What to watch today in the Sochi Winter Games

Sochi Olympic Ceremony Test

The weather forecast is the most watched item in the athletes village, snowboard cross is like NASCAR on the white stuff and the Dutch seem likely for another podium sweep in speed skating.

MORE: Complete coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics

Women’s alpine skiing

Maybe we should add an asterisk to this one. (*– if weather permits).

Alpine skiing returns with the women’s giant slalom after a day off, and it will be interesting to see if there will be any problems with fog or rain.

Olympic officials say they aren’t worried about fog and aren’t concerned that the weather appears to have caused tough going in previous races, like the women’s super-G. There were 18 DNFs (did not finishes) but the weather that day was a tad bit warm, not cool and rainy.

“At the moment, our figures are that there is no significant difference at all from Vancouver (where warm weather was also a factor in 2010),” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. Winter sports are not without their risks, but we don’t see any difference between this Games and the last one.”

Favorite Tina Maze will be the first to try out the highly technical course Tuesday. Anna Fenniger of Austria, who won the super-G, will be four starting spots behind her. The two skiers are 1-2 in the world rankings, though top-ranked Maze hasn’t had a good season in this event.

Who else to watch: American hopes fall on Mikaela Shiffrin, an 18-year-old who had two podiums this season. Lara Gut of Austria got off to a rough start with a DNF in the super combined but was third in the downhill and fourth in the super-G.

Men’s snowboard cross

Take 2 for snowboard cross.

Monday’s event was fogged out so they’re going to try again Tuesday morning.

Snowboard cross is fun to watch as six racers come down the hill with its jumps and sharp turns at the same time.

As they say in NASCAR, rubbin’ is racin’. Contact among the six snowboarders in each heat is just part of the game.

Which makes snowboard cross hard to predict. And according to Bleacher Report, the format of the event will change, with only the top 3 advancing from each heat.

Alex Pullin of Australia, a two-time world champion, is a top contender but he hasn’t raced in two months. And there is controversy among the team, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Pullin said the row, which was over money and caused by a father of a female snowboarder, won’t change his focus.

Who else to watch: Nate Holland and Nick Baumgartner of the United States could be factors. Omar Visintin of Italy and Markus Schairer of Austria could end up on the podium.

Long-track speed skating

Which Dutch skater will win?

Probably Sven Kramer.

Who will get second?

Jorrit Bergsma sounds about right.

And third?

Bob de Jong has won three medals in the event, his specialty.

How about the Norwegians?

They decided to skip the race so they can focus on the team pursuit. Seriously, it’s like the rest of the teams are conceding.

Who else to watch: Can you get back to us on this one?

Women’s bobsled

Only one person has won a gold medal at both the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics.

A female athlete from the United States who was on the track at the 2012 London Games is trying to become the second.

Psst, it’s not Lolo Jones.

It’s Lauryn Williams, a gold medalist in the 4×100-meter relay and a brakewoman for USA-1 in Tuesday’s women’s bobsled.

It seems risky to have her in the sled. She’s been in the sport for less than a year. She’s been paired with Elana Meyers just once. But she is undoubtedly fast out of the blocks.

In their way is the No. 1 sled of Canada piloted by Kaillie Humphries, defending Olympic champ with her 2010 partner Heather Moyse.

“There’s definitely pressure for sure. I put the most pressure on myself to repeat that gold medal-winning performance,” Humphries said.

Who else to watch: Germany-1 with Sandra Kiriasis at the controls. She might be old (39!) but she knows how to win gold. She won in 2006 at Torino. USA-2 with Jamie Greubel as pilot has fared well during training runs. Russia’s top sled is driven by Olga Stulneva, who won a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

Men’s freestyle skiing halfpipe

If you thought we were done with debut events, well, my friend, here is another one.

Halfpipe skiing. Or is it ski halfpipe?

Snowboarders have amazed us with their halfpipe skills for five Olympics. Now the skiers get a shot.

David Wise of the United States is one of the top contenders, having won three X Games. He is regarded as one of the most technically precise and stylish skiers in the sport.

He may be pushed by his teammates, including Torin Yater-Wallace, who at 18 is probably too young to let memories of injuries hold him back. He also won an Olympic test event, but that was before there were problems with the halfpipe that snowboarders complained about.

Who else to watch: Kevin Rolland of France, who another skier said did a switch dub 12 in practice. Now that might not mean anything to you but Mike Riddle also said it was something he had never seen landed before. Riddle, of Canada, was a 2011 world champ. Aaron Blunck, 17, won one World Cup event and was second in another.