What to watch from the Pyeongchang Olympics on Day 7
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Happy New Year! South Korea is celebrating its biggest holiday Friday with fireworks, cultural events and more curling. There will be lots of other Olympic feats of greatness. Here’s what to look for (all times Eastern):
Prime time means prime competition and on Friday night that means the men’s free skate. There are many strong contenders, including Canadian veteran Patrick Chan, but Nathan Chen’s dismal performance in the short program leaves no U.S. contenders within likely striking distance of a medal. Even without Chen’s famed athleticism, the long program will be all about the quad jumps. Look for fellow American Adam Rippon , who raised his star power by taking on Vice President Mike Pence’s stance on gay rights.
The women’s super-G will go at 9 p.m. but without U.S. star Mikaela Shiffrin. After suggesting she might compete in all five events in Pyeongchang, the gold medal winner pulled out, citing the compressed schedule for alpine racing. High winds pushed back early races and forced cancellations. Like the downhill, the super-G is considered a speed race because the gates are spaced far enough apart for the skier to really pick up speed. Watch for the skiers to carve turns around gates of two poles and a flag. It is the distance between gates — and subsequent breakneck speeds — that distinguish this event from the more technical slalom and giant slalom.
Competition in curling is still going strong. In fact, curling is the only event that is played every day during the Olympics, which is a good thing because the sweeping, shouting, stone-throwing, crazy-pants-wearing teams become cult favorites every four years. The women play a round just after midnight. The men play at 6:05 a.m., when the U.S. men face Denmark and the Canadians face host South Korea. The U.S. women will face Russia at 7:05 p.m. Japan and Sweden are topping the standings for the women, while over on the men’s side, Canada is continuing its curling domination, along with Sweden and Great Britain.
At 10:10 p.m., the women will see a playoff quarterfinal between the Russians and Switzerland. The winner of that match will face the defending champions Canada . Men’s preliminary rounds continue with the Russians playing Slovenia at 2:40 a.m. and two games at 7:10 a.m.: Finland against Norway and Sweden against Germany. At 10:10 p.m., Canada faces the Czech Republic.
For the thrill seekers, there is women’s freestyle skiing to watch. The slopestyle finals start at 11 p.m. Each skier will have three runs down a course of jumps and rails, performing tricks to rack up points. Judging is subjective, with a team of judges looking at height, difficulty, variety and execution. The aerials finals start at 6 a.m. Watch for the women to launch themselves off large jumps, perform a seemingly impossible series of flips and rotations and hopefully land on their skis. Scoring is based on a complex formula that includes takeoff, form and landing. Watch how the women extend their bodies on takeoff to get more height.
The men’s 15-kilometer freestyle event starts at 1 a.m. Racers start in 30-second intervals, and the one with the best overall time wins. Cross-country skiing uses two techniques, classic and freestyle. The freestyle is more similar to skating than the classic gliding. This event is dominated by Nordic skiers, but watch for the bare-chested Tongan ! The taekwondo athlete became internet famous for walking into the Rio Olympics opening ceremony without a shirt, greased up with coconut oil. He wore the same thing for the frigid opening in Pyeongchang. Just happy to be here, he has set a very personal definition of success in this event, which is “don’t ski into a tree.” He is expected to wear clothes, though.
Another day at the oval, another chance for the Dutch to show their world domination in speedskating. They have won every speedskating gold medal in Pyeongchang except for the men’s 10,000 meters , which was earned by Netherlands-born Canadian Ted-Jan Bloemen on Thursday. The women’s 5,000 meters will start at 6 a.m.
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