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Olympics-What to watch for at the Beijing Games on Saturday

Randy Mancini 4 Feb 5
Cross-Country Skiing - Women's 7.5km + 7.5km Skiathlon
2022 Beijing Olympics - Cross-Country Skiing - Women's 7.5km + 7.5km Skiathlon - National Cross-Country Centre, Zhangjiakou, China - February 5, 2022. Therese Johaug of Norway, Krista Parmakoski of Finland and Frida Karlsson of Sweden in action. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

February 5, 2022

BEIJING (Reuters) -Norwegian Therese Johaug’s skiathlon victory in women’s cross-country skiing was the first of six gold medals being contested on Saturday as competition kicks into high gear at the Beijing Winter Games.

Here is what to watch for:

As geopolitics sweeps the Winter Games in a way not seen since the Cold War, USA v the Russian women in the hockey promises to be a grudge match when it kicks off about 2110 local (1310GMT/0810 EST). Will hockey fan Vladimir Putin, who flew into Beijing on Friday, turn up to cheer?

The Dutch will be closely watching the women’s 3000 metres speed skating about 1630 local (0830GMT/0330EST) when national darling Irene Schouten looks to give the Netherlands another clean sweep in the event.

The beloved biathlon competition starts on Saturday with the mixed relay, which could turn into a duel between France and Norway, with Belarus looking to cause an upset in potentially tricky conditions. The action starts at 1700 local (0900GMT/0400EST)

The ascendancy of women in Olympic ski jumping will be on show in the normal hill event at 1935 local (1135GMT/0635EST). Germany’s Katharina Althaus is looking to improve on her silver with the absence of Norway’s Maren Lundby and Austria’s Marita Kramer, who was ruled out by a positive COVID test.

Canadian Mikael Kingsbury will defend his championship in the men’s freestyle moguls at about 2040 local (1240GMT/0740EST).

A local highlight will be China’s hunt for a first gold in the short track speed skating mixed team relay expected at 2126 local (1326 GMT/0826EST). China has won two World Cup relay events this season ahead of the race making its Olympic debut in Beijing.

(Compiled by Leela de Kretser in Beijing; Editing by Ken Ferris)