PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Happy Valentine’s Day from Pyeongchang! Wondering where the romance will be at the Olympics? AP’s has the low down. All times Eastern.
Pairs final starts at 8:30 p.m., just in time to cuddle up with your Valentine and try to imagine the kind of trust required to allow someone to throw you up in the air, over ice, so you can land on one ¼-thick-blade. Just sayin’.
In pairs competition, the scoring is the same as singles skating, with one score for technical elements and one for performance . Watch for the elements that are unique to pairs skating like lifts, death spirals and the aforementioned throw jumps. Choreographing pairs is challenging considering that side-by-side movements should be done in sync but one partner is much larger, making the physics different. Real life couple Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim are competing in their first Olympics for the U.S.
The U.S. women play the Canadians at 10:10 p.m. The Canadians have taken home the last four gold medals in this event and the U.S. are their most difficult opponent as they try to grab a fifth. Watch to see if the U.S. goaltender has the Statue of Liberty on her helmet. The IOC reportedly ordered both goalies to cover their markings, but USA Hockey tells the AP that the masks are approved. The goalie wore hers in Tuesday’s rout of the Russians . The U.S. men play Slovenia at 7:10 a.m., the same time the Russians play Slovakia.
If it’s Wednesday, there must be curling . The round robins continue, with the U.S. women playing Japan at 12:05 a.m. The Canadian men play at 6:05 a.m. At 7:05 p.m., the women play another round against the UK. Watch, or more specifically listen, as the players shout commands at each other to “clean” (lightly clear the ice of debris) or go “hard,” (sweep as hard and fast as you can) to move the stone in its desired path. In Olympic curling, athletes are mic’d up so viewers can listen to their banter at home. When team tensions rise, the mics give a reality-TV feeling to the sport some call shuffleboard on ice. Don’t miss the Norwegian men’s crazy pants! Actually, you can’t miss them.
The men’s final runs start at 11:30 p.m. with the medal run set for after midnight. After solo timed seeding rounds, racers take to the course of banked turns and jumps in groups for elimination runs. The clock is the only judge, but racers can be disqualified for intentionally blocking or contacting another racer.
After bad weather delayed several alpine events, including the already postponed women’s giant slalom, the marquee men’s downhill race is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. There are no gates, poles or technical elements in the downhill. Skiers have one goal: find the fastest route down the 1¾-mile course. Top times will be around 1 minute, 40 seconds which is about 60 mph (97 kph)! The men’s downhill often serves up a surprise, but world champion Beat Feuz of Switzerland and 2010 silver medalist Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway are popular picks.
The Nordic combined brings together ski jumping and cross-country skiing — two sports that share only the fact that they are done on skis. It requires both incredible fitness for the cross-country portion and a willingness to jump off a 109-meter hill. It is also the only sport that does not have women competing. Competition starts on the normal hill ski jump at 1:00 a.m. and the results determine the order of a staggered start for the cross-country portion which begins at 3:45 a.m. American Johnny Spillane won the first U.S. medal in the event usually dominated by Europeans with a silver in 2010. He is racing again this year.
The Dutch will try to maintain their sweep of speed skating gold medals in Pyeongchang with the women’s 1,000-meter final starting at 5:00 a.m. Look for their enthusiastic fans decked in orange, the color of the royal family. You might even spot King Willem-Alexander, who has been in the stands cheering for the team.
More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org