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What you missed at Olympics, and what to watch tonight

Olympics Wire logo Olympics Wire 2/23/2018 Chris Chase

The IOC cleared the deck on Thursday night to give figure skating the stage to itself and, as a result, the first three hours of NBC's coverage felt as inessential as the pilot to "A.P. Bio." We'll recap everything that heppened in a light day of coverage. But fret not. Though it feels like the Olympics are done, there's still 12 gold medals to award, eight of which come on Friday night/Saturday morning in the United States. Here's what to look forward to on the last full day of competition from Pyeongchang.

Figure skating: Fifteen-year-old Alina Zagitova pulled a Tara Lipinski and defeated countrywoman (or Olympic Athlete teammate) Evgenia Medvedeva in a thrilling finale. Both women had breathtaking, challenging routines and when Medvedeva, the two-time world champion, came off the ice to end the competition, it felt like the judges' decision would be the equivalent of a coin flip. (On NBC, Lipinski and Johnny Weir disagreed about who should win gold. On Twitter, it seemed to run about 60/40 in favor of Zagitova. On my phone, my mom sent 15 pro-Medvedeva texts bookended around one telling me to go the dentist.)

Zagitova ended up getting the nod by 1.31 points - whatever that means. Play-by-play announcer Terry Gannon suggested that, as a fan, you would have rather seen one of the women fall so the result would have been clear cut. It wasn't. And Medvedeva, who as recently as a few months ago felt like a shoo-in for gold, looked devastated.

American women had their worst performance in Olympic history, going 9th, 10th and 11th.

Ice hockey: In what felt like two JV games played after a Super Bowl, the men's semifinals were failing to register after the seismic women's gold-medal game. Then the games started. Canada won't be winning gold in hockey this year after stunning loss to Germany, a team they'd been 15-0 against in Olympic history an outscored 105-16. On the others side, Russia shutout the Czechs, 3-0. The irony of watching Russia finally win an Olympic gold medal while not technically being Russia would make all this OAR nonsense worth it.

Speed skating: Shani Davis (remember him) ended his Olympic career with a seventh-place finish.

Curling: After starting 2-4 in the nine-game round robin, Team USA finished with three straight wins (ignited by a 9-7 win over Canada), finished third (thanks to some helpful tiebreakers) and then pulled another shocking upset of that same Canada team, which had won the last three gold medals and played in every gold-medal game since curling was reintroduced to the Olympic program in 1998. The Americans will face Sweden, the team that finished first in the round-robin and routed the U.S. by a score of 10-4 exactly one week ago. The Swedes are the heavy favorite (oddsmakers have them at -225 to win, which makes for an implied victory probability of around 65 percent) but after the last five days, count out John Shuster's squad at your own peril. The stones get rolling at 1:35 a.m. ET. I have half a mind to drive to Wisconsin, find a local bar and watch it with some new friends and some cold brews.

Snowboarding: As we recounted earlier in the week, the "big air" snowboarding event (one jump off one big ramp) isn't all that big when compared to the final ramp in slopestyle. Whatever. The contenders in that event are the favorites in this one, as proven by Jamie Anderson, who won gold in the women's slopestyle, then earned a silver in big air. Canadians Max Parrot and Mark McMorris (who won silver and bronze, respectively, in slopestyle) are the big favorites in the big jump. The gold medalist from that event, 17-year-old American Red Gerard, doesn't figure to be in medal contention.

In another odd scheduling decision, the men's and women's parallel giant slalom are also being contested Friday night. No American women are in the event and neither of the two men are expected to be near the podium. But circle this one anyway: Ester Ledecka, the Czech snowboard star who stunned the skiing world (and herself) by winning the super-G, is the heavy favorite. She's hoping to become the first athlete to ever medal in a skiing and snowboard event at the same Olympics, which makes sense given that she was the first to ever compete in both.

Bobsled: The four-man event starts and Germany is favored to win gold. And silver. And bronze.

Speed skating: A new event hits the oval - the mass start. It's exactly what it sounds like: Instead of two athletes starting at opposite ends of the track and racing the clock, skaters will start from a bunch, like a long-distance track race, and go 16 laps. American Joey Mantia is a gold-medal contender and will look to double Team USA's medal output in speed skating (from one to two).

Skiing: There were high hopes for the debut of the mixed alpine event - both because of the format (head-to-head slalom matchups featuring 16 nations in a knockout tournament) and because the Olympics are always better when men and women compete alongside each other in the same event. (Get on that, swimming and track.) But the list of skiers not taking part is far better than those who are in. No Vonn, no Shiffrin, no Ligety. Let's put it this way: Germany is getting the third-best odds to win gold. How many medals did Deutschland win in the alpine events? The same as me and you, my friend. The same as me and you.


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