What to watch for at the Olympics: Sunday, Feb. 16
SOCHI, Russia -- She is the star-crossed American who squandered a gold medal in Turin eight years ago, etching her name in Olympic lore under the category: Perils of Premature Celebration. So wrote SI’s Austin Murphy on Lindsey Jacobellis, who goes for gold once again today in Olympic snowboard cross. Jacobellis, now 28, has been her sport's most dominant female athlete, winning three world championships. But most sports fans remember her for her last-second fall at the Turin Games in 2006, causing her to lose her lead and finish second.
“Surely you remember how Jacobellis caught an edge while attempting a celebratory ‘Method Air,’ coughing up a generous lead and having to settle for silver?” writes Murphy. “Jacobellis, for her part, has never been allowed to forget. She is not seeking redemption, and rejects the premise that she’s committed some sin that needs redeeming. Yes, it was a mistake, she allows, ‘but I was 20.’ Who among us didn’t make a bad decision or two at that age? She made hers with the world watching.”
Jacobellis is one of the more interesting stories on a day where medals will also be awarded in alpine skiing (men’s Super-G), biathlon (men’s 15Km mass start), cross-country skiing (men’s 4x10km relay) and speedskating (women’s 1500).
What to watch (all times in Eastern Standard Time)
• MEN'S SKIING: The men’s super-G event (2:00 a.m.) has been the property of Norway for much of the last 30 years. Norwegians have won four of the last seven medals, including Aksel Lund Svindal, who took gold in Vancouver. He’ll contend here along with Switzerland’s Patrick Kueng, Austria’s Matthias Mayer, winner of the downhill, and Italy’s Christof Innerhofer. American Ted Ligety, the reigning world champion in super-G, will compete for the U.S. So will Bode Miller, the super-G silver medalist in the 2010 games. If Mayer wins, he’d become the first man to win the Olympic downhill and super-G at the same Winter Games. Here’s SI’s Tim Layden on the U.S.’s woes in alpine skiing at the halfway point of the games.
• MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY: The cross-country’s men’s 4x10 free/classical relay (5:00 a.m.) should be a race between Norway, Russia and Sweden. Norway and Finland are looking to equal Sweden’s record of five gold medals in this event. Russia has never won a medal in the relay.
• CURLING: It’s Canada-U.S. day in curling as the round robin session continues. The U.S. men face Canada at midnight while the U.S. women meet Canada at 5:00 a.m. The men also play Sweden at 9:00 a.m.
• MEN'S HOCKEY: The undefeated U.S. men’s hockey team plays Slovenia in men’s hockey (7:30 a.m. and live on NBC Sports Network across all time zones) in what will likely feel like a letdown after the incredible win over Russia on Saturday. Other games include Austria-Norway (3 a.m.), Russia-Slovakia (7:30 a.m.) and Finland-Canada (noon).
• WOMEN'S LONG-TRACK SPEED SKATING: Dutch speed skating star Ireen Wust attempts to defend her Olympic title in the 1500 at Adler Arena (9:00 a.m.). Wust is the favorite, but she’ll have to hold off Russia’s Yuliya Skokova. Americans Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson were expected to contend for medals here but the performance of the U.S. speed skaters in Sochi has left plenty of questions, as this Michael Rosenberg column highlights. Wust is aiming to become the first Dutch female athlete to successfully defend her Olympic title in any event.
• BIATHLON: Russia’s Alexey Volkov is SI’s pick to win the men’s biathlon 15k mass start (10:00 a.m.). Other contenders include Norway’s Tarjei Boe and France’s Martin Fourcade, who has won gold in men’s 12.5 pursuit and men’s 20k individual. Tim Burke of the U.S. has an outside shot for a medal.
• ICE DANCING: The ice dancing competition is one of the most anticipated of the games for American fans. It pits 2010 Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada against Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who won silver in Vancouver but have since emerged as the world’s top team. The short program is set to begin at 11:00 a.m. at the Iceberg Skating Palace. Other contenders include France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev as well as Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, and Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte. Davis and White have won every competition they have entered since the world championships in 2012 and can become the first ice dance team from the U.S. to win the title. The other American teams are Evan Bates and Madison Chock and the sibling team of Alex and Maia Shibutani.
• WOMEN'S SNOWBOARD CROSS: The favorites in women’s snowboard cross (seeding begins at 2:00 a.m. ET, quarterfinals at 4:15 a.m, semis at 4:30 a.m, and finals at 4:40 a.m.) are Canada’s Maelle Ricker and Dominique Maltais -- SI’s pick for gold and bronze -- and Norway’s Helene Olafsen (SI’s pick for silver) but all eyes in the U.S. will be on Jacobellis.
• BOBSLEDDING: U.S. pilot Steven Holcomb and brakesman Steven Langton are the favorites to win the two-man bobsled, an event the U.S. has not medaled in since Stanley David Benham and Patrick Martin won the silver medal at the 1952 Winter Games in Oslo. Holcomb piloted the four-man team at Vancouver 2010 and can become the seventh pilot to win gold in both the two-man and four-man competition. The Germans will be serious threats with drivers Francesco Friedrich and Thomas Florschuetz. Switzerland (with lead driver Beat Hefti) and Russia (lead driver Alexander Zubkov) will also be medal contenders. The first two heats begin at 11:15 a.m. at the Sanki Sliding Center. The gold medal will be awarded Monday.
• WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Finland-Germany (3:00 a.m.) and Russia-Japan are the women’s hockey consolation-round games on the schedule.
Tweet of the Day
By the Numbers
78 -- Years since an American won gold in the two-man bobsled (Ivan Brown and Alan Washbond finished first at Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the 1936 Games). On Sunday, U.S. bobsledder and gold-medal favorite Steven Holcomb begins the quest to end that drought.
26 -- Nations who had won medals in Sochi through Saturday morning, tying the record for most nations with medals over an entire Winter Olympics. (Stat via Nick Zaccardi of NBCSports.com)
15 -- Baristas NBC flies in to work at its Starbucks inside the International Broadcasting Center, a larger group than the Sochi Olympic teams of 57 countries.
Around the Web
Ancestral enemies meet at Olympics for a toast to amity (By David Segal, The New York Times) -- A Jew and a Cossack meet for tea.
T.J. Oshie: The new American hero (By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports) -- Just call him T.J. Sochi.
Why are Canadians so nuts about curling? (By Adam Doster, Deadspin) -- In Canada, one million people play regularly, and millions more watch on television.
A Russian Protest Zone Where Almost No One Registers a Complaint (By David M. Hezenhorn, The New York Times) -- There are no protests at the Sochi protest zone.
Here's the skinny on NBC's Olympic latte secret (By Paul Sonne and Anton Troinovski, Wall Street Journal) -- NBC's employees get access to Starbucks. Those of us at the Media Press Center get nyet.