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.

UCI looks for new host for 2020 World Road Cycling Championships

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The International Cycling Union (UCI) is looking for a new host for the 2020 World Road Cycling Championships due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Switzerland can no longer host the week-long event in late September after a national decision to extend a ban on events with more than 1,000 people through next month.

Amid reports the competition has been canceled, the UCI clarified Wednesday that it still hopes to hold it in some form, perhaps without some of the junior or senior races.

It now seeks an “alternative project,” preferably still in Europe and on the same dates (Sept. 20-27).

Worlds were due to start in Switzerland on the same day that the rescheduled Tour de France ends, though the senior elite men’s races are typically not on the first three days.

The Tour de France is still scheduled to start Aug. 29.

Last year, American Chloe Dygert starred at road worlds, winning the time trial in dominant fashion. Other world champions in Olympic events: Annemiek van Vleuten (road race), Rohan Dennis (time trial) and Mads Pedersen (road race).

MORE: Chloe Dygert had the most dominant ride in history. It still drives her nuts.

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Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15 in 2000

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In the biggest race of his young life, a 15-year-old Michael Phelps turned for the last 50 meters in fourth place of the U.S. Olympic Trials 200m butterfly final on Aug. 12, 2000.

His mom, Debbie, couldn’t watch. She turned away from the Indianapolis Natatorium pool and stared at the scoreboard. Both Debbie and Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, mentally prepared their consolation speeches for the rising Towson High School sophomore outside Baltimore.

Then Phelps, fueled by nightly Adam’s Mark chicken sandwich-and-cheesecake room service and amped by pre-race DMX on his CD player, turned it on. He zoomed into second place, becoming the youngest U.S. male swimmer to qualify for an Olympics since 1932.

Phelps had “come out of nowhere in the last six months” to become an Olympic hopeful, NBC Sports swimming commentator Dan Hicks said on the broadcast. True, Phelps chopped five and a half seconds off his personal best that March.

“He doesn’t know what it means to go to the Olympics and how it’s going to change his life,” Tom Malchow, the 1996 Olympic silver medalist who held off Phelps in that trials final, said that night, according to The Associated Press. “He’s going to find out soon.”

Phelps, who did his trademark arm flaps before the trials final, made Bowman look like a prophet. Four years earlier, the coach sat Debbie down for a conversation she would not soon forget.

“Told me what he projected for Michael,” Debbie said, according to the Baltimore Sun‘s front-page story on a local 15-year-old qualifying for the Sydney Games. “He said that in 2004, he would definitely be a factor in the Olympics. He also said that he could be there in 2000, to watch out for him. At the time, he was only 11.”

The trials were bittersweet for the Phelps family. Whitney, one of Phelps’ older sisters, withdrew before the meet with herniated discs in her back that kept her from making an Olympics after competing in the 1994 World Championships at age 14.

After Phelps qualified for the Olympics, one of the first people to embrace him was Whitney on the pool deck.

The next week, Phelps, still with bottom-teeth braces, did his first live TV sitdown on CNN, swiveling in his chair the whole time, according to his autobiography, “Beneath the Surface.”

The next month, Phelps finished fifth in his Olympic debut, clocking a then-personal-best time that would have earned gold or silver at every previous Olympics.

Following the Olympic race, gold medalist Malchow patted Phelps on the back, according to “No Limits,” another Phelps autobiography. What did Malchow say?

“The best is ahead of you.”

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