5 things to watch at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Wednesday

5 things to watch at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Wednesday

POSTED: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 2:46pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 2:54pm

Let's see, seven-plus hours of hockey ahead, the start of the women's figure skating competition and one multi-sport Olympian is close to standing alone.

Men's ice hockey

If you love Olympic hockey you better make sure you have extra drinks and snacks for Wednesday men's quarterfinals.

And a guide to your channels. That's because none of the four matchups are live on NBC, according to NBCOlympics.com.

The Sweden-Slovenia game is on the NBC Sports Network at 3 a.m. ET. The Finland-Russia game is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

There are two huge games at noon ET. The United States plays the Czech Republic on USA (If you're like me you're trying to figure out if you have that channel.) Canada plays Latvia on MSNBC (or CBC if you're lucky enough to get their signal).

Women's figure skating

It's not often you get to the premier event of the Olympics and the U.S. women aren't in the first part of the conversation.

But the emergence of Russian sensation Julia Lipnitskaya and the return of 2010 gold medalist Kim Yuna of South Korea are the lead story lines here.

Kim missed several months of competition because of a foot injury so she will be the 17th skater to take the ice for the short program because she has a low world ranking.

"I didn't practice with the other top competitors with whom I usually compete in other competitions," she said Tuesday. "But I think it will be easier. I won't be so nervous."

Lipnitskaya could become the second youngest gold medalist in the event if she wins Thursday. She already had a gold medal from the team event, after which she returned to Moscow so she could have more ice time to prepare for the individual event.

The U.S. trio of Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds are viewed as potential spoilers.

"They're a little bit under the radar," Wagner's coach John Nicks, who is not at the Games, told Bleacher Report. "There's nothing wrong with that. A little less pressure. A little less time for the media, a little more time for themselves."

Who else to watch: Mao Asada of Japan, who was second in Vancouver and third at the world championships last year; Italy's Carolina Kostner, who skate immediately after Lipnitskaya in the short program. She was second in the team event short program.

Men's giant slalom

Ted Ligety, time is running short.

The good news is that even though you have finished 14th in both the super combined and the super-G, it's given you a chance to get to know the mountain somewhat before your chief rival for the giant slalom race, Marcel Hischer of Austria. He only just flew in a few days ago.

It's not like the race is only between the two, but one of them has won 22 of the 31 GS races since the Vancouver Games.

Hirscher is a specialist; he has only skied the slalom and giant slalom in recent years and has podiumed 90% of the time. He enjoys a relaxed race schedule.

"It's important to keep performance, pressure and fun in balance. I'm happy to have some race-free days," he said.

Who else to watch: Bode Miller won a silver in Salt Lake and had one podium finish in the event during the World Cup season; Alexis Pinturault of France is ranked third in the giant slalom but didn't finish the slalom during the super combined. Felix Neureuther of Germany is the only other skier besides Ligety or Hirscher to win a World Cup race this season.

Women's bobsled

When you are the top team in the bobsled at the halfway point, that is a very, very good sign. Eight times out of 10 that team, whether it is men or women, goes on to win the event.

Now don't go handing the gold medals to USA-1 just yet. But it certainly looks certain that Elana Meyers can pilot them to at least a silver. They have a half-second lead on USA-2. And that will make history.

Remember brakewoman Lauryn Williams is trying to become the first woman -- and second person -- to win a gold medal in the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics.

"When I got on that line, I knew something good was going to happen because I was jumping out of my skin and that's a feeling I hadn't had for a while in track and field. Knowing what that feeling means, it means going fast," Williams said after USA-1 set the record for fastest start in the event.

Canada-1, piloted by Kallie Humphries, is just .23 seconds behind.

Who else to watch: USA-2 is in great position for a bronze by virtue of its .49 seconds lead over the top sled from Belgium.

Curling semifinals

The men from Great Britain have to be feeling pretty, pretty good right now. Trailing by one and going into the last end, they rallied for a 6-5 victory in a tiebreaker match and advanced to Wednesday's semifinals on one helluva shot.

It was the curling version of going for two instead of kicking a point after and taking a chance in overtime.

"That's one of the best shots I've ever played. To stay in the Olympics or to be out of the Olympics in one shot, and to have a shot like that and make it. There's just a lot of trust in the guys and a lot of trust in my throw," skip David Murdoch said.

Wednesday they face Sweden while Canada faces China. In women's play, Great Britain squares off against Canada and Sweden matches up against Switzerland. 

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