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Olympics: Sports capsules for the Sochi Winter Games


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Margaretha Sigfridsson of Sweden and Eve Muirhead of Britain have been engaged in a battle for supremacy in women’s curling for the past 12 months. Muirhead is the world champion and Sigfridsson the European champion — and the Olympics can be viewed as the decider. Brad Jacobs is the star attraction in men’s curling, although the spotlight is often stolen by the Norwegian team, with its funky wardrobe.

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Canada, the stronghold of world curling, has won a medal in every men’s and women’s tournament since the sport returned to the Olympic program in 1998.

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FIGURE SKATING:

THE BASICS

To the familiar medal events of men’s and women’s singles, pairs and ice dance, the IOC is adding a team competition. Ten countries will take part, combining the scores of their entries in the four disciplines.

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Yuna Kim of South Korea seeks to repeat — she’d be only the third woman to win two straight gold medals. A foot injury forced her out of the Grand Prix series, though. Three-time world champion Patrick Chan is the favorite on the men’s side, but was upset by Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan at the Grand Prix Final.

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Russian or Soviet skaters have won seven of the 10 gold medals in the event, but Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will be on hand to defend their titles.

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FREESTYLE SKIING:

THE BASICS

There are the old-school events — moguls and aerials — and the newcomers — halfpipe and slopestyle. There’s also skicross. Moguls are judged on a skier’s ability to get down the bumps quickly and smoothly, while also taking off for two jumps that each count for 12.5 percent of the score. Aerials skiers pack multiple flips and twists into a jump that sends them soaring up to 50 feet off a steeply angled ramp. Ski halfpipe and slopestyle are new events, though they’ll look very much like the snowboard version.

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Defending moguls champion Alex Bilodeau’s toughest competition could come from Canadian teammate Mikael Kingsbury. Hannah Kearney of the United States is the defending women’s champion. Victor Oehling Norberg of Sweden is a consistent top-10 finisher in skicross but still looking for that first victory of the season.

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Freestyle skiing dates back more than 100 years with records of skiers performing somersaults on skis at the start of the 20th century in Norway, Italy and Austria. The first professional competitions were in 1971, and it entered the Olympic program in 1992.

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