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Olympic men’s hockey: Quarterfinals preview

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United States vs. Czech Republic, 10:10 p.m. ET, CNBCLIVE STREAM

The U.S. came into the tournament with several speedy forwards in order to play an up-tempo style, while the Czechs look to clog up the neutral zone and slow things down. Whichever team can dictate the pace will likely come out on top and advance to the semifinals. The U.S. finally got some offense from someone other than Ryan Donato in its game vs. Slovakia — although he did pitch in two goals of his own — as Mark Arcobello, James Wisniewski and Garret Roe were able to find twine. The Czech Republic enjoyed a day off to rest: a luxury earned with a perfect record in the preliminary round.

Depth will be critical, as both teams will need the entire roster in order to force the opponent out of its comfort zone. The winner will be rewarded with two opportunities to compete for a medal.

Olympic Athletes from Russia vs. Norway, 2:40 a.m. ET, NBCSNLIVE STREAM

Norway won for the first time since the 1994 Games to advance to the quarterfinals but now have the “privilege” of playing against the Olympic Athletes from Russia. While Norway had to play a tightly-contested, physical game against Slovenia, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk and the rest of the OAR squad enjoyed an off day to rest up. If Norway has plans on an enormous upset, it will need a herculean effort and then some to keep this competitive.

Canada vs. Finland, 7:10 a.m. ET, NBCSNLIVE STREAM

Finland fell just short of earning a bye to the quarterfinals, but after a 5-2 win vs. South Korea, it eventually got there. Eeli Tolvanen has been a dynamic offensive player, showing the Nashville Predators that they made the right selection with the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft. Canada will be looking to slow the Finns down and play a physical style but might not have the right combination of size and speed like years past. The winner will get the chance to compete for a medal.

Sweden vs. Germany, 7:10 a.m. ET, USA NetworkLIVE STREAM

Sweden can truly appreciate the value of its bye: While the Swedes rested up in preparation for their quarterfinal matchup, Germany needed overtime to beat Switzerland 2-1 and will have less than 24 hours to recover for its next game. These two sides met in the preliminary round, and though Sweden escaped with a 1-0 victory, the contest was decided by a matter of inches as the Germans rang the pipe multiple times throughout. Tired but with momentum on its side, Germany will feel good about getting a second bite at the cherry, while Sweden will hope its fresh legs make the difference to earn a semifinal berth.

Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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