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Daily Olympic Briefing: U.S. women's figure skating, Mikaela Shiffrin take over Day 11

Daily Olympic Briefing: U.S. women's figure skating, Mikaela Shiffrin take over Day 11
Posted at 3:28 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 20:54:58-05

Each day of the 2022 Winter Games, NBC Olympics will run down every sport in action, highlighting the biggest athletes and marquee events. Every single event streams live on NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock, and many are also on the TV networks of NBC. Visit the Olympic schedule page for listings sorted by sport and TV network.

On Day 11, the women’s figure skating competition starts, and the medal events include the women’s downhill, men’s and women’s snowboard big air and two-man bobsled.

All times listed below are Eastern Time on the night of Monday, February 14 or the morning of Tuesday, February 15.

Figure Skating

Figure Skating: Women's Singles
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Team (ET) How to Watch
Women's Short Program 5:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

This time last week, the women’s figure skating event was shaping up to be one of the most predictable and drama-free competitions in its Olympic history.

That changed after news broke last Wednesday that 15-year-old Russian Kamila Valieva, one of the biggest gold-medal favorites among all 109 events at these Winter Games, was at the center of why the team event medals ceremony was postponed.

Valieva is allowed to skate despite testing positive for a banned substance on Christmas, a court ruled Monday. The test result was reported by the lab last week, and she is still subject to a disciplinary process. More on that complicated matter here.

Valieva’s programs, full of quadruple jumps, triple Axels and precocious artistry, have been must-see all season. She has competed five times internationally and posted the world’s top five total scores across all competitions, distancing the second-ranked woman by 35.29 points.

She will skate Tuesday’s short program under completely different scrutiny and circumstances. How will the 15-year-old handle it? That will be one of the questions as she takes the ice at, as scheduled, 8:52 a.m. ET.

Valieva practiced twice on Monday after a court ruled her eligible to compete for now. In her second session at night, she fell once during the 13 quadruple jump attempts and once during the four triple Axel attempts that figure skating expert Jackie Wong saw.

Quads are not allowed in women’s short programs. A triple Axel will be the most difficult jump performed Tuesday, and Valieva likely won’t be the only woman trying it.

She has scored more than 90 points in her last two shorts. Nobody else in the Olympic field has broken 80 internationally this season.

Valieva’s Russian teammates, Anna Shcherbakova and Aleksandra Trusova, have long been considered the silver- and bronze-medal favorites in either order. They all train at Moscow’s Sambo-70, the skating club with coach Eteri Tutberidze, who guided the 2018 gold and silver medalists.

The Russian Olympic Committee is bidding to become first nation to sweep the Olympic women’s figure skating medals.

“My best isn't comparable to the Russians,” American Karen Chen, who was the top non-Russian at last year’s world championships in fourth, said last month.

In 2014, Valieva, then 7, watched on TV as Yuliya Lipnitskaya, another 15-year-old Tutberidze student, held the Olympic crowd in her palms skating as the girl in the red coat to music from “Schindler’s List.”

“From that moment on, every day, I said, ‘Mom, I really want to go to the Olympics," Valieva told NBC Sports in Russian during a November shoot.

Valieva was then told in that November interview that she would be heading to the Winter Games soon.

“I hope everything works out,” she replied.

SEE MORE: Johnny and Tara disagree with allowing Valieva to compete

Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing: Women's Downhill
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Team (ET) How to Watch
Women's Downhill 🏅 10:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, NBC

Italian Sofia Goggia races to become the second skier to win multiple Olympic downhill titles, three weeks after a gnarly race crash put her in doubt for the Games. On Jan. 23, Goggia did the splits and tumbled in a super-G, spraining her left knee, partially tearing a ligament and suffering a “minor” fibula fracture. She made it back for both downhill training runs in Yanqing, placing 12th and fourth, good enough to remain the gold-medal favorite.

Mikaela Shiffrin said she will race, but she has started just three downhills in the last two years with a best finish of 17th. Competing in the downhill will help her for Thursday’s combined. She is reigning world champion in that event, which is one run on the downhill course and one run of slalom.

Snowboarding

Snowboard Big Air
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Team (ET) How to Watch
Women's Final 🏅 8:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
Men's Final 🏅 12:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

Anna Gasser, the defending gold medalist from Austria, and New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, who won slopestyle last week, are in the 12-woman big air final. Jamie Anderson, the 2018 silver medalist and two-time slopestyle gold medalist, missed a final for just the second time in five years. Julia Marino, whose slopestyle silver was the U.S.’ first medal of the Games, scratched big air after a fall in practice last week.

None of the 2018 men's big air medalists made it back for this year's final. Sebastien Toutant, the gold medalist, was the only one who even made it to China, and he bowed out in qualifying. Canadian Max Parrot, the cancer survivor who won slopestyle gold, topped qualifying. Canadian legend Mark McMorris and Americans Red Gerard (2018 slopestyle gold medalist) and Chris Corning also qualified.

Freeskiing

Freeski Slopestyle
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Team (ET) How to Watch
Women's Final 🏅 8:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, NBC
Men's Qualifying 11:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

China’s Eileen Gu, the 18-year-old who won big air last Tuesday, qualified third for the slopestyle final and will bid to become the first freestyle skier to win two golds in one Olympics. Gu took second in her previous slopestyle starts this season, once behind Estonian Kelly Sildaru and once behind Frenchwoman Tess Ledeux. Gu’s best event, halfpipe, is later this week. Switzerland's Sarah Hoefflin, the 2018 gold medalist, didn’t make the final.

In men’s aerials qualifying, Chris Lillis returns after leading the U.S. to gold in the new mixed team event. Lillis, the 2021 World silver medalist, performed the highest-scoring jump of that competition, a quintuple twisting triple back flip.

Bobsled

Two-Man Bobsled
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Team (ET) How to Watch
Run 3 7:15 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Final Run 🏅 8:45 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

German Francesco Friedrich, who is one of the most dominant athlete at these Games, leads by 0.15 over countryman Johannes Lochner after the first two of four heats. Friedrich has won every Olympic and world two-man title since Germany shockingly went medal-less in men's bobsled at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Friedrich actually tied for two-man gold with Canadian Justin Kripps in 2018, but Kripps is in 10th place now. Americans Frank Del Duca and Hunter Church are, as expected, also out of medal contention – 15th and 28th.

Speed Skating

Speed Skating
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Team (ET) How to Watch
M/W Team Pursuit Semifinals 1:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
M/W Team Pursuit Finals 🏅 2:15 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

The U.S. men qualified second into the team pursuit semifinals, just 0.04 behind Norway while resting their top skater, Joey Mantia. In December, the Americans broke the world record with Mantia skating in front the entire time and Emery Lehman and Casey Dawson pushing him. That's an unusual strategy. Since the event debuted at the 2006 Olympics, skaters usually take turns pulling at the front (and the Dutch still do it that way). Mantia will likely be added for the medal rounds. If the U.S. beats the Russian Olympic Committee in its semifinal, it clinches the first U.S. men’s speed skating medal since 2010. If it loses to the ROC, it will get another chance against the Norway-Netherlands loser in a bronze-medal race.

The U.S. women earned team pursuit bronze in 2018 but didn't qualify for the Olympics in the event this time. Defending champion Japan broke the Olympic record in the opening round. The Dutch also advanced, which means Ireen Wust will go for a 13th Winter Olympic medal, which would tie retired Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjorndalen for second in history. Retired Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjorgen owns a record 15, which Wust will not reach as she has one event left after the pursuit and plans to retire after this season.

Hockey

Men's Hockey: Quarterfinal Playoffs
All events also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Team (ET) How to Watch
Slovakia vs Germany 11:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, CNBC
Denmark vs Latvia 11:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com
Czech Republic vs Switzerland 3:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Canada vs China 8:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

The men’s hockey playoff round determines the last four quarterfinal teams. The U.S. went 3-0 in its group, earning the top overall seed and a bye into the quarters. It will face the Slovakia-Germany winner on Tuesday night. ROC plays the Denmark-Latvia winner. Finland gets the Czech Republic-Switzerland winner. Sweden plays Canada or China.

Curling

Men's & Women's Curling: Round Robin
All events also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Team (ET) How to Watch
USA vs Switzerland (M) 8:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, CNBC
USA vs Switzerland (W) 1:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
USA vs Italy (M) 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

John Shuster and the U.S. men’s curling team (3-3) really need at least one win, and two to feel good about their chances to advance from the 10-team round robin into the four-team playoffs. Switzerland beat the U.S. in the bronze-medal game at last year’s worlds. Italy was seventh at worlds. The U.S. can take comfort in knowing its lone remaining round-robin game after Tuesday is against Denmark (1-5).

A U.S. women’s team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002, but Tabitha Peterson skipped the Americans to a key win over 2018 Olympic silver medalist South Korea on Monday. They’re now 4-2, meaning they can probably afford to lose one of their last three games against 2021 World champion Switzerland, Canada (skipped by 2014 Olympic champion Jennifer Jones) and Japan.

Biathlon

Biathlon
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Team (ET) How to Watch
Men's Relay 🏅 1:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

Biathlon is on Olympic medal record watch. Nobody in any sport has won six medals at a single Winter Olympics, but Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet and Norwegian Marte Olsbu Roiseland are each four for four with two events left. The men and women’s relays and mass starts take place over the next four days, with the men starting things off. So Fillon Maillet will get the first shot to break the record, should France get on the podium in the relay as expected. Fillon Maillet has come a long way since not being selected for France’s relay in 2018. No sport had six events on the Winter Olympic program before 2002, and even now six medals is only possible in four of them.

Nordic Combined

Nordic Combined: Large Hill
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Team (ET) How to Watch
Ski Jump 3:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
10km 🏅 5:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

No sport has been more affected by COVID-19 positives at the highest level than Nordic combined. Four of the top seven athletes in the World Cup standings missed last Wednesday’s normal hill. That included Norwegian Jarl Magnus Riiber, the world No. 1 the previous three seasons, and Eric Frenzel, the normal hill gold medalist in 2014 and 2018. Neither was cleared to return in time for any of the large hill training jumps. In their absence, German Vinzenz Geiger, the world No. 2 last season, won the normal hill. Germany swept the Nordic combined golds in 2018 and could do it again here with the team event also still to come.