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Sochi Olympic medals at stake on February 19

February 19, 2014, 10:33 UTC+3 SOCHI

Russian athletes may count on awards in biathlon, ski races, and snowboarding

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SOCHI, February 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Eight sets of medals will be contested at the Olympic Games in Sochi on Wednesday. Russian athletes may count on awards in biathlon, ski races, and snowboarding.

Russia's men's ice hockey team is to play a quarterfinal match against Finland. On Tuesday, the team headed by coach Zinatulla Bilyaletdinov qualified for quarterfinals, outperforming Norway 4-0. At 16:30 (12:30 GMT) on Wednesday the Russian team will play a much more difficult match against Finland which in the group tournament lost to Canada in extra time.

Playing in the other quarterfinals will be Sweden versus Slovenia (12:00), USA vs. Czech Rep (21:00) and Canada vs. Latvia (21:00).

The morning program includes competitions in snowboarding and Alpine skiing. Qualification began at 09:15 (05:15 GMT), and finals of men's and women's parallel giant slalom will start at 14:31 (10:31 GMT).

Following the success of Nikolai Olyunin in snowboard-cross, Russian fans have a right to expect a medals-winning showing by women's parallel giant slalom, the event in which Yekaterina Ilyukhina had won silver four years ago in Vancouver. Yekaterina Tudegesheva, world championess in this event in 2007, who had won parallel slalom at last year's world championship, may also contend for medals. Their rivals are serious: world championess Isabella Labeck of Germany, Patricia Kummer of Switzerland, leader in Cup classification, Olympic winner Nicolin Sauerbrei of the Netherlands, and Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic.

Another two Russian female snowboarders Alyona Zavarzina and Natalia Soboleva will also participate in this event.

Performing in men's parallel giant slalom will be Stanislav Detkov, who was fourth at the Vancouver Games, and Viktor Vaild, husband of Alyona Zavarzina. Vaild is a bronze medalist in this snowboarding event of the 2013 world championship and a real contender for an Olympic medal. Olympic winner Jasey Jay Anderson of Canada, and Austrians Luke Matis and Benjamin Karl are favorites.

Andrei Sobolev and Valery Kolegov will also participate along with Detkov.

The first attempt by Alpine skiers in parallel slalom will begin at 11:00 and the second one at 14:30. Four Russian sportsmen have been entered in this event Stepan Zuyev, Sergei Maitakov, Vladislav Novikov, and Pavel Trikhichev. American Ted Ligety, Austrian Marcel Hirscher, Frenchman Alexis Pinturo, as well as Olympic winners Carlo Janka of Switzerland and Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud are reckoned favorites in this event.

Yet another paired competitions men's and ladies' team sprint, classical style, will begin at 13:15. Maxim Vylegzhanin and Nikita Kryukov will run in men's pairs and Anastasia Dotsenko and Yulia Ivanova in ladies' ones. Vylegzhanin stands quite good chances to win medals. He already became a silver medalist in relay and was close to winning a medal in cross-country skiing.

Yet another speed skating event will begin at 17:30 (13:30 GMT): ladies will compete in the 5,000m race in the last individual event at the Games in Sochi. The main favorite is Martina Sablikova, Olympic winner of Vancouver and five-time world championess in this event. Dutch speed skaters Irene Wust, Karin Bleibocker, and Yvonne Nauta of the Netherlands as well as Claudia Pechstein of Germany may put up competition to Sablikova.

The mixed biathlon relay begins at 18:30 (14:30) to involve Russian team members Olga Vilyukhina, Olga Zaitseva, Yegeny Garanichev, and Anton Shipulin.

The main favorites are Norwegian and French teams (Martin Fourcade) and the Czech Repubic. Ladies will run in the first two stages, six kilometers each, and men in the last two stages, 7.5 km each.

Medalists are to be determined in bobsleigh, the concluding event on the program two-lady crew competitions. After Tuesday's two heats, the American crew of Elena Meyers is ahead of the bobsled of Canadian Kaillie Humphries, whereas another US crew of Jemmy Gurbel is almost one second behind the leader.

The third heat in this event will begin at 20:15 and the fourth one at 21:25.

The time has come for semifinal matches in curling, in which neither Russian men's nor ladies' teams will participate. Ladies' two semifinals are to be played Great Britain vs. Canada and Sweden ­­— Switzerland at 14:00 (10:00 GMT) and men's teams Sweden vs. UK and Canada vs. China at 19:00 (15:00 GMT).

A short figure skating program will begin at 19:00, with all hopes pinned on YuliaL ipnitskaya, Olympic winner in Sochi in the team event. Yet another Russian figure skater will perform as well Adelina Sotnikova, whereas the main contender for a win is Kim Yu Na from South Korea.

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