Beijing Preview, Feb. 13: US in position for big medal haul Sunday

The U.S. has a legitimate chance to earn five medals in ice dancing, speedskating and monobob Sunday.

BEIJING, China — Two U.S. women and two U.S. ice dance couples set themselves up nicely for a shot at medals on Sunday at the Beijing Winter Olympics. And the world's top speedskater in the women's 500-meters skates for the U.S. 

But off the competition stage, the fate of Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva -- and whether the U.S. will get another gold medal as a result -- could be known before the night is done.

Here are some things to watch.

Two U.S. couples in ice dancing medal contention

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France lead after the rhythm dance, with world champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia second. The American duos of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates are third and fourth.

Credit: AP
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, of the United States, perform their routine in the ice dance competition during figure skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Papadakis and Cizeron finished second at the 2018 Olympics to the now-retired Canadian team of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

“These Olympics are so different from four years ago. We are in a very different place," Cizeron said. “I think with all the experience we’ve gained we have become more mature. We know better what we are doing, so we are enjoying it better.”

US sends world's No. 1 500-meter speedskater into action

Erin Jackson is a favorite in the 500 meters, although she nearly missed out on competing. She slipped at the U.S. trials in this event and didn't make the team, but Brittany Bowe gave up her spot in the 500. Bowe ended up in the event anyway because the U.S. received a third quota spot.

The 500 will air live in the morning with an encore in primetime after the Super Bowl.

Credit: AP
Erin Jackson of the United States skates during a speedskating practice session at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

2 Americans in position to medal in women's monobob

Monobob gives women's bobsledders a second medal event at the Olympics, along with the two-woman competition. U.S. standouts Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor were hoping four-man would be added on the women's side, but many nations lack depth among female bobsledders, so monobob is in the Olympics instead.

“Nothing’s a given here," Meyers Taylor said. “I think some good things can happen, but it’s going to take everything I have and I’m going to give it everything I have.”

The final run will air live after the Super Bowl.

Credit: AP
Elana Meyers Taylor, of United States, drives during the women's monobob heat 1 at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Decision on Kamila Valieva could come before midnight

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva remains on the preliminary start list for the short program at the Olympic Games, drawing a spot in the final group among 30 figure skaters due on the ice Tuesday morning at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing.

Valieva will start 26th if the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is meeting later Sunday, allows her to perform. The court released a statement saying it expects a ruling by Monday afternoon in Beijing, which would be late Sunday night or early Monday morning in the U.S.

Valieva’s status was thrown into question this past week following a flagged drug test taken in December. She's favored to win if she's allowed to compete.

Also possibly at stake -- whether the Russians will have to vacate their team figure skating gold medal, giving it to the U.S.

Two for Gu? It will have to wait a day

The women’s Olympic skiing slopestyle qualifying event has been moved to Sunday with the final the following day.

The competition was postponed Saturday due to wind, snow and low visibility.

The men’s slopestyle qualification has switched from Sunday to Monday. The final will now be Tuesday.

Eileen Gu, who lives in the United States and represents China, will be going for a second gold medal. She won big air last Monday.

Credit: AP
Gold medalist Eileen Gu of China celebrates during the medal ceremony for the women's freestyle skiing big air at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Also of note

The U.S. men's hockey team faces Germany live on USA Network at 8 a.m. China has another good chance for a gold medal in the men's 500 in short track speedskating. The final is scheduled to start at 7:14 a.m. and will be shown live on USA Network. The final of the women's 3,000 relay is a half-hour earlier, also live on USA Network. 

Travis Pittman contributed to this report.

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