Olympic Daily Preview – Monday, February 15th
With the first weekend of competition completed, six more medal events are scheduled to be contested Monday at the Vancouver Olympics.
Monday could be the day the first gold medal in Alpine skiing is awarded after warm weather and rain has wreaked havoc on the slopes at Whistler Creekside. the men’s downhill event was originally slated for Saturday, but a champion is finally expected to be determined on Day 4.
The conclusion of the pair’s figure skating is also set for Monday evening, as couples compete in the free skate to determine an Olympic champion. Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo of China hold a slight lead over Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy after the short program.
The downhill represents American skier Bode Miller’s best shot at a medal in Vancouver after a disappointing Olympic showing four years ago.
Miller went without a medal in Turin despite entering those Games as one of the top skiers in the world. His best result came with a fifth-place finish in the downhill, Miller’s strongest race. the 32-year-old has a pair of World Cup overall titles in his career and also won two silver medals at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, but Vancouver could be his last shot at Olympic gold.
Joining Miller in this event for the Americans will be Marco Sullivan, Andrew Weibrecht and Steven Nyman.
Switzerland is traditionally strong in Alpine Skiing, but a Swiss man hasn’t won a downhill gold since Pirmin Zurbriggen claimed the top prize 22 years ago in Calgary. Didier Cuche could change that as he enters the Olympics as the leader in the World Cup downhill standings. Cuche’s compatriot Carlo Janka is ranked second in the downhill standings and is also expected to challenge for a medal at Whistler.
Canada has never claimed Olympic gold in men’s downhill, but Manuel Osborne- Paradis, the third-ranked downhill racer in the world this year, has more than a solid chance at making history for the host nation.
Shen and Zhao will aim for their first figure skating gold after claiming the bronze medal at the last two Olympics. the Chinese pair were given a score of 76.66, placing them just 0.70 points ahead of Savchenko and Szolkowy, the two- time reigning world champions.
Russia’s Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov ended Sunday’s segment third with 74.16 points. Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison of Canada and their compatriots, Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay, came in sixth and seventh, respectively.
The United States has its work cut out in the free skate as Amanda Evora and mark Ladwig had the best result for the Americans, placing 10th with a score of 57.86. the remaining U.S. pair of Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett finished 14th.
Speedskating competition continues with the men’s 500 meters, where a pair of South Koreans — the top-ranked duo of Lee Kang-Seok and Lee Kyou-Hyuk — are expected to finish well. Japan’s Joji Kato is also well regarded.
Tucker Fredricks is the leading 500-meter contender on a U.S. men’s team that features better-known skaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedricks. American Joey Cheek won the distance at the 2006 Turin Olympics, but is not in Vancouver.
The first snowboarding medals of the Vancouver Olympics will be awarded Monday in the men’s snowboard cross and the American team is expected to do well.
Nate Holland is the only rider who has been able to beat French star Pierre Vaultier in the current World Cup season and is the top U.S. hope for a medal. Holland is coming off a victory at the Winter X Games.
Seth Wescott is the reigning gold medalist after winning the first men’s snowboard cross in the history of the Olympics at the 2006 Turin Games. Wescott won silver behind U.S. teammate Holland at the X Games last month.
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