What to watch for on Day 1 of Olympics

12:53 PM, Feb 6, 2014   |    comments
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The first event of the Olympics lost its megastar Wednesday with the withdrawal of two-time halfpipe champion Shaun White. White cited injury risk in pulling out, drawing criticism from other medal contenders, but he wasn't the only rider concerned with course conditions. He's also focusing on winning the halfpipe Tuesday.

White would have had a tough time beating the Canadian trio of Mark McMorris, Max Parrot and Sebastien Toutant in slopestyle's Olympic debut though. They're all X Games champions and are heavily favored to advance from two qualifying runs into the semifinals and/or finals Saturday. The top three from each of two heats advance through to the final, and the next six from each heat go to the 12-man semifinals.

The Americans entered are Chas Guldemond, Sage Kotsenburg and Ryan Stassel. 

Women's snowboard slopestyle

American Jamie Anderson will begin her quest toward a possible gold medal in women's qualifying. She's a better hope for gold than White was before pulling out of the men's competition. Anderson won the 2012 and 2013 X Games and was upset at this year's Aspen, Colo., event by Norwegian Silje Norendal.

Australian Olympic halfpipe champion Torah Bright is also competing here, the first of a planned three snowboarding events for her. The other Americans are Ty Walker, Karly Shorr and Jessika Jenson.

The women follow the same format as the men except their semifinals and finals are Sunday.

Women's moguls

Hannah Kearney begins her quest to become the first freestyle skier to win multiple Olympic gold medals. She's fully expected to qualify into the 20-woman final Saturday.

Kearney's biggest competition is a trio of Canadian sisters - Chloe, Justine and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe. The other Americans are Heidi Kloser, Heather McPhie and Eliza Outtrim.

Nothing can be taken for granted though. Kearney entered the 2006 Olympics as a medal hope and failed to advance out of qualifying.


Figure skating, team event (men's, pairs short programs)

This is the marquee event of the first day of competition. Skating fans will get their first looks at Olympic gold-medal contenders Patrick Chan, Yuzuru Hanyu and Russian pair Tatyana Volozoshar and Maksim Trankov. Volozoshar and Trankov skate last, looking to bring the home crowd to their feet to complete the night.

The U.S. is represented by national champions Jeremy Abbott and Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir.

The top five of 10 teams after the women's and ice dance short programs Saturday will qualify for the long program portions this weekend. The U.S., Canada and Russia are seen as medal favorites in this new Olympic event.

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