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Daily Olympic Briefing: All eyes on the skies on Day 12

Daily Olympic Briefing: All eyes on the skies on Day 12
Posted at 11:13 AM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 23:14:33-05

Each day of the 2022 Winter Games, NBC Olympics will run down every sport in action, highlighting the biggest athletes and marquee events. Every single event streams live on NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock, and many are also on the TV networks of NBC. Visit the Olympic schedule page for listings sorted by sport and TV network.

On Day 13, the U.S. has medal contenders in men’s slopestyle and aerials finals, and the men’s hockey quarterfinals feature the top-seeded Americans.

All times listed below are Eastern Time on the night of Tuesday, February 15 or the morning of Wednesday, February 16.

Freestyle Skiing

Freeski Slopestyle & Aerials
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Men's Slopestyle Final 🏅 8:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA (start), NBC (end)
Men's Aerials Final 🏅 6:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

Figure skating has an off day. No Americans are contenders in Wednesday’s Alpine skiing race. Snowboarding is finished, and the U.S. won’t play for a hockey medal until later this week.

Yet the U.S. has medal chances in four other events on Wednesday. Two of them are in freestyle skiing, where three Americans made the 12-man finals in both slopestyle and aerials.

Colby Stevenson, who returned from a near-fatal 2016 car crash to take silver in big air last week, is better in slopestyle. All of his previous top-level international podiums came in slopestyle, including an X Games gold in 2020 and world championships silver in 2021.

He can become the first American to win multiple individual medals at these Games, and quite possibly the only one when the flame is extinguished.

"The car crash changed my perspective in life a long time ago,” Stevenson said last week. “But I'm just so in the moment now, that's just a story from the past."

“I don't want to think about my skull being all bashed in, thinking [while skiing], 'Oh, maybe this is kind of risky.’”

Stevenson is joined in the final by Alex Hall, who took bronze at the most recent X Games and world championships. And Nick Goepper, who claimed silver and bronze in the first two Olympic ski slopestyle events in 2014 and 2018.

Goepper, in interviews leading up to the 2018 Olympics, revealed that he suffered from depression, a drinking problem and suicidal thoughts in 2014 and 2015.

“He called one night, and he said, ‘Mom, I’m thinking about going to get a bottle of vodka and go sit in my car in Lambs Canyon [Utah] and drink the whole thing,’” his mom, Linda, said in an X Games video interview. “Lambs Canyon was where another skier had committed suicide [2010 Olympic aerials silver medalist Jeret “Speedy” Peterson in 2011]. I knew that Nick was in trouble.”

Goepper attended rehab in Texas for two months in fall 2015 and returned to competition that winter. Last season, he won his fourth X Games slopestyle title.

“I want an Olympic gold medal, that's for sure, but most of all, I'm happy to be here,” Goepper said after qualifying. “I'm just continually grateful every time I get to come down one of these runs.”

In aerials, all three Americans qualified for the 12-man final -- mixed team gold medalists Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld, plus Eric Loughran. Qi Guangpu and Jia Zongyang were the first qualifiers and will look to make it a Chinese sweep of the individual aerials gold medals.

Last year, Lillis became the first American to land a “quint” – a quintuple twisting triple back flip – in competition since Peterson. Lillis did it at the world championships, earning a silver medal.

Lillis repeated the trick in the mixed team final last week, posting the top score of the entire competition.

“Speedy was just a larger-than-life icon in my eyes growing up,” Lillis said after last year’s worlds. “It shows me that I’m jumping well enough to maybe have the same kind of success that he had in his career, but also a tremendous honor to be put in the same sentence as someone I grew up in awe of.”

Lillis was the sixth qualifier into the final, advancing without having to throw the quint. Lillis said before the Games that he expected everybody to perform the trick in the six-man super final.

"If you look back on previous Games, you'll notice that maybe only a couple of people will do a quintuple twist,” he said before the team event. “I would expect that you are going to see more quintuple twists and triples than you've ever seen in the past."

Four years ago, Lillis missed competing at the Olympics after an ACL tear.

He still attended the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, with his family, to watch older brother Jon compete and finish eighth. The Lillises wore necklaces with pendants infused with the ashes of Chris and Jon’s little brother Mikey, who died in his sleep in October 2017 at 17.

Chris was expected to wear it again at these Olympics.

SEE MORE: Nick Goepper lays down unique slopestyle runs to qualify

Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing: Men's Slalom
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Run 1 9:15 p.m. NBCOlympics.com
Run 2 🏅 12:45 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

The men’s slalom has been the most unpredictable event in Alpine skiing since Austrian Marcel Hirscher retired in 2019. Six different men won the six World Cup races so far this season. France’s Clement Noel is the only man to win three World Cups over the 17 races in the last two seasons. Norway’s Sebastian Foss-Solevaag won gold at last season’s world championships. Norway won at least one men’s Alpine event at the last eight Olympics, but no gold yet this time around. The 2014 and 2018 Olympic gold medalists retired, but the 2010 champion, 37-year-old Italian Giuliano Razzoli, last month made his first World Cup podium in six years.

Hockey

Men's & Women's Hockey
All events also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Time (ET) How to Watch
Quarterfinal: USA vs Slovakia (M) 11:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
Quarterfinal: ROC vs Denmark (M) 1:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Quarterfinal: Finland vs Switzerland (M) 3:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Bronze: Finland vs Switzerland (W) 🏅 6:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Quarterfinal: Sweden vs Canada (M) 8:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

The U.S. is the top seed in the quarterfinals with a great shot at its first Olympic men’s hockey medal without NHL players since the "Miracle on Ice." It must beat Slovakia and then win one of its last two games. The other quarterfinals include a rematch of the last Olympic game with NHL players in 2014 (Canada-Sweden), a Swiss team eyeing its first top-four Olympic finish since 1948 and Denmark, making its Olympic debut.

Short Track

Short Track
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Women's 1500m, Men's Relay 🏅 6:30 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

The last two short track events. Canadian Charles Hamelin will end his Olympic career in the men’s relay, still seeking to extend his streak to five consecutive Games with a medal. The U.S. men failed to qualify a team for the relay for the first time since 1992, so the women’s 1500m is the last chance to pick up the first American short track medal of these Games. This is the ninth Olympics with short track as a medal sport, and only once has the U.S. left without a medal (1998). Kristen Santos, who was fourth in the 1000m, her best event, ranked fourth in the 1500m on the World Cup this past season.

Cross Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
M/W Team Sprint Semifinals 2:15 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA
M/W Team Sprint Finals 🏅 4:15 a.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

The U.S. is the defending champion in the women’s team sprint. Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins famously won the nation’s first cross-country skiing gold medals in 2018. Randall is retired, and though Diggins is back, the format switches from freestyle to classic. That does not favor the Americans. Diggins and Rosie Brennan were third and fourth in the individual sprint (freestyle) last Tuesday and are the U.S. pair for the team event. A classic team sprint hasn’t been held on the top level in three years, but Sweden's Maja Dahlqvist and Jonna Sundling won the 2021 World title and the lone World Cup team sprint this season, both in freestyle. Dalhqvist won the lone individual World Cup classic sprint this season. Sundling won the 2021 World title in the classic sprint.

In the men’s team sprint, Johannes Hosflot Klaebo, already with three medals at these Games, was part of Norwegian men’s teams to win the 2018 Olympics and the last two world championships. His rival, Russian Alexandr Bolshunov, earned silver or bronze at each of those competitions.

Biathlon

Biathlon
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Women's Relay 🏅 2:45 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

Norway won every world title in the women’s relay during this Olympic cycle. So its star, Marte Olsbu Roiseland, is likely to pick up her fifth medal and possibly fourth gold with one individual event left. Nobody has won six medals at one Winter Olympics. Only Eric Heiden has won five golds at one Winter Olympics. No sport had six events before 2002, and even now only four sports have that many. In men’s biathlon, France's Quentin Fillon Maillet already has five medals with one individual event left.

Curling

Women's Curling: Round Robin
All events also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Time (ET) How to Watch
USA vs Canada 8:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, CNBC
USA vs Japan 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

The U.S. women play their last two round-robin games, locked in a battle to make the playoffs for just the second time since women's curling was added to the Olympic medal program in 1998. The U.S. is tied for third place at 4-3 with two other teams. Another two teams are at 3-3. The top four teams in the 10-team round robin make the playoffs. The U.S. very likely (if not definitely) will advance if it wins its last two games, since their opponents are among those other four teams with three losses.