What to watch from the Pyeongchang Olympics on Day 8
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — We’ve made it to the second week of the Olympics. We’d say things are heating up — and yes, the weather is a bit warmer — but remember these are still the Winter Games. There’s lots of action on the ice and snow Saturday. Here are the highlights (all times Eastern):
It’s the hottest game on ice . Or something like that. Americans might tune in to this sport only every four years, but when they do, it’s mesmerizing. Men play a round just after midnight. The women play a round at 6:05 a.m., when the U.S. faces off with Canada.
The women’s 12.5-kilometer mass start begins at 6:05 a.m. As the name implies, all the racers start at the same time and race to four shooting positions, two standing and two prone. Athletes take five shots at each position and must do a 150-meter penalty lap each time they miss. See if you can spot the Czech athlete whose pink and blue gun is adorned with unicorns!
The women’s 4x5km relay starts at 4:30 a.m. Watch how the first two skiers use the classic skating technique and the second two use the freestyle technique, which looks more like skating. The event has a mass start, but the teams with the highest ranking get to start in the front of the pack.
The rivalry between the U.S. and Russian teams goes back decades. Who can forget the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” victory by the Americans? The two nations face off again at 7:10 a.m. The so-called Olympic Athletes from Russia — who, remember, are playing under the Olympic flag following a doping scandal — are looking strong this year. They routed Slovenia, 8-2, on Friday.
There’s lots of action in speedskating . It starts at 5:25 a.m. with the women’s 1,500-meter heats and the finals at 7:05 a.m. The men push off at 5:56 a.m. in the 1,000-meter race, with the finals starting at 7:21 a.m. The South Koreans dominate in this sport, and the spectators love it and appreciate the subtleties. Expect the stands to be packed and rocking as it is a Saturday and a holiday (lunar new year) to boot. Try to spot the young assistants on skates who swoop in and replace the small black lane markers that are knocked out on the tight turns.
The women’s skeleton starts at 6:20 a.m., with the medal heat at 7:45 a.m. Watch for their decorated helmets and, despite the fact it looks like they are merely at the mercy of gravity, they actually steer with their feet.
Because flinging oneself off the “normal hill” isn’t enough, apparently, men’s competition on the large hill starts at 7:30 a.m., with the medal round scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Watch how the jumpers spread their skis in a “V” to increase their surface area and lean far forward to make their bodies function like an airplane wing. Results are based on a complex formula having to do with the jumping-off point, the landing point and adjustments for the wind and style. The large hill is a team event and the medal goes to the team with the highest combined score.
Just after midnight, as Saturday turns to Sunday, the men will compete for gold in the ski slopestyle third and final runs. The earlier runs and qualifiers come a few hours earlier. What is slopestyle? Basically: throw a bunch of rails, jumps and other obstacles onto a ski trail. Then skiers jump, flip, twist and spin off them in all sorts of spectacular ways. It’s enough for a mother to cover her eyes and everybody else to let their jaws hang down in shock.