

Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather, second to Hoefl-Riesch in the World Cup standings, suffered a shin bruise in a training crash Sunday.

Four different women were fastest in the four training runs. None of them were Mancuso, Hoefl-Riesch or Weirather.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Nordic combined normal hill, 4:30 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Can the U.S. rediscover its magic from the 2010 Olympics? Four years ago Americans won twice as many Nordic combined medals (four) than any other nation, despite coming in with zero medals in the sport in Olympic history.

The U.S. would not be expected to win any medals here if results this past season are any indication. But keep an eye out for Bill Demong, who won the large hill event in 2010.

The medal favorites are German Eric Frenzel, seeking his first individual Olympic medal, defending champion Jason Lamy-Chappuis of France and anybody in a Norwegian uniform.

U.S.-Canada women’s hockey, 7:30 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

This game means little on paper, but the deep-rooted rivalry says otherwise. The two dominant women’s hockey nations go at it in their final group-play game.

They will both advance straight to opposite semifinals regardless of Wednesday’s result. That makes this matchup reminiscent of women’s hockey’s debut at the 1998 Olympics.

In Nagano, the U.S. and Canada played a preliminary game already knowing they would play again three days later for the gold medal. Canada went up 4-1, but the U.S. scored six goals in the final 13 minutes to win 7-4. The U.S. then went on to win the gold medal 3-1.

Canada has won every gold medal since but enters Wednesday’s matchup on a four-game losing streak to the U.S. since the shock resignation of coach Dan Church. Its new coach is longtime NHL player and coach Kevin Dineen.

The U.S. and Canada have combined to beat bronze-medal contenders Finland and Switzerland 20-1 in four games. Neither the U.S. nor Canada will play again until the semifinals Monday.

Speed skating men’s 1000m, 9 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Shani Davis skates in his best event.

With a medal of any color, Davis will tie the record for most career U.S. Olympic men’s speed skating medals (five) with Eric Heiden and Chad Hedrick.

Davis’ biggest competition will come from countryman Brian Hansen, 2013 world champion Kazakh Denis Kuzin and the Netherlands’ Michel Mulder and Kjeld Nuis. Mulder won the 500m on Monday.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Figure skating pairs free skate, 10:45 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Russians Tatyana Volozoshar and Maksim Trankov lead Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy after the short program, seeking to restore the host nation’s dominance in the event.

Soviet, Unified Team and Russian pairs won gold at every Olympics from 1964 through 2006, but none were on the podium in 2010.

The two U.S. pairs are in ninth and 14th place and will not end an American medal drought dating to 1988.

Snowboard women’s halfpipe final, 12:30 p.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

American Kelly Clark is the favorite here, assuming she makes it through qualification to the 12-woman final.

Clark is the greatest women’s halfpipe snowboarder of all time with 2002 Olympic gold, 2010 Olympic bronze and five Winter X Games titles, including the last four.

She’s set to be challenged by 2010 Olympic champion Torah Bright of Australia and U.S. teammates 2006 Olympic champion Hannah Teter, 2013 world champion Arielle Gold and Kaitlyn Farrington.

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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