What to watch in Olympic sports this week

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The 2019 Nordic World Ski Championships extend into its second week of competition in Seefeld, Austria. The U.S.’ cross-country Olympic gold medalist, Jessie Diggins, is still in search of her first podium finish at this year’s event after picking up two medals at worlds in 2017.

Her best result at the event so far has been a fifth place finish with teammate Sadie Bjornsen in the women’s team sprint.

The men’s and women’s relays, the must-see races at worlds in cross-country, kick off with the women on Thursday, February 28. Watch live on TV or streaming with Olympic Channel at 7:00 a.m. ET. The men put their skis on the start line for the relay on Friday, March 1 at 7:15 a.m. ET, with live coverage on OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold. The race will also air on TV at 7:30 a.m. ET on Olympic Channel.

Another top event this week, the 2019 Bobsled and Skeleton World Championships begin on Friday, March 1 where reigning world champion, the U.S.’ Elana Meyers Taylor, returns to the track where she has finished on the podium five times in her career, including an Olympic bronze-medal finish at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Last November in the Whistler chute, Meyers Taylor posted a first-place finish in her event at the North American Cup. Riding along for the majority of this season with Meyers Taylor has been rookie brakewoman Lake Kwaza, but in the final World Cup event of the season this past week, Meyers Taylor reunited with her 2018 Olympic teammate Lauren Gibbs for a second place finish in Calgary.

The women’s bobsled competition begins on Saturday, March 2 at 2:30 p.m. ET. Watch live on TV or streaming on Olympic Channel.

The World Cup tour for Alpine ski racing resumes this weekend with speed events for both the men and women. Both tours will compete in downhill and Super-G, but in separate locations. The men’s tour heads to Kvitfjell, Norway while the women’s tour makes camp in Sochi, Russia.

The men’s downhill opens competition on Friday, March 1 at 5:00 a.m. ET. Stream the event live on OlympicChannel.com or with an NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass.

World Cup gymnasts descend on Greensboro, North Carolina on Saturday, March 2 for the American Cup All-Around event. Coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. ET live on TV and streaming with Olympic Channel, and shifts to NBC at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Check out the full schedule of Olympic sport events on TV and streaming this week on NBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel, OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold.   

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP — Kvitfjell, Norway; Sochi, Russia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 5:00 a.m. Men’s Downhill Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 2:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 a.m. Men’s Downhill Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 1:00 a.m. Women’s Super-G* NBCSN
2:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
5 a.m. Men’s Super-G Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. Women’s Super-G* NBCSN

*Same-day and next day delay

JUNIOR ALPINE SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS — Val di Fassa, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 3:30 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
8:00 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) OlympicChannel.com
Tuesday 3:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
8:00 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) OlympicChannel.com

BOBSLED AND SKELETON WORLD CUP — Calgary, Alberta

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 12:30 a.m. Four-Man Bobsled (Run 2)* NBCSN

*Encore presentation

BOBSLED AND SKELETON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Whistler, British Columbia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 8:00 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 1 OlympicChannel.com
9:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 2 OlympicChannel.com
10:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 1* Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 2* Olympic Channel
Saturday 2:30 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Run 1 Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
4:00 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Run 2 Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
8:00 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 3 OlympicChannel.com
9:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Final Run OlympicChannel.com
10:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 3* Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Final Run* Olympic Channel
Sunday 2:30 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Run 3 Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
4:00 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Final Run Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
5:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Final Run* NBCSN
7:00 p.m. Team Event Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
11:00 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Final Run* NBCSN

*Same-day delay

FREESTYLE SKIING WORLD CUP — Shimao Lotus Mountain, China; Shymbulak, Kazakhstan

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 12:30 a.m. Aerials Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
2:30 a.m. Moguls OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:00 p.m. Moguls* Olympic Channel
Sunday 12:30 a.m. Team Aerials Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
2:30 a.m. Dual Moguls OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Dual Moguls* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

NASTIA LIUKIN CUP, AMERICAN CUP GYMNASTICS — Greensboro, North Carolina

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 7:00 p.m. Nastia Liukin Cup Gymnastics Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
Saturday 11:30 a.m. American Cup Gymnastics Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
1:00 p.m. American Cup Gymnastics NBC NBC
11:00 p.m. Nastia Liukin Cup Gymnastics* NBCSN

*Next-day delay

LUGE WORLD CUP — Sochi, Russia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 11:00 p.m. Men’s Singles (Run 2)* NBCSN

*Encore presentation

NORDIC WORLD SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS — Seefeld, Austria

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 10km Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
10:15 a.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Team Final OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 10km* NBCSN
2:00 p.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Team Final* Olympic Channel
Wednesday 8:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 15km Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
10:15 a.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Final Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Thursday 1:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 15km* NBCSN
2:00 a.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Final* NBCSN
5:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: NH Ski Jumping Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 4x5km Relay Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
9:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: Indiv. 10km Cross-Country Ski Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Friday 7:15 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 4x10km Relay OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 4x10km Relay* Olympic Channel
10:00 a.m. Ski Jumping: Men’s NH Final Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 5:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: NH Team Ski Jumping OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: NH Team Ski Jumping* Olympic Channel
6:15 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 30km OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 30km* Olympic Channel
8:30 a.m. Nordic Combined: 4x5km Cross-Country Relay Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. Ski Jumping: Mixed Team Event OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Ski Jumping: Mixed Team Event* Olympic Channel
Sunday 7:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 50km Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold

*Same-day and next day delay

SNOWBOARDING WORLD CUP — Baqueira Beret, Spain

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 7:30 a.m. Snowboard Cross OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold

WORLD ALLROUND SPEED SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS — Calgary, Alberta

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 2:00 p.m. Day 1 NBC Sports Gold
10:00 p.m. Day 1* Olympic Channel
Sunday 2:00 p.m. Day 2 NBC Sports Gold
10:00 p.m. Day 2* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

TOKYO MARATHON — Tokyo, Japan

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 7:00 p.m. From Tokyo, Japan Olympic Channel Olympic Channel

TRACK CYCLING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Pruszkow, Poland

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Day 1 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 p.m. Day 1* Olympic Channel
Thursday 12:30 p.m. Day 2 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 p.m. Day 2* Olympic Channel
Friday 12:30 p.m. Day 3 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
9:30 p.m. Day 3* Olympic Channel
Saturday 11:00 a.m. Day 4 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:00 p.m. Day 4* Olympic Channel
Sunday 6:00 a.m. Day 5 (Semifinals) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. Day 5 (Finals) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
3:00 p.m. From Pruszkow, Poland* NBCSN

*Same-day delay

IOC looks for ways Russian athletes ‘who do not support war’ could compete as neutrals

Thomas Bach
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GENEVA (AP) — Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview published Friday.

“It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding, “We have to think about the future.”

Most sports followed IOC advice in February and banned Russian teams and athletes from their events within days of the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.

With Russians starting to miss events that feed into qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, an exile extending into next year could effectively become a wider ban from those Games.

In an interview in Rome, Bach hinted at IOC thinking after recent rounds of calls with Olympic stakeholders asked for views on Russia’s pathway back from pariah status.

“To be clear, it is not about necessarily having Russia back,” he said. “On the other hand — and here comes our dilemma — this war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”

Bach did not suggest how athletes could express opposition to the war when dissent and criticism of the Russian military risks jail sentences of several years.

Some Russian athletes publicly supported the war in March and are serving bans imposed by their sport’s governing body.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Yevgeny Rylov appeared at a pro-war rally attended by Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak displayed a pro-military “Z” symbol on his uniform at an international event.

Russian former international athletes are being called up for military service in the current mobilization, according to media reports. They include former heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev and soccer player Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

Russians have continued to compete during the war as individuals in tennis and cycling, without national symbols such as flags and anthems, even when teams have been banned.

Bach told Corriere della Sera it was the IOC’s mission to be politically neutral and “to have the Olympic Games, and to have sport in general, as something that still unifies people and humanity.”

“For all these reasons, we are in a real dilemma at this moment with regard to the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” he suggested. “We also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever.”

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How did U.S. women’s basketball replace its legends? It starts with Alyssa Thomas.

Alyssa Thomas
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If this FIBA World Cup marks the beginning of a new era of U.S. women’s basketball, it is notable, if not remarkable, that no player has been more visible than Alyssa Thomas.

Thomas is making her global championship debut in Sydney. She is the only woman on the team in her 30s. Rarely, if ever, has a player who waited this long to put on a U.S. uniform made such an impact out of the gate. Certainly not since the last major tournament in Australia, when 30-year-old Yolanda Griffith starred at the 2000 Olympics.

Over the last week, Thomas leads the U.S. in minutes played and is one of two players to start all seven games along with Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP. She ranks fourth on the team in scoring (10.6 points per game), is tied for second in rebounding (6.7), second in assists (4.6) and first in steals (2.7).

The Americans, with their new breakthrough power forward, face China in Saturday’s final, seeking a fourth consecutive world title and 60th consecutive victory between Olympic and world championship play dating to 2006.

“She takes a lot of pressure off of us,” two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson said after Thomas had 13 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in a quarterfinal win over Serbia. “I think she’s the glue of this team, the X-factor of this team, because that’s her game and that’s her style.”

Thomas earned the nickname “Baby Bron Bron” at the University of Maryland for her LeBron James-like play. USA Basketball took notice in 2013, when she was one of six collegians named to a 33-player national team training camp.

But that participation was the last of Thomas’ bullet points on her USA Basketball bio for another nine years, until she was named to the FIBA World Cup qualifying team last February.

Thomas had to wait her turn.

The U.S. was loaded in the frontcourt in the 2010s with more established players — Candace ParkerTina CharlesSylvia FowlesBrittney GrinerElena Delle Donne — and then Stewart and Wilson came along, becoming arguably the two most valuable Americans in the last Olympic cycle.

Thomas produced, to that point, the best WNBA season of her career in 2020, but tore an Achilles playing overseas in January 2021, ruling out any chance of making the Tokyo Olympic team. (Thomas was not in the 36-player national team pool at the time of her injury.)

The combination of players’ absences this year — Charles, after three Olympic golds, ceded to younger players, Fowles retired and Griner is being detained in Russia — and Cheryl Reeve becoming head coach created an opportunity.

Thomas seized it, leading the Connecticut Sun to the WNBA Finals, where she recorded triple-doubles in the last two games of a series loss to the Las Vegas Aces. Then she boarded a plane to Sydney for her first major international experience and has similarly flourished.

Jennifer Rizzotti, part of the USA Basketball selection committee, said the 6-foot-2 Thomas combines the movement of Lindsay Whalen, the passing of Parker and the physicality of Rebekkah Brunson. She plays with labrum tears in each shoulder. There’s no single player like her.

“There’s definitely some post players that have that point forward mentality, but not quite with the guard skills that Alyssa has,” Rizzotti said. “I don’t see anybody, including guards, that can do what she does in the open court. Then you talk about how disruptive she is defensively and her ability to guard one through five. A’ja can guard one through five, Stewie can guard one through five, but nobody’s as disruptive as Alyssa is. On the perimeter and off the ball.”

Thomas also fit what Reeve, who succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, was looking for in retooling the roster following the retirement of Sue Bird and possible end of Diana Taurasi‘s national team career at age 40.

“[Reeve] made it clear that she was hoping with the guard turnover that we would be able to play faster, more athletically, more possessions in the game,” Rizzotti said. “And therefore, she wanted to have post players that could push tempo, that could facilitate and kind of fit in with a ball-handling, passing mentality from the trail spot.”

Still, Thomas did not expect to be putting on a USA jersey this year. “Shocked” is the word USA Basketball chose to describe her reaction to making this team.

“It was kind of a surprise,” she said, according to USA Basketball. “I had just really taken my name out of it.”

Rizzotti said Thomas is an example — a very successful one, it turns out — of an asset in the eyes of the selection committee: patience.

“I think a lot of players feel like if they don’t make the USA national team right away, it’s never going to happen,” she said. “You get the comments like, oh, it’s political, or they keep inviting the same guys back. And it’s not true.”

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