The 13th day of the Olympics is short in numbers, but packs a mighty punch.
Wednesday will feature one of the lighter schedules so far of the Winter Games, but six of the 10 events are handing out medals. Canada has several podium contenders in action but it’s the non-medal event that will be the centre of attention.
Canada’s men’s hockey team will take on its archrival Russia, in a highly anticipated quarterfinal showdown.
Many had expected these teams to play for the gold, but circumstances as they were, led the two superpowers on a collision course to meet in this medal-elimination game.
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin will renew their storied rivalry at 7:30 p.m. ET at Canada Hockey Place.
There are three other men’s quarterfinal games Wednesday.
The U.S. takes on Switzerland (3:00 p.m. ET), Finland and the Czech Republic (10:00 p.m. ET), and defending Olympic champion Sweden will face Slovakia.
The Canada 1 sled of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse have gold in their sights with the final two runs set to go at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
Humphries and Moyse set a track record of 53.05 in the second heat Tuesday, after setting track and speed records with their first run.
Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown, Canada 2, currently sit in fourth, 0.42 seconds behind their teammates.
Canada 2 is just 0.02 back of Germany’s Cathleen Martini and Romy Logsch, and 0.02 ahead of the defending Olympic team of Germany 2, Sandra Kiriasis and Christin.
Erin Pac and Elana Meyers of the U.S. are in second place, 0.13 off the pace. The four heats are combined to determine the podium. Runs one and two are set for 8:00 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. ET.
David Murdoch’s Great Britain team will face Niklas Edin’s Team Sweden in a tiebreaker for fourth place and a spot in the semifinal.
It is an unlikely predicament for the 2009 world champion Murdoch, who was expected to medal, if not win gold.
Long track speed skating – ladies’ 5,000m:
The Richmond Oval will likely play host to the final races in the decorated careers of Canada’s Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen.
Hughes, the defending Olympic champion in the 5,000m, will look to go out in style on the heels of her silver at the World Championships.
Klassen, the Turin bronze medallist in the event, is not expected to contend for the podium.
Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic is also a heavy favourite to win gold. She has won the world title every year since 2006.
The event of eight pairs is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET.
Alpine skiing – ladies’ giant slalom:
There are four Canadians in the ladies’ giant slalom, Marie-Pier Prefontaine, Marie-Michele Gagnon, Shona Rubens, and Brit Janyk, but none should challenge for a medal.
Defending Olympic champion Julia Mancuso and U.S. teammate Lindsey Vonn are expected to contend, but the Europeans have dominated the sport since 1992, and rank 1-19 in the World Cup standings.
Podium favourites include Kathrin Hoelzki of Germany, Kathrin Zettel of Austria, and Tina Maze of Slovakia.
The first run on Whistler Creekside will start at 1:00 p.m. ET, with the finals going at 4:15 p.m. ET.
Short track – ladies’ 3,000m relay:
China and South Korea are the top contenders in the eight-country field of competitors. The World Record holders of the event, China, will be led by 500m gold medallist Wang Meng.
Canada’s team of 500m silver medallist Marianne St. Gelais, Jessica Gregg, Kalyna Roberge. Tania Vicent, and Valerie Maltais remain medal hopefuls.
Cross-country skiing – 4 x 10km relay:
Canada’s team of Ivan Babikov, George Grey, Devon Kershaw, and Alex Harvey will have podium aspirations Wednesday, in the men’s relay.
Norway is the heavy favourite, and will be anchored by Petter Northug, who led their men’s sprint team to gold Monday.
Some of the other events scheduled for Wednesday:
- Short track – men’s 500m: Eight sets of four go at it in the first heat of the men’s 500m. Three Canadians in the event, led by Charles Hamelin, Francois-Louis Tremblay and Olivier Jean. Hamelin is expected to contend for a medal, as is Tremblay, the Turin silver medallist. The final three heats go Saturday, starting at 9:00 a.m. ET.
- Short track – ladies’ 1,000m: The first heat of the ladies’ event, with finals set to go Saturday evening. Gregg offers Canada a chance to medal, but will be hard pressed to knock off World Record holder Meng of China. Also representing Canada will be Vicent and Roberge.
- Ladies’ aerials final: The Chinese are expected to challenge for a podium sweep, led by the top three ranked World Cup aerialists, Li Nina, and Guo Xinxin, and Xu Mengtao.
Wednesday could prove to be a big day for Canada in the medal standings, who enter the day with six golds, just one shy of the U.S. and Germany.