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Women's Events Dominate Thursday's Competition at Sochi Olympics

USA Goalkeeper Jessie Vetter and Amanda Kessel meet near mid ice with Lee Stecklein and Monique Lamoureux after defeating Sweden 6-1 during a 2014 Winter Olympics women's semifinal ice hockey game at Shayba Arena, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014.
The U.S. women's ice hockey team will go for its first Olympic gold medal since 1998 when it takes on Canada Thursday at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

The presence of the two North American rivals in the gold medal game has become a common ritual in nearly every Winter Olympics since women's hockey was added in 1998. The two teams have faced each other in four of the last five Olympics, with Canada holding an edge over the U.S. The three-time defending champion Canadians are the apparent favorite, having already downed the U.S. 3-2 in last week's preliminary round.

The women's teams from Switzerland and Sweden will face off in the bronze medal game.

South Korean women's figure skater Yuna Kim is the favorite to win the gold medal as she takes to the ice in Thursday's free skate event. Kim, who holds a slight lead over Russia's Adelina Sotnikova and Carolina Kostner of Italy, is looking to become the first back-to-back Olympic champion in the event since 1988.

American freestyle skier Maddie Bowman is the favorite to take gold in the women's halfpipe, a new event that has the contestants performing somersaults and other tricks after taking off from a halfpipe slope.

In women's curling, Canada and Sweden will play for the gold medal for the second straight Olympic Games. Britain will play Switzerland for the bronze medal.

After 13 days of competition in Sochi, the United States leads the overall medal count with 23. Russia and the Netherlands are tied with 22 apiece, followed by Norway with 20, Canada 18 and Germany 15. In gold medals, Norway leads with nine and Germany has eight.