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Skeleton Were Innovators Not Cheaters Says British Racer

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – British skeleton racer Jerry Rice has dismissed speculation that the team’s high-tech skin suits could be illegal and said people were welcome to point the finger all they liked.

British newspaper The Guardian reported this week that the “aerodynamic” suits used the same technology that had helped Team GB’s cyclists dominate at the summer Olympics since 2008.

Team USA said they expected the suits to be discussed during the team captains’ meeting on Wednesday and their women’s racer Katie Uhlaender said “a lot” of athletes and coaches had “questions”.

Rice, who will make his Olympic debut in the men’s event starting on Thursday, said the team’s equipment had been “checked and signed off” by tournament organizers.

“It doesn’t bother me, people can speculate as much as they’d like,” the 27-year-old Rice told Reuters after training at the Olympic Sliding Centre on Wednesday.

”The fact of the matter is that the British guys are fast because we’re good at sliding, no other reason. We’re innovators, we do everything we can to be as fast as we can be.

“They can point all they like but for us we just want to concentrate on ourselves.”

Rice is part of a strong British team of four, including women’s Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold and men’s racer Dom Parsons, who made the top 10 at Sochi.

The British sledders’ results in training have been impressive, with Parsons, Yarnold and women’s team mate Laura Deas all topping the timesheets in different heats.

Feb 13, 2018; Pyeongchang, South Korea; Jerry Rice of Great Britain in the Men’s Skeleton Men’s Official Traing during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at the Olympic Sliding Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY SportsA tweet on Uhlaender’s twitter feed queried the legality of the suits earlier on Wednesday but the American said her account was being managed by somebody else.

“I was notified there was a little bit of an article posted and a lot of coaches and athletes had questions on whether the suit was legal,” four-time Olympian Uhlaender, who finished fourth at Sochi, told reporters.

”I think the rules state that everyone is supposed to have access to the same equipment as far as helmets and speed suits go and not have any aerodynamic attachments.

Slideshow (2 Images)“It’s part of the game, I think if you see something that is questionably legal, it’s OK to ask.”

Team USA questioned the timing of the Guardian article, apparently suggesting mind games were at play.

“The timing of the article was perfect and a smart strategic move by the British team,” USA Bobsled and Skeleton Chief Executive Darrin Steele said in a statement.

”The rules are clear that there can’t be any aerodynamic elements attached to the suit, and we don’t expect to see any on the British speedsuits in the race.

”Athletes from various nations are talking about the British suits instead of focusing on the upcoming races.

“A large part of this sport is mental strength. It’s about who can throw down despite distractions, and we’ll see who comes out on top over these next few days.”

The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation was not able to provide immediate comment.

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The Latest Defending Olympic Gold Ted Ligety Finishes 15th

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The Latest on the Pyeongchang Olympics (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Sabrina Zollinger scored on a power play in the first period and Switzerland beat Korea 2-0 in a classification hockey game after routing the Koreans 8-0 in their Olympic opener.

Janine Alder made 19 saves for the shutout Sunday, with Florence Schelling getting a day off after playing in a 6-2 loss to the “Olympic athletes from Russia” in the quarterfinals. Evelina Raselli also scored for the Russians, who won bronze in Sochi.

They will play either Sweden or Japan for their final slotting Tuesday.

Shin So Jung made 51 saves, and the Koreans also killed three of four penalties. Shin gave up a hat trick to Alina Muller in the first period of the opener against Switzerland, and she said she felt a little pressure.

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3:15 p.m.

Patrick Hager scored in regulation and again in a shootout as Germany beat Norway 2-1 to wrap up group play at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Danny aus den Birken made 28 saves and stopped all three shots he saw in the shootout Sunday.

Germany opened the scoring on a power play in the second when Hager took a pass from Dominik Kahun and stuffed the puck past goaltender Lars Haugen.

Norway tied the game in the third period. Both teams played cautiously in overtime, with Norway failing to capitalize even with nearly two minutes on the man advantage.

Haugen made 36 saves but didn’t stop a shot in the shootout.

Both teams face elimination games Tuesday to get into the quarterfinals.

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2:55 p.m.

Marcel Hirscher has won the Olympic men’s giant slalom. It’s his second gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games.

The 28-year-old Austrian star extended his first-run lead to win by a huge margin of 1.27 seconds over hard-charging Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway. Kristoffersen rose from 10th-fastest in the morning.

Bronze medalist Alexis Pinturault of France finished 1.31 behind Hirscher’s two-run time of 2 minutes, 18.04 seconds.

Hirscher can complete a sweep of three individual titles in his best event, the slalom, which is scheduled for Thursday.

Hirscher also won the Alpine combined Tuesday. Pinturault took silver in that race.

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2:50 p.m.

Norway’s Oystein Braaten has captured the gold medal in ski slopestyle at the Pyeongchang Olympics, far outdistancing American Gus Kenworthy, who failed to land any of his three runs and came in last.

Braaten edged out American Nick Goepper, who added a silver medal to the bronze he won four years ago in Sochi.

Canadian Alex Beaulieu-Marchand took the bronze.

The buzz for this event swirled around Kenworthy, who came out as gay about two years after capturing the silver medal in Russia and has since become a strong voice in the LGBT community.

With family and boyfriend Matt Wilkas watching, Kenworthy bobbled all three runs in the finals. After the last one, he shrugged, shook his head and said, “It’s OK,” to the TV cameras before walking off the course.

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2:30 p.m.

Ticket sales for the Pyeongchang Olympics have exceeded 1 million.

Local organizing committee spokesman Sung Baik-you says the 1 million mark exceeds expectations — 692,443 people attended games venues from Feb. 9 to Feb. 17, and there’s still about a week remaining.

Sung says, “Our target was 1,068,000, so we don’t have many tickets remaining.”

Attendance peaked Saturday, with 146,506 people attending on a holiday for the Lunar New Year. There were long delays in traffic around Pyeongchang on a holiday that usually is the busiest on Korean roads every year, but games organizers weren’t disappointed.

Sung acknowledges traffic jams and bus operation interruptions but says, “Nonetheless, I think we can say we were successful in attracting spectators, so it was a positive thing.”

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2:15 p.m.

Lindsey Vonn has returned to the Olympic Alpine speed race course, where she was fastest in a practice run for Wednesday’s downhill race.

One day after placing sixth in the super-G at Jeongseon, Vonn clocked 1 minute, 41.03 seconds on the 1 ?-mile (2.8-kilometer) downhill course.

The American star was 0.18 seconds faster than Ramona Siebenhofer, with the Austrian’s time recorded despite missing a gate.

Alice McKennis of the United States was third-fastest, 0.53 behind Vonn.

Sunday’s practice was the first of three official training days before Vonn tries to regain the Olympic title she won in 2010.

The surprise super-G gold medalist, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic, did not take part in the practice. Ledecka is also due to compete in snowboard parallel giant slalom this week.

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1:30 p.m.

Russian officials have a store of uniforms ready if their team is formally reinstated for the Pyeongchang Olympics closing ceremony.

The head of the delegation of “Olympic Athletes from Russia” Stanislav Pozdnyakov, wouldn’t say where the uniforms are being stored, but says “as regards the closing ceremony, we’re ready for any development, including with extra uniforms.”

Russian athletes in Pyeongchang have been required to compete under the Olympic flag in neutral uniforms as punishment for Russian doping at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

The International Olympic Committee says it could allow them to attend the closing ceremony in Team Russia uniforms under the Russian flag if the team keeps to its IOC-mandated status during the competitions. A decision is expected Saturday, the day before the ceremony.

Pozdnyakov declines to say where the equipment is being kept, but says “if we need them, they’ll arrive on time. For the ceremony, all the athletes will have them.”

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1 p.m.

Pyeongchang Olympics organizers say the Korean man who died after being found unresponsive at a media village was a 53-year-old interpreter working for a consortium of Japanese broadcasters.

Organizing committee spokesman Sung Baik-you says the man had cardiac arrest.

The man was not responsive when he was found Friday in his room by a co-worker. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.

Sung says organizers will not release the man’s name out of respect for the man’s family.

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12:40 p.m.

How do Olympians celebrate winning gold medals? If you’re Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic, you go to KFC.

Ledecka had a surprise victory Saturday in the super-G at the Pyeongchang Olympics. She’s also a snowboarder, and that was supposed to be her best chance for a medal.

Associated Press reporters ran into her later that night at the KFC not far from the snowboard course, where she’ll compete Thursday in qualifying for the parallel giant slalom.

She said she still couldn’t really believe she’d won. Clearly, she hadn’t made plans for a big celebration.

She ate quietly, basically unnoticed, with three other members of the Czech contingent.

As she stood up to leave, she casually picked up her gold medal and draped it around her neck. The people at the next table clapped.

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11:40 a.m.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the “king of the biathlon,” says he’s anxious to see Norway cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen surpass his record of 13 medals and become the most decorated athlete in the history of the Winter Games.

Bjoergen won her 13th medal Saturday, taking home gold in the women’s relay.

Bjoerndalen thinks Bjoergen will break the record before the games are over. There are two more women’s cross-country events — the team sprint relay on Wednesday and the mass start on Sunday.

Bjoergen, who is 37, says she won’t allow herself to think about the record. She’s just focused on the next race.

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11:20 a.m.

Marcel Hirscher of Austria has taken a big first-run lead in the Olympic men’s giant slalom and is well positioned for his second gold medal of the Pyeongchang Games.

Hirscher was 0.63 seconds faster than Alexis Pinturault of France. They finished 1-2 in the Alpine combined on Tuesday.

A Norwegian is third, but it isn’t Henrik Kristoffersen, who is Hirscher’s main rival in the World Cup.

Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen has 0.66 to make up on Hirscher in the second run this afternoon. Kristoffersen was 1.31 back in 10th place.

American Ted Ligety is struggling to retain his Olympic, trailing by 2.44 and out of the top 15.

North Koreans Choe Myong Gwang and Kang Song Il are scheduled to start wearing the last two bibs, Nos. 109 and 110.

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10:45 a.m.

Two top racers have had crashing falls though the finish line in the Olympic men’s giant slalom.

Both Luca de Aliprandini of Italy and Manuel Feller of Austria lost balance approaching the next-to-last gate and were disqualified.

De Aliprandini was set for the second-fastest time behind leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria when he went across the course into safety nets. He appeared to hurt his left leg.

Feller was turned around and slid backwards on his back. The race started under blue skies on a clear, cold day at Yongpyong Alpine Center.

Hirscher, who already won gold in Alpine combined, was fastest by 0.63 seconds after 10 skiers had started.

———

10:15 a.m.

The world’s best male Alpine skier, Marcel Hirscher, will compete for his second gold medal of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Hirscher starts as the favorite in the giant slalom Sunday at Yongpyong Alpine Center. He’s already got a gold medal from his first event, the Alpine combined.

The 28-year-old Austrian is expected to duel with his main rival in World Cup races, Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway. American Ted Ligety will try to defend the title he won at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Also Sunday, there are men’s preliminary-round hockey games between Canada and Korea and between Finland and Sweden, among others. In women’s hockey, Switzerland will play Korea and Sweden will play Japan, though none is a medal contender.

And the bobsled competition kicks off with the first heats for the men’s two-man teams, with medals to be awarded Monday.

———

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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Ted Ligety Finishes 15th In Olympic Gs Title Defense

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Ted Ligety knew he hadn’t turned in the best opening run in defense of his Olympic giant slalom title. What he couldn’t tell as he was heading down the hill was just how poorly he’d done.

“I was really surprised when I saw the time,” the 33-year-old American said Sunday after the first of two GS runs at the Pyongyang Alpine Center effectively ended any hopes of another medal in a race he won at the 2014 Sochi Games.

“It didn’t feel like I crushed it,” Ligety said, before adding with a chuckle: “But it didn’t feel 2? seconds bad.”

To be precise, Ligety’s leg of 1 minute, 10.71 seconds put him in 20th place and 2.44 seconds off the pace set by favorite Marcel Hirscher, the Austrian superstar who already won the Alpine combined gold at these Olympics and owns a record six consecutive World Cup overall titles.

“My goal was definitely to try to be challenging for a medal here. I thought that was definitely within my range. Way out of it now,” said Ligety, who finished fifth on Tuesday in the combined, an event he collected gold in at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

He was able to smile and crack a joke when asked to entertain the far-fetched notion that, because anything can happen, perhaps there was still a chance of a high finish at a mountain where he claimed his first career World Cup race victory back in March 2006.

“I mean, maybe if we get some good wind gusts this afternoon and I get a nice tailwind and those guys get a nice headwind — if something funky happens, then maybe I have a hope and a prayer,” Ligety said. “But if it’s a normal, fair race, then this is way too big of a detriment to climb out of.”

All in all, rather unlikely.

The giant slalom has been Ligety’s forte for years.

In addition to the triumph at Sochi, which made him the only U.S. male Alpine skier with two Olympic golds, he won GS world championships in 2011, 2013 and 2015, along with a bronze in the event at the 2009 worlds.

But on Sunday morning in South Korea, he misjudged the course.

“I just thought it would run maybe a little bit more challenging than maybe it did,” Ligety said. “When you do those little slides, it costs you a ton of time. A few too many of those. … Maybe thought the rolls were going to come into play a little bit more, and they were easy. No excuse.”

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org/

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The Latest Swiss Beats Korea 2-0 In Womens Olympic Hockey

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The Latest on the Pyeongchang Olympics (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Sabrina Zollinger scored on a power play in the first period and Switzerland beat Korea 2-0 in a classification hockey game after routing the Koreans 8-0 in their Olympic opener.

Janine Alder made 19 saves for the shutout Sunday, with Florence Schelling getting a day off after playing in a 6-2 loss to the “Olympic athletes from Russia” in the quarterfinals. Evelina Raselli also scored for the Russians, who won bronze in Sochi.

They will play either Sweden or Japan for their final slotting Tuesday.

Shin So Jung made 51 saves, and the Koreans also killed three of four penalties. Shin gave up a hat trick to Alina Muller in the first period of the opener against Switzerland, and she said she felt a little pressure.

———

3:15 p.m.

Patrick Hager scored in regulation and again in a shootout as Germany beat Norway 2-1 to wrap up group play at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Danny aus den Birken made 28 saves and stopped all three shots he saw in the shootout Sunday.

Germany opened the scoring on a power play in the second when Hager took a pass from Dominik Kahun and stuffed the puck past goaltender Lars Haugen.

Norway tied the game in the third period. Both teams played cautiously in overtime, with Norway failing to capitalize even with nearly two minutes on the man advantage.

Haugen made 36 saves but didn’t stop a shot in the shootout.

Both teams face elimination games Tuesday to get into the quarterfinals.

———

2:55 p.m.

Marcel Hirscher has won the Olympic men’s giant slalom. It’s his second gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games.

The 28-year-old Austrian star extended his first-run lead to win by a huge margin of 1.27 seconds over hard-charging Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway. Kristoffersen rose from 10th-fastest in the morning.

Bronze medalist Alexis Pinturault of France finished 1.31 behind Hirscher’s two-run time of 2 minutes, 18.04 seconds.

Hirscher can complete a sweep of three individual titles in his best event, the slalom, which is scheduled for Thursday.

Hirscher also won the Alpine combined Tuesday. Pinturault took silver in that race.

———

2:50 p.m.

Norway’s Oystein Braaten has captured the gold medal in ski slopestyle at the Pyeongchang Olympics, far outdistancing American Gus Kenworthy, who failed to land any of his three runs and came in last.

Braaten edged out American Nick Goepper, who added a silver medal to the bronze he won four years ago in Sochi.

Canadian Alex Beaulieu-Marchand took the bronze.

The buzz for this event swirled around Kenworthy, who came out as gay about two years after capturing the silver medal in Russia and has since become a strong voice in the LGBT community.

With family and boyfriend Matt Wilkas watching, Kenworthy bobbled all three runs in the finals. After the last one, he shrugged, shook his head and said, “It’s OK,” to the TV cameras before walking off the course.

———

2:30 p.m.

Ticket sales for the Pyeongchang Olympics have exceeded 1 million.

Local organizing committee spokesman Sung Baik-you says the 1 million mark exceeds expectations — 692,443 people attended games venues from Feb. 9 to Feb. 17, and there’s still about a week remaining.

Sung says, “Our target was 1,068,000, so we don’t have many tickets remaining.”

Attendance peaked Saturday, with 146,506 people attending on a holiday for the Lunar New Year. There were long delays in traffic around Pyeongchang on a holiday that usually is the busiest on Korean roads every year, but games organizers weren’t disappointed.

Sung acknowledges traffic jams and bus operation interruptions but says, “Nonetheless, I think we can say we were successful in attracting spectators, so it was a positive thing.”

———

2:15 p.m.

Lindsey Vonn has returned to the Olympic Alpine speed race course, where she was fastest in a practice run for Wednesday’s downhill race.

One day after placing sixth in the super-G at Jeongseon, Vonn clocked 1 minute, 41.03 seconds on the 1 ?-mile (2.8-kilometer) downhill course.

The American star was 0.18 seconds faster than Ramona Siebenhofer, with the Austrian’s time recorded despite missing a gate.

Alice McKennis of the United States was third-fastest, 0.53 behind Vonn.

Sunday’s practice was the first of three official training days before Vonn tries to regain the Olympic title she won in 2010.

The surprise super-G gold medalist, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic, did not take part in the practice. Ledecka is also due to compete in snowboard parallel giant slalom this week.

———

1:30 p.m.

Russian officials have a store of uniforms ready if their team is formally reinstated for the Pyeongchang Olympics closing ceremony.

The head of the delegation of “Olympic Athletes from Russia” Stanislav Pozdnyakov, wouldn’t say where the uniforms are being stored, but says “as regards the closing ceremony, we’re ready for any development, including with extra uniforms.”

Russian athletes in Pyeongchang have been required to compete under the Olympic flag in neutral uniforms as punishment for Russian doping at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

The International Olympic Committee says it could allow them to attend the closing ceremony in Team Russia uniforms under the Russian flag if the team keeps to its IOC-mandated status during the competitions. A decision is expected Saturday, the day before the ceremony.

Pozdnyakov declines to say where the equipment is being kept, but says “if we need them, they’ll arrive on time. For the ceremony, all the athletes will have them.”

———

1 p.m.

Pyeongchang Olympics organizers say the Korean man who died after being found unresponsive at a media village was a 53-year-old interpreter working for a consortium of Japanese broadcasters.

Organizing committee spokesman Sung Baik-you says the man had cardiac arrest.

The man was not responsive when he was found Friday in his room by a co-worker. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.

Sung says organizers will not release the man’s name out of respect for the man’s family.

———

12:40 p.m.

How do Olympians celebrate winning gold medals? If you’re Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic, you go to KFC.

Ledecka had a surprise victory Saturday in the super-G at the Pyeongchang Olympics. She’s also a snowboarder, and that was supposed to be her best chance for a medal.

Associated Press reporters ran into her later that night at the KFC not far from the snowboard course, where she’ll compete Thursday in qualifying for the parallel giant slalom.

She said she still couldn’t really believe she’d won. Clearly, she hadn’t made plans for a big celebration.

She ate quietly, basically unnoticed, with three other members of the Czech contingent.

As she stood up to leave, she casually picked up her gold medal and draped it around her neck. The people at the next table clapped.

———

11:40 a.m.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the “king of the biathlon,” says he’s anxious to see Norway cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen surpass his record of 13 medals and become the most decorated athlete in the history of the Winter Games.

Bjoergen won her 13th medal Saturday, taking home gold in the women’s relay.

Bjoerndalen thinks Bjoergen will break the record before the games are over. There are two more women’s cross-country events — the team sprint relay on Wednesday and the mass start on Sunday.

Bjoergen, who is 37, says she won’t allow herself to think about the record. She’s just focused on the next race.

———

11:20 a.m.

Marcel Hirscher of Austria has taken a big first-run lead in the Olympic men’s giant slalom and is well positioned for his second gold medal of the Pyeongchang Games.

Hirscher was 0.63 seconds faster than Alexis Pinturault of France. They finished 1-2 in the Alpine combined on Tuesday.

A Norwegian is third, but it isn’t Henrik Kristoffersen, who is Hirscher’s main rival in the World Cup.

Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen has 0.66 to make up on Hirscher in the second run this afternoon. Kristoffersen was 1.31 back in 10th place.

American Ted Ligety is struggling to retain his Olympic, trailing by 2.44 and out of the top 15.

North Koreans Choe Myong Gwang and Kang Song Il are scheduled to start wearing the last two bibs, Nos. 109 and 110.

———

10:45 a.m.

Two top racers have had crashing falls though the finish line in the Olympic men’s giant slalom.

Both Luca de Aliprandini of Italy and Manuel Feller of Austria lost balance approaching the next-to-last gate and were disqualified.

De Aliprandini was set for the second-fastest time behind leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria when he went across the course into safety nets. He appeared to hurt his left leg.

Feller was turned around and slid backwards on his back. The race started under blue skies on a clear, cold day at Yongpyong Alpine Center.

Hirscher, who already won gold in Alpine combined, was fastest by 0.63 seconds after 10 skiers had started.

———

10:15 a.m.

The world’s best male Alpine skier, Marcel Hirscher, will compete for his second gold medal of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Hirscher starts as the favorite in the giant slalom Sunday at Yongpyong Alpine Center. He’s already got a gold medal from his first event, the Alpine combined.

The 28-year-old Austrian is expected to duel with his main rival in World Cup races, Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway. American Ted Ligety will try to defend the title he won at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Also Sunday, there are men’s preliminary-round hockey games between Canada and Korea and between Finland and Sweden, among others. In women’s hockey, Switzerland will play Korea and Sweden will play Japan, though none is a medal contender.

And the bobsled competition kicks off with the first heats for the men’s two-man teams, with medals to be awarded Monday.

———

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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