Olympic Preview: February 5

Freestyle Skiing: FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup 2021
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After three days of competition prior to the Opening Ceremonies, Saturday will be the first full day of competition at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. There will be medals presented in biathlon, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, sport track speed skating, ski jumping and speed skating.

In biathlon, the mixed 4x6km relay will take place (4 a.m. ET). Norway is the dominant favourite (+150), and are led by the team of Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, Tiril Eckhoff, and brothers Tarjei Boe and Johannes Thingnes Boe. They have combined to win a remarkable 44 gold medals at the World Biathlon Championships.

In cross-country skiing, another Norwegian is the gold medal favourite in the women’s 15km skiathlon (2:45 a.m. ET). Therese Johaug of Os is a three-time world champion in the event, and is projected to win four medals at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

In freestyle skiing, all the attention will be on Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury (-150) in the men’s moguls (7:40 a.m. ET). That is what happens when you win 101 World Cup medals and is the reigning Olympic champion. However, another mogulist is expected to give Kingsbury significant competition. That is Ikuma Horishima of Japan, who beat Kingsbury in Sweden, France and the United States so far this season. However, Kingsbury is more consistent than Horishima, as the Japanese mogulist struggled in the first round of qualifying on Thursday.

In short track speed skating, we will see the new event of mixed team relay  for the first time at an Olympic Winter Ganmes (8:26 a.m. ET). This could very well be the first gold medal of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games for host China. The Chinese will have home ice advantage, but are expected to receive a challenge from the Netherlands, Canada, Hungary, South Korea and the Russian Olympic Committee.

In long track speed skating, don’t expect a Dutch dominance like we saw at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, where they won 16 of 42 total medals. Even though Canadian Isabelle Weidemann has mysteriously felt uncomfortable competing in the month of February throughout her career according to Dan Barnes of the National Post, a strong fall where she was the World Cup champion in the women’s 3000m, puts her in the position as a serious gold medal contender for the event when speed skating begins at 3:30 a.m. ET.

For the third straight Olympic Winter Games, women will be allowed to compete in ski jumping after nearly a century where it was a men’s only competition. This could be a memorable event for Slovenia, where Nika Kriznar, Ema Klinec, and Ursa Bogataj are all Olympic medal contenders. Only once before in the history of the Olympic Games (winter and summer) has Slovenia has earned two medals in the same Olympic event. That happened in women’s half middleweight judo at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where Tina Trstenjak won gold and Anamari Velensek won bronze.

In women’s hockey, the most fascinating game of the day will be Canada versus Finland (11 p.m. ET on Friday). Even though Canada has significant more historical success than Finland head-to-head, Finland did beat Canada 4-2 in the semifinal of the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Hockey Championship in Espoo, and had a 2-0 first period lead on Canada at the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Hockey Championship in Calgary before losing 5-3.

Finally in mixed doubles curling, Italy continues to lead at 4-0. On Saturday, they play Australia (1 a.m. ET), and the reigning world champion, Great Britain (7 a.m.).

 

 

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