When to watch the Olympics

  • Tue Feb 16th, 2010 4:02pm
  • Sports

By Craig Hill The News Tribune

Even if you’re a bona fide Olympiholic, plopping down on the couch 17 nights in a row to watch the Winter Olympics is probably unrealistic.

Like the athletes competing in the games, you’re probably going to have to pick your moments. And like the athletes, you better pick the right ones.

Of course, even the casual Olympics fan will tune in for NBC coverage of the marquee events that bookend the games: Opening ceremonies on Feb. 12 and the closing ceremonies on Feb. 28.

But what about the 15 days in between?

Here are your 10 best bets:

Feb. 13

Medal events: Six

Highlights: Men’s downhill, women’s moguls and short track

Storylines: Bode Miller bombed in his unrealistic media-imposed goal to win five medals in ‘06. With much less pressure this time, he’ll try to win his first gold on the first day of competition.

A strong Canadian women’s moguls team led by top-ranked Kristi Richards will try to win their nation’s first gold on home soil. However, U.S. star Hannah Kearny stands in their way.

Apolo Ohno could get his first chance of the games at winning a U.S. record sixth medal in short track.

Feb. 14

Medal events: Six

Highlights: Women’s combined and men’s moguls

Storylines: Lindsey Vonn enters these games as the face of Team USA and perhaps the best alpine skier in American history. A training run injury slowed her down in ‘06, but this time she’ll be going for what she hopes is the first of several golds.

Defending moguls world champ Patrick Deneen of the United States will go for gold at Cypress Mountain, where he finished fourth in a World Cup race last year.

Feb. 16

Medal events: Six

Highlights: Men’s super combined and women’s snowboard cross

Storylines: Lindsey Jacobellis lost gold in the ‘06 snowboard cross when she fell while showboating on the race’s second to last jump and lost a three-second lead. She’s not likely to make the same mistake in Vancouver.

Ted Ligety will try to become the first Olympian to defend a combined title. This year the event includes one slalom run (the ‘06 games had two runs) and a downhill run. This change doesn’t favor Ligety who excels at the technical events.

Feb. 17

Medal events: Seven

Highlights: Women’s downhill and men’s halfpipe

Storylines: Vonn is the undisputed queen of the downhill and has won three consecutive downhills in Canada. However, her last loss in Canada in this event came on the Olympic course in ‘08. She finished 0.01 seconds behind Nadia Styger of Switzerland.

Defending gold medalist Shaun White and Louie Vito of “Dancing with the Stars” fame lead a loaded U.S. team in the halfpipe. Americans have won six of the nine Olympic medals ever awarded in this event.

Feb. 18

Medal events: Five

Highlights: Men’s figure skating and women’s halfpipe

Storylines: It’s been 22 years since an American man has won figure skating gold. Evan Lysacek, the reigning world champ, is the best hope for the U.S. since Brian Boitano’s ‘88 win in Calgary.

U.S. women have won the last two halfpipe golds. Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler, all Olympic medalists, will go for the sweep they just missed in ‘06.

Feb. 20

Medal events: Six

Highlights: Women’s super G, Men’s speed skating and short track

Storylines: Ohno has medaled in the short track 1,000 meters at the last two games. He has five medals and is trying to become the first U.S. man to win six. Speed skater Bonnie Blair holds the U.S. record of six.

U.S. speed skating teammates and rivals Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick will likely race in the 1,500, an event they both medaled in in ‘06.

Vonn will once again be the favorite in Whistler during the women’s super G, another event she dominates.

Feb. 21

Medal events: Six

Highlights: Men’s hockey, bobsled and skier cross

Storylines: Watch the debut of a new Olympic sport — ski cross. Four skiers at a time race down a twisting, undulating course in the skiing version of snowboard cross. Former Olympic downhiller Daron Rahlves could challenge for gold.

Steven Holcomb will drive the two-man bobsled trying to win America’s first men’s gold in the sport since ‘48.

The U.S. Men’s hockey team will try for an upset when it faces Canada, this games’ version of the Dream Team.

Feb. 24

Medal events: Six

Highlights: Men’s hockey and Women’s bobsled and aerials

Storylines: Lacy Schnoor and Emily Cook lead a U.S. team trying to win its first gold in aerials since ‘98.

Barring an upset, the U.S. men should be playing in the hockey quarterfinals, while U.S. women race three bobsleds with medal aspirations.

Feb. 25

Medal events: Six

Highlights: Women’s hockey and men’s aerials

Storylines: If all goes as most think it will, Team USA and Canada will play for gold in women’s hockey. Expect physical play from a pair of teams that don’t like each other should that game happen.

In the men’s aerials, Jeret “Speedy” Peterson promises to try to land the Hurricane, his trademark five-twist, two-flip jump. He failed to land the jump in ‘06 and it cost him a medal.

This loaded day concludes with the women’s figure skating finals where the U.S. will try to medal for the 12th consecutive games.

Feb. 26

Medal events: Seven

Highlights: Men’s hockey and short track

Storylines: Team USA general manger David Poile says six men’s hockey teams have a realistic shot at gold. That should make for dramatic semifinal games.

Three short track medal races ought to give the U.S. a chance to pad its medal total.

The U.S. women’s curling team hopes to be playing for its first Olympics medal, which might be enough of an accomplishment for some rare prime-time TV coverage.