Brian Hamacher

6 to Watch Recap: Make Way for the Mass of Skaters

For the fifth straight game, skip John Shuster and Team USA rattled the best curlers in the world, and again came away with a win — for the U.S.'s first ever Olympic curling gold medal — by defeating Sweden 10-7.

The U.S. men’s curling team, coming off back-to-back Olympics finishing near the bottom of the tournament, looks to complete a stunning turnaround by winning its first-ever gold medal.

Teenager Red Gerard, who won America’s first gold in Pyeongchang, looks to add more hardware to his collection.

Snowboarder Ester Ledecka, who shocked everyone (including herself) by winning a skiing gold medal, will try to match it with a medal in her native sport.

There will be plenty of excitement in Pyeonchang on Saturday (starting Friday night in the U.S.). Here are our six must-watch events:

USA Curling Rocks! Men Win Historic Olympic Gold

For the fifth straight game, skip John Shuster and Team USA rattled the best curlers in the world, and again came away with a win — for the U.S.'s first ever Olympic curling gold medal — by defeating Sweden 10-7.

Shuster converted a double-takeout for a 5-point end in the eighth — an exceedingly rare score that made it 10-5 and essentially clinched the win.

"Tell you what, it was a lot of fun," Shuster said after the match. "And that's where the week changed for us and changed for me, was to allow myself to go out there and enjoy it and let the work show through. Holy cow."

It was the first 5-point end the U.S. has had in these Olympics. They've had only one 4-point and five 3-point ends leading up to this game.

"On the morning of February 19, Matt's (Hamilton) birthday, the day we played Canada, I woke up and said 'I have a choice. I have a choice to rewrite my story, to write the story of this team,'" Shuster said.

Shuster was on the only other U.S. team to win an Olympic medal — he was the lead thrower on Pete Fenson's bronze-medal team at the 2006 Turin Games.

The Americans received a good luck call from Mr. T before the match. Diddy posted a pre-match good luck message online. And the King of Sweden was in attendance for their gold medal win.

Sweden takes home the silver medal for the second time since curling returned to the Olympics in 1998. Switzerland won the bronze by defeating Canada early Friday morning.

Click here to watch. 

Red Gerard Tries to Bookend Pyeongchang in Gold

Red Gerard won America’s first gold medal. Can he win one of America’s last, too?

Gerard won gold in the men’s slopestyle on Feb. 11. He then flew back to the United States, appeared on a handful of national TV programs, flew back to South Korea, and qualified for the big air snowboarding final.

"There were a ton of people coming up to me in the States, that's when I realized the viewing is much more than just the snowboarding community,” Gerard told USA Today. “It's a world thing."

Can the 17-year-old win another gold?

Canadians Max Parrot and Mark McMorris, who finished just behind Gerard for silver and bronze in slopestyle, will be his biggest competition in the big air, an event making its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang. Parrot was the first ever to land a quad underfed in a competition. McMorris, back after a horrific, life-threatening crash into a tree while snowboarding, won bronze medals in slopestyle in Sochi and Pyeongchang.

Chris Corning, a silver medalist at last year’s world championships, and Kyle Mack, who won bronze medals in both slopestyle and big air at the 2015 World Championships, could also make the podium for the United States.

Watch live on NBC’s primetime coverage beginning Friday at 8 p.m. ET or on digital platforms here.

Make Way for the Mass of Skaters

Speedskating takes on a whole new look with the Olympic debut of the mass start.

Out is the usual format, in which pairs of skaters race around the oval. In is the mass start, of up to 24 competitors race at the same time.

"Mass start’s amazing, because as soon as you cross the line, you know who first, second and third are,” said Joey Mantia, a Florida native and medal favorite for Team USA in the men’s event. “It’s easy to follow. It’s just traditional racing."

Mantia, from Ocala, won the event at the 2017 world championships, but he should get stiff competition from South Korea’s Lee Seung-hoon, a three-time Olympic medalist who switched from short track.

In the women’s race, Americans Heather Bergsma and Mia Manganello, who both won bronze in the team pursuit, will be competing. South Korea’s Kim Bo-reum, who also switched from short track, and Germany’s Claudia Pechstein could also contend for medals.

"I really enjoy it because you have to have a tactic with it," Bergsma said. "Not only the fastest person wins. Someone can break away from the group, or it can be an end sprint. You never know."

Watch live Saturday at 6 a.m. Saturday ET on digital platforms here, or watch coverage on NBCSN at 9:30 a.m. ET Saturday.

Star U.S. skiers Mikaela Shiffrin, left, Ted Ligety, center, and Lindsey Vonn, right, will not join the alpine skiiing team event debuting at the 2018 Winter Games on Feb. 24.

Shiffrin, Vonn, Ligety? Nope, Not This Time

A new Olympic event teams up each country’s best skiers, letting them compete as a team to try to win gold.

One problem: The sport’s biggest stars are passing on it.

Americans Mikaela Shiffrin (gold and silver medals in Pyeonchang), Lindsey Vonn (bronze medal) and Ted Ligety all said they will not compete in the alpine team event. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher (two gold medals) is passing. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal (gold medal) and Kjetil Jansrud (silver, bronze) are skipping it too.

The reason why? The skiing World Cup season resumes in Europe next week and most of the top skiers have bolted from Pyeongchang to prep for it.

In the team event, 16 countries are represented by four skiers each, and they compete head-to-head in an elimination-style tournament.

Instead of Shiffrin, Vonn and Ligety, who have eight Olympic medals between them in their careers, the U.S. will be represented by the likes of Tricia Mangan. The Dartmouth student was a late addition to the U.S. Olympic team, and fell in her only event, the giant slalom. The rest of the U.S. team hasn’t been announced.

Watch live during NBC’s primetime coverage beginning at 8 p.m. ET Friday, or on digital platforms at 9 p.m. here.

Ledecka Goes for Historic Double Gold

Ester Ledecka entered Pyeongchang hoping to become the first woman to compete in both skiing and snowboarding at the Olympics. She could leave as the first woman to won gold medals in both.

Ledecka, from the Czech Republic, has won world championships in parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom snowboarding. But she didn’t begin skiing competitively until 2016, and entering these Olympics, she wasn’t expected to compete for a medal. She entered the super-G ranked No. 43 in the world, and then shocked everyone - including herself - but winning it, finishing .01 seconds ahead of defending golding medalist Anna Veith.

During her victory press conference, she refused to remove her ski goggles.

"I was not prepared to be at this ceremony, and I don’t have any makeup,” she explained.

It would shock nobody if she medals in the parallel giant slalom, though. She’s been one of the best in the world at this event for years, winning a gold medal at last year’s world championship.

Russia’s Alena Zavarzina, who won bronze in Sochi in 2014, and Germany’s Ramona Hofmeister will be among Ledecka’s biggest competition. No Americans are competing in the event.

Watch the qualifying rounds live on Friday at 7 p.m. ET on digital platforms here

Watch the elimination rounds live on Friday at 11:30 p.m. ET on digital platforms here.

[NATL] Feb. 19 Olympics Highlights in Photos: Germany and Canada Tie for Bobsled Win, France's Wardrobe Malfunction

Four Man Bobsled Competition Heats Up

In the bobsled, racers have to combine brawn with agility as they work to push the sled at the start and then pile in for the bumpy ride down the hill at speeds reaching 90 mph. The pilot in the front steers and the man in the back is in charge of slamming on the brakes at the finish. The other two just keep their heads down. All four runs count for the final score. Fun fact: The sleds go so fast that the course finishes on a steep uphill to slow them down.

The first two heats of the men's four-man bobsled final will be Friday at 7:30 p.m. and 9:07 p.m. ET during NBC 6's primetime coverage or you can watch on digital platforms here.

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