Brian Hamacher

6 to Watch Recap: Hockey Gold For USA, Shiffrin Gets Silver While Vonn Goes Off Course

Plus big air's big finish and USA men's curling vs. Canada

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These Winter Olympics haven’t always been kind to Americans, but there might be no bigger day for Team USA at the Pyeongchang Games than the one that saw Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn share the hill.

It’s the matchup we’ve been waiting for since Vonn recovered from the years of injuries that kept her out of the Sochi Games, where Shiffrin made her Olympic debut and won gold. The Alpine combined gave the two greats a chance to play to their strengths as they duked it out down the hill.

Beyond that pair of stellar skiers, there were a handful of medals that the U.S. could grab, including at least a silver in the women’s hockey finale — the latest installment in one of hockey’s deepest rivalries.

A trio of American freestyle skiers were in pole position going into the men’s halfpipe finals, and what sport is more American than big air snowboarding?

So break out the Stars and Stripes and settle in for some of the best action the Olympics has to offer. Here's the 6 to watch recap:

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U.S. Downhill Skiers Lindsey Vonn (L) and Mikaela Shiffrin (R)

Vonn Voyage! Lindsey Skis Out in Alpine Combined, Shiffrin Takes Silver

A day after winning bronze in her best discipline, Lindsey Vonn, who posted the fastest time in the downhill leg of the women’s Alpine combined, missed a gate early in the slalom and didn’t finish in what's likely the final race of her Olympic career.

Michelle Gisin of Switzerland turned in a nearly flawless performance as she finished in a combined time of 2 minutes, 20.90 seconds to eclipse the silver-medalist Shiffrin by 0.97 seconds. Wendy Holdener of Switzerland earned the bronze.

Shiffrin adds the silver medal to the gold she won earlier in the games in the giant slalom.

It was very likely the first and only Olympic race between U.S. teammates Vonn and Shiffrin.

Women’s Hockey Grudge Match

The American women who suit up for USA Hockey had Feb. 22 circled on their calendars as soon as the 2018 Olympic schedule was announced. It’s the day of the women’s hockey gold medal game, when they could get revenge over Canada.

It took extra time, but the red, white and blue are on top of the world again after a 3-2 shootout victory over their northern neighbors.

The bitter rivalry between the U.S. and Canada has all but defined Olympic women’s hockey. They’re so much stronger than other countries that the two teams they play in the round-robin games automatically go through to the playoffs. Not that it’s much help, since Canada and the U.S. are about to face off in the gold medal match for the sixth time in seven Games.

Look at the Olympics head-to-head and Canada has the clear advantage over the U.S. They've won four gold medals to Team USA’s one entering this Olympics, and beat the U.S. in pool play last week, 2-1.

But the Americans believe they should have won gold in 2014, when Canada rallied from two goals down with less than four minutes to play and won in overtime.

"This is the game we've been dreaming of and to have another opportunity to get back here, it's huge," star Hilary Knight said after the team punched its ticket to yet another final.

Austria’s Gasser Takes Big Air Gold; Team USA's Anderson Earns Silver

Austria’s Anna Gasser, the favorite in women’s snowboard big air, took gold Thursday after she landed two different 1080s — something no one else did in the competition. Gasser edged the top American in the event, Jamie Anderson, by 7.75 points points and Anderson took silver. 

Scoring is determined but the best two runs out of three. Gasser broke out back-to-back double 1080s in her second and third runs for a total score of 185.00 and it was good enough for gold.

Already the Olympic champion in snowboard slopestyle, Anderson was in search of her third career Olympic gold medal. Her top trick was her first one, a frontside 1080 that received 90.00 points.

New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski Synnott took bronze.

Wise Takes Gold as US Dominates Men's Freeski Halfpipe

Americans dominated the podium in the men’s freeski halfpipe on Thursday, with David Wise winning gold and Alex Ferreira taking silver.

American Alex Ferreira led the way after two rounds, scoring a 96 on an electric second run. But Wise came roaring back, after falling on his first two runs, to take the lead with a 97.20.

Teammates Aaron Blunck and Torin Yater-Wallace placed seventh and ninth, respectively.

New Zealander Nico Porteous took bronze.

Third Gold’s the Charm

The last day of individual Alpine skiing at the 2018 Winter Games could bring a moment of rare greatness.

Austria’s Marcel Hirscher won the Alpine combined and giant slalom events already, and he’ll be in men’s slalom on Thursday (Wednesday night in the U.S.).

Only three people have won three Alpine gold medals at the Olympics, the last in 2002, so another gold for Hirscher would be a big deal. Fortunately for Hirscher, slalom is his best event. Six of his 10 world cup victories since December have come in slalom.

The race is also the last chance for members of the American men’s Alpine ski team, who haven’t won a medal at these Olympics. Ted Ligety has the best shot, but he couldn’t win his signature event, the giant slalom, and he probably won’t win the slalom, either.

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USA Men's Curling Face Canada in Semifinals

American curlers have done surprisingly well at the Olympics after the brother-sister duo of Matt and Becca Hamilton, known affectionately as #HamFam, lost more mixed doubles matches than they won. The American men’s and women’s teams were both contending for a spot in the playoffs going into the last day of action, but the women fell to Sweden 9-6 Wednesday morning.

The men advanced to the semifinals, their first since 2006, with a 10-4 win over Great Britain. They'll now face Canada in the semifinals.

Watch the US take on Canada on NBCSN beginning at 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday or live at 6:05 a.m. ET on digital platforms here

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