What to watch on Day 7 of Sochi Olympics

Yuzuru Hanyu
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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.

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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