PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — Men's and women's curling and men's hockey kick off Wednesday at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Here are five things to watch:
ROCK 'N ROLL — Canada begins its quest to defend men's curling gold as Calgary's Kevin Koe's men's rink opens the tournament against Italy's Joel Retornaz before facing Britain's Kyle Smith in the evening. Brad Jacobs won the gold for Canada four years ago in Sochi. Ottawa's Rachel Homan, looking to repeat Jennifer Jones's gold-medal performance from 2014, opens play Thursday against host South Korea.
PERFECT PAIR — Two-time world champion figure skaters Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are among the medal contenders slated to take the ice in the pairs short program Wednesday. They'll be skating to April Meservy's cover of U2's "With or Without You.'' The singer was in Vancouver to witness the duo's performance at the Canadian trials. The skating competition has been shaken up following the International Skating Union's decision to allow music with lyrics in an effort to make the sport more appealing to young fans.
DROP THE PUCK — The highly anticipated men's hockey tournament kicks off with two games. The Olympic Athletes of Russia will open play against Slovakia while the Americans face Slovenia. While Canada, which kicks off play Thursday, is the defending champion, there is no clear favourite this year after NHL players decided to skip the Games for the first time since 1994. That has resulted in teams mostly made up of players from European leagues.
FLYING HIGH — Star American snowboarder Shaun White could become the first athlete to win three gold medals in a specific snowboard event by winning the men's halfpipe final. White won gold in the event in 2006 in Turin and at the 2010 Vancouver Games. He dropped to fourth four years ago in Sochi. Known as the Flying Tomato because of his red hair, White is coming off a nasty crash in October that required more than 62 stitches in his face and a stay in the intensive care unit.
WEATHER WOES — The alpine skiing schedule has been thrown into disarray due to high winds at Yongpyong Alpine Centre. Erin Mielzynski of Guelph, Ont., will be hoping the weather improves for Wednesday's women's slalom. The Canadian is coming off some promising World Cup results — an eighth place in Switzerland at the end of January and 12th in Austria a couple weeks earlier.
The Canadian Press