Olympic Daily Preview - Thursday, February 20th
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Medals will be handed out in five events on the second and final Thursday of the Sochi Olympics.
Canada goes after a 20th straight win in the Olympics on Wednesday and more importantly a fourth straight gold medal when it concludes the women's hockey tournament against the United States in a rematch of the 2010 Vancouver finale.
While Canada has dominated on the Olympic stage, the U.S. has captured four of the last five world championships. In fact, since the first IIHF women's world championships was held in 1990, there have been 20 tournaments (world championships and Olympics combined), including this one, and only once did the top-two finishers include a country other than Canada and the U.S.
Canada, which has won every Olympic game it has played since falling to the United States in the 1998 Nagano Games, defeated the United States in group play earlier in this tournament by a 3-2 score.
Switzerland and Sweden will meet in the bronze medal game.
South Korea's Kim Yuna heads into Thursday's free skate in women's figure skating leading the field following a solid performance in the short program.
Kim posted the top score of 74.92, but holds a slim margin ahead of contenders Adelina Sotnikova of Russia and Italy's Carolina Kostner. Sotnikova is just .28 points behind Kim, while Kostner posted a score of 74.12.
Kim, a two-time world champion, is aiming to become the first repeat gold medalist in the ladies' singles since Katarina Witt in 1984 and '88.
The U.S. saw its three skaters finish in the top seven, led by Gracie Gold's score of 68.63 that landed her in fourth. Ashley Wagner is sixth with a score of 65.21, putting her behind 15-year-old Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya (65.23), while 15-year-old American Polina Edmunds set a new season-best with a mark of 61.04 to put her in seventh place.
The American woman have something to prove after failing to win an Olympic medal for the first time since 1964 four years ago in Vancouver. In fact, there's only been one U.S. medalist in the ladies' singles in the past two Olympics and that was a silver by Sasha Cohen in 2006.
The Canadian women will try to become just the second Olympic team to finish off a curling tournament undefeated on Thursday when it faces off against two- time defending champion Sweden in the gold medal game at the Ice Cube Curling Center.
Canada, which has one gold, one silver and two bronze medals in four Olympic Games, improved to 10-0 over the fortnight with a win over Great Britain on Wednesday.
The only previous Olympic team to go through the qualifying phase with a perfect record is the Canadian men's rink skipped by Kevin Martin in the Vancouver Games in 2010.
Canada hasn't won this tournament since 1998.
The Swedes, meanwhile, moved into the final game with a win over Switzerland.
Great Britain and Switzerland will also meet in the bronze medal game on Thursday.
Switzerland's Michael Schmid will try to defend his men's ski cross gold won four years ago in Vancouver in the event's debut. Austria's Andreas Matt took silver and also returns this year.
American John Teller won gold in this event at the 2011 X Games and was third at the 2013 FIS World Championships.
The women's halfpipe event will make its Olympic debut with four skiers set to go for the U.S.
Maddie Bowman has won the past two golds in this event at the X Games, while Brita Sigourney has twice medaled. Angeli Vanlaanen and Annalisa Drew could also contend, as could Canadian Rosalind Groenewoud, a four-time medalist in this event at the X Games. That includes gold in 2012, which she followed with back-to-back silvers.
American David Wise took gold for the men in the event's debut on Tuesday.
The United States returns two of the four skiers that won silver in the Nordic combined team competition four years ago in Vancouver, with Bill Demong and Todd Lodwick joined this time around by brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher.
Austria won gold in Vancouver and also has two skiers coming back to Sochi in Mario Stecher and Bernhard Gruber. They team with Lukas Klapfer and Christoph Bieler in the event.
Germany took bronze with a team that features 2014 Sochi hopefuls Eric Frenzel, Bjoern Kircheisen and Johannes Rydzek. The fourth member this time around is Fabian Riessle, a bronze winner this year in the individual large hill.
Frenzel, meanwhile, took gold in Sochi in the normal hill.
02/19 17:21:14 ET