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What to watch on Day 6 of Sochi Olympics

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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Thursday, Feb. 13. A complete list of every Thursday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Women’s skeleton runs 1 and 2, 2:30 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The medals won’t be awarded until Friday, but gold is expected to come down to American Noelle-Pikus Pace and Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold.

Pikus-Pace, a mother of two, finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics, retired and came back two seasons ago and was in the best form of her life this past season, which she said will be her last.

However, she is now dealing with a back injury and was 11th and 13th in two training runs Monday. Pikus-Pace passed on taking training runs Tuesday and Wednesday.

Yarnold, the World Cup season champion, was the fastest in four training runs. She’s looking to make it back-to-back skeleton golds for the Brits after Amy Williams’ title in 2010. Williams now works for the BBC.

The other U.S. slider is Katie Uhlaender, the 2012 world champion who has been slowed by concussion effects this season.

Men’s ski slopestyle final, 4:30 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Two-time reigning Winter X Games champion Nick Goepper, the rare skier out of Indiana, is a medal favorite here. Goepper was among the first skiers to qualify for the Olympics in December and then enjoyed a media whirlwind that took him to the Golden Globe Awards and David Letterman.

The field includes several men who could win gold without a surprise, including Swede Jesper Tjader, Brit James Woods and Norwegian Andreas Haatveit. Also watch out for the other U.S. skiers — Bobby Brown, Joss Christensen and Gus Kenworthy.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Men’s hockey, U.S.-Slovakia  CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE | Russia-Slovenia, 7:30 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The men’s hockey tournament begins in earnest Thursday. All four Group A nations will play at the same time. The U.S. gets a tougher test with Slovakia than Russia does with Slovenia.

It is also important to note that all teams advance from group play to the bracket round, though group results will dictate if nations go straight to quarterfinals or must play first-round elimination games.

The U.S. will start Jonathan Quick in goal against Slovakia. The Slovaks, who pushed Canada in the 2010 Olympic semifinals and ultimately finished fourth, are led by Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa.

Russia gets going against a nation making its Olympic hockey debut in Slovenia.

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

Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe went one-two in three of four World Cup 1000m races so far this season, but it will be hard to replicate that at the Adler Arena.

Russia’s Olga Fatkulina is the 2013 world champion on this ice and took second in the 500m on Tuesday. Richardson was eighth in the 500m; Bowe was 13th. However, Richardson and Bowe are better in the 1000m.

There’s also Dutchwoman Ireen Wuest, the 2013 world silver medalist. Wuest won the 5000m on Sunday at Adler. China’s Zhang Hong, too, could keep the U.S. from winning its first Olympic women’s speed skating medal since 2002.

Men’s biathlon 20km individual, 9 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen gets his second chance to become the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time. Bjoerndalen, 40, matched retired Norwegian cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie by winning the 10km sprint Saturday for his 12th career medal. Daehlie has more golds.

Bjoerndalen then finished an agonizing fourth in the 12.5km pursuit on Monday, his first fourth-place finish in 23 career Olympic races. He missed the podium by 1.7 seconds.

Bjoerndalen is not expected to be among the medal contenders in this longer distance, though. The gold is expected to come down to France’s flamboyant Martin Fourcade and another Norwegian, Emil Hegle Svendsen.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Figure skating men’s short program, 10 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The cliched saying goes, you can’t win the Olympic gold medal in the short program, but you can lose it.

The major players are Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, who skates at 12:45 p.m. ET, and Canada’s Patrick Chan, who goes two skaters later at 12:58. Chan, 23, is the three-time reigning world champion. Hanyu, 19, beat Chan at the Grand Prix Final in December.

Several other men are in the medal picture, including Russian four-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko (10:55 a.m.) and Spain’s Javier Fernandez (12:51 p.m.).

U.S. skaters Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown go at 11:21 a.m. and 12:17 p.m., respectively.

Luge team relay, 11:15 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The U.S. looks to build off the momentum of Erin Hamlin’s bronze medal in the final Olympic luge event. The team relay, in its Olympic debut, consists of a woman taking a run down the track and rising at the finish to tap a touch pad.

The tap will signal the start for a men’s luger, who will take his run and rise to tap the same pad. Finally, a doubles team goes. The doubles’ touch on the pad stops the clock.

The U.S. will send Hamlin, Chris Mazdzer (13th in singles) and Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman down the Sanki Sliding Center track.

Germany, which won men’s and women’s singles, is a heavy gold-medal favorite. Russia, Canada, Italy, Austria and even the U.S. could also win medals.

Men’s hockey, Canada-Norway, 12 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The men’s hockey nightcap features the defending Olympic champion against a nation that has never made it past the Olympic quarterfinals.

Canada’s roster includes 25 NHL players, most of them All-Stars. Norway’s roster includes one NHL player, New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello.

The key in this game will be Canada’s goalie, Carey Price, who is making his Olympic debut. 2010 Olympic gold-medal game winner Roberto Luongo is slated to start Canada’s second game against Austria on Friday. So, we have a competition on our hands.

Weightlifting investigation finds doping cover-ups

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DÜSSELDORF, Germany (AP) — An investigation into the International Weightlifting Federation has found doping cover-ups and millions of dollars in missing money, lead investigator Richard McLaren said Thursday.

McLaren said 40 positive doping tests were “hidden” in IWF records and that athletes whose cases were delayed or covered up went on to win medals at the world championships and other events. The cases will be referred to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“We found systematic governance failures and corruption at the highest level of the IWF,” McLaren said.

The International Olympic Committee said it was studying the report “very carefully,” adding that “the content is deeply concerning.”

McLaren said former IWF president Tamas Ajan was “an autocratic leader” who kept the board in the dark about finances and left officials fearing reprisals if they spoke out. Ajan received cash payments on behalf of the IWF as doping fines from national federations or sponsors, the report said, but what happened to some of the money is unclear.

McLaren said $10.4 million was unaccounted for, based on his team’s analysis of cash going in and out of the IWF over several years. Ajan denies any wrongdoing.

The largest fine recorded in the report was $500,000 paid by Azerbaijan. It’s unclear how that payment was made. On one trip to Thailand for a competition and conference, Ajan collected more than $440,000 across 18 cash payments, according to the report.

“Everyone was kept in financial ignorance through the use of hidden bank accounts (and transfers),” McLaren said. “Some cash was accounted for, some was not.”

McLaren said that the investigation found information which law enforcement “might be interested in,” and that he would cooperate with any later investigations. That was echoed by Ajan’s successor at the IWF.

“The activities that have been revealed and the behavior that has occurred in the years past is absolutely unacceptable and possibly criminal,” IWF interim president Ursula Garza Papandrea said.

She added that the IWF will pass on information to law enforcement if it indicates there were “potential crimes.”

McLaren said Ajan “permitted the (federation) elections to be bought by vote brokers” as he kept the presidency and promoted favored officials. Large cash withdrawals were made ahead of federation congresses, McLaren said, adding that voters were bribed and had to take pictures of their ballots to show to brokers.

The 81-year-old Ajan stepped down in April, ending a 20-year reign as president and a total 44 years in federation posts. A month before that he also gave up his honorary membership of the International Olympic Committee.

In a statement to Hungarian state news agency MTI, Ajan said the IWF’s finances were managed in a “lawful” manner with oversight from the board.

“All my life, I’ve abided by the laws, the written and unwritten rules and customs of the sport,” he said.

Ajan accused McLaren’s team of not giving him enough information to respond to the allegations about his conduct.

Ajan was a full IOC member between 2000 and 2010, voting to select Olympic host cities. A previous complaint about IWF finances in 2010 was closed by the IOC.

McLaren’s investigation was sparked in January when German broadcaster ARD reported financial irregularities at the federation and apparent doping cover-ups.

The focus of the investigation was on the period from 2009 through 2019. McLaren said he heard allegations of misconduct dating back as far as the 1980s, but chose to prioritize more recent matters with stronger evidence.

The World Anti-Doping Agency said it welcomed McLaren’s findings.

“Once WADA has had the opportunity to review that evidence as well as the report in full, the Agency will consider the next appropriate steps to take,” it said in a statement.

Some allegations regarding doping misconduct around the 2019 world championships in Thailand and involving athletes from Moldova were passed to the International Testing Agency, which is still investigating.

McLaren, a Canadian law professor, was WADA’s lead investigator for Russian doping and has judged cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Weightlifting’s reputation under Ajan had already been hit by dozens of steroid doping cases revealed in retests of samples from the Olympics since 2008.

Since he left office in April, the IWF has begun moving its headquarters from Ajan’s home country of Hungary to the Swiss city of Lausanne, where the International Olympic Committee is based.

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Gwendolyn Berry gets apology from USOPC CEO after reprimand for podium gesture

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Olympic hammer thrower Gwendolyn Berry said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland apologized to her Wednesday “for not understanding the severity of the impact her decisions had on me,” after Berry was put on probation last August for one year after raising her fist at the end of the national anthem at the 2019 Pan American Games.

“I am grateful to Gwen for her time and her honesty last night,” Hirshland said in a statement. “I heard her. I apologized for how my decisions made her feel and also did my best to explain why I made them. Gwen has a powerful voice in this national conversation, and I am sure that together we can use the platform of Olympic and Paralympic sport to address and fight against systematic inequality and racism in our country.”

Berry and fencer Race Imboden were sent August letters of reprimand by Hirshland, along with each receiving probation, after each made a podium gesture at Pan Ams in Peru.

This week, Berry tweeted that she wanted a public apology from Hirshland. That tweet came after Hirshland sent a letter to U.S. athletes on Monday night, condemning “systemic inequality that disproportionately impacts Black Americans in the United States.”

Then on Wednesday night, Berry said she had a “really productive” 40-minute phone call with Hirshland, USATF CEO Max Siegel and other USATF officials.

“I didn’t necessarily ask for [an apology] from [Hirshland],” Berry said Thursday. Berry said she lost two-thirds of her income after Pan Ams, that sponsors dropped her in connection to the raised fist fallout.

“We came to some good conclusions,” Berry said of the group call. “The most important thing were figuring out ways to move forward. [Hirshland] was aware of things that she did and how she made me feel about the situation, and I was happy that I was able to express to her my grievances and she was able to express to me how she felt as well about the situation.”

Berry said her probation, which is believed to still be in effect, wasn’t discussed. She made a point to say that USATF has always been on her side.

“The conversation was more for awareness purposes, and we’ll probably have more conversations this week,” said Berry.

Berry also plans to participate in a U.S. athlete town hall Friday.

“First and foremost, we should and we will discuss how people are just feeling and how people are holding up because athletes in general, because of the pandemic and because of everything that’s been going on, I know a lot of people are in distress, they’re sad, they’re confused,” she said. “I think that’ll be the main point of the discussion. Just to make sure everybody’s OK. Just to see how everybody’s holding on.”

On Aug. 10, Berry raised her fist at the end of the national anthem after winning the Pan American Games title.

The next morning, Berry said the gesture, which drew memories of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Games, wasn’t meant to be a big message, but it quickly became a national story.

“Just a testament to everything I’ve been through in the past year, and everything the country has been through this past year,” she said then. “A lot of things need to be done and said and changed. I’m not trying to start a political war or act like I’m miss-know-it-all or anything like that. I just know America can do better.”

Berry said then that the motivation behind her gesture included the challenges overcome of changing coaches and moving from Oxford, Miss., where her family resides, to Houston.

“Every individual person has their own views of things that are going on,” she said. “It’s in the Constitution, freedom of speech. I have a right to feel what I want to feel. It’s no disrespect at all to the country. I want to make that very clear. If anything, I’m doing it out of love and respect for people in the country.”

Berry also said that weekend, according to USA Today, that she was standing for “extreme injustice.”

“Somebody has to talk about the things that are too uncomfortable to talk about. Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse,” Berry said, according to that report. “It’s too important to not say something. Something has to be said. If nothing is said, nothing will be done, and nothing will be fixed, and nothing will be changed.”

NBC Olympics senior researcher Alex Azzi contributed to this report.

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