Olympic Daily Preview - Friday, February 14th

The Sports NetworkFebruary 12, 2014 

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Americans Bode Miller and Ted Ligety are back on the slopes at the Sochi Olympics on Friday for the super combined event.

The competition features a downhill run and a slalom run with the best combined times taking the medals.

Miller won gold in this event four years ago in Vancouver and was considered a medal favorite for the men's downhill earlier this week, but finished eighth. Ligety will make his Sochi debut on Friday. He was fifth in this event four years ago and was the combined Olympic champion at the 2006 Games.

Austria's Matthias Mayer will try for a second Sochi gold after winning the downhill, while Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal will try to reach the podium after a fourth-place finish in the downhill. Svindal won a medal of each color in Vancouver. Croatia's Ivica Kostelic will try for another medal in the event, having captured silver in the combined in 2006 and silver in the super combined four years ago.

Japan's Yuruzu Hanyu has the lead heading into Friday's free skate in men's figure skating. The 19-year-old put up a score of 101.45 in the short program Thursday. Three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada finished second Thursday and Spain's Javier Fernandez was fourth.

The top 24 skaters qualified for the free skate and Americans Jason Brown and Jeremy Abbott were among them. Brown was sixth Thursday with a mark of 86.00 that topped his previous personal best of 84.77, while Jeremy Abbott recovered after a hard fall and finished 15th.

Women's skeleton medals will be awarded Friday after the final two runs. Great Britain's Elizabeth Yarnold has the lead, but Americans Noelle Pikus-Pace and Katie Uhlaender are close behind.

Pikus-Pace is second, just .44 seconds behind, while Uhlaender is fourth and trails Yarnold by .69 seconds. Elena Nikitina of Russia sits between the Americans in third.

Men's heats begin on Friday and Latvia could have a medal presence by the eventual end of the Games thanks to brothers Martins and Tomass Dukurs. Martins took silver at the 2010 Vancouver Games, while Tomass finished fourth. Martins Dukurs will eye gold after winning the World Championships in 2011-12 and taking silver in 2013.

Martins Dukurs finished behind Russian Alexander Tretiakov, who won bronze in Vancouver, at the 2013 championships. Canada's Jon Montgomery took gold four years ago, but did not make the team this time around.

Canada instead turns to John Fairbairn and Eric Neilson, while Matthew Antoine, John Daly and Kyle Tress compete for the U.S.

Switzerland's Dario Cologna has his sights set on another gold in cross- country skiing, which has been slowed by soft snow amid warm temperatures. Cologna won the skiathlon earlier this week and is the defending Olympic champion at this 15-kilometer distance, but four years ago it was run in the freestyle technique. Thursday will be classical style, not Cologna's best.

Germany's Axel Teichmann won silver in the 50-k classic four years ago, while Sweden's Johan Olsson took bronze. Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic was the silver medal winner in the 15-kilometer classical style at the 2006 Games.

Women's biathlon features Darya Domracheva of Belarus trying for a second gold of the 2014 Games. She won the pursuit race on Tuesday and captured a bronze medal at this event four years ago. Norway's Tora Berger won silver in the pursuit and will try for a second straight gold in this event after winning it four years ago in Vancouver.

Group play in men's hockey continues Friday. Canada is back in action against Austria after opening defense of its Olympic gold with a steady 3-1 victory over Norway on Thursday in Group B. The Austrians were 8-4 losers to Finland. The Finns will take on Norway in Group B on Friday.

Action from Group C is also on the docket. Sweden and Switzerland will square off in a battle of winners from Wednesday's opening day of play. The Swedes notched a 4-2 win over the Czech Republic, which will meet Latvia on Friday. The Swiss posted a 1-0 win over the Latvians.

Medals in the women's freestyle skiing aerials will be handed out, with Australia's Lydia Lassila looking to repeat the gold she captured four years ago in Vancouver. China's Li Nina also returns having won back-to-back Olympic silvers and could reach the podium along with countrywoman Xu Mengtao, who finished sixth in Vancouver but won the 2013 FIS World Championships after having twice before finished second.

Americans in the event include Ashley Caldwell and Emily Cook.

Qualification will take place for the men's individual large hill on Friday. It will mark the beginning of Simon Ammann's quest for a fifth Winter Olympics gold medal. Two of those have come in this event as he captured gold four years ago in Vancouver and at the 2002 Games.

Curling action will feature seven men's matches and four by the women on Friday.

Great Britain and Sweden, both 4-1 to lead the men's standings, are in action. The Brits take on Denmark, while Sweden takes on China. The U.S. (1-3) has matches against Germany and Russia, while 3-2 Canada takes on Norway.

For the women, 5-0 Canada will not be in action, nor will the 4-1 Swedes. However, the disappointing U.S. team will try to improve on its 1-4 record as it takes on winless Denmark.

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