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Daily Olympic Briefing: U.S. women's hockey, Mikaela Shiffrin go for gold on Day 13

Daily Olympic Briefing: U.S. women's hockey, Mikaela Shiffrin go for gold on Day 13
Posted at 10:38 AM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 00:18:57-05

Each day of the 2022 Winter Games, NBC Olympics will run down every sport in action, highlighting the biggest athletes and marquee events. Every single event streams live on NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock, and many are also on the TV networks of NBC. Visit the Olympic schedule page for listings sorted by sport and TV network.

On Day 13, a host of female winter sports stars vie for medals: the U.S. and Canada in the women’s hockey final, the women’s figure skating free skate, world champion Mikaela Shiffrin in the combined and world-record holder Brittany Bowe in speed skating’s 1000m.

All times listed below are Eastern Time on the night of Wednesday, February 16 or the morning of Thursday, February 17.

Hockey

Women's Hockey: Gold Medal Game
All events also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Time (ET) How to Watch
Canada vs USA 🏅 11:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, NBC

The U.S. and Canada meet in the Olympic final for the sixth time in seven tournaments since women’s hockey debuted in 1998.

It is a rivalry of Molsons and cigars, elevator standoffs and a flag-stomping myth. The best stories, the ones that made “rivalry” too simple a label, are from more than a decade ago.

But the best games are recent.

In the 2014 Olympic final, Canada scored twice in the final 3 1/2 minutes to tie it at 2-all. In that span, a U.S. clearing shot toward an empty Canadian net clanged off the post. Canada’s Captain Clutch Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored both goals in the 2010 Olympic final, potted the tying score with 55 seconds left in regulation and the golden goal in overtime.

In the 2018 Olympic final, the U.S. won with goals from twin sisters Monique Lamoureux-Morando (game-tying with 6:21 left) and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (shootout winner in sudden death).

Two months earlier, the twins were healthy scratches from the U.S.’ only pre-Olympic tournament, after which the coaching staff added two players to the national team pool. The sisters took that as a signal that they could be cut despite making the previous two Olympics.

The meaning of the PyeongChang Olympic title for the U.S. has been covered extensively in the American press. Twenty years after the Americans won the first women’s hockey title, which inspired many of the players on the 2018 team, the 2018 gold could do the same.

For Canada, it was an unfamiliar view for every player on the team: watching an opponent celebrate an Olympic gold medal.

Defender Meaghan Mikkelson, a gold medalist in 2010 and 2014, recalled the scene later in the locker room as a blur.

“I don't remember anyone saying anything in particular, because what do you say at that point?” Mikkelson, one of the final cuts from the 2022 team who is now a CBC analyst, said this week. “But I do remember being in the room with my teammates, and everybody's devastated.”

The nadir came at the 2019 World Championship. Canada lost to host Finland in the semifinals, marking the first time in 25 Olympics or worlds that it didn’t make the final.

Then came changes.

Shannon Szabados, goalie in the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Olympic finals who became a mom in 2020, hasn’t played in a major tournament since.

Same goes for defender Laura Fortino, who led all Canadian skaters in ice time at the 2018 Olympics and 2019 Worlds.

Troy Field was elevated to head coach in January 2020. In his first world championship at the helm last summer, Canada won gold for the first time since 2012. Poulin again scored the golden goal against the U.S.

Canada then won four of six games between the nations in a pre-Olympic exhibition series, though three victories were by one goal and two were in overtime.

At the 2022 Winter Olympics, Canada beat the U.S. 4-2 in group play, the largest margin of victory between the teams at the Olympics since the 2010 final.

The Canadians scored 54 goals in their six Olympic games leading up to the final. The U.S. scored 28 in its six games, all coming after star forward Brianna Decker suffered a tournament-ending leg injury less than 10 minutes into the opener.

Canada is the older team, but it has looked youthful and has dominated largely without Melodie Daoust, the 2018 Olympic and 2021 Worlds MVP who returned from injury for the semifinals. Its youngest player, 21-year-old Sarah Fillier, is the tournament’s second-leading goal scorer.

Simply put, Canada has the momentum.

“There’s a family-like feeling to the team. And not to say that it wasn't like that before, but to this magnitude, where you would do anything for the person sitting next to you,” Mikkelson said. “No matter what your role is, you feel valued.”

What happened in recent U.S.-Canada games hasn’t always mattered. Such as 2002, when the U.S. went 31-0 on a pre-Olympic tour (including eight wins over Canada) but lost to Canada in the Olympic final.

“If there's anything that I've learned from my experience,” Mikkelson said, “anything that happens before the gold-medal game, literally, it doesn't matter.

“It'll come down to who can handle the pressure.”

SEE MORE: Canada's women beat U.S. in preliminary hockey clash

Figure Skating

Figure Skating: Women's Singles
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Women's Free Skate 🏅 5:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

Kamila Valieva was 8.29 points off her personal best in the short program, yet still posted a score better than the personal best of any other woman in the field. Valieva, allowed to compete while her positive drug test from a Dec. 25 sample is being adjudicated, could lead the first 1-2-3 sweep for one nation in women’s figure skating. If Valieva finishes in the top three, the medals ceremony will not be held until after her case is processed, expected to be after the Olympics. The 15-year-old is undefeated in this her first senior international season.

Training partners Anna Shcherbakova and Aleksandra Trusova are second and fourth after the short and, like Valieva, expected to perform quadruple jumps in the free skate. Trusova trails Japan's Kaori Sakamoto, who does not have a quad, by 5.24 points.

The U.S. put no woman in the final free skate group of six for the second consecutive Olympics after having a woman in the top six going into the free at every previous Games since World War II, according to Olympedia.org. Alysa Liu, Mariah Bell and Karen Chen were eighth, 11th and 13th in the short program.

Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing: Women's Combined
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Downhill 9:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com
Slalom 🏅 1:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

Mikaela Shiffrin’s last and best chance for an individual medal comes in the combined, which is one run of downhill followed by one run of slalom. She is the reigning world champion. In her first four events at these Games, Shiffrin has two DNFs, a ninth and an 18th. This is the final individual race. Shiffrin has also said she will enter Saturday’s team event.

Slovakian Petra Vlhova, the world silver medalist in the combined, left the Olympics after winning last week’s slalom, citing an ankle injury. That further reduced an already limited number of established medal contenders. Switzerland's Michelle Gisin is the defending champion and compatriot Wendy Holdener won the 2019 World title. Italy's Federica Brignone won all four World Cup combineds in this Olympic cycle.

SEE MORE: Mikaela Shiffrin focusing on 'special moments' at 2022 Games

Speed Skating

Speed Skating
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Women's 1000m 🏅 3:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

Brittany Bowe is the reigning world champion and world-record holder in the 1000m. Bowe, fourth in this event in 2018, can become the third speed skater originally from Ocala, Florida, to win a medal at these Games after Erin Jackson (500m gold) and Joey Mantia (team pursuit bronze).

Japan’s Miho Takagi already has silver medals in the 500m and 1500m at these Games. Another Japanese skater, Nao Kodaira, took silver in 2018 and ranks second in the world this season behind Bowe. Dutchwoman Ireen Wust is not a medal favorite, but this will be the 13-time medalist’s 20th and final career Olympic event. If she can reach the podium, Wust will break her tie with retired Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjorndalen for the second-most Winter Olympic medals.

Freestyle Skiing

Freeski Halfpipe & Ski Cross
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Women's Halfpipe Qualifying 8:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
Women's Ski Cross Qualifying 10:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
Men's Halfpipe Qualifying 11:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
Women's Ski Cross Finals 🏅 1:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

Canada has won every Olympic women’s ski cross gold medal, plus two of the three silver medals. The streak likely ends here. World champion Sandra Naeslund of Sweden won nine of the 10 World Cups so far this season. The U.S. has never entered a woman in an Olympic ski cross event due to a cap on quota spots across all freestyle skiing events.

In ski halfpipe qualifying, two-time gold medalist David Wise makes his 2022 Olympic debut. China’s Eileen Gu, gold medalist in big air and silver medalist in slopestyle, continues her quest to become the first freestyle skier to win three medals at one Olympics. Halfpipe is her best event.

Nordic Combined

Nordic Combined: Men's Team Event
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Ski Jump 2:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
10km 🏅 6:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

Norway and Germany placed first and second, in either order, in 15 of the 16 Nordic combined men's team events among the Olympics, world championships and World Cup over the last eight years. The biggest star on both teams spent the first week-plus of the Olympics in COVID-19 isolation. Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber returned for the second and final individual event on Tuesday, where he had the best ski jump but took a wrong turn while leading the cross-country leg, ultimately finishing eighth. Riiber is not on the team event start list and instead was set to travel back to Norway, according to Norwegian media on Wednesday. “We have tried to convince him [to compete in the team event] but realized that it wouldn’t work," Norwegian team director Ivar Stuan said, according to a translation of a VG report. "He is completely spent. After he went the wrong way yesterday, there was nothing more to give. He has had it horrible these 14 days and worse than we thought.”

Germany’s Eric Frenzel, who missed both individual events, is on the entry list for the team event after his isolation stint. Germany pretty much has to run the table in the remaining events across all sports – where it has medal threats – to overtake Norway atop the gold-medal standings.

Curling

Men's Curling
All events also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Time (ET) How to Watch
USA vs Denmark 8:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, CNBC
Semifinal: Sweden vs Canada 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Semifinal: USA vs Great Britain 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

The U.S. men control their own destiny again thanks to losses by the Russian Olympic Committee and Switzerland on Wednesday. If John Shuster’s team wins its last round-robin game against last-place Denmark, it makes the semifinals in its gold-medal defense. There are scenarios where the U.S. could advance if it loses to Denmark.

The U.S. women went 4-5 and were eliminated from playoff contention. In the final set of women’s round-robin games, Canada will likely advance if it beats Denmark. Canada’s skip, 2014 Olympic champ Jennifer Jones, is bidding to become the oldest woman to win a Winter Olympic medal in any sport, according to Olympedia.