Winter Olympics: What to watch for this week

IHOCKEY-OLY-2022-BEIJING-SUI-USA
USA's Hannah Brandt (left) and Switzerland's Alina Mueller eye the puck during their women's preliminary round group A match of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games ice hockey competition, at the Wukesong Sports Centre in Beijing on Sunday.
Anthony wallace | AFP via Getty Images

This is the first official week of the Beijing games. Here are a few Olympic events to keep an eye on.

Women’s ice hockey

Currently, women’s teams from both Canada and the United States hold undefeated records. But that will end when they play Monday night. This preliminary match will likely determine the seeding for the tournament.

“This is a meeting of the two immovable objects,” KARE 11’s sports anchor David Schwartz told MPR News. “Every time these two teams meet, it’s a good game. If you look through the records of it, there’s rarely a blowout for either side. It’s just always a good match.”

Catch the match-up at 11:15 p.m. Monday on USA Network, with a pregame show scheduled for 9:45 p.m. A rebroadcast is set for 4 p.m. on Tuesday on the same channel.

Jessie Diggins sprints

Tuesday at 2 a.m. CT, Jessie Diggins competes in what many consider her best chance at a medal at the 2022 games.

“She's probably a favorite to medal — if not do really well,” Schwartz said. “This is her event. She's a sprinter. And that's what she does. She can close out like she did in 2018 when [she] and Keegan Randall won the gold.”

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But it’s still not a guarantee, Schwartz added, since this is the first time any competition has been held on this course. Often cross-country racers have some familiarity with tracks they’ve raced on before, but because of COVID-19, “No one has seen this racecourse before.”

Qualifying races begin at 2 a.m. Tuesday, but if Diggins does well, the finals race for the event begins at 5:47 a.m. Tuesday.

Mixed curling

Unfortunately, the U.S. team is out of the running in the mixed doubles curling medal hunt. But there’s a fascinating “David versus Goliath” story forming on the ice sheet.

Norway, a well-established curling nation represented by Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten, will play against Italy, a nation that has never medaled in any curling discipline. Skaslien and Nedregotten took home the bronze medal in the 2018 Games, and Norway has a total of four Olympic medals in various curling events.

But Italy is currently on a streak. They beat Sweden 8-1 in the semifinal match and are the only team to emerge from the round-robin with a perfect 9-0 record, outscoring opponents 87-49. No matter how the match ends, Italy will head home with their first Olympic medal in curling.

Great Britain and Sweden will play to see who takes home bronze in the event.

Catch the gold medal mixed doubles match live at 6 a.m. on Peacock or at noon on the USA Network.