Today at PyeongChang 2018: Thursday 15 February
More gold medals are up for grabs today on the snow and ice: the men’s downhill, the women's slalom, the men’s biathlon 20km individual, the women’s 10km free in cross-country skiing, the men’s snowboard cross, the luge team relay and the men’s speed skating 10,000m, while, in the figure skating the pairs competition reaches its conclusion with the free programme.
Figure skating, pairs free programme: 10:30 local time
Following the previous day’s short programmes, the pairs will perform their free programmes to determine the final standings. Crowned world champions in April 2017 in Helsinki (FIN), China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong are expected to vie for gold with Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot - winners of last December’s ISU Grand Prix Final in Nagoya (JPN) - and Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, the 2015 and 2016 world champions.
Alpine skiing, women’s slalom: 10:00 and 13:45 local time
Still just 22, Mikaela Shiffrin is undoubtedly the best female Alpine skier in the world, capable of excelling in each of the five events. The slalom remains her speciality, however. As defending Olympic champion and three-time reigning world champion, the American is a firm favourite to become the first woman in Winter Games history to retain the slalom title. Yet, as she has shown this season, Slovakia’s Petra Vlhová – a Winter Youth Olympic Games gold medallist in Innsbruck in 2012 – is a genuine threat to Shiffrin; and this is an event where anything can happen.
Alpine skiing, men's downhill: 11:00 local time
The men's downhill – often regarded as the blue riband event on the Alpine skiing programme – is traditionally held on the first Sunday of the Games, but was rescheduled due to weather conditions. On the Jeongson downhill course, designed by Bernhard Russi, the racers must navigate the best lines, jump faultlessly and maintain speed from start to finish in order to emerge victorious.
Snowboard, men’s snowboard cross: 11:00 and 13:30 local time
The USA’s Seth Wescott won the inaugural Olympic men’s snowboard cross competition at Turin 2006 and retained the title at Vancouver 2010. In Sochi four years later, the American relinquished his title to France’s Pierre Vaultier, who has since gone on to win the 2017 world title and take his collection of crystal globes to five, including two in the last two seasons. Nothing can be taken for granted in this thrilling event, in which competitors race six at a time down a narrow course dotted with sharp turns, jumps and rollers. The competition begins with a qualification round and continues with knockout races all the way through to the final.
Cross-country skiing, women’s 10km free: 15:30 local time
Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk won gold four years ago, when the race was run in the classic style. Norwegian cross-country queen Marit Bjørgen is the reigning world champion and has proven herself equally at ease in both styles, racking up more than 20 World Cup wins over the distance, the latest of them coming this winter. Her compatriots Heidi Weng, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Ragnhild Haga should also be in contention for gold at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre, as will Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla.
Biathlon, women’s 15km individual: 17:15 local time
The most demanding of the women’s biathlon events, the 15km individual is a race against the clock that includes four shooting rounds that alternate between prone and standing, with athletes having a minute added to their time for every target missed. Darya Domracheva from Belarus is the defending Olympic champion, while Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier won the crystal globe for the event in 2017 and is the reigning world champion.
Biathlon, men’s 20km individual: 20:20 local time
The individual is the most testing of all the biathlon events. A race against the clock, it includes four shooting rounds alternating between prone and standing, with athletes having a minute added to their time for every target missed. France’s Martin Fourcade will be defending the title he won at Sochi 2014, with Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bø leading the challenge to unseat him. However, as the USA’s Lowell Bailey showed when shooting clean at the 2017 IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen (AUT), this is an event that has the potential to produce a surprise winner.
Speed skating, men’s 10,000m: 20:00 local time
Can Dutch skater Sven Kramer finally claim the one Olympic title to have evaded him so far? That is the question on everyone’s lips ahead of this, the longest of all Olympic speed skating events. Kramer looked to have sealed the gold medal at Vancouver 2010 only to be disqualified for incorrectly changing lanes. Four years later in Sochi, he had to settle for silver after finishing four seconds adrift of compatriot Jorrit Bergsma. A five-time world champion of the 10,000m, the latest of those titles coming at the Gangneung Oval in 2017, Kramer will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky at PyeongChang 2018.
Luge, team relay: 21:30 local time
Making its second appearance at the Winter Olympics, this event is contested by national teams comprising a male and female luger and a men’s doubles pairing. At Sochi 2014 it was won by the German quartet of Felix Loch, Natalie Geisenberger and the two Tobiases, Wendl and Arlt, who between them completed a clean sweep of all four luge events. Having continued to dominate the international scene since then, the all-conquering Germans are clear favourites to retain their title.
Elsewhere at the Games…
The preliminary round matches continue in curling, with the women stepping out for sessions two and three and the men playing their third matches. In freestyle skiing, it is the qualification round of the women’s aerials event, while there are four games in the men’s ice hockey preliminary round (Finland-Germany and Norway-Sweden in Group C, and Czech Republic-Republic of Korea and Switzerland-Canada in Group A), and two in the women’s (USA-Canada and Olympic Athletes from Russia-Finland in Group A). Finally, the men’s skeleton competition gets under way with rounds 1 and 2.