Lindsey Jacobellis

What to watch on Day 9 of Sochi Olympics

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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Sunday, Feb. 16. A complete list of every Sunday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Men’s curling, U.S.-Canada, 12 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Both U.S. curling teams are likely to be eliminated from medal contention Sunday. The men (2-4) go up against medal contender Canada (5-2), the defending Olympic champion. A loss, and they have no shot at the medal round. John Shuster and Co. need to win their next three games and get a lot of help to advance.

The U.S. women (1-6) are in last place and already mathematically eliminated from advancing.

Men’s super-G, 1 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Ted Ligety and Bode Miller will try again to win their first medals of the Sochi Olympics. Ligety is the reigning world super-G champion, but that’s the only super-G race he’s ever won. He’s coming off a disappointing 12th-place finish in the super combined Friday.

Miller is the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the super-G and looking for his sixth Olympic medal. He was eighth and sixth in the downhill and super combined, respectively.

Ligety and Miller are medal threats along with a host of Europeans. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal is the World Cup leader and defending Olympic champion, but he is medal-less here and was bettered in both the downhill and super combined by countryman Kjetil Jansrud.

Austrian Matthias Mayer has momentum after winning the downhill, while Italian Christof Innerhofer goes for his third medal in three events.

Men’s hockey, Austria-Norway, 3 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

These two nations are a combined 0-4 with a minus-17 goal differential going into their Group B finale. They’re already slotted into the “qualification playoffs,” which is the round before the quarterfinals.

Norway has never made it past the Olympic quarterfinals. Austria is in its first Olympic hockey tournament since 2002.

Women’s snowboard cross final, 4:40 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Lindsey Jacobellis takes her second shot at Olympic redemption, eight years after her trick move and fall cost her gold in the first Olympic women’s snowboard cross competition.

She’s a favorite to make the final as the second-ranked rider this World Cup season. Jacobellis is also coming off her eighth Winter X Games title.

Her biggest competition could come from Canadian Dominique Maltais, the World Cup leader each of the last four seasons and bronze medalist in that infamous 2006 Olympic final. Maltais suffered a knee injury at the X Games in January but has said she feels no pain.

There’s also Maelle Ricker, another Canadian, the reigning world and Olympic champion. Ricker underwent wrist surgery in January.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

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

The final Group A games will take place simultaneously. The U.S., coming off a 3-2 shootout win over Russia on Saturday, is in the driver’s seat to clinch an automatic spot in the quarterfinals. The simplest way to do so would be to beat Slovenia, which surprised Slovakia 3-1 on Saturday.

The Russians are in a tougher spot to earn an automatic quarterfinal spot as they are one point behind the U.S. in the group standings. Russia must defeat Slovakia and hope Canada and Finland don’t go to overtime, assuming the U.S. takes care of business against Slovenia.

If not, Russia will be placed in the “qualification playoffs” and have to play an extra game to advance to the quarterfinals.

Speed skating, women’s 1500m, 9 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

This is the final individual speed skating event in which the U.S. has a realistic chance of winning a medal.

Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe return after finishing seventh and eighth in the 1000m, where at least one was expected to win a medal.

The Netherlands’ Ireen Wuest is an overwhelming favorite. She’s the reigning Olympic and world champion and the current World Cup leader. Wuest has already won gold in the 3000m and silver in the 1000m here.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Figure skating, short dance, 10 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Meryl Davis and Charlie White begin their quest for the first U.S. Olympic gold medal in ice dance. They’re the reigning world champions and Olympic silver medalists and haven’t lost in nearly two years, a stretch that includes a World Championship, Four Continents Championship, two Grand Prix Finals and four Grand Prix series events.

Davis and White will be the last couple to dance at 1:35 p.m. ET.

Their biggest rivals, Canadian training partners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, take the ice at 12:34. Virtue and Moir are the defending Olympic champions.

Other U.S. couples Madison Chock and Evan Bates (12:14) and Maia and Alex Shibutani (12:01) are outside medal threats.

Biathlon, men’s 15km mass start, 10 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is expected to take aim at the solo record for most Winter Olympic medals for the third time after his opening gold in the 10km sprint.

Bjoerndalen, 40, has been stuck on 12 career medals, finishing fourth in the 12.5km pursuit and 34th in the 20km individual event. He is not a medal favorite here. France’s Martin Fourcade is the star, looking for his third straight gold.

Two-man bobsled runs 1 and 2, 11:15 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Steven Holcomb will drive USA-1 in the first of two days of competition in the two-man event. The U.S. has not won a two-man Olympic medal since 1952.

Holcomb, the 2010 Olympic four-man champion, finished sixth in the two-man in 2010 with Curt Tomasevicz. He’ll go with Steve Langton this time around.

Holcomb is the World Cup champion in the two-man, but the favorite may very well be Swiss Beat Hefti, who won on this track to conclude the 2012-13 World Cup season. Russian Aleksandr Zubkov was fastest in training.

Nick Cunningham and Cory Butner will drive the other two U.S. sleds.

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

By goal differential, these have been the two most dominant nations so far. The winner of this game will automatically go to the quarterfinals. The loser, too, could make it as the fourth of four automatic quarterfinalists.

Canadian coach Mike Babcock did not name his starting goalie between Roberto Luongo and Carey Price on Saturday. Whoever starts will be in the driver’s seat to continue to do so into the medal round.

Major League Baseball sponsors U.S. Olympic softball team

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NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is using its financial muscle to support the U.S. women’s softball team, which already is assured a spot in the Tokyo Olympics while the American men’s baseball team struggles to qualify.

MLB announced an agreement Thursday to become presenting sponsor of the women’s “Stand Beside Her” tour, a slate of exhibition games leading up to the Olympic tournament from July 22-28.

“We’re both bat and ball sports. Even though we’re not the same sport, there are so many similarities that you just can’t ignore,” said Kim Ng, MLB’s senior vice president for baseball operations. “It was important for us to make sure that they have this acknowledgment and recognition of their ability and their talent.”

Softball began as an Olympic sport for the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004 with players that included Dot Richardson, Jennie Finch and Jessica Mendoza, then lost to Japan in the 2008 gold-medal game.

Baseball and softball were dropped for the next two Olympics, then restored for this year, when the U.S. and Japan will be joined by Australia, Canada, Italy and Mexico for games in Fukushima and Yokohama but not Tokyo. The sports are likely to be dropped for 2024 in Paris but could return four years later in Los Angeles.

The U.S. men’s baseball team stumbled in its first attempt to qualify, wasting a ninth-inning lead against Mexico in the final game of the Premier12 tournament in November and losing in the 10th. The U.S. has two more chances to join Israel, Japan, Mexico and South Korea in the Olympic field: an Americas tournament in Arizona from March 22-26 and a final tournament in Taiwan from April 1-5.

MLB is not allowing players on 40-man big league rosters to compete in qualifying, and few top pitching prospects were at the November tournament.

Softball has no such issues. The Olympics are the sport’s highest-profile event.

“The platform for us is 10 times bigger,” American outfielder Haylie McCleney said. “For us, it’s a great opportunity for people that have never watched softball before, people that have only followed it at the collegiate level, to really see how fun our game is to watch, how pure it is. If people are baseball fans, I guarantee they’re going to love softball because it’s pretty much just a faster game – it’s shorter, it’s quicker, it’s more entertaining to watch, in my opinion.”

The 2008 gold-medal softball game took 1 hours, 45 minutes — less than half the 3:45 average for this year’s World Series.

As part of the deal with MLB, the softball team’s official training facility will be at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida, the old Dodgertown spring training camp.

MLB Network will include programming from the tour, which currently starts Feb. 4 in Tampa and has about three dozen stops.

The U.S. women’s soccer team has attracted huge television audiences. MLB sees softball as an opportunity for the sport’s growth.

“These are world-class athletes,” Ng said. “Because we have not been in the Olympics for the last 12 years, they just haven’t had that stage. So it’s really important at this point that we show as much support as we can for them.”

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

Rafael Nadal advances at Australian Open; American back on Slam stage

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal joined Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open third round, sweeping Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-1 on Thursday.

Nadal, whose lone Australian Open title came in 2009, gets countryman Pablo Carreno Busta in Saturday’s third round. He could face No. 23 Nick Kyrgios of Australia in round four, but neither Federer nor Djokovic until the final.

No. 4 Daniil Medvedeva and No. 2 Karolina Pliskova and No. 4 Simona Halep were also winners Thursday. Friday’s third-round action is headlined by defending champion Naomi Osaka facing 15-year-old U.S. phenom Coco Gauff.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

The only top-20 seed to lose so far Thursday was No. 20 Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic. American CiCi Bellis bounced her 6-4, 6-4.

This was a big deal for Bellis: Two full years and four right arm operations have come and gone since she was last healthy enough to participate in a Grand Slam tournament.

Bellis was something of a teen prodigy. In her very first tour-level match, at age 15 at the 2014 U.S. Open, she stunned 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, an Australian Open runner-up, to become the youngest American to win a match at Flushing Meadows in 28 years.

She reached No. 35 in the rankings at 17, when she won WTA Newcomer of the Year honors.

Then came the series of health problems, including for torn tendons in her wrist, to shorten a bone in her arm and for bone spurs in her elbow. All the time away from the tour has her at No. 600 in the rankings currently, but she was able to get into the draw in Australia via the protected ranking rule.

In other action, U.S. Open runner-up Medvedev  found himself seated in the nosebleed section at Margaret Court Arena, even though he was playing his second-round match there.

That’s because the No. 4-seeded Russian found himself dealing with something he said happens to him a couple of times each year: a nosebleed.

Medvedev blotted his nose with a towel and then was treated by a trainer while his 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 over Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez was delayed for more than five minutes late in the second set.

“Can happen to me sometimes. Doesn’t usually happen during the match, so I had to stop (playing). Usually takes like four minutes — three, four minutes. … But it’s nothing,” Medvedev said.

MORE: Another top U.S. tennis player cools on Olympics

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