SOCHI -- The other American alpine names you know: Bode Miller, Lindsey Vonn, even young Mikaela Shiffrin has generated plenty of pre-Games excitement with her Mozart-like abilities in the slalom. Not Julia Mancuso, though. Every Olympics, like clockwork, Mancuso falls under the radar. Amid the Vonnathon in Vancouver, Mancuso won two silvers to become the first U.S. female alpine skier to win three Olympic medals. At 29, she is in Russia for her fourth Olympics and, as SI’s Tim Layden observes, begging to be ignored again.
“Since Vancouver, she has won just two World Cup races, and in the 2014 season, she hasn’t made a single top-three podium and didn’t crack the top 10 until late January,” Layden writes of Mancuso. “Yet there are signs. She won a downhill training run at Cortina, Italy, and twice finished seventh in World Cup speed races there (once in downhill, once in Super-G), all within two weeks of the Games. Just as significantly, the water-packed snow in these craggy mountains 40 miles north of the Black Sea is similar to Whistler, British Columbia, where the 2010 Olympic alpine events took place. These things matter in alpine skiing.”
Mancuso has a history of coming up big at major events and she gets another opportunity today as gold will be awarded in the women’s super combined as well as men’s biathlon (men’s 12.5 pursuit), freestyle skiing (men’s moguls), long-track speedskating (men’s 500)and short track speedskating (men’s 1500 finals).
What to watch (all times in Eastern Standard Time)
• WOMEN'S COMBINED: SI’s pick for the women’s combined (the downhill starts at 2 a.m.; the slalom begins at 6 a.m.) is Austria’s Nicole Hosp, but there are plenty of contenders for medals, including Canada’s Marie-Michele-Gagnon, Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany, Slovenia’s Tina Maze, and Lara Gut of Switzerland. Also, as we said, keep your eye on Mancuso. Stacey Cook and Laurenne Ross will also compete for the U.S.
• WOMEN'S HOCKEY: The U.S. women’s hockey team, fresh from beating Finland in its opener, returns to the ice against Switzerland at 5 a.m. The Canadian women face Finland at 10 a.m.
• CURLING: The curling competition begins men’s and women’s round-robin play (competition starts at midnight). The U.S. women’s team opens against Switzerland at 5 a.m. while the U.S. men meet Norway at 10 a.m.
• WOMEN'S SHORT-TRACK SPEED SKATING: The Ladies 500 heats in short-track start at 5:27 a.m. and with double Olympic champion Wang Meng of China out with an ankle injury, her countrywoman Fan Kexin takes center stage. Alyson Dudek is the best hope for the U.S. The Ladies’ 3,000 relay semifinals will start at 6:35 a.m.
• MEN'S SHORT-TRACK SPEED SKATING: Russia’s Viktor Ahn, a transplanted South Korean who could win four medals in Sochi, begins his competition in the men’s 1,500 short-track event. Canada’s Charles Hamelin, South Korea’s Lee Han-Bin and Sin Da Woon and J.R. Celski (who won bronze in Vancouver) of the U.S. are also podium contenders. Ahn won the men's 1500 in Turin competing under his previous name (Ahn Hyun-Soo) while Hamelin has already won gold medals in men's 500 (Vancouver) and men's 5000 relay (Torino 2006), and can become the fourth person to win an Olympic gold medal in three different events in short track. U.S. athlete Eddy Alvarez is the first Cuban-American Olympic speed skater and is competing in this event. The 500 finals are set for 7:11 a.m.
• SPEED SKATING: Gold will be handed out in the men’s long-track 500 with Dutch speed skating brothers Michael and Ronald Mulder and countryman Jan Smeekens as the favorites along with Japan’s Joji Kato and South Korea’s Mo Tae-Bum, who won this event four years ago. Americans Shani Davis, Brian Hanson, Tucker Fredricks and Mitchell Whitmore will also compete, though Davis might opt out of the second leg of this race to prepare for his signature race -- the 1,000. The first race is 8 a.m. The second race starts at 9:55 a.m.
• WOMEN'S LUGE: Women’s luge qualifying (9:45 a.m.) begins with U.S. athletes Erin Hamlin and Kate Hansen competing. Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Hufner are the medal favorites. Hamlin is the top U.S. threat.
• MEN'S BIATHLON: Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who equaled his compatriot Bjorn Daehlie for most medals (12) for a Winter Olympian when he won gold in thes 10km sprint on Saturday, starts one second ahead of Dominik Landertinger of Austria in the biathlon 12.5k pursuit (10 a.m. start). France’s Martin Fourcade (12 seconds back) and Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen (29 seconds back), co-favorites heading into this race, will start from sixth and ninth, respectively. American Tim Burke starts in 19th place.
• MEN'S MOGULS: Canada has a strong group in men’s moguls with Mikael Kingsbury, the 2013 world champion, and defending Olympic champion Alexandre Bilodeau. U.S. athlete Patrick Deneen won the bronze here in Vancouver. The finals start at 1 p.m.
Tweet of the day
By the numbers
148 -- Examples of a parent and child both winning an Olympic medal, including Austrian Matthias Mayer, who won the men’s downhill on Sunday, and his father, Helmut Mayer, who won a silver medal in Super-G in 1988. Here’s the data from OlympStats.
11 -- Gold medals in Olympic ice hockey for Canada in both genders, the most for any country.
7 -- Gold medals won by Bjoerndalen, one behind Daehlie for all-time Winter Olympic honors.
Around the web
Here are five Olympic stories you’ll be talking about today:
• Evgeni Malkin: A Russian tale with roots founded in ice and iron (By J. Brady McCollough, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
The writer travels to Magnitogorsk, Russia to meet the family of the Penguins star and key member of Team Russia.
• Sochi or Bust: Have Niva, Need Hammer (By Vegas Tenold, New York Times)
What’s it like to drive from Moscow to Sochi?
• A U.S. Team Chef Shows His Own Competitive Spirit in Sochi (By Bill Pennington, New York Times)
Meet those who feed Team USA.
• Director’s Cut: ‘Moscow Games,’ by George Plimpton (By Michael McCambridge, Grantland)
The author deconstructs Plimpton’s Harper’s piece on the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow.
• Alexander Ovechkin unfazed by pressure of being Russia's face of Olympics (By Joe Posnanski, NBC Sports)
Ovechkin’s mother, Tatyana Ovechkina, was the point guard for the Soviet basketball teams that won Olympic gold in 1976 and 1980.