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Daily Olympic Briefing: Mikaela Shiffin's last shot at Olympic medal comes on Day 15

Daily Olympic Briefing: Mikaela Shiffin's last shot at Olympic medal comes on Day 15
Posted at 1:35 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-19 01:38:45-05

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 15, two-time gold medalist David Wise leads U.S. podium threats in ski halfpipe, figure skating concludes with the pairs’ free skate and Mikaela Shiffrin races in the final Alpine event.

All times listed below are Eastern Time on the night of Friday, Feb. 18, or the morning of Saturday, Feb. 19.

Freestyle Skiing

Freeski Halfpipe
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Men's Final 🏅 8:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA, NBC

Once again, freeskiers and snowboarders have paced the U.S. Olympic team in medals. They’re not done.

The U.S. has an outside shot at a podium sweep in men’s ski halfpipe, the last freestyle event of the Winter Games.

Aaron Blunck, Birk Irving and David Wise qualified first, third and fourth into the final. Alex Ferreira, the seventh qualifier, has been the top American this season.

To own the podium, they likely need an off-day from New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, who prevailed at the last two X Games and the 2021 World Championships. Americans won five of the six silver and bronze medals in those competitions.

Wise, who grabbed the first two men’s ski halfpipe gold medals, can become the third American to win the same Winter Olympic event three times (Bonnie Blair, Shaun White).

He hasn’t won a contest since shattering a femur while skiing on a slopestyle feature in spring 2019. He spent 11 days in an Austrian hospital.

It took the 31-year-old Wise longer to qualify for this U.S. team than in past Games. Rather than focusing on another medal, he’s thankful to make it this far.

“There are certainly things I would like to have back, like really rubbery cartilage between my knees, slightly more space between my vertebrae in my back,” he said after making the final, “but I wouldn’t trade those things for experience.”

Historically, halfpipe skiers are more prone to serious injuries than any other Olympic athlete group, save perhaps downhill skiers.

Pioneering Canadian Sarah Burke died at 29 in 2012, nine days after suffering a head injury in a training accident.

In 2019, Frenchman Kevin Rolland spent three days in a coma after crashing while trying to soar nearly 40 feet out of a quarter pipe in a world-record attempt. Rolland returned to international competition nearly two years later and qualified 10th into this Olympic final.

In October 2020, Blunck crashed in training, suffering six broken ribs, a lacerated kidney, fractured pelvis and bruised heart. In the immediate aftermath, he grabbed his coach’s hand and said, “Do not let me die.” He was bedridden for six weeks.

There were more dangerous moments in Thursday's qualifying. Finland's Jon Sallinen collided with a cameraman atop the pipe and escaped serious injury.

“I cringe on the inside, especially after what I went through” said Blunck, a past X Games and world champion. “I kind of get that PTSD a little bit.”

SEE MORE: Aaron Blunck outscores Nico Porteous in halfpipe qualifying

Figure Skating

Figure Skating: Pairs
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Pairs Free Skate 🏅 6:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

Sui Wenjing and Han Cong recorded the highest short program score in history and can win China’s second Olympic figure skating title. Zhao Hongbo, one of their coaches, won the first in 2010 with his pairs’ partner, Shen Xue.

The ROC, which went medal-less in pairs in 2010 and 2018, has the second-through-fourth-place teams going into the free skate. Evgeniya Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, fourth in 2018, recorded the second-highest short program score in history and are just 0.16 points behind the Chinese. World champions Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov are another 1.49 points back.

The U.S. put two pairs into the top 10 of an Olympic short program for the first time since 1998 with Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier (sixth) and Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc (seventh).

SEE MORE: Several teams beat highest score ever recorded in stunning pairs short program

Bobsled

Bobsled
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Four-Man: Run 1 8:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com
Four-Man: Run 2 10:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com
Two-Woman: Run 3 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Two-Woman: Final Run 🏅 8:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

Germany is primed to finish with nine gold medals among the 10 sliding events. In two-woman bobsled, Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi and Mariama Jamanka and Alexandra Burghardt could give Germany its fifth one-two finish in sliding sports among seven possible events so far. Nolte, the reigning world junior champion driver, leads the 2018 gold medalist driver Jamanka by a half-second after the first two of four runs. The U.S. is the lone nation to earn a medal in every Olympic women’s bobsled event (debuted in 2002). It is likely to extend that streak with Elana Meyers Taylor and Sylvia Hoffman and Kaillie Humphries and Kaysha Love in third and fifth.

The four-man bobsled starts with the first two of four total runs. German Francesco Friedrich bids to become the first driver to take two- and four-man gold at multiple Olympics. Friedrich’s streak of 14 consecutive international four-man victories was snapped by a Latvian sled piloted by Oskars Kibermanis in the last World Cup before the Olympics. American sleds piloted by Hunter Church and Frank Del Duca are not expected to be medal contenders.

SEE MORE: Meyers Taylor's two-woman heats good for third at midpoint

Speed Skating

Speed Skating
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
M/W Mass Start 🏅 2:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

U.S. speed skaters ended lengthy medal droughts at these Games. Joey Mantia can stop one more on the last day of racing. Mantia, a three-time world champion in the mass start, can become the first American man to win an individual speed skating medal since Shani Davis in 2010. Already at these Games, Mantia was part of the team pursuit squad that claimed bronze, the first U.S. men’s medal in any event since 2010.

The 2018 silver medalist Bart Swings, the top-ranked World Cup mass start skater each of the last three seasons, eyes Belgium’s first Winter Olympic title in any sport since 1948. This event is also the final Olympic race for Sven Kramer, looking for a 10th medal to extend his record for a male speed skater.

The women’s mass start could be the final Olympic race for German eight-time Olympian Claudia Pechstein, who at 49 is the oldest female Winter Olympian in history. Pechstein isn’t expected to challenge for a medal, but Dutchwoman Irene Schouten could win a third individual gold after taking the 3000m and 5000m. The last speed skater to win three individual golds at one Olympics was Norwegian Johann Olav Koss at the Viking Ship in Hamar in 1994.

Cross Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Men's 30km 🏅 2:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

The cross-country rivalry between Norwegian Johannes Hosflot Klaebo and ROC's Alexandr Bolshunov has been fairly uneventful at these Olympics. They haven't finished one-two in any event and didn't go head-to-head on any leg in team events.

But the 50km, the Winter Olympic version of the marathon, produced fireworks at the 2021 World Championships. There, Klaebo edged countryman Emil Iversen by 0.7 seconds after more than two hours on course. Bolshunov was 1.4 seconds behind. It appeared Klaebo became the second man to win the sprint and the marathon at one worlds. But Klaebo was disqualified minutes later for impeding Bolshunov while passing him near the start of the final straight. The contact caused Bolshunov, who was leading at the time, to break a ski pole. Iversen then passed Bolshunov for the silver medal. Iversen called Bolshunov the “moral winner.”

Klaebo repeated as Olympic sprint champion last week. Earlier, he placed 40th in the second-longest Olympic race, the 30km skiathlon, perhaps saving energy for the sprint. There are no more cross-country events to rest up for after the 50km.

UPDATE: Due to extreme weather conditions, the men's 50km race has been shortened to 30km. The start time, originally scheduled for 1 a.m. ET, has also been pushed back an hour.

Curling

Men's & Women's Curling: Medal Games
All events also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Time (ET) How to Watch
Men's Gold: Great Britain vs Sweden 🏅 1:45 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Women's Bronze: Switzerland vs Sweden 🏅 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

In the men’s curling final, Sweden plays Great Britain in a rematch of the 2021 World Championship final won by the Swedes. In the 2018 Olympic final, Niklas Edin skipped the Swedish team that was upset by John Shuster and the plucky Americans. Now Edin, who had 11 surgeries in the last 11 years (more than half on his lower back), can complete an improvement from fourth in 2010, bronze in 2014 and silver in 2018. Nobody has finished fourth, third, second and first in the same event in consecutive Games, in that order, in Olympic history, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org.

Bruce Mouat can skip Great Britain (more specifically Scotland, the home of curling) to its first men’s title since the first Olympic tournament at the 1924 Chamonix Games, where three teams competed. Curling was not on the medal program from 1928 through 1994.

The women’s bronze-medal game pits Sweden, the reigning Olympic champion, against Switzerland, the two-time reigning world champion.

Hockey

Men's Hockey: Bronze Medal Game
All events also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Time (ET) How to Watch
Sweden vs Slovakia 🏅 8:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, CNBC

Sweden, which owns nine Olympic men’s hockey medals, faces Slovakia, which has none since Czechoslovakia split up in 1993. Slovakia is 2-1-1 against Sweden all-time at the Olympics, the lone defeat coming in group play last week.

In 2006, Slovakia earned a scrutinized 3-0 win over Sweden to end group play. Before that game, Swedish coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson caused a stir by suggesting his team might choose to lose to get a more favorable quarterfinal opponent (Switzerland). A Finnish hockey chief was sent to monitor the game, and Swedish players said afterward that they did not tank. The IIHF did not take any public action against the Swedes nor publicly said there was any wrongdoing. In 2010, Slovakia knocked Sweden out in the quarterfinals in Peter Forsberg’s final game with the national team.

Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Team Event 🏅 9:00 p.m.* NBCOlympics.com, USA

UPDATE: Due to weather, the Alpine skiing team event has been postponed.

Mikaela Shiffrin headlines the mixed team event, the last Alpine skiing competition of the Games. It is a bracket-style competition where two skiers race each other on short, adjacent giant slalom courses. Each round has four head-to-heads (two men, two women) between two nations, with the team that has the majority of wins (4-0 or 3-1) advancing. If it's 2-2, the tiebreaker is the lower combined time of each nation’s fastest male and female skier.

The U.S. has never won a team medal at the world championships (debuted in 2005) or Olympics (debuted in 2018). Shiffrin competed once among the previous editions. The U.S. roster also includes Paula Moltzan, who was fourth in the individual parallel race at 2021 Worlds, and River Radamus, who was fourth in the giant slalom earlier at these Games.

The U.S., seeded sixth based on international results across all disciplines, faces Slovakia in the Round of 16, then either No. 3 Italy or the No. 14 athletes from the Russian Olympic Committee.