Meryl Davis, Charlie White

What to watch on Day 10 of Sochi Olympics

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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Monday, Feb. 17. A complete list of every Monday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Biathlon, men’s 15km mass start, after 1 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Note: This event has been postponed indefinitely.

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. This event was rescheduled from Sunday due to fog at the Laura Biathlon Center.

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.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Men’s snowboard cross finals, 6:02 a.m. (estimated) ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Note: it’s been postponed at least once.

A new Olympic snowboard cross champion will be crowned at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. The only men’s gold medalist the event has ever known, American Seth Wescott, did not make the Olympic Team.

The U.S. sends four other men, including Nate Holland, who was fourth at the 2010 Olympics, Nick Baumgartner, Trevor Jacob and Alex Deibold.

The top international contenders include Australia’s Alex “Chumpy” Pullin, who has played in a reggae band named “Love Charli,” and Austrian Markus Schairer. They were the top two finishers at the 2013 World Championships.

Women’s hockey semifinal, U.S.-Sweden, 7:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The U.S. was expected to face Finland here, but the Swedes ousted the Finns by putting three goals past the world’s best goalie, Noora Raty, in the third period of their quarterfinal.

This sets up a third straight Olympic semifinal between the U.S. and Sweden.

In 2006, the Swedes shocked the Americans 3-2 in a shootout, the only time the U.S. failed to reach the gold-medal game. In 2010, the U.S. left no doubt with a 9-1 blowout before losing to Canada in the final.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Two-man bobsled, runs 3 and 4, 9:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Russian Aleksandr Zubkov led by .32 of a second over Swiss Beat Hefti and .36 over American Steven Holcomb after the first two runs of four total. It will be tough to catch Zubkov, but second through sixth place is separated by .16.

Zubkov, 39, seeks his first Olympic gold medal after two-man bronze in 2006 and four-man silver in 2010. Hefti won on this track to conclude the 2012-13 World Cup season.

Holcomb is the World Cup champion and looking for the first U.S. Olympic two-man medal since 1952.

The other Americans, Cory Butner and Nick Cunningham, are 11th and 13th.

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

The short dance went according to plan Sunday, with Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White taking a 2.56-point lead over Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, their training partners.

Davis and White 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. They’re trying to win the first U.S. Olympic ice dance gold medal.

Virtue and Moir won the 2010 Olympic title in Vancouver but have been passed by Davis and White in the four years since.

Russian and French couples appear to be vying for bronze. Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Maia and Alex Shibutani were eighth and ninth after the short dance.

Women’s hockey semifinal, Canada-Switzerland, 12 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Canada is a heavy favorite here given it beat Switzerland 5-0 in group play. The Canadians have never lost in the semifinals of an Olympics or World Championships and are trying to win their fourth straight Olympic title.

Switzerland, whose team includes a D.C.-area Starbucks barista, has already clinched its best-ever Olympic finish. It’s playing with house money.

Ski jumping, team competition, 12:15 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Austria appears to be the favorite to win the team competition for a third straight Olympics, but its individual large hill results (seventh, eighth, 32nd, 40th) weren’t very inspiring.

Other medal contenders include Slovenia, which won both World Cup team events this season, and Germany, which was second to Slovenia both times. Norway and Japan also have a shot. Japan features 41-year-old Noriaki Kasai, who won silver in the individual large hill.

Poland’s Kamil Stoch swept the individual normal and large hill events, but the Polish team is not very deep. It appears unlikely he will join Finland’s Matti Nykaenen as the only ski jumpers to win three golds at a single Winter Games.

Men’s aerials final, 12:30 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

This shapes up as a China-Belarus battle, just like the women’s aerials competition. Again, China enters with higher expectations. It throws 2010 bronze medalist Liu Zhongqing, 2013 world champion Qiu Guangpu and 2013 world bronze medalist Jia Zongyang.

Belarus, meanwhile, boasts defending Olympic champion Aleksei Grishin and Anton Kushnir, who won a World Cup event in Park City, Utah, in January.

Canada’s Travis Gerrits is also threat after winning the 2013 World Championships silver medal.

Mac Bohonnon, with one World Cup silver this season, is the lone U.S. entrant.

Jordan Thompson, U.S. volleyball’s new weapon, took unique route to NCAA history

Jordan Thompson
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It was about this time last year that Jordan Thompson first appeared on the radar of U.S. women’s volleyball coach Karch Kiraly. Since, Thompson emerged as the youngest starter, and arguably a star, for the national team.

She goes into what could be her final weekend of college volleyball as one of the most dominant athletes in any sport. And one of the most unique stories in NCAA history.

Thompson plays not for a Big Ten or Pac-12 powerhouse, but for Cincinnati, a school that, before she arrived, never made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The unranked Bearcats upset second-ranked Pittsburgh in the second round last Saturday. They play Penn State, winner of six of the last 12 NCAA titles, in the Sweet 16 on Friday.

In 33 games this season, Thompson has registered a Division I-leading 768 kills, which is 143 more than the next most prolific attacker. That margin of 143 is the same number that separates No. 2 from No. 31.

Last season, she had 827 kills, which was 240 more than anybody else and a single-season record (by 112 kills) since NCAA match formats shifted from 30-point to 25-point sets in 2008.

She is a contender, if not a favorite, to be AVCA National Player of the Year. All of the previous winners dating to 1985 came from schools that reached at least one Final Four.

On Oct. 4, a UCF player’s face caught the wrong end of a Thompson attack. Cincinnati teammates watching from the bench dropped to the floor in astonishment.

Thompson tallied 50 kills in one match alone on Nov. 3, becoming the first D-I player to do so in 20 years.

That happened on Senior Day. Before that match, Thompson received a plaqued No. 23 jersey and flowers.

She posed for a photo standing with her husband, former Cincinnati offensive lineman Blake Yager, her mother, Mary, whose bribes helped Thompson develop into an attacker, and her father, 1990s Harlem Globetrotter Tyrone Doleman (and brother of Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman).

Mary has been most instrumental, raising Thompson as a single mom in Minnesota. Thompson, who is 6 feet, 4 inches now, was always tall for her age.

She played youth basketball against older girls and grew frustrated by the physical contact. Kneepads weren’t comfort enough. She decided to give volleyball a try in middle school.

“She was very timid,” Mary said of her daughter, who has since gotten 10 tattoos, including one of a hummingbird. “She would tell me she didn’t want to hurt anyone on the other side of the net. I told her I would give her a dollar for every time she would whack it. And I would give her $10 if she would actually hit someone on the other end of the court.”

It took a while, but Thompson was motivated by her love of horses. The payouts from her mom went toward a saddle and a bridal. A box with horse equipment remains in the family garage back home.

“She was trying to build up her supplies to be able to one day say to me, look, I’ve got a saddle, I’ve got all of my tack, I’ve got stuff to clean the hooves, can we get a horse now?” Mary said. 

After just two years of club volleyball, Thompson received her first Division-I scholarship offer. It came from Syracuse. Thompson was a high school sophomore.

“In the back of my head, I’m thinking, I’m never going to get another offer, so I better take this one,” she said.

Thompson was intent on Syracuse for a year before a coaching change led her to decommit. She wasn’t sure if many schools knew she had reopened her recruiting. A Minnesota club teammate had committed to Cincinnati and suggested Thompson take a visit.

The Bearcats went 3-29 the season before she committed.

“I said, Jordan, you can play D-I at Texas. You can go to Nebraska,” Mary said. “She was like, no, no, I want to play all four years. I actually want to get playing time, mom. She really struggled believing how good she could be.”

The biggest obstacle came junior year. In a preseason training session, Thompson collided with that Minnesota club teammate, Jade Tingelhoff, and tore the UCL in her dominant, right arm. She was in an armpit-to-wrist brace for two months post-Tommy John surgery, including three weeks with her arm locked in place.

She couldn’t brush her hair, had a hard time brushing her teeth and found it difficult showering and getting dressed.

She still went to every Bearcats game and traveled with the team. Cincinnati went from 22-10 her sophomore season to 13-19 that year without her on the court.

“It ended up being OK,” Tingelhoff said. “She came back that next season — I’m not kidding — 10 times as better than she was even the previous year.”

As a redshirt junior, Thompson and her 827 kills helped Cincinnati to a 26-8 record and its first NCAA Tournament win in seven years. She also caught the eye of Kiraly by the end of that 2018 season.

“She was one of the elite players in all of college volleyball,” he said. “Probably the only one who came from a conference other than the ones known for producing the most NCAA champions, like the Big Ten and the Pac-12.”

By last spring break, Thompson had become a favorite of U.S coaches at a camp to help select teams for summer international tournaments.

She had a one-on-one conversation with Kiraly, the only person to own Olympic indoor and beach gold medals. The legend told her she had potential to play at the Pan American Games. Later, he upped the praise to say she was ready for the top-level Nations League, a precursor to Olympic qualifying.

Thompson made her national team debut in May. By August, she came off the bench to help spur a comeback in a crucial Olympic qualifying match. The next day, she was in the starting lineup for the U.S.’ final Olympic qualifier, where the Americans clinched a Tokyo 2020 berth.

“I think a lot people don’t know she is still in college,” two-time U.S. Olympic outside hitter Jordan Larson said then. “She still has one more year left.”

Agents reached out, but Thompson had no intention of giving up her final year of NCAA eligibility. She wanted to make history at Cincinnati. That was secured with the Sweet 16 berth.

With the new year, she will trade the Cincinnati red and black for Team USA colors. She will keep in mind what the U.S. coaching staff told the team during Olympic qualifying and what she called a dream summer.

“My big goal in life was I just wanted to be in the USA gym,” said Thompson, who is working on her master’s in criminal justice. “To hear that we’re all working towards this goal of trying to make this roster, and we are being looked as potential players to make that roster, my jaw dropped. To know that it’s even a remote possibility is mind-blowing.”

VIDEO: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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Tahiti chosen for Olympic surfing competition at 2024 Paris Games

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Paris 2024 Olympic organizers want the surfing competition to be held in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is about 9,800 miles from Paris.

It would break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host. In 1956, equestrian events were moved out of Melbourne due to quarantine laws and held five months earlier in Stockholm, some 9,700 miles away.

The Paris 2024 executive board approved the site Thursday — specifically, the village of Teahupo’o — and will propose it to the IOC. It beat out other applicants Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all part of mainland France.

“If, ever, we have two alternatives, and where one alternative gives the athletes of a particular sport more closeness to the heart of the Games and allows them to enjoy the magic and the spirit of the Games better, then in the interest of the athletes, we prefer this solution,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in June when asked about Tahiti’s interest in hosting surfing.

Surfing will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but is not on the permanent Olympic program. Surfing was among sports added to the Paris 2024 program in June and could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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