Steve Holcomb

What to watch on Day 15 of Sochi Olympics

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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Saturday, Feb. 22. A complete list of every Saturday event can be found here.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Alpine skiing, men’s slalom, 7:45 a.m. ET/11:15 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH FIRST RUN | SECOND RUN

The final Alpine skiing event includes three Americans — giant slalom champion Ted Ligety, David Chodounsky and Nolan Kasper — but it would be a surprise to see any of them win a medal.

The favorites are led by Austrian Marcel Hirscher, who is the reigning world champion and leading the World Cup standings for a third straight season.

Germany’s Felix Neureuther could pose a threat, skiing after being involved in a car accident on his way out of Munich this week. So could rising Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen, 19, who won the last World Cup slalom in Schladming, Austria, on Jan. 28.

Hirscher was fourth in the Olympic giant slalom, Neureuther eighth and Kristoffersen 10th.

Speed skating, men’s and women’s team pursuit, 8:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The U.S. has been shut out of speed skating medals for the third time in Olympic history and is done at the Adler Arena.

The Dutch, though, are favored to cap their dominance in the final two events.

Sven Kramer leads the men’s team seeking to better disappointing bronze medals in 2006 and 2010. They blew out France and Canada by a combined 20 seconds in the quarterfinals and semifinals Friday. The Dutch men get South Korea in the gold-medal final.

The women have semifinals and finals left to go. The Netherlands beat the U.S. in a quarterfinal and will get Japan in the semis. Russia and Poland are in the other semifinal.

If the Netherlands women wins their semifinal (or win the bronze-medal matchup), Ireen Wuest will finish the Olympics with five medals, matching the Winter Olympic single-Games record. Wuest would be the only athlete at the Sochi Olympics to win five medals.

The Netherlands could win eight of the 12 speed skating events in Sochi and 23 of 36 total medals awarded.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Biathlon, men’s 4×7.5km relay, 9:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will go for one more record in the final biathlon event. He’s part of the Norwegian team in the running for gold.

If Norway wins, Bjoerndalen will capture his ninth career gold medal, breaking the tie for most career golds with retired Norwegian cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie. Bjoerndalen already broke Daehlie’s total medals record, notching Nos. 12 and 13 here.

This will be Bjoerndalen’s record 27th and final career Winter Olympic event. France, Russia, Austria and the Czech Republic should also contend.

Men’s hockey bronze-medal game, U.S.-Finland, 10 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The U.S. must regroup after a 1-0 loss to Canada if it wants to win its first men’s hockey medal outside of North America since 1972.

It was the U.S. that knocked Finland out of the 2010 Olympics in the semifinals, so there should be plenty of motivation. What was iffy as of Friday night was the status of Finland goaltender Tuukka Rask, who missed a semifinal loss to Sweden with the flu.

Finland is hoping to win its sixth men’s hockey medal over the last eight Olympics. The Finns have never won an Olympic hockey gold.

The U.S. has not won an Olympic men’s hockey bronze medal since 1936.

Four-man bobsled, runs 1 and 2, 11:30 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

American Steven Holcomb will begin defense of his Olympic title with the first two of four total runs. The final two runs will be Sunday.

Holcomb, who won bronze in the two-man Monday, has been dealing with a calf injury this week, slowly ramping up his fitness in training runs. He was fourth and sixth in the final two of six training runs Friday.

The fastest sleds in training have been driven by Russian Aleksander Zubkov, the two-man champion, Latvian Oskars Melbardis, Britain’s John Jackson and Germany’s Max Arndt and Francesco Friedrich.

Germany, long a bobsled powerhouse, has yet to win a bobsled medal at these Olympics.

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Bernard Lagat commits to Olympic marathon trials, eyes age record

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Bernard Lagat, a 44-year-old, five-time Olympian, reportedly said he will race the Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 29 in a bid to break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner.

“I feel like I can still improve,” Lagat said, according to Runner’s World. “I’m going to give it my best.”

Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1500m medalist, moved to the marathon after becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history at the Rio Games, placing fifth in the 5000m.

He clocked 2:17:20 in his 26.2-mile debut at the 2018 New York City Marathon. He lowered it to 2:12:10 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia on July 7 but did not previously commit to entering the trials.

If Lagat finishes in the top three at the marathon trials, he is in line to become the third-oldest U.S. Olympic track and field athlete in history. The oldest are race walker John Deni (49 years old in 1952) and hammer thrower Matt McGrath (48 years old in 1924), according to the OlyMADMen.

Lagat ranks outside the top 20 among U.S. marathoners in this Olympic cycle. The fastest are Galen Rupp (2:06:07), Leonard Korir (2:07:56, from Sunday’s Amsterdam Marathon) and Scott Fauble (2:09:09).

No American has competed in six Olympics in track and field. Lagat’s first two Olympic appearances were for Kenya.

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MORE: Olympic marathon moved from Tokyo to another Olympic host city

Natalie Geisenberger, Olympic luge champion, will not race this season

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For the first time in eight years, there will be a new World Cup women’s luge champion.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger — the seven-time defending champion and two-time defending Olympic singles gold medalist — announced that she isn’t sliding this season because she and her husband are expecting their first child in April.

“Our happiness is on the way,” Geisenberger said on her Facebook page.

Geisenberger plans to return next season and still has hopes to compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she could match fellow German great Georg Hackl’s feat of winning three consecutive singles golds.

With Geisenberger not sliding this season, the top returning women from last year’s World Cup standings now are Julia Taubitz of Germany and Summer Britcher of the U.S. — second and third, respectively, in 2018-19.

Geisenberger has a luge record-tying four Olympic golds in all, being part of Germany’s victories in the team relays in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018 as well.

Her 49 World Cup singles wins are another record, and she’s one of two sliders to win seven consecutive World Cup titles — Austria’s Markus Prock took the men’s championships each year from 1990-91 through 1996-97.

Geisenberger’s break from sliding only adds to how the World Cup standings — and the German roster — will look very different this season. Dajana Eitberger, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup standings, is also pregnant and expecting a baby in February. And Tatjana Huefner, who was sixth overall last season, has retired.

Huefner won five consecutive World Cup titles before Geisenberger took over and began her seven-year streak of championships. Geisenberger earned medals 11 times in 12 singles races last year — six golds, four silvers and one bronze.

“We are so happy for you even though we will miss you this season!” two-time Olympic singles gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany wrote in a message to Geisenberger on Instagram.

Geisenberger has been in the top three of the World Cup standings in 12 consecutive seasons. She was third in 2007-08, finished second in each of the next four seasons, and then began her title streak in 2012-13.

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MORE: U.S. luge star adds doubles after Olympic singles medal