Yuna Kim

What to watch on Day 13 of Sochi Olympics

Leave a comment

Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Thursday, Feb. 20. A complete list of every Thursday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Nordic combined team event, 3 a.m./6 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE EVENT LIVE

The U.S. won silver in this four years ago. Half of the four-man team is back, including the only U.S. individual Olympic Nordic combined champion, Bill Demong, and Todd Lodwick. Lodwick is in his U.S. Winter record sixth Olympics. They’re joined by brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher.

It would be a surprise to see the Americans return to the podium, given their best individual finish in two events here is 20th.

Germany and Norway are the favorites for gold.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Men’s ski cross final, 5:41 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Ski cross, essentially snowboard cross on skis, debuted at the 2010 Olympics. The U.S. fielded two men four years ago, veteran Olympic Alpine skiers Daron Rahlves and Casey Puckett, who were eliminated before the quarterfinals.

American John Teller is a better medal threat this year, having been in the top 12 of the World Cup standings the last four seasons and won a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships.

Canadian Chris Del Bosco is a good story, having fallen in the 2010 final shortly before the finish while in medal position. Other medal favorites include World Cup leader Swede Victor Oehling Norberg and 2010 silver medalist Austrian Andreas Matt.

Women’s curling gold-medal game, Canada-Sweden, 8:30 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Canadian Jennifer Jones hasn’t lost in 10 games, including taking out reigning world champion Brit Eve Muirhead in the semifinals Tuesday. No women’s rink has gone undefeated at a Winter Olympics since women’s curling debuted at the Olympics in 1998.

Sweden beat Canada in the 2010 Olympic final, but that included two different rinks. The Swedes have won the last two Olympic golds.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

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

Defending champion Yuna Kim restored order in the short program, posting 74.92 points for a slim .28 lead over Russian surprise Adelina Sotnikova.

The other Russian, 15-year-old team event sensation Yuliya Lipnitskaya, fell to fifth, nearly 10 points back of Kim and nine behind third-place Carolina Kostner of Italy.

All three Americans have varying shots at a medal — Gracie Gold (fourth), Ashley Wagner (sixth) and Polina Edmunds (seventh).

2010 Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada has no shot at a medal. She’s in 16th place after falling on a triple Axel on Wednesday.

Here are start times for notable skaters Thursday:

Mao Asada — 11:41 a.m. ET
Polina Edmunds — 12:42 p.m.
Yuliya Lipnitskaya — 1:06
Carolina Kostner — 1:14
Adelina Sotnikova — 1:22
Gracie Gold — 1:30
Ashley Wagner — 1:38
Yuna Kim — 1:46

Women’s hockey gold-medal game, U.S.-Canada, 12 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The two bitter rivals will face off for the fourth time in five Olympic gold-medal games dating to women’s hockey’s Olympic debut in 1998. Canada has won the last three Olympic gold medals, rendering the current U.S. roster devoid of gold-medal experience.

The U.S. beat Canada in Ottawa for the World Championship in April and won a pre-Olympic series 4-3. Canada, under new coach Kevin Dineen, beat the U.S. 3-2 in a group-play game Feb. 12.

Expect this one to be tight and tense and tears to be shed once it’s all over.

Women’s ski halfpipe final, 12:30 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The U.S. looks to sweep the first Olympic ski halfpipe golds with Maddie Bowman, the two-time reigning Winter X Games champion, going two days after David Wise took the men’s event.

Bowman’s primary competition figures to come from world champion Swiss Virginie Faivre as well as Canadian Roz Groenewoud, who has won medals at the last five X Games.

Americans Angeli VanLaanen and Brita Sigourney are also medal threats.

Follow @NZaccardi

Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Israel baseball turned to Shlomo Lipetz for the biggest out in program history

[twitter-follow screen_name=’nzaccardi’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]

Russia boxers to boycott Olympics if sanctions not lifted

Getty Images
2 Comments

Russian boxers will only take part in the Tokyo Olympics if doping sanctions forcing them to compete as neutral athletes are overturned, the general secretary of the Russian Boxing Federation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Umar Kremlev said he has spoken with the Olympic boxing team and they “unanimously” rejected the conditions laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency as punishment for manipulating doping data.

The WADA sanctions, announced on Monday, ban the use of the Russian team name, flag or anthem at a range of major sports competitions over the next four years, including next year’s Olympics.

“They said we won’t go without our flag and anthem,” Kremlev said. “We aren’t going for medals, but for that feeling that I brought the highest honor home for my country.”

Separately, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament said Russia could create an alternative to the Olympics.

“This ruling show the clear crisis in international sports institutions. I believe that Russia could host its own games at home,” Valentina Matvienko said in comments reported by the Interfax news agency.

There is a precedent. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union refused to compete in the Olympics and hosted its own Spartakiads — named after the ancient rebel slave Spartacus — with a strong socialist slant. However, the Soviet Union began competing at the Olympics in 1952 and Russians generally take great pride in the country’s Olympic achievements since then.

If the sanctions aren’t overturned, Kremlev said Russian boxers would prefer to turn pro rather than compete at the Olympics.

“A world champion (in professional boxing) is better known than an Olympic champion,” Kremlev said, adding the Russian anthem would be played before pro title fights.

Kremlev said boxers are being asked to shoulder the blame for offenses committed in other sports. He said they would still stay at home even if Russia’s athletes in other sports decided to take part.

“If other sports are guilty and people have breached the WADA code, why are we punished?” he said. “We are for honest sport and against doping. We want our sport to be clean … If someone breaks the rules, we push them out.”

Russia is a major power in amateur and Olympic boxing. It hosted both men’s and women’s world championships this year, finishing at the top of the medals table at the women’s event and second in the men’s championships. The International Olympic Committee has taken direct charge of boxing at the Tokyo Olympics after criticizing chronic financial problems and infighting at the International Boxing Association.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov talked up Russia’s chances of overturning the WADA sanctions.

“I think that there is every basis to appeal the decision, because our experts have presented their position, and they have the same database as WADA does,” Kolobkov said in comments reported by state news agency TASS. “There is an answer to every question and the whole process is ahead of us.”

The official decision on whether to dispute the sanctions will be made on Dec. 19 by the Russian anti-doping agency’s supervisory board, but senior figures, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have signaled their preference for taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: IOC strips Olympic status from boxing body AIBA

[twitter-follow screen_name=’nbcolympictalk’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]