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Beijing Preview, Feb. 9: Chen closing in on gold, US curlers begin title defense

With Olympic medals on the line in women's halfpipe and men's figure skating, Wednesday night could be big for the United States.

BEIJING, China — Nathan Chen has been building toward this for years. He's one good free skate away from Olympic gold.

After setting a world record with his short program, Chen goes for an Olympic title Wednesday night. That could be a big day for the United States, with Chloe Kim also expected to contend for a snowboarding gold medal.

FIGURE SKATING

Not only did Chen perform superbly in the short program, his rival, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, was eighth. That made Chen's path to gold even clearer. Chen, a three-time world champion, finished fifth at the 2018 Olympics but now appears poised to take Hanyu's crown.

“You can never really count out any of these athletes. The competition’s not one program," Chen said. "Whatever happens in the short program is not indicative of what will happen in the free program.”

RELATED: 'I was just elated': US figure skater Nathan Chen shatters world record in short program

SNOWBOARDING

Medals are on the line in women's halfpipe, where Kim is the defending champion and won the 2019 and 2021 world championships.

The U.S. has won four of the six Olympic golds in women's halfpipe.

Credit: AP
FILE- In this Feb. 13, 2018, file photo, Chloe Kim, of the United States, celebrates winning gold after the women's halfpipe finals at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Before Kim won gold in the snowboarding halfpipe event, her infectious personality and heartwarming origin story had already won her sponsorships from Toyota, Samsung, Visa and others. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

RELATED: Chloe Kim cruises in Olympic halfpipe qualifying, on to the final

CURLING

John Shuster and the U.S. made a memorable run to curling gold four years ago. That certainly raised Shuster's profile. He carried the American flag for the opening ceremony along with speedskater Brittany Bowe.

The American men begin defense of their title against the Russians in round-robin play. The U.S. women also open against the Russians.

SHORT TRACK DRAMA

Maybe it was inevitable, but there's already been some contentiousness over the short track speedskating results. South Korea filed complaints with the International Skating Union and the International Olympic Committee after two of its skaters were disqualified in the semifinals of the men’s 1,000 meters. South Korea’s chef de mission, Yoon Hong Geun, said fans in South Korea are so upset that they are urging the team to return home immediately.

So it's worth keeping an eye on the men's 1,500. 

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