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7 to Watch: Jacobellis Gets Her Shot

A chance at redemption for Nathan Chen and Lindsey Jacobellis Thursday.

Superstar skier Mikaela Shiffrin, prevented from skiing her signature event once already, might finally ski the slalom. Figure skater Nathan Chen is back on the ice after falling in his Olympic debut. Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis has another chance to show what she can do after disappointing finishes in the last three Olympics.

Here are our "7 to Watch" in Pyeongchang for Thursday: 

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1. Redemption Denied: Lindsey Jacobellis Fails to Medal in Snowboard Cross

Lindsey Jacobellis, the most decorated women’s snowboard cross athlete ever, will finish her fourth Olympics just like the first three: without a gold medal.

Jacobellis, a five-time world champion, reached the finals of the event, then held onto a lead for the first two-thirds of the race. But she faded late, and finished in fourth place.

Italian Michela Moioli, France's Julia Pereira De Sousa Mabileau and the Czech Republic's Eva Samkova finished in the top three.

For Jacobellis, it's just the latest moment in a disappointing Olympic career. It began 12 years ago, in Torino, when she seemed to have the gold medal wrapped up, with a huge lead down the race’s final stretch. But she tried a flashy move off a jump and fell, and settled for silver.

Since then, the Olympics have been her kryptonite. She crashed in early rounds in both 2008 and 2012, and failed to reach the final.

And now, one more disappointment: A solid run, but a finish just off the medal stand.


2. Chen Stumbles Again But Advances to Final With Teammates Rippon, Zhou

After a shaky debut, Nathan Chen stumbles again in Pyeongchang, falling three times to finish 17th in the men’s short program.

Leading up to the Games, Chen said he’s worked to improve every aspect of his performance, adding "more passion in my skating and more of a connection to the music.” But can he find momentum after two sub-par starts?

Chen, a pre-games favorite, missed on all his jumps, plummeting to 17th place with a tentative and passionless showing.

Chen’s teammates will advance, finishing above the 18-year-old. Veteran Adam Rippon, 28, lived up to his flair for the dramatic programs, performing to techno song "Let Me Think About It" by Ida Corr vs. Fedde Le Grand, earning him seventh. Seventeen-year-old teammate Vincent Zhou finished the short program in 12th.

Chen, Rippon and Zhou will go for gold Saturday morning (Friday night in the U.S.).

Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
Mikaela Shiffrin

3. Heavy Favorite Shiffrin Struggles in Slalom, Finishes Fourth

Mikaela Shiffrin, the heavy favorite to win the women's slalom and claim her second gold medal in as many days, missed the podium and finished in fourth place in Pyeongchang on Friday.

Shiffrin’s fourth-place finish is an astonishing upset, as the slalom is her specialty: Last year, she became the first woman to win three consecutive slalom world titles in 78 years and she won gold in Sochi.

Frida Hansdotter of Sweden took gold, Wendy Holdener of Switzerland took silver and Katharina Gallhuber of Austria won bronze.

The 22-year-old American vomited before her first run, saying her nausea was "kind of sudden" and "almost felt like a virus.” Although she used the break between runs to rest up (literally—she is known for her love of napping) second run wasn’t enough to get on the podium.

The day before, Shiffrin took gold in the giant slalom.

4. Ryan Donato Carries USA Hockey to Victory Over Slovakia

College players have led the United States to a much-needed 2-1 victory over Slovakia in group play Friday (Thursday night in the U.S.) at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Ryan Donato, a forward at Harvard University and Boston Bruins prospect, scored two power-play goals and University of Denver star Troy Terry dominated with his speed.

Donato delivered the kind of offense USA Hockey wanted when it picked four NCAA players for its no-NHL Olympic roster. The National Hockey League decided that it would not allow its players to participate in the 2018 Winter Games for the first time since 1998.

Slovakia will face Slovenia next, after splitting its first two games of the preliminary round. Team USA will face the tournament favorite, the Olympic Athletes from Russia.

Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
Ashley Caldwell

5. “All-or-nothing” Aerial Skier Ashley Caldwell Goes for Triples

Aerial skier Ashley Caldwell is the current world champion, and though she has struggled for most of the past year, she should contend for a gold medal.

Her ability to land triples makes her stand out. Her biggest trick to date: a quadruple-twisting triple backflip.

She finished second in the World Cup rankings in 2015 and won the World Cup title in 2016, and then won the gold medal at the 2017 world championships in March. But she’s struggled since, and finished 2017 ranked 10th in the world.

Watch the aerials live at 3 a.m. PT Friday on digital platforms at this link.

6. Team USA Bobsled Led by Former Local Elana Meyers-Taylor

The United States women's bobsled team appeared on the Today Show and talked about their preparation for competition.

The team spent their final days leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympics in a place that feels like summer: Chula Vista.

They took advantage of the Elite Athlete Training Center, formerly an Olympic training center, where they can prepare physically and mentally for the biggest competition of their lives.

The US women are led by two-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers-Taylor who used to live in San Diego.

She and husband, U.S. Olympian Nic Taylor who is also competing in the Winter Olympics, posted an adorable photo on Valentine's Day.

But after all the discussion about the excitement and anticipation, these women mean business and will be ready when their runs begin Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Watch the Today Show interview here.

7. Falls, Falls and More Falls

There are those Olympic fans who loved the "agony of defeat" moment in the opening of the Wide World of Sports TV program. 

For those of you out there - and you know who you are - here is a special compilation of some of the more spectacular falls in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. 

Watch the montage of clips here.

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