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Beijing Olympics preview: Shaun White’s final run Thursday

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Beijing Olympics preview Shaun Whites final run Thursday

Will Shaun White slide away with his fourth Olympic gold medal in snowboard halfpipe?

BEIJING, China — Snowboarding star Shaun White’s finale is set for Thursday night in primetime, although his farewell almost happened Tuesday. He fell on his first attempt in qualifying but rebounded on his next run to avoid elimination.

With Mikaela Shiffrin struggling on the ski slopes — and sounding uncertain about competing in the super-G — White could end up as the only major headliner Thursday night. The three-time gold medalist announced recently that this would be his last competition.

If Shiffrin competes, the super-G will also be compelling as she tries to rebound after lasting about 15 seconds combined in her first two races.

Shaun White’s final run

The 35-year-old White first won Olympic gold 16 years ago. He is not considered a favorite this time, and he said last weekend this would be the end of his career.

He’s dealt with an ankle injury and COVID-19 this season, although it’s certainly possible for an athlete his age to win gold in snowboarding. Lindsey Jacobellis and Benjamin Karl, both 36, have won for the U.S. and Austria in snowboardcross and parallel giant slalom.

The men’s halfpipe final is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.

Will Mikaela Shiffrin race super-G?

Shiffrin failed to finish her first run in each of her first two races — the giant slalom and slalom. If she competes in the super-G, she would be considered a contender. She finished third in the world championship last year in that event, but the first two disappointments at the Beijing Games clearly took a toll on her.

“It’s not the end of the world and it’s so stupid to care this much, but I feel I have to question a lot now,” she said.

Shiffrin did take a pair of trips about a half-hour apart down the competition hill during an official training session for super-G Thursday. But it still wasn’t clear if she would compete in the event. 

Super-G combines the speed of the downhill with the more precise turns of the giant slalom. The event starts at 10 p.m. Eastern. 

US women’s hockey in playoff action

The U.S. women’s hockey team faces the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals, coming off its first loss of the tournament against Canada.

The American men open group play against China. 

Jessie Diggins is back for more

Therese Johaug of Norway won the first gold medal of the Beijing Games in the skiathlon. She has a chance for another in the 10-kilometer race, but Americans Jessie Diggins and Rosie Brennan hope to pull off an upset and land on the podium. 

Also trying for multiple golds this year is Dutch speedskater Irene Schouten, who won the 3,000 meters already and has the 5,000 coming up. Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic in 2010 was the last woman to sweep the 3,000 and 5,000.

Travis Pittman contributed to this report.

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