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SOCHI, February 12 (Itar-Tass) - Six sets of medals will be contested at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on Wednesday, February 12. Russian athletes have good chances in figure skating and speed skating. Two men’s ice hockey matches are due in the evening.
At 11:00 women Alpine skiers will contest downhill medals. Injured Lindsy Vonn is absent, so the main favourite left is Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who has already won the gold in Sochi in the supercombined. Her main contenders are basically the same as in the first women’s Alpine skiing discipline on the Olympic schedule.
Anna Fenninger, of Austria, Lara Gut, of Switzerland, Tina Maze, of Slovenia, and Julia Mancuso, of the United States, will try to do something to compensate for their failure in the supercombined. Mancuso was first in the supercombined after the downhill (while Hoefl-Rissch finished fifth) only to end up with the bronze. Fenninger, Gut and Maze won nothing.
Russia will be represented by Maria Bedareva and Yelena Yakovishina. Yakovishina participated in the supercombined to have placed 14th, while Bedareva at the latest stages of the World Cup was near 50th place.
Nordic Combined is due at 13:30. First, men will compete in ski jumping, and then, in a ten-kilometer cross country race (starting at 16:30). Germany’s Eric Frenzel is believed to have the best chances to win. He is the leader of this season’s World Cup, a bronze medalist of the Vancouver Olympics. Vancouver Olympics champion and world champion Jason Lamy-Chappuis, of France, and Norway’s Magnus Hovdal Moan are his main rivals.
The performance of Russia’s 20-year-old Yevgeny Klimov is expected with some interest. At last year’s world championships he placed 49th, but performed pretty well in youth competitions. He should not be expected to produce miracles, though, just as other Russian participants in this event, Niyaz Nabeyev, Ivan Panin and Ernest Yakhin.
At 18:00 men speed skaters will see who of them is the fastest in 1,000 meters. This time Olympic speed skating events bear an unmistakable Dutch flavor. It is not ruled out that an athlete from the Netherlands may emerge the winner. The Sochi Olympics medalist in 500 meters Michael Mulder seems to have the better chances than anybody else. Other likely contenders are Stefan Groothuis, double Olympic Champion Shani Davis, (1,000 meters is his favourite) and South Korea’s Mo Tae-bum. Denis Kuzin, of Kazakhstan, the 2013 world champion, may have an ace up his sleeve.
Russia’s line-up looks as follows - Denis Yuskov, Igor Bogolyubsky, Aleksei Yesin and Dmitry Lobkov. Yuskov, 24, grabbed the world title in Sochi in a longer, 1,500-meter distance.
At 18:15 men will compete in luge doubles. Brother crews are in the spotlight. The main contenders are Austria’s Linger brothers - Andreas and Wolfgang (double Olympic champions), and also Sics brothers from Latvia - Andris and Juris. Two German crews may offer competition - Tobias Wendel and Tobias Arlt, and also Toni Eggert and Sascha Beneken.
Two crews represent Russia - Vladislav Yuzhakov and Vladimir Makhnutin, and also Aleksandr Denisiev and Vladislav Antonov. Yuzhakov and Makhnutin will be able to contest Olympic medals. At this season’s two cup stages they rose to the podium to get the silver at the European championships in Sigulda.
The main sports event of the day for Russian fans - the figure skating free program - starts at 19:45. As it had been generally expected, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov won in the short program with a comfortable advantage, scoring 84.17 points. They are more than four points ahead of their main rivals - Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, of Germany. Ksenia Stolbova and Fyodor Klimov are third, and another Russian pair, Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov, eighth.
At 21:30, women snowboarders will gather for the final round. Kelly Clark, of the US, is the unmistakable leader. She is the champion of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and the holder of seven top World Extreme Games titles. Australia’s Torah Bright, the winner in halfpipe in Vancouver, and the United States’ Ariel Gold will present their counter-arguments.
In curling Russia’s men will play against Canada at 19:00, and women, with Japan at 14:00.
The ice hockey tournament starts with two matches in group A. At 21:00 the Czech Republic will confront Sweden, and Latvia will play against Switzerland.