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W2W4 in Pyeongchang: Shiffrin eyes second slalom gold, Jacobellis hopes for snowboard cross magic

The elements have not been kind to USA’s Mikaela Shiffrin. The giant slalom and slalom events have been postponed multiple times at the Winter Olympics because of heavy winds, but that did not stop her from winning gold Thursday. Tears streamed down her face as she realized she had held off Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel. After a spectacular start to her 2018 Olympic journey, Shiffrin will get ready for slalom, her marquee event, where she is the heavy favorite to win her second gold.

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Meanwhile, Team USA men’s hockey hopes to move past its disastrous (and shocking) start — the team lost 3-2 in overtime to Slovenia after leading 2-0 heading into the third period — before its game against Slovakia.

Celebrated USA snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, who crashed in her three previous Olympic appearances, hopes to have a better outing this time around and win her first gold medal in the cross event.

Here are the important events to look out for Friday in South Korea:

Alpine skiing

Women’s slalom (Thursday, 8 p.m. ET/Friday, 10 a.m. local time): The updated schedule was released with Shiffrin competing in two events — giant slalom and slalom — in two days after the wind delays. Day 1 could not have gone more perfectly. After setting up the pace in the first run of the giant slalom event by finishing second, Shiffrin had a perfect second skate to take her first Olympic gold in this event. Next up will be slalom, where the 22-year-old hopes to use the momentum to win a second consecutive Olympic slalom gold. In Sochi, Shiffrin, then 18, earned herself the title of youngest slalom gold medalist — male or female — in Olympic history.

Shiffrin’s mother and coach, Eileen Shiffrin, confirmed that Mikaela will not be competing in the Super-G event scheduled for Saturday.

If there is anybody who can fight Shiffrin for a place at the top of the podium, it is France’s Tessa Worley, the 2017 World Championships title-holder in the event.

Men’s Super G (Thursday, 9 p.m. ET/Friday, 11 a.m. local time): Just like Shiffrin, Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud will be back for his second consecutive day of skiing in Super-G, his best event, after winning his first Olympic medal (silver) in downhill. Jansrud won gold in the Super-G event in Sochi, and unless something unexpected happens, he will successfully defend his title. He will face tough competition from Austria’s Max Franz, who took home bronze at the World Championships. USA’s Tommy Biesemeyer will miss the event after injuring his ankle during a practice session.

Skeleton

Men’s individual (Thursday, 8:45 p.m. ET/Friday, 10:45 a.m. local time): This might be the year Latvia’s Martins Dukurs’ Olympic gold drought comes to an end. He has won five of the past seven World Championships, but gold at the Olympics has eluded him. He took home silver in the event in both Sochi and Vancouver. South Korean Yun Sung-bin will bank on help from his home fans to win his first Olympic medal. He is the 2017-18 World Cup winner and had a good season leading up to Pyeongchang.

Ice hockey

Men’s ice hockey, preliminary round, USA vs Slovakia (Thursday, 10:10 p.m. ET/Friday 12:10 p.m. local time): After a stunning loss to Slovenia in the opening game of the preliminary round, the U.S. seeks redemption against Slovakia, which is coming off a strong victory against the Russian athletes .

Snowboarding

Women’s snowboard cross, big final (Thursday, 10:56 p.m. ET/Friday, 12:56 p.m. local time): USA’s Lindsey Jacobellis has had enough Olympic heartbreaks to last her a lifetime. In the 2006 Turin games, she crashed during her second-to-last jump, a setback that earned her a silver medal. She was disqualified in the semifinals of the Vancouver Games and crashed in the semifinals of the Sochi Games. Will the Pyeongchang Games end differently for Jacobellis? She’s won gold in seven out of the past 10 X Games and at the 2017 World Championships, but never the Olympics.

Another snowboarder to watch out for is France’s Chloé Trespeuch. She won bronze in Sochi.

Cross-country

Men’s 15km freestyle (Friday, 1 a.m. ET/3 p.m. local time): Switzerland’s Dario Cologna has dominated this event for the past eight years. He won gold in both Vancouver and Sochi and will look to win his third consecutive Olympic gold when he competes Friday. In January, he was crowned the Tour de ski champion for the fourth time. He started off his journey at the Pyeongchang Olympics in the 30km skiathlon event but finished sixth.

Canada’s Alex Harvey, who won the 2017 World Championships in the 50km freestyle event, will look to dethrone Cologna for the gold.

Speedskating

Women’s 5000m (Friday, 6 a.m. ET/8 p.m. local time): Three Olympic medals — gold in Vancouver and silver in Sochi — and three consecutive World Championship victories (2015-17) later, Martina Sábliková from the Czech Republic is back to win another in the women’s 5000m on Friday. Sábliková became the first Czech athlete to win two gold medals at the Olympics in 2010. (She won in 3000m and 5000m.)

Competing against Sábliková will be another veteran in Claudia Pechstein from Germany. She is 45 years old and won her first Olympic gold in the 5000m event in 1994. Ever since, she has won five golds, two silvers and two bronzes. In 2009, she was convicted of doping and banned from competing for two years. This will be her eighth Olympic appearance.

Freestyle skiing

Women’s aerials, final (Friday, 6:52 a.m. ET/8:52 p.m. local time): Fans of team China will want to take note of this event. Xu Mengtao, the 2014 Sochi Olympics silver medalist, will be back to better her record and win her first Olympic gold medal in Pyeongchang. Meanwhile, Australia’s superstar, Lydia Lassila will be back to replicate her Vancouver performance where a perfect ski resulted in her first Olympic gold medal in the event. She won silver in Sochi.

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