Yuzuru Hanyu

What to watch on Day 7 of Sochi Olympics

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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Friday, Feb. 14. A complete list of every Friday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Men’s super combined, 1 a.m./6:30 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Americans Bode Miller and Ted Ligety could both win medals in this event, which starts with one downhill run in the morning and concludes with an afternoon slalom. Miller is the defending Olympic champion. Ligety is the reigning world champion and also won the 2006 Olympic combined (which was one downhill and two slaloms).

If Miller wins a medal, he will move into solo second on the all-time Olympic Alpine medals list with six, trailing Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who won eight. Ligety seeks his second Olympic medal.

The top international contenders include Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, 34, who is the reigning Olympic and world silver medalist. He is also the older brother of Janica Kostelic, the most decorated female Olympic Alpine skier ever who is retired. Don’t lose sight of France’s Alexis Pinturault, either. Both Kostelic and Pinturault will be behind after the downhill.

Even speed racer Aksel Lund Svindal has a shot here. He better be faster than Miller, Ligety and Kostelic in the downhill though. Much faster.

Men’s hockey, Czech Republic-Latvia, 3 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The Czechs and Latvians both lost their openers, so both teams are looking to avoid being the last-place team in Group C.

This is a meeting of three guys who used to face each other in the NHL in the 1990s — Jaromir Jagr (41, Czech), Petr Nedved (42, Czech) and Sandis Ozolinsh (41, Latvia).

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Men’s hockey, Sweden-Switzerland, 7:30 a.m. ET  CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

This matchup is for the top spot in Group C after two games. The Swedes are coming off a 4-2 win over the Czechs, while the Swiss blanked the Latvians 1-0 behind Jonas Hiller.

The Swiss have opted not to start Hiller though. Instead, they will go with Reto Berra of the Calgary Flames.

Regardless, Sweden is the favorite here as it hopes to follow a path to its third straight gold at a European Olympics (if we’re counting Sochi as a European Games).

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Figure skating men’s free skate, 10 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

As expected, the top two men in the short program were Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Canada’s Patrick Chan. Hanyu leads Chan by 3.97 points after breaking his own record with a 101.45-point short program.

Hanyu and Chan are both looking to become their nations’ first Olympic men’s figure skating champions.

American Jason Brown, is in sixth place but just .98 of a point behind third-place Javier Fernandez of Spain. Brown, who will skate last, could become the youngest Olympic figure skating medalist since Viktor Petrenko in 1988.

The other American, Jeremy Abbott, struggled in his short program for the second straight Olympics and is in 15th, far out of the medal picture.

Russian Yevgeny Plushenko, a four-time Olympic medalist, withdrew prior to his short program with a back injury Thursday.

Women’s skeleton runs 3 and 4, 10:40 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Americans Noelle Pikus-Pace and Katie Uhlaender could both win medals here, but gold will be very tough to grab.

Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold leads by .44 of a second after two of four runs. She’s the World Cup season champion and looking to make it two straight women’s skeleton golds for Great Britain after Amy Williams’ 2010 title.

Pikus-Pace, who had limited training this week due to a back injury, is in second place. She finished fourth in 2010, retired, had her second child and returned for a final Olympics.

Russian Elena Nikitina came from nowhere for third place Thursday, .55 back of Yarnold. Nikitina, 21, has one career World Cup podium and would be the youngest skeleton medalist since 1928.

Uhlaender is .14 behind Nikitina. She is the 2012 world champion and the silver medalist on this track in a World Cup event last year but hasn’t been better than sixth in any World Cup this past season, missing time due to post-concussion effects.

The first two runs of men’s singles will precede the women.

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

Canada eased into the Olympics by beating Norway 3-1 on Thursday. Austria shouldn’t pose any threat, either, in its first Olympic men’s hockey tournament since 2002.

The key will be how Roberto Luongo fares in net after Carey Price beat the Norwegians. You have to think the man named starter for the group finale against Finland will be in the driver’s seat to stay there for the bracket-round games.

Like Canada, Finland should be able to dispose of Norway. It scored eight times on 52 shots against Austria, making up for Tuukka Rask giving up four goals on 20 shots. Finland matched its highest goal output since 1992.

Canada and Finland will likely be playing for Group C supremacy Sunday.

Women’s aerials finals, 2:30 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

China is the world’s deepest nation in aerials, which shouldn’t be shocking given the gymnastics nature of the flipping, twisting event.

It sends the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, 2013 world champion and two other women who have won World Cup events this season into qualification in the early evening.

The top 12 women overall advance to the first round of finals at 2:30. The top eight from there will go to the second final, and the final four to the last final.

Australia boasts the defending Olympic champion in Lydia Lassila, one of three non-Chinese women to make a World Cup podium in five events this season.

The U.S. has two-time Olympian Ashley Caldwell and three-time Olympian Emily Cook. Caldwell, back from two torn ACLs, was second at the first World Cup event this season.

French Open: Karolina Pliskova, top player sans Slam, again exits early

Karolina Pliskova
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No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova exited yet another Grand Slam in the early stages, falling to 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Ostapenko, whose only match wins at the French Open before this week came in her title run three years ago, bounced the big-serving Czech 6-4, 6-2.

Pliskova put fewer than half of her first serves in play, while Ostapenko fired 27 winners to 19 unforced errors. Pliskova was on the ropes in her first round, too, needing three sets to get past an Egyptian qualifier.

“Maybe same level as the match before, but of course [Ostapenko] is much better player,” Pliskova said. “Not much to say about this match.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Later Thursday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic had a second straight win ceding just five games, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 over Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. Djokovic undefeated in 2020 save his U.S. Open default for smacking a ball that inadvertently struck a linesperson, next gets Colombian lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galán.

Nobody else in Djokovic’s half of the draw at the start of the tournament made a French Open semifinal before.

Pliskova is the highest-ranked player of either gender (No. 4) without a Grand Slam title, yet hasn’t made it past the fourth round at a major since the 2019 Australian Open.

She’s played six Slams as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, one shy of Caroline Wozniacki‘s total before she broke through at the 2018 Australian Open and two shy of Simona Halep‘s total before she won the 2018 French Open.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, is having a very different career.

She won the 2017 Roland Garros title, two days after turning 20, while ranked 47th. She hasn’t gotten past the third round of a major since 2018 Wimbledon, including first-round French Open exits the last two years, and is back down to No. 43 in the WTA rankings.

“It’s hard to compare with 2017. As I said, it was like three years ago, and I was much younger, and also I was fearless. Nobody knew me,” Ostapenko said. “The world doesn’t stop with winning only one Grand Slam. Of course I want to achieve more, and I want to be back in top five, top 10.”

She dropped just nine games in four sets this week.

Ostapenko gets 87th-ranked Spaniard Paula Badosa in third round. Badosa dispatched 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

MORE: Serena Williams ‘struggling to walk’

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix fields look very different this season

Nathan Chen
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Before Nathan Chen is expected to go for a historic fifth straight U.S. figure skating title in January, he will, in a first, compete against most of his top countrymen later this month.

Fields for the Grand Prix Series, figure skating’s autumn international circuit, were published Thursday. As expected, every top skater entered will compete in his or her home country, or nearest to where he or she trains, and in one of the six events.

Traditionally, skaters compete in two of the six events and are scattered among competitions in the U.S., Canada, France, Russia, China and Japan based on world rankings.

But the International Skating Union restricted travel this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Skaters are limited to compete locally. And the Grand Prix Final at the conclusion of the Grand Prix Series has been postponed from its scheduled December setting in Beijing.

That means that Chen vies for a record-tying fourth straight Skate America crown in Las Vegas in three weeks against a field mostly made up of countrymen, including Olympic teammate Vincent Zhou and U.S. bronze medalist Tomoki Hiwatashi.

In all, there are eight U.S. men entered in Skate America, 11 women (including past national champions Bradie Tennell and Gracie Gold), six pairs and nine ice dance couples (including U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue), plus some skaters from other nations who train in the U.S.

Traditionally, a country has no more than three entries per discipline at a Grand Prix event.

GRAND PRIX FIELDS: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Sochi Olympian Jason Brown, who trains in Toronto, is entered in Skate Canada the week after Skate America.

Two-time U.S. women’s champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix Series until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

All of the reigning Olympic champions are absent from the series.

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan previously announced he wouldn’t compete due to virus-related travel risks. Russian Alina Zagitova extended her indefinite break from competition dating to last autumn, rather choosing to participate in a skating-themed TV series.

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada retired. The German pairs’ team of Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot last competed in the 2018 Olympic season.

Instead, the headliners include Chen, the two-time world champion undefeated since placing fifth in PyeongChang. And a deep crop of Russian teenage women, all of course entered in the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in November.

MORE: Brian Orser reacts to Yevgenia Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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