W2W4 at Pyeongchang: Nathan Chen looks to rebound, Lindsey Vonn makes debut

Things have not gone well for Nathan Chen so far at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Will Saturday be a different story? Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

Team USA suffered a double setback Friday (Thursday evening in the U.S.). Just as Mikaela Shiffrin fell short of a medal in slalom, Nathan Chen stumbled through his short program in the men's singles event. Heading into the free program, he is in the 17th position (out of the 24 qualified skaters), behind both his U.S. teammates, Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou.

It's a big day for Team Germany as biathlete Laura Dahlmeier will compete to win her third gold medal this Olympics. She will become the first German woman (since reunification) and the fourth biathlete ever to do so if she wins.

Germany's Andreas Wellinger won his first individual gold in the normal hill ski jumping event last week. When he comes back for the large hill event Saturday, he will look to take home his second Pyeongchang gold.

With that, here are the top things to watch:

Figure skating

Men's singles, free program (Friday, 8 p.m. ET/Saturday, 10 a.m. local time): If there was any silver lining in Nathan Chen's disastrous performance in the team event earlier in the Olympics, perhaps it was that he got it out of his system. But the disappointment continued into the short program Friday. Chen fell on his first quadruple lutz, converted the second quad into a triple, did not do a mandatory combination jump and stumbled on another triple. He finished at No. 17 (with 82.27), 29 points behind defending champion Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan. Chen is also behind his U.S. teammates, Rippon and Zhou, going into the free skate Saturday.

Hanyu mesmerized the crowd with a perfect short program, his first competitive skate since October. He suffered ligament damage on his ankle in November, and experts wondered whether he could give his best. He did. He was graceful as ever and aced his quad loop and quad-triple combination. He scored 111.68, just shy of beating his own world record. Does he have it in him to last for 4½ minutes in the free skate and win his second consecutive Olympic gold?

Another Japanese skater, Shoma Uno, finished in the top three after the short program, just seven points behind Hanyu. Unless something unforeseen happens in the free program, it looks as if Japan will take home at least one medal in men's singles.

Prediction: Not Nathan Chen. Yuzuru Hanyu looks set to repeat as Olympic champion after a sublime short program. He holds the record-high score in the free skate and looks to be back at his best after an ankle injury just three months ago.

Alpine skiing

Women's super-G (Friday, 9 p.m. ET/Saturday 11 a.m. local time): Team USA's Lindsey Vonn makes her Pyeongchang debut in the super-G. After winning the bronze in 2010, Vonn is the only returning Olympic super-G medalist in the field, as she looks to be the third American with three career Olympic Alpine skiing medals.

It would have been Mikaela Shiffrin's third straight attempt at Olympic gold (and third straight competition day), had she decided to race. But she decided to skip the super-G event to rest up and get ready for downhill.

Switzerland's Lara Gut, a Sochi bronze medalist in the downhill event, hopes for her first Olympic gold going into this event. Gut did not have the best start to her Pyeongchang Olympics journey when she crashed into photographers just 17 seconds into the giant slalom race Thursday. But she confirmed that she was fine and will come back to race Saturday. Despite the glitch, she is still a heavy favorite to win the gold.

Liechtenstein's Tina Weirather, who won silver at the 2017 world championship, is looking for gold in South Korea. In Sochi, she had to pull out of the super-G event after crashing and injuring her right leg during a lead-up training session.

Prediction: Vonn, Tina Weirather and Sophia Brigonne.

Freestyle skiing

Women's slopestyle, final (Friday, 11:56 p.m. ET/Saturday, 1:56 p.m. local time): The reigning Olympic champion in ski slopestyle, Dara Howell, is slightly under the radar, but she has the weapons and the experience to pull off another gold-medal race in the slopestyle event. The Sochi gold medalist took two seasons off after the 2014 Olympics and hasn't won a major medal this past season, but she has been skating consistently.

Don't be surprised if Canada wins the top two medals in the event. Kim Lamarre, who won bronze at the Sochi Olympics, could give Howell a run for her money.

Prediction: Three weeks after becoming the first American woman to win ski slopestyle at X Games, Maggie Voisin will become the first American to win Olympic gold in the event. Maggie qualified for the Sochi Games -- at 15! -- but broke her ankle in training on the day of the opening ceremony but never competed. Now she gets an assist from another injury. Fifteen-year-old Estonian skier Kelly Sildaru has dominated the sport the past few years, but missed this season with a knee injury.


Women's 4 x 5km relay (Saturday, 4:30 a.m. ET/6:30 p.m. local time): Norway has historically dominated cross-country, with 107 total Olympic medals. The country will look to add another gold at the women's relay race Saturday. Led by veteran Olympian Marit Bjoergen. Norway missed out on medaling at the Sochi Olympics, but will look to get back on top of the podium Saturday. Bjoergen already has a bronze medal at this Olympics in the 10-kilometer freestyle event.


Women's 12.5km mass start (Saturday, 6:15 a.m. ET/8:15 p.m. local time): To say that Germany's Laura Dahlmeier has had a dream run at the Pyeongchang Olympics would be an understatement. She won the 7.5km sprint gold, then the 10km pursuit gold and got the 15km individual bronze. On Saturday, she looks to become the first German woman (after reunification) to win three gold medals at a single Olympics (winter or summer) and the fourth biathlete to achieve the feat.

Despite Dahlmeier's form, she should face intense competition from Belarus' Darya Domracheva, who won gold in the event in Sochi.

Short-track speedskating

Women's 1,500m, final (Saturday, 7:11 a.m. ET/9:11 p.m. local time): China and South Korea will battle for a place at the top of the podium in the 1,500m short-track speedskating final. China's Zhou Yang will go into the race as the favorite, having won two straight golds in the event in Vancouver and Sochi.

Facing off against Yang are two top speedskaters from South Korea, Choi Min-jeong (she has won multiple medals in world championships) and Shim Suk-hee (she won silver in 1,500m and gold in 3,000m relay in Sochi), who will have home-crowd advantage.

Men's 1,000m, final (Saturday, 7:26 a.m. ET/9:26 p.m. local time): The top three medal contenders in this event -- Hungary's Sandor Shaolin Liu, South Korea's Hwang Dae-heon and China's Wu Dajing -- have one thing in common: They have never won an Olympic medal in this event. And of the three, only Dajing has won any Olympic medal -- silver in 500m in Sochi. The three skaters have had a solid year coming into the Olympics, and there should be an intense battle among the three of them.

Prediction: Hwang Dae-heon (SK) probably pushes too hard to redeem himself from the 1500, and somehow doesn't win. The beneficiaries of that type of thing always seem to be Canadian, so I'm tempted to pick Sam Gerard to win the men's 1000. .... The unjustly punished Choi Minjeong (SK) wins the women's 1500. One of either Elise Christie (UK) or Kim Boutin (CAN) fail to make the podium.


Women's individual (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET/9:30 p.m. local time): There is a good chance Germany will walk away with the top two medals in this event. Jacqueline Loelling has had a nice run-up to these Olympics. She won the 2017 world and European championships in the women's individual event. Fellow countrywoman, Tina Hermann, might create a dent in that plan, just as she did last season. She is right behind Loelling with a silver medal from the worlds and bronze from the European championship.

Canada's Elisabeth Vathje is not far away in her quest for her first Olympic medal. She recently won silver in the 2017-18 World Cup.

Prediction: Great Britain's Lizzy Yarnold takes her second gold in as many Games having hit form at the right time here in PyeongChang. She's got the champion's mindset, while her Britain teammate Laura Deas, who had an impressive season running into the Olympics, will take bronze. Germany's Jacqueline Loelling will secure silver.

Ski jumping

Men's individual, large hill, final (Saturday, 8:15 a.m. ET/10:15 p.m. local time): The rivalry between Germany's Andreas Wellinger and Poland's Kamil Stoch was evident in the men's individual normal hill event Feb. 10. Stoch was defending his Olympic gold medal, but Wellinger came away as the better ski jumper that night. His 113.5-meter monster jump was unbeatable; Stoch fell to fourth place. The rivalry should continue in the large hill event Saturday. Stoch will again look to win his second consecutive gold in the event, and Wellinger hopes to carry on his form from last week.

ESPN reporters Wayne Drehs, Alyssa Roenigk, Tom Hamilton, Elaine Teng and Dotun Akintoye contributed to this story.