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Olympics Primetime Primer: Friday, February 16

Olympics Primetime Primer: Friday, February 16
Posted at 2:17 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-17 09:22:26-05

Here are the Olympians to watch in NBC's primetime coverage on Friday, February 16 at 7:00 p.m.

•   Freestyle Skiing - Women's Aerials (Final)

2015 World Cup champion Kiley McKinnon could be in the mix for the Americans. China’s Xu Mengtao is the gold medal favorite. Since claiming silver at the 2014 Sochi Games, Xu has dealt with several injuries, but she rebounded to win last year’s World Cup title. China has a strong tradition in women's aerials, but no Chinese woman has ever captured Olympic gold.

•   Skeleton - Women (Runs 1 & 2)
The U.S. women have not had the same level of success since Olympic silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace retired following the 2014 Games. Three-time Olympian Katie Uhlaender, who finished fourth in Sochi, has dealt with injury in recent years but should be the top American. While Germany has long dominated luge, that sliding success has not quite translated to skeleton, where the nation has yet to win an Olympic gold medal. Last February, Germany’s Jacqueline Loelling became the youngest female world champion in skeleton's history when she claimed the title at age 22. Now 23, Loelling is the early favorite for gold in PyeongChang. Another German woman, 25-year-old Tina Hermann, is also expected to be in the mix.

•   Alpine Skiing - Women's Super-G
Lindsey Vonn headlines our night, making her Olympic debut in Pyeongchang. She won super-G bronze eight years ago in Vancouver. At age 33, Vonn would become the oldest female Olympic medalist in alpine skiing if she makes the podium. The international field will be led by Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather, who comes from a decorated alpine family. But despite her family’s success, Tina has had an unlucky Olympic streak. She was considered a top contender going into Sochi, but crashed during a training run and was too injured to compete. She ended up watching the competition from her room in the Olympic Village. The 28-year-old had her best season to-date last year, winning the World Cup title in super-G. Italy’s Sofia Goggia should also be a top threat. 

•   Figure Skating - Men's Free Skate
Nathan Chen was a medal favorite for his Olympic debut at age 18. But after winning Bronze in the team event, he made major mistakes on each of the three required jumping elements in the short program, finishing in 17th place. The top 24 skaters from the field of 30 advance to the free skate.  Japan is home to defending Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu and teenager Shoma Uno, who placed first and second, respectively, at the World Championships in April. Hanyu will attempt to become the first man to successfully defend an Olympic title since American Dick Button in 1948 and 1952, and he earned the second-highest score ever recorded in Thursday’s short program. Spain’s Javier Fernandez is also expected to be a medal threat. He finished fourth in Sochi, less than two points off of the podium, but has since had the best results of his career, claiming back-to-back world titles in 2015 and 2016. The highest-finishing U.S. man was Adam Rippon, placing seventh, and Vincent Zhou, the youngest U.S. athlete competing in PyeongChang, completed the first-ever quad Lutz on Olympic ice in his debut.  

•   Freestyle Skiing - Women's Slopestyle (Final)
The U.S. is likely to have two medal contenders in women’s slopestyle: Sochi silver medalist Devin Logan and Maggie Voisin. Voisin went to Sochi at age 15, poised to become the youngest U.S. Winter Olympian since 1972, but a training injury forced her to withdraw from competition, and she hobbled around Sochi on crutches for the remainder of the Games. After strong results this season, Voisin has the best chance at a medal. The international field will feature France’s Tess Ledeux, the reigning world champion. The 16-year-old is the younger cousin of freestyle skier Kevin Rolland, who is one of the medal favorites in men’s halfpipe.