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Olympic Daily Preview - Sunday, February 23rd

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The Sochi Olympics come to an end on Sunday with three medal events before the curtain officially drops in the form of the closing ceremony.

Following a dominant defensive performance in a semifinal win over the rival United States, Canada will take aim at its second straight Olympic gold medal in men's hockey when it faces Sweden in Sunday's championship battle.

The Canadians will get a chance to defend their gold medal from the 2010 Vancouver Games thanks to a 1-0 win over the Americans in Friday's semifinal contest.

Not since the Soviet Union has a nation managed to win back-to-back gold medals in the Olympic men's hockey tournaments and Canada will also aim to win Olympic gold outside of North America for the first time since 1952, when it beat the U.S. for gold at the Oslo Games.

Sweden, meanwhile, is after its second gold medal of the last three Winter Games. The Swedes won the Olympic tournament eight years ago in Turin, claiming their second-ever gold medal in men's hockey. Sweden also won gold in at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, which was the last Olympics to exclude NHL players from participation.

Sweden also earned its place in Sunday's game thanks to a win over a geographical rival, beating Finland 2-1 in all-Nordic semifinal clash.

Russia had the fastest four-man bobsled team on Saturday following the first two of four scheduled heats to determine medals at the Sochi Olympics. The final two heats take place on Sunday.

The Russian-1 sled had the quickest time in the first heat at 54.82 seconds before finishing fourth in the second run with a time of 55.37. That gave the group a total time of 1 minute, 50.19 seconds.

That is just 0.04 seconds ahead of Latvia, which used the fastest second-heat time of 55.13 to jump into second place.

The first sleds by both Germany and the U.S. were 2-3, respectively, after the first heat, but were bumped down a slot by Latvia after the second run. Germany is 0.16 seconds behind Russia, with the U.S. another 0.01 ticks back.

A second four-man team by the U.S. was 11th with a total time of 1:51.09.

Cross-country skiing also has an event on tap for Sunday with the men's 50- kilometer mass start.

Norway's Petter Northug claimed this event four years ago in Vancouver and aims to defend that medal in Sochi. Northug has won four previous Olympic medals -- including two golds -- but has been shut out in 2014.

Swede Johan Olsson, who took bronze in Vancouver four years ago, is also in the field. Olsson has a gold medal in Sochi in the men's 4x10-km relay along with a silver in the 15-km classic.

Norway and Sweden have both claimed 11 cross-country medals in these Olympics, including five golds by Norway.

Swede Daniel Richardsson, Finland's Iivo Niskanen and Russia's Maxim Vylegzhanin and Alexander Legkov are among other Sochi medal winners in this event, while the U.S. will be represented by Torin Koos, Brian Gregg, Noah Hoffman and Kris Freeman.

Russia goes into the final day of Olympic action leading the total medal count with 29. The Russians are also even with Norway for the most gold medals with 11.

The United States is second with 27 total medals and tied for third with Canada at nine golds, while Norway has 26 medals in all. Canada and the Netherlands have 24 each.

That should lend Russia bragging rights going into the closing ceremony, which is used to give the Games a proper send off.

While the opening ceremony usually features flash and big-name appearances to break in the event, Sunday's ceremony is highlighted be a lesser-attended parade of athletes. One athlete who definitely stuck around is female hockey player Julie Chu, selected to be Sunday's flag bearer for the U.S.

Sunday's ceremony will also see an official handover from Sochi to Pyeongchang, South Korea, host of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

02/22 14:52:54 ET


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