3 things to watch at the Olympics on Friday

3 things to watch at the Olympics on Friday

POSTED: Friday, February 21, 2014 - 10:30am

UPDATED: Friday, February 21, 2014 - 11:14am

With the Olympics coming to an end, hockey narrows its field, an American tries to beat her mentors and a South Korean-born Russian skater looks to tie the great Ohno.

Men's ice hockey

Here some advice to the men's hockey teams from Canada and the United States: It's OK to play like girls.

You know Sidney Crosby and company are pumped extra high after the Canadian women knocked off the United States in the gold medal thriller.

It kind of resembled the 2010 men's final when Crosby scored in overtime to beat the Americans.

So it wasn't like the U.S. men needed a little motivation, but there it is. Besides, the rumor is the loser has to keep Justin Bieber.

Bleacher Report notes that "The U.S. comes into this game playing better hockey than Canada. The Americans are scoring lots of goals, getting good goaltending from Jonathan Quick and really moving the puck up the ice thanks to a fast, forward-thinking defense."

Quick will be one key to the game as he has big-game ability. And we talked about extra emotion earlier. Well, the Canadians need to play with more than they have in the lead-up games.

"He's one of the best goalies in the game," Canada's Jeff Carter told ESPN. "He's a guy that never quits on any pucks, so if you get a chance, you have to make sure it's in the net. Real quick, quick legs, takes away the bottom half of the net. We're going to have to be on our game to get a couple past him."

Carter should know. He plays with Quick in the NHL.

"It's a nice chance for some redemption," Zach Parise told NHL.com. "It's not going to be an easy game; we know how good they are. ... We know how hard it's going to be. We have to make sure we're ready to play."

Who else to watch: Finland plays Sweden in the first semifinal.

Women's slalom

Eighteen-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin might be in her first Olympics, but she still expects to bring home a medal.

She almost did it in the giant slalom, where she finished fifth in her Winter Games debut.

"I have been here before in my head. To everyone else, it is my first Olympics. To me, it's my thousandth," she said last week at her first Olympic news conference.

But during Friday's slalom, in which she is a favorite due to her three World Cup wins and a victory at the world championships, she faces an additional challenge -- night racing.

The slalom will be run mostly under lights, something new in the Olympics, but not on the World Cup circuit. Shiffrin won a night race in Austria in January by a healthy margin.

Some saw her giant slalom on Wednesday as a warmup, but she didn't.

"Of course I wanted a medal, but I was really close to one," she said. "It's just down to a couple of turns where I didn't go as fast as the others. This is my first Olympics (race) out of the way, so I am excited to be here."

Her chief rival is Marlies Schild of Austria, who has a silver from Vancouver and two slalom wins this season.

Who else to watch: Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany missed the giant slalom because of a sore throat. She's the defending champion and has two slalom podium appearances this season. Frida Hansdotter of Sweden has one World Cup win and two seconds in recent events.

Short-track men's 500 meters

There probably isn't a more exciting Winter Olympics race than the short-track 500 meters. It is quick and tense and not everyone reaches the finish each time.

Canada's Charles Hamelin can testify to that. Hamelin, who won gold in Vancouver, won't be in the quarterfinals after a crash in a qualification race.

That's one less rival for J.R. Celski, the U.S. skater who has taken the mantle from Apolo Anton Ohno and the owner of the world record. Celski feels like he needs to make up for finishing fourth in the 1,500 and crashing out in the 1,000.

Speaking of Ohno, Viktor Ahn of Russia will be shooting to tie Ohno's record of eight career medals by racing in the 500 then in the 5,000-meter relay. He won the 1,000 and took bronze in the 1,500.

The gold was his first since he was brilliant at the Torino Games in 2006, winning three golds for South Korea, his native country.

"I wanted to do this sport a lot. Despite my injuries, I didn't want to quit. I trained and competed to the best of my ability. Today's result proves that my decision was right. That's why today is so meaningful," he said.

Who else to watch: Wenhao Liang of China, who won the 2013 world championships. Olivier Jean of Canada, who has big-race experience, including a 2012 world title. 

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