Olympic Daily Preview - Saturday, February 15th

The Sports NetworkFebruary 14, 2014 

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Medals will be awarded in seven events on the second Saturday of the Sochi Olympics.

American Shani Davis gets another shot at a speedskating medal on Saturday when the men hit the Adler Arena for the 1,500 meters. Davis captured silver at the distance in each of the past two Olympics. He has yet to find the podium at the Sochi Games, finishing 24th in the 500 meters and eighth as the two-time defending Olympic champion in the 1,000 meters.

The Dutch men have dominated the oval in the first week, collecting eight of the first nine medals, including all three gold. Stefan Groothuis won the 1,000 meters on Wednesday and will try to make it double gold on Friday. Teammate Mark Tuitert is back to defend the gold he won in the 1,500 four years ago in Vancouver.

Other contenders include 2010 bronze medal winner Havard Bokko of Norway and Canadian Denny Morrison, who was ninth in this event in Vancouver and was a surprise silver medalist in the 1,000 meters earlier this week.

Short track speedskating medals will be awarded in the men's 1,000-meter race and the women's 1,500.

Canada's Charle Cournoyer had the fastest time in qualifying heats for the men's 1,000 on Thursday. Teammates Charles Hamelin, the 1,500-meter winner, and Olivier Jean also advanced to Saturday's quarterfinals, which will be followed by the semifinals and final.

Americans J.R. Celski, Chris Creveling and Eduardo Alvarez qualified. Retired U.S. star Apolo Anton Ohno medaled in the 1,000 in each of the last three Olympics.

South Korea has won the last two Olympic gold medals in the event. It will be represented in the next round by Sin Da Woon and Lee Han-Bin.

Korean-born Viktor Ahn, the 2006 Olympic champion who now skates for Russia, is also in the field.

China and South Korea have won eight of the nine Olympic medals awarded in the women's 1,500-meter race since its debut in 2002, including the last six.

Swiss skier Laura Gut has three World Cup victories this season in the women's Super-G and will be among the medal favorites when the race, which combines elements of the downhill and giant slalom, is run on Saturday.

Gut already has a bronze at these Olympics in the women's downhill. Slovenia's Tina Maze, who shared gold in the downhill with Switzerland's Dominique Gisin, will look to improve on her silver medal in the Super-G from 2010. Gisin is also in the field for Saturday's race, as is super combined champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany.

Julia Mancuso will go for the U.S. after earning bronze in the super combined and finishing eighth in the downhill. Mancuso placed 11th in the Super-G at the 2006 Olympics and was ninth in 2010. Her best finish in the current World Cup season is seventh.

Injured American star Lindsey Vonn earned bronze in the Super-G four years ago -- the only U.S. Olympic medal in the women's event since Picabo Street's win gold in 1998.

Russia's Alexander Tretiakov has a big lead midway through the men's skeleton competition heading into the final two heats Saturday.

Tretiakov set a track record in his first run of 55.95 seconds on Friday and leads Latvia's Martins Dukurs, the 2010 silver medalist, by .56 seconds after two runs.

Americans John Daly and Matthew Antoine are third and fourth. Russia's Sergei Chudinov is fifth and Tomass Dukurs, the older of the Latvian brothers, is sixth.

Canada has won the last two gold medals in men's skeleton, but its best slider after two runs in John Fairbairn, who is .68 seconds out of medal contention.

The last U.S. medal in men's skeleton was Jim Shea Jr.'s gold in 2002, when the sport made its return to the Olympics at Salt Lake City after an absence of 54 years.

Norway and Sweden will continue their women's cross-country rivalry Saturday in the 4x5-kilometer relay. The format features two team members in the classical style and two others in the free technique.

The Norwegians will have a trio of medal winners among their four participants on Saturday, as skiathlon champion Marit Bjoergen will anchor the group that also includes skiathlon bronze winner Heidi Weng, 10k classic bronze medalist Therese Johaug and Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, who finished just off the podium in the sprint. Norway won the relay four years ago in Vancouver with Johaug and Bjoergen as part of the quartet.

Sweden's anchor will be Charlotte Kalla, who already has won silver in 10k and skiathlon. Anna Haag, Emma Wiken and Ida Ingemarsdotter are also scheduled to compete for the Swedes, who were fifth in 2010.

The American team will feature Kikkan Randall at the start with Jessica Diggins as the anchor. Diggins was eighth in the skiathlon.

The men's large hill event will hand out medals on Saturday, one day after Austria's Michael Hayboeck led all qualifiers, posting the longest jump at 131.0 meters and totaling 124.8 points to top a pair of Japanese jumpers. Daiki Ito was second with 122.0 points, followed by countrymate Reruhi Shimizu at 120.4 points.

Austria's Thomas Morgenstern also qualified for Saturday's final rounds with a score of 116.0 points.

The top 10 in the world were pre-qualified into Saturday's competition, including four-time gold medal winner Simon Ammann of Switzerland and last week's normal hill gold medal winner Kamil Stoch of Poland. Stoch did not make an attempt on Friday.

A total of 40 jumpers earned spots in Saturday's round, including Americans Nicholas Alexander, Nicholas Fairall and Anders Johnson.

One of the more anticipated meetings in ice hockey at the Sochi Games takes place on Saturday, with Team USA matching up with host Russia. Both teams picked up victories to begin Group A play, with the U.S. routing Slovakia 7-1 and Russia topping Slovenia 5-2 on Thursday. The two losing clubs in the group also square off on Saturday.

Group C action on the men's side reaches three games, with 2-0 Sweden taking on 0-2 Latvia. The Czech Republic and Switzerland, both 1-1, battle for position as well.

For the women, quarterfinal playoff action gets underway as Switzerland battles Russia early in the day before Finland plays Sweden. Canada and the United States finished first and second, respectively, in the top-tier Group A to earn byes to the semifinals.

The men and women will play through round robin session nine in curling action on Saturday.

The women see the bulk of the work with seven matches, including two by 5-0 Canada. The current leaders of the women's standings take on Japan and Russia, while 4-1 Sweden looks to keep pace in contests against China and the U.S. The Americans are even with Denmark with records of 1-5.

The American men's team will not be in action on Saturday, while 4-2 Canada takes on Great Britain, one of three teams tied atop the standings at 5-1. China and Sweden also have won five of six and tangle with Russia and Germany, respectively.

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