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Youth Olympic Games Begin, Winter Sports Return & More From Team USA This Weekend

By Paul D. Bowker | Jan. 10, 2020, 12:01 a.m. (ET)


As you settle into your weekend, Team USA athletes are getting ready to compete all around the world. Keep track of the biggest events and how to follow them on Team USA This Weekend.


The Third Winter Youth Olympic Games Open In Lausanne

Nearly 100 U.S. Youth Olympians joined a record number of athletes in the opening ceremonies for the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020 on Thursday in Switzerland.

The competition, which goes through Jan. 22, features 96 U.S. athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 competing in 81 medal events. Three U.S. Olympians are serving as Athlete Role Models: Alex Deibold, Jamie Greubel Poser and Hannah Kearney.

Among those competing for the U.S. are George Beck, Samantha Paisley, Grace Staberg and Jeremiah Vaille in the Youth Olympic debut of ski mountaineering, and Tess Amone and Alexa Brabec in the debut of women’s Nordic combined.

The addition of women’s events in Nordic combined and doubles luge helped create an equal number of women’s and men’s events for the first time in Youth Olympic Games history. Also added to the program for the first time is a mixed-nation 3x3 ice hockey tournament, and big air skiing and snowboarding.

Competition begins Friday with medal events in super-G and alpine combined in skiing, and women’s and men’s individual events in mountaineering.

The U.S. Youth Olympic Team of 96 is tied with Germany for the third-largest contingent. Host Switzerland has a team of 112, and Russia has 107. With 1,872 total athletes representing 79 nations, this is the largest Winter Youth Olympic Games ever.

Deibold, a bronze medalist in snowboardcross in the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, is an Athlete Role Model. Joining him are Greubel Poser, a two-time Olympian and 2014 bronze medalist in women’s bobsled; Kearney, a two-time Olympic medalist in moguls; and Tara Geraghty-Moats, a rising star in women’s Nordic combined.

TV: 8 p.m. ET Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday, Olympic Channel

Follow along on social: Team USA on Twitter, Youth Olympic Games on Twitter and Lausanne 2020 on Instagram.

U.S. Fencers Go Global In Active Weekend

U.S. fencers head out to five venues globally this weekend as the 2020 year begins and the chase for U.S. Olympic Team berths heats up.

Lee Kiefer, a two-time Olympian and three-time Pan American Games gold medalist, is among 12 U.S. women’s foil fencers competing at a world cup tournament in Katowice, Poland. Kiefer, ranked No. 5 in the world, won her first world cup medal of the season, and 18th of her career, with a third-place finish in St. Maur, France, in December.

Kiefer will be joined by Sabrina Massialas, Iman Blow and Jackie Dubrovich in the team competition on Sunday.

The men’s foil team, which has already secured a quota spot for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and is ranked No. 1 in the world, is in Paris for individual and team tournaments. Second-ranked and two-time Olympian Race Imboden leads four U.S. fencers ranked among the top 10. Joining him are No. 6 Gerek Meinhardt, No. 7 Alexander Massialas and No. 10 Nick Itkin in the individual and team tourneys Friday through Sunday.

The men’s and women’s epee teams are also in world cup action this week, with the men competing in Heidenheim, Germany, Thursday through Saturday, and the women in Havana, Cuba, Friday through Sunday. Sisters Kelley and Courtney Hurley enter the women’s world cup with No. 12 and 16 rankings, respectively. The two-time Olympic teammates will team up with 2016 Olympian Katharine Holmes and Anna Van Brummen as the fourth-ranked squad in the team tournament. The men’s epee tournament also has 12 U.S. fencers, including 13th-ranked Jake Hoyle.

Four-time Olympic medalist Mariel Zagunis, who is ranked 17th in the world, and Eliza Stone, a Pan American Games gold medalist and world bronze medalist who is ranked No. 5, lead 24 U.S. saber fencers at a grand prix men’s and women’s individual tournament in Montreal. The men’s field includes second-ranked Eli Dershwitz, a 2016 Olympian. The men’s medal round is Saturday, followed by the women’s medal round on Sunday.

Follow along on social: USA Fencing on Twitter, Lee Kiefer on Instagram and Gerek Meinhardt on Instagram.

Short Track’s Four Continents Makes Its Debut

Kristen Santos, a 2018 Olympian, won her first world cup medal in November, finishing third in the women’s 1,000-meter in Nagoya, Japan. One week later, she helped the U.S. 3,000-meter relay team win a bronze medal in Shanghai, China.

Santos will join forces with Olympic teammate Maame Biney and six other Americans in the inaugural ISU Four Continents Short Track Speed Skating Championships this weekend in Montreal. The competition will be a solid measuring stick for an improving short track team.

Biney, who won two events (women’s 500 and 1,500) at the U.S. Short Track Championships this past weekend in Utah, and Santos will be joined by Corinne Stoddard and Julie Letai on the women’s side.

2018 Olympic teammates Thomas Hong, Aaron Tran and Ryan Pivirotto lead the U.S. men, along with Andrew Heo, who made his world cup debut in the fall.

The Four Continents Championships features individual competition at 500-, 1,000- and 1,500-meter distances, along with a women’s 3,000-meter relay event and men’s 5,000-meter relay event.

In addition to the U.S., other nations in the competition include Canada, China, Japan and South Korea.

Follow along on social: U.S. Speedskating on Twitter, ISU Speedskating on Twitter and Maame Biney on Instagram.

Cross-Country Skiers Ready For First-Ever Olympic & Paralympic World Cup

For the first time in history, Olympic- and Paralympic-level cross-country skiers will compete at the same world cup.

Sprint racing will be on display this weekend in Dresden, Germany, for the FIS world cup and World Para Nordic Skiing world cup.

And that could play right into the wheelhouse of two-time Olympian Sophie Caldwell and Julia Kern. Caldwell is in sixth place in the women’s sprint world cup standings, one of four Americans among the top 12. Kern, who earned her first world cup podium finish in a sprint freestyle race in December, is No. 12.

Women’s and men’s sprint freestyle races are scheduled for Saturday, followed by team sprint competitions on Sunday.

In Para competition, sitting sprint finals take place Sunday, with standing and visually impaired sprint finals on Monday.

Paralympic multi-medalists Kendall Gretsch, Oksana Masters and Dan Cnossen, and four-time Paralympian Aaron Pike lead the competition. 2018 Paralympians Grace Miller and Ruslan Reiter are also entered. Gretsch and Masters combined for 10 total biathlon and cross-country medals at the season-opening world cup in December.

In the FIS world cup, Sadie Maubet Bjornsen, a two-time Olympian who posted a career-best seventh-place finish in the Tour de Ski last week, and Jessie Diggins, a 2018 Olympic gold medalist who finished ninth, are not competing this weekend.

Leading the U.S. men’s squad are three-time Olympian Simi Hamilton and 2018 Olympian Logan Hanneman. Also on the start list are Kevin Bolger and JC Schoonmaker, a junior making his world cup debut.

TV: 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday and Sunday, Olympic Channel

Webcast: 7:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, NBC Sports App

Follow along on social: FIS Cross-Country on Twitter, Sophie Caldwell on Instagram and Logan Hanneman on Instagram.

Women’s Alpine Skiing Moves On To Austria
Two-time Olympian Mikaela Shiffrin, who has a lead of more than 300 points in the world cup overall standings, is expected to be among the starters in Sunday's alpine combined world cup race at the Altenmarkt-Zauchensee ski area near Salzburg, Austria. The alpine combined follows a downhill slated for Saturday.

Shiffrin, who is seeking her 65th world cup career win and 13th in Austria, is No. 1 in two world cup categories (overall and slalom), and she is among the top six in five categories. Sunday's race will feature a super-G and slalom race, instead of the traditional downhill and slalom.

Shiffrin has reached the podium nine times this season. She is coming off a second-place slalom finish last weekend in Zagreb, Croatia, a result that snapped a seven-race winning streak in that discipline. She was third and 10th in two previous super-G races this season.

Among those on the downhill start list are two-time Olympians Alice McKennis and Jackie Wiles, 2018 Olympians Alice Merryweather and Breezy Johnson, and Isabella Wright.

Webcast: 5:45 a.m. ET Saturday, 3:15 and 5:45 a.m. Sunday, NBC Sports App

Men’s Alpine Skiing – Adelboden World Cup
Tommy Ford, a two-time Olympian who earned his first world cup win in December at Beaver Creek, Colorado, enters Saturday’s giant slalom race in Adelboden, Switzerland, in third place in the world cup giant slalom standings. Ford and four-time Olympian Ted Ligety are among the podium contenders. Ford has a pair of top-four finishes this season and Ligety is in 10th place in the world cup standings with fifth- and 11th-place finishes. Adelboden also is host to a slalom race on Sunday. Luke Winters and River Radamus are expected to race for the U.S.

TV: 7 a.m. ET Saturday and Sunday, Olympic Channel

Webcast: 4:30 and 7:30 a.m. Saturday, 4:30 and 7:30 a.m. Sunday, NBC Sports App

Slopestyle Skiing – Font Romeau World Cup
Twin brothers Kiernan and Deven Fagan are among 10 U.S. slopestyle skiers on the start list for the season-opening slopestyle skiing world cup stop in Font Romeu, France. Kiernan Fagan reached the podium in two of three world cup appearances in his rookie season last year. Cody LaPlante is competing in slopestyle for the first time since recovering from a knee injury. He has already competed in two big air world cup competitions, finishing seventh in China. Also competing this weekend are Hunter Henderson, Marin Hamill, Rell Harwood, Grace Henderson, Ryan Stevenson, Tim Ryan and Peter Raich. Qualifying rounds are Thursday and Friday, followed by men’s and women’s finals on Saturday.

TV: 10:30 a.m. ET Saturday, Olympic Channel

Webcast: 4 a.m. Saturday, NBC Sports App

Bobsled/Skeleton – La Plagne World Cup
Olympic medalists Kaillie Humphries and Lauren Gibbs are looking to get back on the world 
cup podium Saturday in La Plagne, France; they finished fourth last week in Winterberg, Germany. After winning the first two races of the season in Lake Placid, New York, Humphries, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Canada, and Gibbs, a 2018 Olympic silver medalist, missed the podium in Winterberg as host Germany swept the top three spots. Three days of competition begins Friday with men’s and women’s skeleton. Megan Henry is coming off a seventh-place finish in women’s skeleton last week. Hunter Church, a pilot in the four-man bobsled, had two eighth-place finishes in Winterberg. Push athletes are Josh Williamson, Jimmy Reed and Kyle Wilcox. The four-man race is Sunday, preceded by two-man on Saturday.

TV: 9:50 and 10:50 a.m. ET Friday, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Olympic Channel

Biathlon – Oberhof World Cup
Two-time Olympians Susan Dunklee, Sean Doherty and Leif Nordgren lead a group of eight U.S. biathletes named to compete in this week’s world cup stop in Oberhof, Germany, as the second half of the season gets underway. Joining Dunklee on the women’s squad are 2018 Olympians Clare Egan and Emily Dreissigacker, and Hallie Grossman. Paul Schommer and Jake Brown join Doherty and Nordgren on the men’s team for the next four world cups. The competition in Oberhof includes a men’s 10-kilometer sprint on Friday, women’s and men’s relay races Saturday, and mass start races Sunday. The U.S. women have been strong in the relays, posting two consecutive eighth-place finishes in December.

TV: 8:30 a.m. ET Friday, 6 and 9:30 a.m. Saturday, 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Olympic Channel

Webcast: 8:30 a.m. Friday, 6 and 8:15 a.m. Saturday, 6:45 and 8:30 a.m. Sunday, NBC Sports App

Luge – Altenberg World Cup
Emily Sweeney, a 2018 Olympian and 2019 world bronze medalist, is off to a hot start in the luge world cup season. She has won three medals in five starts and is in third place in the women’s world cup standings. Sweeney is among the medal contenders in Sunday’s race in Altenberg, Germany. Also among the U.S. starters is two-time Olympian Summer Britcher. The men’s race on Saturday includes three-time Olympian Chris Mazdzer and two-time Olympian Tucker West. Mazdzer and two-time Olympian Jayson Terdiman are in doubles. Competition also includes a team relay on Sunday.

TV: 1 p.m. ET Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Olympic Channel

Men’s Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined – Val di Fiemme World Cup
The men’s ski jumping and Nordic combined world cup tours moves to Val di Fiemme, Italy, this weekend. Ski jumper Kevin Bickner, a 2018 Olympian, is coming off a 37th-place overall finish in the Four Hills Tournament, which concluded this past Monday. Joining him in the competition is Patrick Gasienica. Qualifying is set for Friday in Val di Fiemme, followed by individual HS104 night competitions on Saturday and Sunday. Taylor Fletcher, a three-time Olympian, and Ben Loomis, a 2018 Olympian, are on the start list in Nordic combined, which includes individual HS104 jumps and 10-kilometer races on Friday and Saturday, followed by a team sprint Sunday.

Ski Jumping TV: 6 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday, Olympic Channel

Ski Jumping Webcast: Noon Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, NBC Sports App

Nordic Combined Webcast: 4 and 7:50 a.m. Friday, 4 and 7:30 a.m. Saturday, 3:30 and 8 a.m. Sunday, NBC Sports App

Alpine Snowboarding – Scuol World Cup
U.S. snowboarders Dylan Udolf, Robert Burns and Myles Silverman are in Scuol, Switzerland, for this week’s world cup stop in parallel giant slalom. The qualifying round and finals are Saturday.

Webcast: 8 a.m. ET Saturday, NBC Sports App

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic and Paralympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.