Olympic Preview: February 8

The men’s figure skating competition at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing was expected to be a battle between two Americans–2021 Skate America champion Vincent Zhou of San Jose, California, and three-time world champion Nathan Chen of Salt Lake City, Utah. The two were a major reason why the United States won the silver medal in the 2022 Olympic team figure skating competition, with Chen skating the short program, and Zhou skating the long program.

However on Monday, Zhou tested positive for coronavirus and withdrew from the Olympic Winter Games according to Elaine Teng of ESPN. The withdrawal means Chen’s three biggest competitors for Olympic gold at this time will be three Japanese skaters–18-year-old Yuma Kagiyama, the reigning silver medalist from the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships, two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu, and reigning Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno. The short program starts at 8:15 pm ET on Monday evening.

There will also be 10 Olympic medals up for grabs in alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, curling, freestyle skiing, luge, snowboarding, speed skating. We also have a huge women’s hockey game between Canada and the United States, which should determine first place in Group A.

In alpine skiing, the men’s super giant slalom takes place at 10 p.m. ET with reigning world champion Vincent Kreichmayr of Austria as our gold medal favourite. During the 2021-22 World Cup season, Kreichmayr won two bronze medals in World Cup events in Italy.

In biathlon, expect Norway to do very well like they always do. Our gold medal favourite in the men’s 20 km individual (Monday, 3:30 a.m. ET) is Sturla Holm Laegrid, who struck gold a year ago at the World Championship in the mass start and individual events. Another Norwegian will be pushing Leagrid, as Johannes Thingnes Boe, is the reigning Olympic champion.

In cross country skiing, the sprint finals will take place. Here we like Johannes Hosflot Klaebo on the men’s side (7 a.m. ET) and Anamarija Lampic of Slovenia on the women’s side (6:47 a.m. ET). The men go 1.8 kilometres, while the women go 1.1 kilometres. Klaebo is the reigning Olympic champion and two-time world champion in the sprint, but had a horrible Olympic 30km skiathlon on Sunday where he finished in 40th place. Lampic won the bronze medal in the sprint at the 2021 World Cross Country Skiing Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, and won three bronze medals in World Cup events in December. Lampic’s major competitor will be World Cup leader Maja Dahlqvist of Sweden. Slovenia has already won three Olympic medals at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in the crazy Olympic sport of ski jumping.

In curling, Italy will play Norway in the gold medal game in mixed doubles (7 a.m. ET). Italy has been the talk of the tournament so far as they have gone undefeated. Norway meanwhile are the reigning Olympic bronze medalists. Sweden will play Great Britain for bronze (1:05 a.m. ET).

For the first time ever, there will be medals awarded in women’s big air freestyle skiing (9 p.m. ET). A Canadian won qualifying, just not the Canadian we expected as Elena Gaskell had to withdraw because of a torn ACL and meniscus in a training event in Beijing. The Canadian star in qualifying was Megan Oldham, the Winter X Games silver medalist. Our gold medal favourite is Tess Ledeux of France, the three-time X Games gold medalist and 2019 World Champion.

In luge, the first two runs took place on Monday. with run three taking place at 6:50 a.m. ET on Tuesday, and the fourth run at 8:35 a,m. ET on Tuesday. Natalie Geisenberger will be looking for her fifth career Olympic gold medal. She is currently in first place with a time of 1:56.825 after the first two runs.

In snowboarding. the men’s and women’s parallel giant slalom takes place. Our gold medal picks are Roland Fischnaller of Italy and Sofia Nadyrshina of the Russian Olympic Committee. Fischnaller was the 2015 world champion in the parallel slalom, while Nadryshina is the regning world champ in the parallel slalom. Nadryshina won a World Cup in Russia in December, while Fischnaller has won two bronze medals in World Cup parallel giant slalom events this season. Qualifying begins at 9:40 p.m. ET.

Finally in speed skating, the men’s 1500 metre will be the event (5:30 a.m. ET). China’s Zhongyan Ning is our gold medal favourite. Ning won a World Cup in Salt Lake City in December with a time of 1:45.17. The host Chinese have won two gold medals in short track speed skating at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing so far.