5 things to watch at the Winter Games on Tuesday
America’s favorite Flying Tomato goes for a third gold in a row, women finally get to jump from the normal hill and Russian figure skaters take to the ice with the support and pressure of the home nation.
Men’s snowboard halfpipe
That’s the word snowboarder Danny Davis used Monday to describe to Yahoo Sports the halfpipe that will be the site of Shaun White’s attempt at a third straight gold medal.
The preview from the Olympic News Service put it a little more mildly — OK, a lot more mildly — saying “several riders voiced concerns.” The report said the builders were making last-minute changes.
That’s right, the day before the event the Olympic field of play needs work.
“It’s the Olympics. It should be flawless,” Davis, of the United States, told Yahoo.
Bleacher Report sums up the media coverage of the storm a brewin’ at the halfpipe.
On Sunday night, White was asked by reporters what he thought of the course. He tried to be nice, but they could tell he was not pleased. Still he tried to give it the best spin.
“I’m sure it will be (OK). I have faith,” he said.
One thing is certain. No matter how bad or how good it is, everyone will have to ride the same pipe.
Who to watch: White, trying to become the first U.S. man to win an event in three straight Winter Games. Davis and 2013 world champion Iouri Podladtchikov.
Women’s ski jumping
It seems weird but until this year, women haven’t been able to slide down a really slick ramp, then hurtle themselves through the air. That used to be a men’s only club (since 1924).
It wasn’t because women are smarter than men; it was because they were excluded for who knows what reason.
Lindsey Van took part in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. She was one of the jumpers who tested the hills for the men’s events.
Female ski jumpers took the International Olympic Committee to court before the Vancouver Games but came up with an empty victory. They still watched from the sidelines.
But just a year later the IOC announced women’s ski jumping was in, so don’t blame Van and the others if they are just a little bit excited Tuesday. They’ve come a long way.
Who to watch: Sarah Hendrickson and Sara Takanashi are the top two jumpers since the ski jumping tour began in 2011. At the 2013 world championships, Hendrickson won gold and Takanashi was the silver medalist. But Hendrickson was injured in August and only started jumping again in January. Also keep an eye on 2011 world champion Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria.
Figure skating pairs
You want to talk about pressure. How much is there on Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia?
It used to be that a gold medal for Moscow was a given in pairs skating. Soviet teams won. Russian teams won. From 1964 to 2006, no losses in the Olympics.
Tuesday is Day 1 of 2 to make up for Vancouver, when the Russians didn’t even make the podium.
The pair had a chance to work any jitters out during the new team competition. They skated in the short program of the event, unlike four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, who are second favorites.
Who else to watch: Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia, who won the free program during the team competition; Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada, third at the worlds; and Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch of Canada.
Women’s singles luge
Erin Hamlin knows a little bit about upsetting Germans. Five years ago, she won the women’s singles luge at the world championships.
That’s like someone beating the old U.S. basketball team. It only happened about once a decade.
And the Germans don’t just usually win at the big events; they usually dominate the podium.
Hamlin is third after the first day of competition — behind, well, you already know. She faces two more runs Tuesday to see if she can become the first American ever to medal in singles.
Who else to watch: World champion Natalie Geisenberger and Vancouver winner Tatjana Huefner are 1-2 after the first two runs while Russian Natalja Khoreva is fourth and has home-track advantage on one of the longest courses in the world.
Women’s long-track speed skating
You know you’re pretty good when one of your opponents says words to the effect of, “I really hope I can win the silver or bronze.”
Lee Sang Hwa won every 500 meter race she entered this season. That’s seven wins, four with world record times.
Margot Boer of the Netherlands said the only way Lee loses is if she makes a mistake. And that just isn’t very likely.
She’ll face Brittany Bowe in the first heat, which may be a boost for the U.S. skater.
We’d post some comment from Lee, but she doesn’t do media before her races.
Who else to watch: Olga Fatkulina of Russia, who won the one race Lee didn’t enter. Wang Beixing of China and Heather Richardson of the United States.
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