Wednesday’s highlights in Pyeongchang: America’s 22-year-old skiing star will look to win her second Olympic gold, and a snowboarding icon takes to the skies seeking redemption.
Team USA’s Mikaela Shiffrin was supposed to start off her 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics journey with the giant slalom event, but that did not go according to plan after heavy winds postponed it. Now she will start off with slalom — her forte. Will Shiffrin win her second consecutive Olympic gold?
Meanwhile, Shaun White aims for a third Olympic snowboarding gold in the halfpipe, which would be the ideal way for the Flying Tomato to recover from disappointment in Sochi. Here are the most important events to follow on Wednesday in Pyeongchang:
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Men’s curling (Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET/Wednesday, 9:05 a.m. local time): Curling is one of Canada’s strongest sports at the Winter Olympics. Canada has made the podium in all five Winter Games since the sport made its Olympic comeback in 1998, including the past three gold medals. Kevin Koe and team are hoping to win a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal for Canada — though no medals are on the line in round-robin action. Sochi bronze medalist Sweden, led again by Niklas Edin, is in a good position to medal again. Canada will face Italy, Sweden will face Denmark and Team USA will face Korea (round-robin) in early matchups on Tuesday.
Women’s Slalom (Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. ET/Wednesday, 10:15 a.m. local time): With the postponement of the women’s giant slalom event, Team USA star Mikaela Shiffrin will begin her 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic journey with slalom, her signature event in which she is the reigning Olympic, overall World Cup and world champion. (That is, if they get to do any skiing at all, with heavy winds wreaking havoc at skiing events so far.) The 22-year-old from Vail, Colorado, was only 18 when she won gold in slalom at Sochi, earning herself the title of youngest slalom gold medalist — male or female — in Olympic history. Shiffrin, who has won the past three consecutive world titles in slalom, would make more history with a repeat Olympic gold — something no man or woman has done in this event.
Men’s halfpipe final (Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET/Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. local time): Snowboarding fans will want to tune in for the Tuesday night prime-time halfpipe final, as Team USA’s Shaun White will race for his third Olympic gold in the event. He finished first in the qualifiers on Monday, followed by Australia’s Scotty James and Japan’s Ayumu Hirano. Although it looks like there is a good chance the three athletes will end up making it to the podium, the fight for the gold medal will be on tonight. The final will feature 12 athletes, with a deep U. S. team of four snowboarders (watch out for Ben Ferguson, who finished fourth in the qualifiers).
Men’s Gundersen normal hill/10-kilometer cross-country (Wednesday, 3:45 a.m. ET/5:45 p.m. local time): Eric Frenzel of Germany, a five-time World Cup winner and defending Olympic gold medalist in the normal hill event, will again be an athlete to watch, though he should be pushed by Norway’s Jan Schmid and Joergen Graabak (who won gold in Sochi in the large hill event). However, all three could be upstaged by Japan’s Akito Watabe, who won four straight World Cup events before Schmid took the final one before the Pyeongchang Games. Also watch out for rising German star Johannes Rydzek, the 26-year-old who was eighth in Sochi and got the best of Frenzel in 2018 Olympic test events.
Women’s 1,000-meter final (Wednesday, 5 a.m. ET/7 p.m. local time): Dutch legend Ireen Wust became the most successful speedskater in Olympic history (she has 10 Olympic medals so far) by claiming gold in the women’s 1,500-meter event on Monday. Wust beat Japan’s heavy favorite Miho Takagi. Can she replicate the performance again in the women’s 1,000? We should know by now not to rule out the 31-year-old, who has won individual gold medals in four straight Games. Still, Takagi and fellow Japanese skater Nao Kodaira (2017 world championship silver medalist in the event) go into the event as favorites to take home gold and silver.
Women’s 15-kilometer individual (Wednesday, 6:05 a.m. ET/8:05 p.m. local time): Olympic biathlon relay gold medalist Valj Semerenko from Ukraine will look to win her first Olympic medal in the women’s 15-kilometer individual event on Wednesday. Semerenko, who won bronze in Sochi in the 7.5-kilometer sprint, will face tough competition from Belarusian Nadezhda Skardino, who won bronze at the Sochi Olympics at this distance. Also watch out for veteran Finnish biathlete Kaisa-Leena Mäkäräinen, who has six individual and 12 team world championship medals.
Open doubles (Wednesday, 6:20 a.m. ET/8:20 p.m. local time): Team Germany fans will want to keep track of this event — Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, the 2014 Sochi Olympics doubles gold medalists known as “The two Tobis,” are hoping to defend their medal. But they are not the only strong gold medal contenders from Germany: Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken just won the European title and successfully defended their overall World Cup title, and they will look to win their first Olympic medal in the doubles event Wednesday. Austria is also sending a strong team with Peter Penz and Georg Fischler, multiple world championship medal holders.