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Beyond the Podium: What you need to know about Sochi today

WATCH: It was a golden day for Canada’s women in hockey and curling. Allison Vuchnich has the story

What you need to know about Sochi today:

Canada’s guaranteed at least one medal on Friday, but will have chances to add more to the country’s total in Sochi.

Key events to watch: 

The puck drops on the highly anticipated men’s hockey semi-final between Canada and the U.S.A. on Friday.

  • Men’s hockey semi-final – vs. U.S.A. – 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT.
  • The winner of this game will go on to the gold-medal game to play the winner of Sweden vs. Finland (7 a.m. ET / 4 a.m. PT). The losers will play for bronze.

Brad Jacobs and the men’s curling team will look to match the gold won by Canada’s women when they take on Great Britain on Friday.

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  • Men’s curling gold-medal game – vs. Great Britain – 8:30 a.m. ET / 5:30 a.m. PT.
  • The team from Northern Ontario is made up of Jacobs, Ryan Fry, E.J. Harnden and Ryan Harnden.
  • The bronze-medal game between Sweden and China is at 3:30 a.m. ET / 12:30 a.m. PT.

Valérie Maltais looks to build on her impressive performance in the heats of the women’s short track speed skating 1000-metre event on Friday.

  • Quarterfinals – 11:45 a.m. ET / 8:45 a.m. PT.
  • Semifinals – 12:20 p.m. ET / 9:20 a.m. PT.
  • Final – 12:50 p.m. ET / 9:50 a.m. PT.
  • Maltais won her heat easily on Tuesday, setting an Olympic record time in the process. She will be joined by teammate Marie-Eve Drolet in the field.

Gold-medal favourite Marielle Thompson will compete for Canada in the women’s ski cross on Friday.

  • Qualification round – 2:45 a.m. ET / 11:45 p.m. Thursday PT.
  • Round of 16 – 4:30 a.m. ET / 1:30 a.m. PT.
  • Quarterfinals – 5:05 a.m. ET / 2:05 a.m. PT.
  • Semifinals – 5:25 a.m. ET / 2:25 a.m. PT.
  • Finals – 5:40 a.m. ET / 2:40 a.m. PT.
  • Thompson is a clear medal favourite in the event, but is not the only Canadian. She’s joined by two other Canadians – Georgia Simmerling and Kelsey Serwa.
Canada’s Valerie Maltais competes to break a new Olympic Record in the Women’s Short Track 1000 m Heats at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 18, 2014.
Canada’s Valerie Maltais competes to break a new Olympic Record in the Women’s Short Track 1000 m Heats at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 18, 2014. DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images

Other events:

There is no Charles Hamelin in the men’s short track 500-metre event after his disastrous fall earlier in the week, but there are two Canadians still in the hunt for gold.

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  • Quarterfinals – 11:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. PT.
  • Semifinals – 12:10 p.m. ET / 9:10 a.m. PT.
  • Finals – 12:40 p.m. ET / 9:40 a.m. PT.
  • Canadians to watch: Charle Cournoyer, Olivier Jean.

Marie-Michèle Gagnon is back in action on Friday, in one of her preferred events – the slalom.

  • Women’s slalom run 1 – 7:45 a.m. ET / 4:45 a.m. PT.
  • Women’s slalom run 2 – 11:15 a.m. ET / 8:15 a.m. PT.
  • There are three other Canadians joining Gagnon in the field. They are Erin Mielzynski, Brittany Phelan and Elli Terwiel.

Canada’s biathletes have struggled so far in Sochi. The women’s 4 x 6 km relay team is looking to make a splash on Friday.

Canada’s men’s short track 5000-metre relay team will race in Final B, unable to reach the podium after a fall crushed their hopes of repeating as Olympic champions earlier this week.

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  • Men’s short track 5000-metre finals – 1:15 p.m. ET / 10:15 a.m. PT.
  • The men’s team is made up of Olivier Jean, Charles Hamelin, Francois Hamelin and Michael Gilday.

Other than the hockey game, the only two non-medal events on Friday are in long track speed skating.

The first is the men’s team pursuit – the quarterfinals and semi-finals take place on Friday.

The other non-medal event is the women’s team pursuit, with just the quarterfinals going on Friday.

Canada’s Jennifer Jones reacts at winning gold in the Women’s Curling Gold Medal Game Canada vs Sweden at the Ice Cube Curling Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 20, 2014.
Canada’s Jennifer Jones reacts at winning gold in the Women’s Curling Gold Medal Game Canada vs Sweden at the Ice Cube Curling Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 20, 2014. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

What happened on Thursday:

It was a double gold day for Canada as women ruled on Thursday.

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The Canadian women’s hockey and curling teams both captured gold in emotional victories.

In hockey, Canada mounted an improbable comeback in the most exciting women’s hockey game in Sochi by far. Down 2-0 with three and a half minutes to go in the third period, Brianne Jenner was able to bank a weak goal in off an American defender to get Canada within a goal.

READ MORE: Best photos from Day 15 in Sochi

After that, it was the Marie-Philip Poulin show. The Quebec City native rose to instant stardom with two goals in the game, one to tie it up 2-2 with 55 seconds to go in regulation, then minutes later at the 8:10 mark of the overtime period, to win the game and clinch the fourth straight gold medal for Canada in women’s hockey.

WATCH: Canada’s golden girl Marie-Philip Poulin on the incredible comeback

In curling, Jennifer Jones was brilliant yet again and capped off a perfect tournament with her 11th straight victory in Sochi. Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer and Dawn McEwen were strong supporting Jones and the Canadians were able to knock off a strong Swedish club that came into the tournament ranked higher than Canada.

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WATCH: Jennifer Jones and her team completed an incredible undefeated run in Sochi with a gold medal win. Eric Sorensen reports

Jones was emotional after the game, talking about the potentially career-ending knee surgery she had just a year ago, the support of her teammates and of course, her one-year-old daughter Isabella.

Other Canadian highlights:

While Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman only finished in 13th and 17th, respectively after the ladies free skate ended on Thursday, they achieved their goal as young up-and-coming skaters, gaining invaluable Olympic experience. Osmond is only 18 and Daleman is even younger, at 16.

It was a strong start for Brady Leman, who was trying to redeem himself in the men’s ski cross competition after a fall in 2010. But the day ended in disappointment. Leman was 3rd in qualifying, won his heat in the second round, won his quarterfinal and continued on, winning his semi-final – booking him a spot in the four-man final.

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During the final, the skiers were jockeying for position all race; Leman was in first at some points and last at others. In the last turn of the race Leman’s ski got caught on another skier’s equipment, causing him to fall and leaving him in the heartbreaking 4th position. France swept the podium as Leman was the only non-French competitor in the final.

Brad Jacobs of Canada competes in the men’s round robin session against Norway during day seven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Ice Cube Curling Center on February 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Brad Jacobs of Canada competes in the men’s round robin session against Norway during day seven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Ice Cube Curling Center on February 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Disappointments: 

Canada’s only real disappointment Thursday was when medal favourite Roz Groenewoud failed to reach the podium in the women’s ski halfpipe event. She was had the 6th-best run in the qualification round, ensuring her spot in the final. Fellow Canada Keltie Hansen just missed the cut: The top 12 qualify and she finished 13th.

In the final, Groenewoud fell on her first run. In ski halfpipe, each athlete is allowed two runs and the run that generates the best score is the one that counts. Groenewoud’s second run was good but not great and the Canadian medal hopeful wound up in 6th place.

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