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How to watch IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship

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The U.S. women’s hockey team, after a near-boycott, opens its bid for its first world championship on home ice in Plymouth, Mich., on Friday.

The U.S. also seeks its first four-peat in world championships history, dating to the first tournament in 1990.

Its first three games will be in group play against the world’s other top nations — three-time Olympic champion Canada, Russia and Finland.

The top two teams in group play advance directly to the semifinals next Thursday. The bottom two advance to the quarterfinals.

The U.S. is coached by former NHL goalie Robb Stauber. Its roster is packed with Olympic silver medalists, including forward Hilary Knight, who was the MVP of the last two world championships.

Forward Amanda Kessel is on her first worlds team since 2013 after coming back from a life-altering concussion.

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MORE: Stanley Cup-winning goalie joins U.S. women’s coaching staff

The slated U.S. schedule:

Date Time (ET) Opponent Network
Friday, March 31 7:30 p.m. Canada NHL Network/NHL.com
Saturday, April 1 3:30 p.m. Russia NHL Network/NHL.com
Monday, April 3 7:30 p.m. Finland NHL.com
Thursday, April 6 TBD Semifinal NHL.com
Friday, April 7 3:30 p.m. Bronze-Medal Game NHL Network/NHL.com
Friday, April 7 7:30 p.m. Gold-Medal Game NHL Network/NHL.com

Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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MORE: Top luge moments from PyeongChang Olympics

Softball set to return to Olympics as first event on Tokyo 2020 schedule

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Softball, returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, is scheduled to kick off the 2020 Tokyo Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony.

The preliminary master schedule for the Tokyo Olympics was published Wednesday, with the first softball game scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on the Wednesday before the Opening Ceremony.

The first game is scheduled to be held in Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami 155 miles north of Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster

Traditionally, soccer has been the first sport to have action at a Summer Olympics, one or two days before the Opening Ceremony. While soccer is again scheduled to have matches that same Wednesday, they start later than 10 a.m.

The Tokyo 2020 schedule is subject to change and certainly not a final version — swimming, diving and synchronized swimming schedules are still to be determined, but those sports do not typically start before the Opening Ceremony.

Softball was added in 1991 to the Olympic program to debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won the first three gold medals before softball and baseball were narrowly voted off the Olympic program in 2005/06 (a 52-52 IOC vote for softball, with a majority needed to stay in the Olympics), with the 2008 Beijing Games being the last edition. Japan won the last Olympic softball gold medal 10 years ago.

Then on Aug. 3, 2016, baseball and softball were among five sports added for the 2020 Tokyo Games only, at the request of Tokyo Olympic organizers. Baseball and softball are not guaranteed to remain on the Olympic program in Paris in 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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