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Winter Olympics: What to watch/stream today

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The figure skating team competition is back for a second run, and on the eve of the Opening Ceremony, one of Team USA’s biggest stars will be taking center stage.

The United States finished third in the inaugural team event in Sochi, behind gold-medalists Russia and second-placed Canada. Competition for a podium finish seems to be even steeper this year, with Canada and Team OAR both bringing back strong squads. Japan and China will also be expecting to fight for a spot at the top.

The figure skating team event allows each nation to select its strongest skaters in four disciplines: Ladies, Men, Pairs, and Ice Dance.

NBCOlympics.com: What is the figure skating team event? 

Tonight, though, will be all about Nathan Chen. With a Primetime slot on NBC, Chen will be headlining the men’s short program. Chris Knierim and Alexa Scimeca Knierim will be competing in the pairs short program this evening.

Curling action returns tonight, while  luge and freestyle skiing competitions will be getting off to a start.

Figure Skating

Nathan Chen will be making his much-anticipated Winter Olympic debut. U.S. Figure Skating announced in a statement yesterday that the skating phenom will be participating in the team event. The two-time American National Champion will be aiming to complete two quadruple jumps in his debut.

Despite being facing a heavy workload being the only pairs team for the USA, wife and husband duo Alexa Scimeca Knierem and Chris Nierem will be following Chen in the team event in the pairs short program.

The figure skating team event will be aired at 8 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. PST.

Stream Live Here 8 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. PST

Curling

The mixed doubles competition continues for Team USA’s Matt and Becca Hamilton as they take on hosts South Korea. Both nations got off to hot starts in mixed doubles, as Team USA glided past Team OAR 9-3 and South Korea clinched a 9-4 victory over Finland.

SUI vs. NOR Stream Live Here 8:35p.m. EST / 5:35p.m. PST

USA vs. KOR Stream Live Here 8:35p.m. EST / 5:35p.m. PST

CAN vs. FIN Stream Live Here 8:35p.m. EST / 5:35p.m. PST

CHN vs. OAR Stream Live Here 8:35p.m. EST/ 5:35p.m. PST

Freestyle Skiing

Competition gets underway with the men’s and women’s moguls opening qualifying rounds. Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury will be the man to watch in this competition. The 2014 silver medalist will be looking to complete his trophy cabinet in PyeongChang, having amassed a record-setting 48 World Cup events in his career.

Team USA’s women’s team will look to two rising stars to end its podium drought. Jaelin Kauf currently leads the overall World Cup standings along with a pair of event wins. Morgan Schild will also be hoping her technical style will propel her to an Olympic medal in 2018.

Women’s moguls qualifying round Stream Live Here 8 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. PST

Men’s moguls qualifying round Stream Live Here 9:45p.m. EST / 6:45p.m. PST

Luge

Before American flag bearer Erin Hamlin takes to the course, the men’s individual training kicks off. Germany will again be heavy favorites to win gold in every event. Felix Loch will be taking the helm for his country on Day 1 as he looks to claim his third successive gold medal.

Stream Live Here 7 p.m. EST / 4 p.m. PST

Alpine Skiing

The men’s downhill skiing training sessions continue. Canada’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis clocked the fastest time in the first session, finishing ahead of Norway’s Kjietel Jansrund.

Steam Live Here 9 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. PST

Geraint Thomas attacks, takes Tour de France lead ahead of Chris Froome

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British Olympic track cycling champion Geraint Thomas grabbed the Tour de France lead, attacking with three and a half miles to win a summit finish on Stage 11 on Wednesday.

Thomas now leads a Team Sky one-two in the overall standings, 85 seconds ahead of four-time Tour winner Chris Froome, as the three-week Grand Tour passed the halfway mark.

Thomas continues to say he’s riding in support of Froome — who could tie the record of five Tour titles — rather than to win cycling’s biggest event himself.

“Froome is the [Team Sky] leader here, so there’s no pressure on me,” Thomas said Tuesday, according to Cyclingnews.com. “It’s a bonus for me to be up there, and hopefully I can be there for as long as possible.”

The Tour continues Thursday with stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here).

The 109-mile stage features three beyond-category climbs — Col de la Madeleine, Croix-de-Fer and the iconic Alpe d’Huez finish after 21 switchbacks to close out the Tour’s three days in the Alps. The overall standings are sure to change.

Greg Van Avermaet, the Rio Olympic road race champion, went into Wednesday with the yellow jersey and a 2:22 lead, which he had tripled on the first mountain day Tuesday.

But Van Avermaet, who predicted he would lose the yellow jersey before stages Tuesday and Wednesday, cracked on the second of three major climbs Wednesday. He finished in a group 22 minutes after Thomas.

Van Avermaet is a super one-day racer but not a strong climber.

Thomas showed his climbing prowess, finishing 20 seconds ahead of 2017 Giro d’Italia champion Tom Dumoulin and Froome.

“It’s unreal,” Thomas said. “I didn’t expect it at all.”

Thomas dons the yellow jersey for a second straight Tour. The 2008 and 2012 Olympic track cycling gold medalist won the opening time trial in 2017 and wore the maillot jaune four days before Froome took over en route to his fourth title in Paris.

There was talk before and during this year’s Tour that Thomas could challenge Froome as Sky’s team leader, even though Froome has won the last three Grand Tours.

But Thomas and Sky have played that down.

“Whatever happens now is bonus,” Thomas said. “Froomey’s won six Grand Tours. He knows how to race over three weeks. For me, it’s an unknown. … As long as one of us wins, that’s the main thing.”

Dumoulin moved into third overall, 1:44 behind Thomas and 19 seconds back of Froome.

The other top contenders — 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana and Romain Bardet — finished 59 seconds behind Thomas on Wednesday.

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TOUR DE FRANCE: StandingsTV Schedule | Riders to Watch

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics add 7 new events

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Seven new events were added to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic program:

Women’s monobobsled
Short track mixed team relay
Ski jumping mixed team event
Freestyle skiing big air (men and women)
Aerials mixed team event
Snowboard cross mixed team event

The additions bring the Winter Olympic total number of events to 109, an all-time high and nearly double the amount of events at the 1992 Winter Games.

The number of women’s hockey teams will increase from eight to 10 in 2022, but the overall number of athletes is expected to be fewer than the 2,933 in PyeongChang. The International Olympic Committee said athlete quotas will decrease in some sports, but no events have been contracted. Alpine skiing’s super combined events are still under review as to whether they will remain in the Olympic program.

The IOC said the Winter Olympics will have its highest-ever gender balance in 2022, rising from 41 percent female athletes to more than 45 percent.

The IOC had a “long discussion” about adding a women’s event in Nordic combined, the only sport without a women’s event in the Winter Games, IOC sports director Kit McConnell said.

“Nordic combined, and women’s in particular, still need to be developed further in terms of universality [the number of countries with Olympic-level athletes], in terms of the level of the athletes,” McConnell said.

The IOC also weighed whether to add a four-woman bobsled event rather than women’s monobobsled. The Games have two-man and two-woman events and a four-man event.

McConnell said the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation was “very supportive” of monobob, in part because it is already on the Youth Olympic program.

“Woman’s four-man bob costs three or four times of monobob,” McConnell said. “We felt there would be more universality in the women’s monobob. We really didn’t see more than a handful of countries really developing women’s four-man programs because of the costs involved.”

Beijing will mark the third straight Winter Olympics to add mixed-gender events. In 2014, mixed relays in biathlon and luge debuted, as well as the figure skating team event. In PyeongChang, a mixed Alpine skiing team event and mixed doubles curling debuted.

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