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Daily Olympic Briefing: Chen vs. Hanyu, U.S. vs. Canada featured on Day 4 schedule

Daily Olympic Briefing: Chen vs. Hanyu, U.S. vs. Canada featured on Day 4 schedule
Posted at 7:42 PM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 18:31:11-05

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 4, rivalries renew in figure skating (Yuzuru Hanyu vs. Nathan Chen) and hockey (U.S. vs. Canada), while Jessie Diggins and Joey Mantia are the best hopes for the U.S.’ first gold medal.

All times listed below are Eastern Time on the night of Monday, February 7 or the morning of Tuesday, February 8.

Figure Skating

Figure Skating: Men's Singles
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Men's Short Program 8:15 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
(cont.) 11:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, NBC

Ever since Nathan Chen’s disastrous short program at the 2018 Olympics, men’s figure skating has built up to this moment. It’s Chen vs. Yuzuru Hanyu at the Olympics, part two. And this time, both look ready to deliver.

We’ve documented how Chen picked himself up for the greatest free skate in Olympic history in PyeongChang, knowing it wouldn’t be enough to catch Hanyu.

But what about Hanyu, the two-time Olympic champion regarded as the greatest in history? The starting point of his 2022 Olympic story might as well be in Ontario in March 2020.

Jeffrey Buttle, Hanyu’s short program choreographer for the last decade, remembers it.

When the pandemic accelerated and that spring’s world championships were canceled, the international skaters who train at the Toronto Cricket Club went back to their respective countries to ride it out.

“The three weeks that we thought the pandemic was going to last obviously extended far beyond that,” said Buttle, the 2006 Olympic bronze medalist and 2008 World champion for Canada.

Hanyu flew to Japan and hasn’t returned to Toronto. He and Buttle built his short programs the last two seasons via Dropbox.

Buttle filmed himself doing the choreography, then filed it to Hanyu for downloading on the other side of the world. Hanyu repeated the process the other way for feedback.

Doing it live via Zoom wasn’t feasible because of the time difference and sometimes limited rink access.

Pre-pandemic, it took the pair about a week to piece together a program when doing it in person. Virtually, it took three weeks.

“Something that we often forget is the instantaneous praise and criticism,” from working in person, Buttle said. “Once you see video, and then two days later, you're getting the feedback, it's just not the same. But with him it was very manageable.”

Hanyu topped the short program at the March 2021 World Championships, but was flawed in the free skate. Chen outscored him by 39.83 points to easily make up the deficit and win his third world title.

Hanyu then suffered a right ankle sprain and didn’t compete at all this past autumn, returning for the Japanese Championships on Christmas weekend. He dazzled there and even tried the unprecedented quadruple Axel.

It wasn’t fully rotated, and thus downgraded to a triple, but he put it to his feet and the message was clear: Hanyu was back, even if he downplayed expectations.

“As it is right now, I think the chances of me losing [at the Olympics] are, without a doubt, higher than they were at PyeongChang,” he said then in Japanese.

Buttle gave Hanyu some feedback and alterations to their short program after nationals. He stressed the skater’s recent focus has been on technical content.

To that end, it’s unknown how much involvement Hanyu’s longtime Toronto-based coach Brian Orser has recently had. Orser hasn’t been available for interviews, according to the club.

“Brian was making the best of it,” Buttle said of the pandemic, “staying up at all hours of the night trying to Zoom coach his athletes around the world.”

In 2018, Hanyu was unable to do jumps until a month before the Olympics due to another right ankle injury. Yet Buttle remembers the skater doing run-through after run-through of his programs, without jumps, so he had the stamina once his ankle was ready for the pounding.

Then Hanyu repeated as Olympic champion.

“I really don't think there's anyone with the mental capacity in skating, maybe since Yevgeny [Plushenko],” Buttle said. “If someone can fly by the seat of their pants, it’s Yuzu. He'll be ready, mentally and physically.”

Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing: Men's Super-G
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Men's Super-G 🏅 10:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, NBC

Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde is ranked No. 1 in the world in the downhill and super-G, but his fifth-place finish in the Olympic downhill may have loosened his grip as super-G favorite. Norway won individual men’s Alpine gold at each of the last eight Games, but it gets tough if Kilde doesn’t deliver here.

Enter 24-year-old Swiss Marco Odermatt, the only man other than Kilde to win a World Cup super-G in the last year. Odermatt, a better giant slalom skier, was just two tenths slower than Kilde in the downhill. Switzerland, a longtime little brother to Austria, already has the downhill gold from Beat Feuz.

If the U.S. men are going to win a medal at these Games, it probably needs to happen here. Ryan Cochran-Siegle won a World Cup super-G last season. Travis Ganong was third in a super-G in December.

Freestyle Skiing

Freestyle Skiing Big Air
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Women's Final 🏅 9:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, NBC

It’s the Olympic debut of freestyle skiing big air. Similar to snowboard big air, an athlete counts their two best scores from three runs, but they must be different tricks.

It’s also the Olympic debut for China's Eileen Gu, an 18-year-old born in San Francisco to an American father and Chinese mother. Gu, a poster girl for these Games, has been billed as a triple-gold contender in halfpipe (her best event), big air and slopestyle (her most vulnerable). Gu became the first woman to land a double cork 1440 in big air in December, but needed her third run in qualifying to get into the 12-woman final.

Speed Skating

Speed Skating
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Men's 1500m 🏅 5:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

Joey Mantia, the world’s top-ranked 1500m skater, bids to become the first American man to win an Olympic speed skating medal since 2010. He would be the oldest Olympic speed skating medalist outside of distance races and the oldest American to win a medal in any skating discipline, according to Olympedia.org. Ice dancer Evan Bates reset that record on Monday.

Three other primary medal contenders: the Netherlands’ Kjeld Nuis (defending Olympic champion) and Thomas Krol (reigning world champion) and China’s Ning Zhongyan, who finished first or second in his three World Cups this season.

Hockey

Women's Hockey: Preliminary Round
All events also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Time (ET) How to Watch
USA vs Canada 11:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
Japan vs Czech Republic 3:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
ROC vs Finland 8:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Sweden vs Denmark 8:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

The U.S. and Canada, both 3-0, meet in their group-play finale. They already clinched the top two quarterfinal spots and will not play each other again before the gold-medal game.

Canada beat the U.S. for the 2021 World title and won four of their six pre-Olympic exhibition matchups. Canada also has the goal differential edge so far, racking up 28 goals before captain Marie-Philip Poulin tallied her first. They’ve gotten none from Melodie Daoust, the 2018 Olympic MVP who missed the last two games with an injury. The U.S. is down one of its star forwards. Brianna Decker suffered a tournament-ending injury 10 minutes into the first game.

Luge

Luge: Women's Singles
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Run 3 6:45 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Final Run 🏅 8:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

In a stunning development, world champion and first-run leader Julia Taubitz of Germany flipped over in her second run, ending her medal hopes. That opened the door for countrywoman and two-time Olympic singles champion Natalie Geisenberger, who leads yet another German, Anna Berreiter, by .208 of a second going into the last two runs. Germany is headed for an eighth consecutive women’s singles gold.

Cross Country Skiing & Biathlon

Cross-Country Skiing / Biathlon
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Cross-Country: M/W Sprint Qualifying 3:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
Biathlon: Men's 20km 🏅 3:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
Cross-Country: M/W Sprint Finals 🏅 5:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

The freestyle sprint has been tipped as Jessie Diggins’ best shot at winning the U.S.’ first-ever women’s individual cross-country skiing medal. The favorite is Swede Maja Dahlqvist, who won all three freestyle sprints she entered this World Cup season. Diggins won the only freestyle sprint that Dahlqvist did not enter. Another American, Rosie Brennan, has finished in the top five of all four of her freestyle sprints in the last two seasons, including a victory.

Norwegian Johannes Hosflot Klaebo is a bigger favorite in the men’s event, despite a lackluster 40th-place finish in the opening 30km skiathlon. He may have been saving energy for the shorter races. Klaebo’s last freestyle sprint defeat was Nov. 30, 2018. He won the 2018 Olympic title in the classic technique, then the 2019 Worlds in freestyle and 2021 Worlds in classic.

The 20km individual in biathlon is the event that most favors shooters because of the greater penalty for misses. Norwegian Sturla Holm Laegreid won three of the five 20km individual events between the World Cup and world championships over his first two full seasons. He’ll look to hold off the two best overall biathletes in this Olympic cycle, countryman Johannes Thingnes Boe and France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet.

Snowboarding

Snowboarding: Parallel Giant Slalom
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
M/W Qualifying 9:40 p.m. NBCOlympics.com
M/W Finals 🏅 1:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

Czech Republic's Ester Ledecka is the superstar of parallel giant slalom, the descendant of the very first Olympic snowboarding event held in 1998. In 2018, she became the first woman to win a gold medal in two different sports at one Winter Games – stunning for super-G gold in Alpine skiing, then a week later delivering as PGS favorite. Ledecka is again entered in both sports, having put more recent emphasis on Alpine skiing, where she’s a top-10 speed racer. In snowboard, she has done just five events since the start of 2020, but finished first or second in all of them. The five World Cup PGS races this season have been won by five different women. Watch out for 18-year-old Russian Sofia Nadyrshina.

On the men’s side, 12 different snowboarders combined to win the 16 World Cup parallel events over the last two seasons. Russian Dmitry Loginov has been the most successful with three victories, plus both world titles in this Olympic cycle. The American contingent: a window washer (Cody Winters) and firefighter (Robby Burns).

Curling

Mixed Doubles Curling: Medal Games
All events also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Time (ET) How to Watch
Bronze Medal Match: Sweden vs. Great Britain 🏅 1:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Gold Medal Match: Norway vs. Italy 🏅 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

The first curling medals will be decided. The final pits Norwegians Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten (the world’s top-ranked team) against Italians Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner (the world’s 21st-ranked team, though seventh among teams in the Olympic field). Italy went 9-0 in round-robin, then thrashed Sweden 8-1 its semifinal. Sweden plays Great Britain for bronze.