SOCHI, February 16, /ITAR-TASS/. Russian athletes can hope for medals in biathlon, cross-country skiing and speed skating. Russian men’s ice hockey team will play the last match of preliminary round, still having some chances for early qualification in quarterfinals.
Russian men’s ice hockey team will hold at 16:30 Moscow time (12:30 GMT) a Group A match with Slovakia, which plays quite unsuccessfully in Sochi, losing to the United States (1:7) and Slovenia (1:3). Russian squad has perfect chances to advance in quarterfinals from the second place in Group A, skipping the qualification play-off round. For this purpose Russia should beat Slovakia with a difference of more than five goals or to wait until the result of a Sunday evening’s match between Canada and Finland in Group B. If the latter match ends in a victory of either team in the regular time, Russia will be ranked fourth in the preliminary round.
Meanwhile, this cannot be ruled out that Russian team may take first place in Group A. For this Russia should defeat Slovakia and wait for a possible defeat of the United States in a match with Slovenia. This match will be also held at 16:30 Moscow time (12:30 GMT) on Sunday.
Russian women’s ice hockey team will go out on the ice at 21:00 Moscow time (16:00 GMT), after Switzerland beat Russia women’s squad in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Russian women’s ice hockey team will play with Japan in classification round for 5-8 places. Russia beat 2-1 Japan in the preliminary round game.
Men’s 4x10km relay race in cross-country skiing will start at 14:00 Moscow time (10:00 GMT). After the brightest Saturday final in the women’s relay race a better performance can hardly be expected, but Russian skiers can hope for medals after all. Russian ski team includes Alexander Legkov from Khanty-Mansi autonomous area (Yugra) in Russian Urals, Dmitry Yaparov and Maxim Vylegzhanin (both from Russian Urals’ Udmurtia) and Alexander Bessmertnykh from Russian Urals’ Kemerovo region. Meanwhile, the order of legs will be determined on Sunday morning.
Ladies’ 1,500m race in speed skating will start at 18:00 Moscow time (14:00 GMT) on Sunday. In this race no one will be hardly able to compete with Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, Olympic champion in Vancouver in this speed skating event, who had already won the gold medal in 5,000m race and the silver medal in 1,000m race. Four Russian speed skaters Yekaterina Lobysheva from the Moscow regional town of Kolomna, Yulia Skokova from the Russian Ural city of Yekaterinburg, Olga Fatkulina from the Russian Ural city of Chelyabinsk and Yekaterina Shikhova from St. Petersburg will compete in ladies’ 1,500m race.
Biathlon competition will resume after one day’s break with a men’s 15km mass start race at 19:00 Moscow time (15:00 GMT) on Sunday. Yevgeny Ustyugov has won in this race at the Vancouver Olympics four years ago, however, it will be very difficult for him to repeat his success. Favourites of the race are two-time Sochi Olympic champion Martin Fourcade from France and winner of men’s 10km sprint race Ole Einar Bjoerndalen from Norway.
Four Russian biathletes will compete in the men’s mass start race. Yevgeny Garanichev from the Russian Siberian city of Tyumen will begin the race with the 8th number, Anton Shipulin from Yekaterinburg - with the 13th number, Yevgeny Ustyugov from the Russian Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk - with the 14th number and Dmitry Malyshko from Leningrad Region - with 15th number. No team except for the Russian one will be represented by more than three biathletes in the mass start race.
Next Round Robin matches will be played in curling competition. Men’s and women’s curling teams of Russia and Sweden will play matches. Men’s Round Robin Session 10 will begin at 09:00 Moscow time (05:00 GMT) on Sunday and women’s Round Robin Session 10 matches will be held at 14:00 Moscow time (10:00 GMT) on Sunday.