Ted Ligety

What to watch on Day 12 of Sochi Olympics

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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Wednesday, Feb. 19. A complete list of every Wednesday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Men’s giant slalom, 2 a.m./5:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH FIRST RUN | SECOND RUN

American Ted Ligety’s favorite status here has fallen under some question given his results so far at these Games — 12th in the super combined and 14th in the super-G, two events in which he won gold at the 2013 World Championships but had little World Cup success.

Still, the giant slalom is Ligety’s specialty. He won the World Cup season title in the event four of the last six seasons, though he ranks third so far this season.

Ligety’s primary competition will come from Austrian Marcel Hirscher and Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, the two men who rank above him in the World Cup standings.

Don’t count out Bode Miller, who won silver in the giant slalom at the 2002 Olympics.

Men’s hockey quarterfinal, Sweden-Slovenia, 3 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Sweden earned the top quarterfinal seed after winning all three of its group games. It gets a Slovenian team playing with house money, in its first Olympic tournament having never placed better than 13th at a World Championships.

Sweden has won the last two Olympics held on European ice and will look to ride goalie Henrik Lundqvist into a semifinal against Russia or Finland.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Women’s curling semifinals, Canada-Great Britain, 5 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE | Sweden-Switzerland, 5 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Canada, skipped by Jennifer Jones, became the first woman’s nation to go undefeated in round-robin play. The top seed, it drew reigning world champion Great Britain, skipped by Scot Eve Muirhead.

Sweden is the two-time defending Olympic champion and world silver medalist, while Switzerland took fourth in Vancouver.

Cross-country skiing, women’s team sprint, 6:45 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

This is probably the last good chance for the U.S. to win its second-ever Olympic cross-country medal, joining Bill Koch’s silver from 1976.

Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins won the 2013 World Championship in the team sprint. Diggins is replaced by Sophie Caldwell this year.

Norway and Sweden figure to be the toughest competition. Norway starts eight-time Olympic medalist Marit Bjoergen, while Sweden is not using Charlotte Kalla, who won one gold and two silvers in three of the first four cross-country events.

Men’s hockey quarterfinal, Finland-Russia, 7:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

This figures to be the closest quarterfinal. Finland scored 14 goals in its first two games before falling to mighty Canada in overtime. The Finns won medals in 2006 and 2010 and are the best never to win an Olympic hockey gold, if you don’t count Russia as separate from the Soviet Union and Unified Team.

Russia has looked far less impressive than Finland, struggling on the power play and posting underwhelming victories against nations that weren’t considered medal contenders.

Speed skating, women’s 5000m, 8:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

This is the final individual speed skating event and thus the last chance the Netherlands gets to win multiple medals in one event.

The Dutch female superstar, Ireen Wuest, will look to win her fourth medal of these Games. If she does so, she’s in great shape for five given the Netherlands is the gold-medal favorite in the team pursuit. Five medals would match the most medals won by an athlete at one Winter Games.

Wuest will be paired with defending Olympic champion Martina Sablikova, who has won the last nine World Cup and World Championship 5000m races dating to November 2010.

Also in this race, German Claudia Pechstein, in her sixth Olympics at age 41, will look to win her 10th career medal and become the most decorated female Winter Olympian ever.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Biathlon mixed relay, 9:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen takes aim at the solo record for most Winter Olympic medals for the third time here. The mixed relay is a new Olympic event, and one where Norway should like its chances.

The Norwegians send Bjoerndalen and Emil Hegle Svendsen, both individual gold medalists in Sochi, and Tora Berger and Tiril Eckhoff, silver and bronze medalists.

If Norway wins gold, Bjoerndalen will tie retired Norwegian cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie for the most career Olympic gold medals (eight) with one more men’s relay to go Saturday.

The other contenders figure to be the Czech Republic, France and Russia.

Curling men’s semifinals, Sweden-Great Britain, 10 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE | Canada-China, 10 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Canada is the only 2010 medalist still alive, looking to defend its gold medal with a different rink this time around. Canada is the No. 2 seed, drawing third seed China and its star skip, Liu Rui. China was sixth at the 2013 World Championships and has never won an Olympic men’s medal.

The top seed is Sweden, which went 8-1 in round-robin play and is the 2013 world champion. Great Britain knocked the pants off Norway in a tiebreaker game Monday to stay alive.

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

The notables start with American Polina Edmunds (11:28 a.m. ET), defending Olympic champion Yuna Kim (12:24 p.m.) and U.S. champion Gracie Gold (1:05) before the final group.

The night will be capped by Russian breakout Yuliya Lipnitskaya (1:47), Italian Carolina Kostner (1:54), two-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner (2) and Japan’s Mao Asada (2:20).

Yuna, expected to retire after Sochi, is skating in an international competition for the first time in more than two months. She’s hoping to become the first woman to win two figure skating golds since Katarina Witt in 1984 and 1988.

Lipnitskaya could be her biggest obstacle. The 15-year-old could become the youngest Olympic figure skating champion since Tara Lipinski in 1998.

The key for Asada, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, will be hitting her triple Axel.

Gold and Wagner are the top hopes to bring the U.S. its first women’s figure skating medal since Sasha Cohen’s silver in 2006.

Women’s bobsled runs 3 and 4, 11:15 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams held a .23 lead over 2010 Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada after the first two runs Tuesday.

Meyers, a 2010 bronze medalist as a brakewoman, looks to win the first U.S. women’s bobsled gold medal since Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers prevailed in the event’s debut in 2002.

Williams, a three-time track and field Olympian, looks to become the second athlete to win Summer and Winter Olympic gold medals.

The second U.S. sled, driven by Jamie Greubel, was in third place after the first two runs, .49 ahead of an upstart fourth-place Belgian sled.

USA-3, with Jazmine Fenlator and Lolo Jones, was 11th.

Men’s hockey quarterfinals, Canada-Latvia, 12 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE | U.S.-Czech Republic, 12 p.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The winners of these games will play each other in the semifinals Friday.

Canada has the easier path after Latvia upset Switzerland on Tuesday. The Latvians, whose roster includes 41-year-old former NHL All-Star Sandis Ozolinsh, have already made it farther than it had in the last three Olympics. The Canadians have named Carey Price their starting goalie over Roberto Luongo, who backed them to a gold medal in 2010.

The U.S. will play the Czech Republic, an opponent that would have given it nightmares 15 years ago. But the Czechs are no longer the power they were in the Dominik Hasek era, despite knocking off 2010 fourth-place nation Slovakia on Tuesday. Jonathan Quick will start in goal for the U.S. after getting the third group-play game off.

Blake Leeper, Olympic hopeful double amputee, has prosthetics ruled ineligible

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Blake Leeper, a double amputee who finished fifth in the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships 400m, had his prosthetic legs ruled ineligible for major international able-bodied competition such as the Olympics.

World Athletics made the ruling as part of a months-long case that will go on. Leeper confirmed Thursday morning a Washington Post report that he is appealing.

A World Athletics review group “concluded that Mr. Leeper had not established that his prostheses do not provide him with an overall competitive advantage,” according to a World Athletics statement. “Under the current rule [introduced in 2015], the burden of proof lies with the athlete to show that prostheses do not provide them with an overall competitive advantage.”

Leeper, a 2012 Paralympic medalist, sprints fast enough to be a contender for the U.S. Olympic team, should he be deemed eligible. A fifth-place finisher in the 400m at nationals usually makes an Olympic or world team for the 4x400m relay.

But when Leeper recorded that finish in Des Moines last summer, he was running under conditional allowance while his World Athletics case was ongoing. He was not ultimately selected to race at worlds last fall.

World Athletics said then that his nationals results would not be ratified because he had not proven that his legs did not provide “an overall competitive advantage over an athlete not using such aid.”

Leeper’s case is reminiscent of South African Oscar Pistorius.

Pistorius won a legal battle to race on his prosthetics at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics in the 400m with a personal best of 45.07. He was eliminated in the semifinals at both meets.

Leeper lowered his personal best to 44.38 seconds at nationals, a time that would have easily made the 2016 Olympic team.

“They keep changing the rules,” Leeper, who has been coached by, among others, Super Bowl champion wide receiver Willie Gault, said last summer. “For somebody to try to dictate and tell me how tall I should be or whatever I should be running on I think is just really unfair.”

In 2018, the International Paralympic Committee said Leeper was running on invalid blades for its record purposes because he had yet to be classified under a new maximum allowable standing height (MASH) formula.

Michael Norman, the world’s fastest 400m sprinter last year, said he had no issue racing with Leeper. But others in the past, when Pistorius became the first double amputee to race at worlds and the Olympics, said they wouldn’t have been so sure had Pistorius been running the kind of times that Leeper posted in recent years.

“Walk a mile in my legs,” Leeper said of those who believe he has a competitive advantage. “Understand the things that I go through as a double-leg amputee. There’s some days my legs are swollen, they’re sore, they’re bleeding, they’re bruised. I can’t even have the strength to put ’em on to walk to the bathroom.

“Anybody that faces a disability, to actually look them in the face and say they have an advantage is just crazy to me. I guarantee if that’s the case, you’ll see a lot more people amputating their legs and coming and trying to qualify for the U.S. trials.”

Leeper was born without lower legs and has used prosthetics since he was a toddler. He earned 200m bronze and 400m silver (behind Pistorius) in his class at the 2012 London Paralympics, then served a cocaine ban.

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Chad le Clos seeks Sun Yang’s Olympic gold medal for doping case

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NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Chad le Clos believes he has a claim on Sun Yang’s gold medal from the Rio Olympics, with a verdict imminent on the Chinese swimmer’s latest doping case.

“He should be banned. It’s as simple as that,” Le Clos said in an interview with The Associated Press this week. “Anyone who tests positive should be banned. I should get my gold medal back from Rio.

“Not for the moment. I lost that. I don’t really care about that,” Le Clos added on Wednesday. “It’s just for my record. If I break my leg and I can’t swim again I want my record to say, ‘Two individual golds, two individual silvers.’ Because that’s what it should be.”

Le Clos’ Olympic record currently contains one gold medal and three silvers — including a second-place finish to Sun in the Rio Olympic 200m free

Odds are, though, that Sun won’t lose any Olympic titles when the Court of Arbitration for Sport issues its ruling over his alleged refusal to provide blood and urine in September 2018 in a visit by sample collectors to his home in China. During the late-night confrontation, a security guard used a hammer to smash a container holding Sun’s blood as the swimmer lit the scene with his mobile phone.

The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed after swimming federation FINA merely warned Sun and cited doubts about credentials shown by three sample collection officials.

A three-time Olympic champion, Sun could be banished from the sport for up to eight years but any ban likely won’t be backdated before September 2018 — meaning all of his Olympic medals seem safe.

But there’s also the fact that international swimming authorities worked to protect Sun from being banned, according to a Swiss supreme court document.

FINA has faced criticisms in the past for favoring Sun during his career. It did not announce Sun’s three-month ban for doping imposed by Chinese authorities until after it ended in 2014.

“I just hope the system and whatever we have is really accurate,” said Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú, who won three golds in Rio. “I just hope the decisions they are making is fair and is for the sport and not for other reasons.”

The medals that Sun risks losing most are the two golds that he won at last year’s world championships in the 200m and 400m frees. At the event in Gwangju, South Korea, fellow medalists Mack Horton of Australia and Duncan Scott of Britain refused to stand with him on the podium.

Sun has denied any wrongdoing. Any ban imposed in the coming days would likely prevent him from competing at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“I have nothing against anybody. It’s not personal,” Le Clos said. “It’s just how the world should be. If you cheat or if you do something wrong, like if you false start, you get disqualified. It’s simple as that.”

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