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    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States competes during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States competes during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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    A star-studded day awaits in Pyeongchang, where skier Lindsey Vonn, three figure skaters with ties to Southern California and the U.S. men's hockey team are all in action. 

    Vonn, who hasn’t skied in the Olympics in eight years, makes her much-anticipated return in the Super-G. In figure skater, the second night of men's individual competition is likely to thrill and the U.S. men's hockey team faces an old nemesis playing under a different flag. 

    Here are four events to watch at the Winter Games. 

    1. Eight Years Later, Lindsey Vonn Is Back

    Lindsey Vonn has been the face of Team USA for nearly a decade now, so it’s easy to forget that she hasn’t competed in an Olympic games in eight years, and has won just one gold medal. She hopes to change both of those Saturday (Friday night in the U.S.). Vonn’s first race in Pyeongchang will be the Super-G. She won the bronze medal in the event at the Vancouver Games in 2010, but missed the Sochi Olympics due to a knee injury.

    The downhill is Vonn’s best event, but she’s won 28 Super-G races in her career, including the 2009 world championship. In 2015, she returned from her knee injury and won the bronze medal at the world championships.

    She plans to also enter the downhill and combined races in Pyeongchang.

    Mikaela Shiffrin, who won the gold medal in the Giant Slalom earlier this week, will not compete in the Super G.

    Watch live during NBC’s primetime coverage beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, or on digital platforms at 6 p.m.

    2. Figure Skaters Look to Finish Strong

    Nathan Chen fell in his Pyeongchang debut in team event. He took tumbles in the men’s short program, plummeting to 17th place. But now, in the free skate final, Chen seeks to erase his early issues with a strong finish to his Pyeongchang competition. Can he find momentum after two sub-par starts? The pre-Games favorite and two-time national champion missed on all of his jumps Friday morning (Thursday night), falling three times.

    Men’s single skating continues with the free skate Saturday (Friday night in the U.S.), following the men’s short program the night before. Chen’s shot at a medal is slim from 17th place, as the scores are a combination of both the short program and the free skate. He needs to top the reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan for the gold medal, who lead the short program with a dominating, Olympic record-breaking performance. 

    Chen’s less-heralded teammates finished ahead of him — Southern California's Adam Rippon took seventh and Vincent Zhou finished 12th.

    Watch live on NBC’s primetime coverage beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, or on digital platforms.

    3. Do You Believe in Nostalgia?

    The U.S. and Russia have a rich history in Olympic hockey, dating back to 1980s Miracle on Ice, when America’s rag-tag team of college kids upset the mighty Russians and eventually won the gold. More recently, games between U.S. And Russia were marquee matchup featuring teams loaded with NHL players.

    But the NHL is not participating in the Olympics, leaving both teams — but especially the Americans — a shell of what they could be. The U.S. men’s team is made up mostly of college athletes, Americans playing professionally overseas and others playing in second-tier leagues. The Russian team is composed of players in the highly regarded Kontinental Hockey League. 

    And this time, the Russians are playing as the Olympic Athletes from Russia, because the Russian national team was banned from the Pyeongchang Olympics due to doping. 

    The U.S. enters the game with a 1-1 record after losing to Slovenia in the opening game, but beating Slovakia on Friday. The Russians lost to Slovakia in their opener, but trounced Slovenia 8-2 on Friday afternoon (morning in the U.S.).

    Watch live on NBCSN at 4:10 a.m. Saturday or on digital platforms.

    4. Americans Vie for Medal in Women’s Ski Slopestyle

    The women’s ski slopestyle will likely have two American medal contenders, Devin Logan, who won silver in Sochi, and Maggie Voisin. Logan was the first American to be named to the Olympic team for both slopestyle and halfpipe. Voisin makes her Olympic debut, although she was expected to compete in Sochi at age 15 but was sidelined due to injury. 

    The Americans will look to hold off the reigning world champion, 16-year-old Tess Ledeux.

    Watch live at 5 p.m. Friday on digital platforms.




    Photo Credit: Millo Moravski/Agence Zoom/Getty Images, File
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    In this Feb. 4, 2018, file photo, Lindsey Vonn celebrates her first-place finish during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.In this Feb. 4, 2018, file photo, Lindsey Vonn celebrates her first-place finish during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

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    Starting with Red Gerard's gold medal, the United States snowboarders have led the way in Pyeongchang, netting four of America’s five gold medals. This weekend, the skiers will try to catch up.

    Two events could provide a medal haul for the U.S.: Men’s skiing slopestyle and men’s giant slalom. The Americans combined for four medals in the two events in Sochi, including a slopestyle sweep. 

    Here are four events to watch in Pyeongchang:  

    1. U.S. Goes for Repeat Sweep

    Three Olympic medals have been awarded in the men’s skiing slopestyle event — and they all went to Americans. The event debuted in Sochi four years ago, and Americans took all three medals. Now, they’re hoping for a repeat sweep.

    Gus Kenworthy, who won the silver medal four years ago, and Nick Goeppert, who won the bronze, lead the U.S. contingent this time. McRae Williams rounds out the team.

    Norway’s Oystein Braaten is expected to provide the stiffest competition. He won both X Games titles last season.

    Watch live on NBC’s primetime coverage beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

    Watch the qualifying rounds on digital platforms at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

    Watch the elimination rounds on digital platforms at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday

    2. Mr. GS Goes for Third Giant Slalom Gold

    There’s a reason they call Ted Ligety Mr. GS. He’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the giant slalom, and he’s won three world titles. If he’s going to wind up on the podium in Pyeongchang, this is the event where it’s most likely to happen.

    Of course, Mr. GS won all those medals and titles before a bad crash in 2016. He was sidelined for over a year recovering from an injured knee and back surgery. Now, at age 33, he’s trying to show he’s still one of the world’s best.

    So far in Pyeongchang, he finished fifth in the Alpine combined, and he skied off the course in the super G.

    For Ligety to win gold, he’ll have to beat one his longtime rival and friend, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher. Hirscher won an unprecedented sixth straight overall World Cup title last season, and his 55th World Cup victory in the giant slalom in January. He won the first Olympic gold medal earlier this week, in the Alpine combined.

    Watch live on NBC’s primetime coverage beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday.

    Watch the first run on digital platforms at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.

    Watch the second run on digital platforms at 8:45 p.m. Saturday.

    3. Bohonnon Hopes to Ride Hurricane to Gold

    Mac Bohonnon wants to win a gold medal while paying tribute to a friend.

    Bohonnon is an American expected to contend in the freestyle skiing aerials event — and he might break out a trick called “The Hurricane,” an homage to Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, who used the Hurricane in 2010 to win a silver medal in Vancouver.

    The Hurricane is a trick that involves three flips with five twists, and three of the twists come in the middle flip. Peterson, who died in 2011 at the age of 29, is the only person to complete the trick in completion — but Bohonnon has been practicing it.

    “It’s a scary trick,” Bohonnon told the Associated Press. “And Speedy came out and did this all the time, like it was nothing.”

    John Lillis could contend for the U.S. He’s been inconsistent the last few years, but ended the 2016-27 season with a world title. A repeat performance would get him a gold medal.

    China’s Qi Guangpu and Belarus’ Anton Kushnir are also expected to contend for a medal.

    Watch the aerials final on digital platforms at 3 a.m. Sunday morning.

    4. Bergsma Hopes to End Speedskating Struggles

    A year ago, Heather Bergsma seemed destined to single-handedly end America’s speedskating struggles. She won 9 of 11 World Cup starts in the 1000m and 1500m distances, including world championships in both. She seemed a good bet to win multiple medals in Pyeongchang.

    In the past year, though, she only won one World Cup race. And in her first two races in the Olympics, in the 1000m and 1500m, she finished in eighth place in both.

    “I don’t feel quite as good as I did last year,” she told NBC Olympics. “I think it shows throughout the season.”

    Now, if Bergsma is going to win a medal, she’ll have to do it in her weakest event, the 500m.

    For the U.S., it’s more of the same: The Americans failed to win a speedskating medal in Sochi, and haven’t won one in Pyeongchang yet. Bergsma and teammate Brittany Bowe are America’s best bets in the 500m.

    Watch the 500m race Sunday on digital platforms at 3:56 a.m. 



    Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
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    Ted LigetyTed Ligety

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    The NBA All-Star Weekend is in town, and with all that action come potential traffic headaches.

    The Staples Center and LA Live are the main hubs this weekend, and drivers are duly being advised to avoid those areas. The following street closures will be in effect between 6 a.m. Saturday and 11 p.m. Sunday:

      • Figueroa Street between Olympic Boulevard and Pico Boulevard
      • 11th Street between Figueroa Street and Flower Street
      • 12th Street between Figueroa Street and Flower Street


    Additionally, there will be limited access for the following streets through 11:59 p.m. Sunday:

      • Chick Hearn Court between Georgia Street and LA Live Way
      • Georgia Street between Chick Hearn Court and Olympic Boulevard
      • West Road between Georgia Street and LA Live Way



    Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed

    Staples Center is adorned with NBA All-Star 2018 and the Jumpman logoStaples Center is adorned with NBA All-Star 2018 and the Jumpman logo

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    Five out of nine counties in the San Francisco Bay Area experienced a decline in affordability in 2017. San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are the least affordable areas in the state, according to a report from the California Association of Realtors.

    Only 12 percent of San Francisco residents can afford to purchase a median home priced at $1.5 million while 14 percent can afford San Mateo’s median home price of $1.5 million and 15 percent afford a home in Santa Clara at $1.2 million, according to the report.

    The California Association of Realtors reported that as a state, California has a median single-family home price of $550,990. Making the Bay Area significantly more expensive than other areas in California.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 17: San Francisco's famed SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 17: San Francisco's famed "Painted Ladies" are seen from Alamo Square Park on July 17, 2014 in San Francisco, California. According to a report, the median price of new or existing single-family homes and condos reached $1.5 million. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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    SpaceX will be launching another Falcon 9 out of Vandenberg Air Force Base on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

    The launch was originally set to take place Saturday, Feb. 17, but was pushed back to Sunday and then pushed back further to Wednesday to allow for final inspections. Should the launch take place early in the morning, it may set the stage for a cool display as the rocket climbs into sunlight.

    Send Us Your Photos: Email isee@nbcla.com or click here

    The SpaceX Falcon 9 is a two-stage launch vehicle, meaning it is made of up two parts that carry the satellite payload into orbit. The first stage is pretty visible during dusk, dawn and night launches due to the nine rocket engines that fire for the first 162 seconds of the flight.

    After the main engines cut off, the second stage (upper portion of the vehicle) separates and fires a single engine to continue the flight into space. During the highly visible launch in late December, the first stage created a spiral-like pattern in the exhaust of the second stage.

    This launch will be putting a Spanish satellite named “Paz” into orbit. The first stage for this mission has been used in another launch and was recovered after landing on a barge. It may be the first stage that launched FORMOSAT-5 on Aug. 24, 2017.

    Most of the launches out of Vandenberg put satellites into a polar orbit, meaning that the satellites are launched toward the south. The rocket parallels the coast, increasing the visibility for many in SoCal. The launches become spectacles just after sunset, or just before sunrise, because the exhaust plume becomes illuminated by sunlight as the rocket goes higher.

    Thanks to the curvature of the Earth, sunrise and sunset times change with altitude. The general rule of thumb is that for roughly every 5,000 feet of altitude, sunset or sunrise changes by one minute. So for a rocket at 40 miles up, sunset is about 40 minutes later than at the ground. As the rocket gains altitude, it will eventually be back into sunlight, which is when the exhaust plume becomes a bright cloud in the night sky.

    You may notice the plume spreading out as the rocket continues its climb. This effect is caused by the decrease in air pressure as you get higher. At the surface, pressure is high enough to keep the exhaust from spreading out.

    Another great example of a dawn launch was an Atlas V departing Cape Canaveral, Florida in September of 2015 with the MUOS-4 satellite. The launch occurred about 45 minutes before sunrise and was seen across much of Florida due to the brightly illuminated exhaust plume.


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    February 17 competition highlights from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

    Photo Credit: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

    USA's John-Henry Krueger reacts after the men's 1,000m short track speed skating semi-final event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on Feb. 17, 2018.USA's John-Henry Krueger reacts after the men's 1,000m short track speed skating semi-final event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on Feb. 17, 2018.

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    Despite California plunging back into drought, residents are reverting to old water use habits.

    A year after Gov. Jerry Brown lifted the state's drought emergency status, water use has continued to climb, especially in Southern California, reports NBC4 media partner KPCC. Because of that, state and regional water managers are considering reinstating some watering bans and conservation programs.

    The biggest water use offenders come from more affluent neighborhoods. The average residential user in one Malibu water district, for instance, used 255 gallons a day, according to the state water board - three times the U.S. average of 83 gallons per person per day.

    Despite the lack of recent rainfall, "you still see thick green lawns" in some communities, said Conner Evers, an LA-based conservation specialist.

    While more affluent residents are being less mindful about their water use, residents from lower-income communities are proving to be the water conservation heroes. In East Los Angeles, for example, people use an average of 42 gallons a day. In Huntington Park, residents average just 34 gallons.

    Now, the California Water Resources Control Board is considering whether to permanently reinstate some water use bans that were imposed during the drought state of emergency.

    Read more at KPCC.



    Photo Credit: AP

    Sprinklers water a lawn Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. In an effort to force the public to conserve water, the State Water Resources Control Board voted 4-0 to approve a proposal that includes fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, fountains, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)Sprinklers water a lawn Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. In an effort to force the public to conserve water, the State Water Resources Control Board voted 4-0 to approve a proposal that includes fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, fountains, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

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    Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Sophomore Emma Gonzales had a message for Donald Trump and for other politicians on their failure to enact sensible gun laws: "BS." Gonzales was one of several survivors to speak at a rally held outside the Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to speak out against the gun lobby.


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    Photo Credit: AP/Gerald Herbert

    In this October 20, 2009 file photo, FBI Director Robert Mueller listens as President Barack Obama speaks to staff members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force Headquarters in New York.In this October 20, 2009 file photo, FBI Director Robert Mueller listens as President Barack Obama speaks to staff members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force Headquarters in New York.

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    On Saturday at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the largest huddle of reporters awaited LeBron James' arrival at a podium designated for the NBA superstar.

    Under normal circumstances, James would have spoken about his peers, the All-Star festivities, rumors of a move to LA in the summer or other basketball related topics. Instead, this press conference began with a question about Fox New commentator Laura Ingraham who had labelled James as a "cautionary tale" and scolded one of the most famous athletes of all time to "Shut up and dribble."

    "We will definitely not shut up and dribble," James said. "I will definitely not do that. I mean too much to society. I mean too much to the youth. I mean too much to so many kids that feel like they don't have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation that they're in. Also, I wish she would have done a little bit more fact checking because I actually did finish high school and didn't leave early. I graduated high school."

    James is one of the most successful atheltes of all time, and the criticism Ingraham levelled at the star has been met with support across the sports world, with Philadelphia Eagles star Chris Long bringing attention to the fact that Fox News regularly calls upon musicians, athlethes and other under-qualified political analysts on their network.

    The tone of Ingraham's comments rubbed a great deal of athletes the wrong way. Kevin Durant, who was also in the original video that launched the Fox News host's rant, called the rant "racist."

    "To be an African American kid and grow up in an inner city with a single parent mother and not being financially stable and to make it where I've made it today, I think I’ve defeated the odds," James said, clearly the center of attention in a room filled with All-Stars.

    James added, "I think I've defeated the odds and I want every kid to know that, and I want everybody to know that. The youth, they can do that as well. And that's why I will not just 'shut up and dribble' because I mean too much to my two boys here, their best friend right here, my daughter back home, my wife, my family and all these other kids that look up to me for inspiration and trying to find a way out, and find some leeway on how they can become as great as they can, being how those dreams can become reality."

    The 33-year-old father of three managed to go the entire press conference without naming Ingraham. At one point, he asked what her name was and got a response that nobody knew from former NBA player Thaigo Splitter. "That's perfect," James smiled.

    "So, thank you, whatever he name is, I don't even know her name," James said.

    Ingraham has since invited James onto her show, which has obviously been met with a stern response from James' many supporters. Also, the invitiation from the Fox News host seems to only further undermine her original point that James had no right or qualification to speak on politics. In fact, she started her now infamous commentary with, "Must they run their mouths like that?"

    James' LA home had been valdalized with a racial slur during the NBA Finals in 2017, and James had spoken about racial tensions in response then, too. Asked if he was being used as a symbol, James said he didn't know before providing a response. 

    "When I did it at the finals or when I'm doing it here at All-Star weekend, if it's for the greater good, then I don’t mind being a symbol. I don’t sit up here trying to get a reward for it. I don't think Muhammad Ali sat up there trying to get a reward. I don't think Jim Brown or Bill Russell or Jackie Robinson and the list goes on and on, they sat up there trying to get rewarded for it. It's just who we are. We know it’s bigger than us. It’s not about us."

    James added, "I'm going to do what I have to do to continue to play this game that I love to play, but this is bigger than me playing the game of basketball."



    Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed

    LeBron James speaks about Fox News controversy directed at him at the LA Convention Center on Feb. 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Shahan Ahmed)LeBron James speaks about Fox News controversy directed at him at the LA Convention Center on Feb. 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Shahan Ahmed)

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    Around 50 people rallied in front of the Los Angeles Police Department's Hollenbeck Division Saturday morning to protest a shooting that killed a 22-year-old man.

    "We demand justice for Christian," shouted the large crowd.

    The crowd was calling for justice for Christian Escobedo, who officers shot and killed Jan. 14th while responding to a call in Montecito Heights.

    The LAPD said Escobedo was armed with a handgun when the police shooting occurred, but his family believes the circumstances of his death are suspicious.

    Officers said Escobedo and another male were found sleeping on the ground behind a parked car. When police approached them, the other male ran from the area.

    Escobedo's friends said Escobedo didn't have a car and was making the long walk from El Monte to his home in Happy Valley when he got tired and fell asleep.

    "He was actually visiting some friends. He tried getting a couple calls to get home; unfortunately, he couldn't get a hold of anybody and just started walking," said family friend Johnny Guerra. "By the time he reached where he was at, where the officers killed him, he was too tired to keep going and was only a few blocks away from home."

    The LA County District Attorney's office and the Board of Police Commissioners are investigating the shooting. Family members say they want to see an objective and transparent investigation.



    Photo Credit: KNBC

    Christian Escobedo died in a police shooting Jan. 14. His family says they want a transparent investigation into his shooting.Christian Escobedo died in a police shooting Jan. 14. His family says they want a transparent investigation into his shooting.

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    This is the first in a six-part series.

    A marijuana dispensary owner and his roommate are abducted in the middle of the night at gunpoint from their Newport Beach home by three masked men.

    Driven to the Mojave Desert while the man was tortured, the disturbing events of that night became known as one of Orange County's most horrific crimes.

    This article contains language and content that may be disturbing to some readers.

    Part I: The Kidnapping

    Mary Barnes noticed something unusual when she got home from work, but didn't think much of it.

    A window on the ground floor of her shared Newport Beach home had been left open wide enough that someone could step right in. She thought it was odd, but she didn't see or hear anything unusual, so she went about the rest of her day.

    The 53-year-old Florida transplant had recently moved in with her boyfriend in his cozy blue house a block away from the beach. He was out of town on business in Belize.

    She got a spray tan and went to bed around 10:30 p.m. in the master bedroom, alone.

    The couple's 28-year-old roommate, the owner of a flourishing medical marijuana collective, had a good day. Nothing unusual.

    He fell asleep after midnight on the couch watching TV.

    Hiding inside the home that night were three men in ski masks, dark clothes, rubber gloves and armed with a shotgun and a pistol. They emerged from closets after midnight in what a prosecutor later called the "worst jack-in-the-box surprise ever."

    They tied up the pair and then tortured the man for hours in the back of a rented van while driving to the Mojave Desert, where they thought he had buried $1 million in cash.

    While repeatedly demanding to know "where's the money," the kidnappers burned him with a blowtorch, shocked him with a stun gun and mutilated him. Later, they doused him in bleach to try to erase any DNA or physical evidence they might have left and abandoned the pair on a desolate dirt road before dawn Oct. 2, 2012.

    NBC4 is not naming the man because he's the victim of a sex crime.

    Miraculously, both the man and the woman survived, but the crime became known as one of the most sadistic and twisted in Orange County history. It sparked a sprawling investigation in the search for the kidnappers and swept across several countries in the hunt for the suspected mastermind, a man named Hossein Nayeri.

    Authorities said he had a history of fleeing the law and a convenient hiding place — Iran, where he was born and which has no extradition treaty with the United States.

    This story would have been remarkable had it ended with Nayeri's dramatic arrest at Václav Havel Airport in Prague, but it didn't.

    The saga took on another life after Nayeri was extradited and returned to U.S. custody and escaped a Santa Ana jail through an air vent on Jan. 22, 2016.

    He filmed the breakout and his days on the run on a cellphone before he was recaptured.

    During his eight days of freedom, victims, witnesses and law enforcement went into hiding from the man a prosecutor compared to Hannibal Lecter, the fictional killer from "The Silence of the Lambs," for his sadistic nature.

    Now, Nayeri is back in custody, awaiting trial next month in the kidnapping and torture that happened five years ago on charges that carry a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Nayeri's friend from high school, Kyle Handley, was convicted of kidnapping, torture and mayhem charges last month. He faces a life sentence without parole at his sentencing hearing next month. Prosecutors say Handley was the driver of the van and was Nayeri's closest confidant in the kidnapping plot.

    Another high school friend, Ryan Kevorkian, was identified as the third kidnapping suspect. He also faces trial next month. Prosecutors call the former wrestler "the hired muscle."

    Nayeri has denied any involvement in the crime. Kevorkian's attorney declined to comment for this story. Handley's attorney, Robert Weinberg, said he plans to appeal the judgment.

    Testimony in Handley's trial, court documents obtained by NBC4 and interviews with investigators and Nayeri himself are painting a more complete picture of the twisted five-year-long saga.

    'Where's the Money?'
    The dispensary owner woke up to someone pointing a flashlight in his face, he testified in court.

    At first he thought it was one of his friends playing a joke, he said.

    "Hey, Todd, cut it out," he said.

    "I'm not Todd," said the man who was wearing a ski mask and pointing a shotgun in his face. The victim tried to push the barrel away, but the man hit him in the head with the butt of the gun.

    Dizzy and bloody, he was attacked by a second man who punched and choked him. He tried to fight, but was quickly overpowered.

    They ordered him to lay on his stomach, hands behind his back. They cinched zip ties around his ankles and wrists, put duct tape over his mouth and blindfolded him before they dragged him downstairs by his feet, his face hitting every step on the way down.

    Barnes was fast asleep in the master bedroom face down in the pillow when she felt something cold and hard on the back of her neck.

    "I was instantly awake," she told jurors. "I instantly knew it was the barrel of a gun."

    "Don't worry, this isn't about you," she said a man whispered in her ear. "Just be quiet. Don't try to fight and you'll be all right."

    The man put a blindfold over her eyes, duct tape over her mouth, and zip-tied her wrists and ankles.

    He then dragged her off the bed and down the stairs.

    On the way down, her sweats slid down her waist and she struggled to pull them up, but her captor did it for her.

    "It's not about that," he said.

    They were after money, not sex.

    With both captives restrained on the floor next to the garage, the intruders ransacked the house. The men banged around upstairs, slammed doors, and rummaged through cabinets.

    "Where's the money?" they demanded.

    They pulled off the man's duct tape so he could respond.

    "I have $2,000 in a sock in my room."

    "No, no, not that. Where's the money?"

    He told them that was all the money he had in the house.

    About thirty minutes passed, both victims later testified.

    The victims were shoved into the back of a van. Two of the men hopped in the back of the van with their two captives, while a third kidnapper drove.

    While they drove into the predawn darkness on well-traveled Southern California highways, they kicked the man, punched him, burned him with a torch, and shocked him with a stun gun.

    They didn't hurt Barnes.

    The kidnappers asked the victim where he buried his million dollars.

    "I told them I didn't have a million dollars," he testified at Handley's trial. "I definitely didn't have a million dollars buried anywhere."

    They didn't like that answer.

    They beat him, whipped him with a rubber hose, stomped him 15 to 20 times for five to 10 minutes at a time, demanding, "Where's the money?" over and over again.

    "Hey, look, I don't have that much money," he said.

    He offered them the $40,000 cash he had at his shop. But the shop had cameras.

    "You can't go there looking like you look," they laughed. His face was a bloody, swollen mess.

    They drove for more than two hours across two counties into the desert north of Los Angeles, the van radio tuned to a Spanish-language station.

    They beat him up, asked for money, beat him up again, then asked for money again.

    It seemed to go on forever, he said.

    Barnes couldn't see the men because she was blindfolded, but she described one of the kidnappers as "the guy with the pretend Spanish accent."

    When the victim's legs jerked during beatings, inadvertently kicking Barnes, he ordered the victim "'not to kick the female,'" Barnes said.

    Several times Barnes thought she heard the clicking sound of a lighter.

    "Someone might have been taking a hit of some kind of drug at some point," she said.

    Again, one of them demanded: "We know you have a million dollars, where is it?"

    "You're going to die tonight."

    He told them he could get them $100,000 from a safety deposit box the next day, but that wasn't good enough.

    The victims thought the kidnappers were faking accents. They alternated between Spanish and English.

    They threatened to kill Barnes if the man didn't take them to the money.

    They also told him they knew what car his girlfriend drove and knew where his parents lived.

    "I was afraid we were going to die," Barnes said.

    'Lucky Day'
    Barnes was terrified when the van pulled off the highway and she heard gravel under tires.

    "I thought, 'This is where they're going to dump us and kill us,'" Barnes testified.

    The van stopped. The kidnappers dragged the victims out and set them on the dirt.

    The man with the fake-sounding Spanish accent "started to really turn up the heat and make threats in much scarier ways," Barnes said.

    "We know you have the money. Where is it? Where is it? We know it's up here."

    "Shoot him in the head!" one of them yelled, according to Barnes.

    But nothing happened.

    "My patrón's going to be very, very upset if we don't get him the million dollars," the man with the fake Spanish accent said.

    They threatened to cut off his penis, put a bullet in his head and kill Barnes, too.

    "Yeah, do it," another said.

    The kidnappers followed through. They cut off his penis.

    In a sadistic, singsong voice one of the men repeated throughout, "And back and forth and back and forth," while another kidnapper used his foot to pin the victim down, leaving a shoe print embedded in his skin.

    Barnes, still blindfolded and bound nearby, then heard splashing. One of the men was pouring liquid on her roommate. Barnes thought it was lighter fluid and they were going to set him on fire. The man thought the same thing, but it was bleach. They used it to kill DNA to cover their tracks, prosecutors said.

    One of kidnappers stepped over to Barnes, leaned toward her and pressed a knife against her hand and said, "Do you know what this is?"

    "Yes," she said she told him.

    "I'm going to take this knife and throw it five feet in front of you and if you can get to the knife and cut yourself free, you'll live. Today's your lucky day."

    He threw the knife and told her to count to 100 after they got in the van.

    She waited until she couldn't hear the sound of tires on gravel before she sat up and pushed her blindfold up with her knees so she could see.

    The sun was coming up and she saw something shining a few feet away. It was the knife.

    She scooted over to it, zip ties still binding her hands behind her back. She said she doesn't know exactly how she did it — she chalked it up to her years doing yoga maybe — but she managed to use the dull knife to cut the zip ties binding her feet.

    Then she cut the duct tape off her roommate's mouth. She tried to cut the zip ties off his hands but he had been beaten so badly his hands were swollen and the zip ties cut into his skin.

    Barnes said she saw car lights in the distance and knew she could get help.

    She couldn't waste any more time. Her roommate, she feared, could bleed to death. She told him she could see the road. She'd go for help.

    "Try to stay calm," she said, and left.

    He waited on the desert floor alone. He had no idea how far the road was or whether anyone would come back for him. "Am I going to die? Am I going to live?" he testified he thought at the time.

    Barnes couldn't run — the gravel was too painful on her bare feet — but she walked as fast as she could. Her blindfold was pushed up, her hands still bound behind her back.

    She carried the knife, in case someone stopped to help but didn't have anything to cut the zip ties off.

    "Help me! Please help me!" she screamed from the side of a highway in the middle of the desert.

    She saw the look of shock on drivers' faces as they passed.

    Rescued
    Kern County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Williams was on his way to work at 7 that morning on Highway 14 near Silver Queen Road outside the town of Mojave.

    On the shoulder of the road, he saw a blond woman with a pony tail in a black top and black sweats walking barefoot on a shoulder of the highway. Her hands were behind her back and she had a blindfold on her forehead.

    He made a U-turn.

    As Williams approached Barnes he saw zip ties sticking out from behind her back.

    "As soon as I turned around I knew something was up," he said. "So I called for backup."

    She told him they had been kidnapped, and that her friend had been badly beaten and needed help or he might die.

    The deputy could tell she was frantic, and fought to keep her calm. He radioed for help and two ambulances arrived within two minutes.

    The caravan, with Barnes in the passenger seat of Williams' squad car, headed up the gravel road to where her roommate lay.

    When Barnes opened the car door she heard him calling, "I'm over here."

    He was still alive.

    He was laying on his side on dirt, his hands still bound behind his back. His clothing had been saturated with bleach, the stench so strong Williams could hardly breathe.

    His face and eyes were swollen nearly shut. His shoulders, chest and stomach were a patchwork of bruises and burns. He had wounds from the electrified barbs of a stun gun.

    Deputies fanned out across the desert floor to search for the victim's severed penis, but never found it. Prosecutors believe the kidnappers tossed it out of the van so it couldn't be reattached, leaving him permanently scarred.

    Each victim was put into an ambulance and rushed to the Antelope Valley Hospital some 20 miles away.

    They had been found near an abandoned mining settlement called Reefer City, in the shadow of Edward's Air Force Base and only four miles away from a Kern County Sheriff's station.

    There was no buried treasure there, as the kidnappers thought, just a lot of dirt, rocks, and scrub.

    Police immediately began investigating, but there was one big problem. While the kidnappers seemed to know a lot about the victims, the victims had no idea who the culprits were.

    Part II: The Investigation


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    Marvel Studios' "Black Panther" has already had a record-breaking night and the movie can expect to triple or more its numbers in the coming week, CNBC reported.

    The first solo movie featuring Marvel's African avenger took in over $25 million.

    "Black Panther" performed even stronger than expected Friday, bringing the first-day domestic estimate to $75.8 million, according to industry sources.

    The Ryan Coogler-directed film stars Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther also featuring Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong'o.





    Photo Credit: Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios-Disney via AP

    This image released by Disney shows a scene from Marvel Studios' This image released by Disney shows a scene from Marvel Studios' "Black Panther."

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    On Saturday night, the NBA's All Star weekend featured the annual trio of fan favorite competitions: the 3-Point Contest; Slam Dunk Contest and the Skills Competition.

    First up, Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets claimed the title in the Skills Competition, as the LA-native took advantage of being close to home.

    "I'm not actually from the valley," Dinwiddie said when asked about being from Woodland Hills. "I just went to school out there. I'm actually from L.A."

    After Dinwiddie cleared the court, the festivities turned to the sharp shooting talents in the league. The three-point contest featured another hometown hopeful in Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Unfortunately, George threw up blanks and promptly exited the competition in the opening round. LA Clippers forward Tobias Harris, though, caught fire in the opening round and joined Klay Thompson and Devin Booker into the final round of the sharp shooting contest.

    Entering the night as the favorite, Thompson recorded a strong score of 25 points, but Booker's record tally of 28 gave the Phoenix Suns guard the three-point shooting title.

    "I'm going dunk contest next," Booker joked after the victory. "No, I'm just kidding. No, you know, obviously, hopefully I can come back and maybe win it again."

    Finally, the night concluded with the highly anticipated Slam Dunk contest. Former Laker Larry Nance Jr., who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers at the NBA Trade Deadline, changed into his dad's old Phoenix Suns jersey for his first dunk of the night. Nance's father, who was in attendance, won the first ever Slam Dunk Contest and appreciated his son recreating pop's classic dunk.

    "It was awesome," Nance said about mimicking his father in front of an international audience. "Very cool moment for my family."

    Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell took the lead after the first round, with Nance finishing second and qualifying for the final round.

    In the final round, Mitchell and Nance went head-to-head, and both players put up 50-point perfect dunks. Mitchell eventually claimed the victory with a 360 dunk that gave him a two-point edge in the final round: 98-96.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Larry Nance Jr. competes in the 2018 Verizon Slam Dunk Contest at Staples Center on February 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.Larry Nance Jr. competes in the 2018 Verizon Slam Dunk Contest at Staples Center on February 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

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    Following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, parents are calling for change and are demanding that political leaders take action.

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said he would be "angry" if he were a student or parent who had been personally experienced a school shooting. He sat down with NBC 6 anchor Sheli Muñiz to discuss what change will come from Wednesday’s shooting.

    When Muñiz asked how the gunman was able to obtain a weapon, Rubio said, "The system is broken."

    "When that background check was run, it didn’t say he had been expelled from school, it didn’t say that there had been 30 police calls, that he had these social media posts – none of that," he said.

    Rubio argues that there needs to be a better vetting process.

    On the other side, Florida state Sen. Gary Farmer, a Democrat, called for a ban on assault weapons at a gun reform rally Saturday. The ban was in place from 1994 until 2004.

    When asked about the assault weapon ban, Rubio contested that it would be ineffective.

    "They are already out there. People can buy them. They’re grandfathered in under the law,” he said.

    On Friday, an online activist group placed three mobile billboards outside of his office, inspired by the movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

    The buses read “Slaughtered in school,” “And still no gun control” and “How come, Marco Rubio?”

    “I say any of the laws that they would have wanted passed would not have prevented this attack," he said. "That doesn’t mean we should not pass any laws. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pass these laws. There may be a different reason why we need these laws."

    The Florida senator also said that the anti-assault weapons activists campaign ignores attempted action, like sponsoring bills for a mental health database and school safety measures. 

    Rubio also denied reports he took millions from the National Rifle Association.

    “It’s false. They haven’t given me $3.3 million. They may have spent $3.3 million in campaigns I was involved in, but that could very well have been going against my opponent,” he said.

    When asked what action could be taken following the Parkland shooting, Rubio conceded, "If history is an indicator, maybe nothing and that would be unfortunate."



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    El senador republicano Marco Rubio.El senador republicano Marco Rubio.

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    Police were pursuing a vehicle in the Long Beach area on Saturday evening. 

    The vehicle, described as a black Chevy, was last seen headed northbound on the 710 Freeway. 

    The driver was wanted for speeding, according to the California Highway Patrol. 

    Refresh this page for updates.


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    Chinatown's 119th annual Golden Dragon Parade was held on Saturday, Feb. 17 and celebrated the Year of the Dog, with firecrackers, dragon dancers, floats and bands.

    Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

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    February 18 competition highlights from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

    Photo Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Nick Goepper celebrates his silver medal win during the Freestyle Skiing Men's Ski Slopestyle Final on day nine of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on Feb. 18, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.Nick Goepper celebrates his silver medal win during the Freestyle Skiing Men's Ski Slopestyle Final on day nine of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on Feb. 18, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

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    Sgt. 1st Class Nate Weber took an unconventional path to becoming an Olympic bobsledder. Instead of training in a gym, he prepared for competition while deployed in Niger, Cameroon and Afghanistan.

    "Training for the Olympics is definitely harder than basic training just because here there's no one to tell you to do it," the 30-year-old father of two told NBC’s Hans Nichols.

    Becoming a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces — often called the Green Berets — takes incredible dedication and commitment. As the "Today" show reported, Weber used the Green Beret’s "unconventional warfare" methods as strength-building opportunities, and he trained for bobsled by pulling military vehicles, pulling large bricks and sprinting down dusty roads while overseas.

    Weber said qualifying for the Olympics "has been one of the biggest blessings of my entire life" — and it's a blessing he wants to be able to share with his two young daughters. His deployments have kept him far from home, so Weber started a GoFundMe to raise money for his girls to travel to Pyeongchang to see their dad race.


    "I want to make them proud," he said.

    Click here to read the full story by Julia Curley, and learn more about Weber and the U.S. men's bobsled team, at TODAY.com.

    Click here to watch the men's bobsled competition kick off in Pyeongchang live on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 6:05 a.m. ET at NBCOlympics.com. Weber will compete in the four-man event on Feb. 24. 




    Photo Credit: TODAY.com
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    The United States men’s curling team, hoping to rebound from an 8-2 loss against Japan, also fell short against Norway on the ice Sunday in day six of the event.

    The Norwegians, wearing their trademark flashy pants, won 8-5 after taking control in the second half of the match.

    Team USA scored a point in the first frame. Norway then scored the next two points, which the U.S. answered with two of their own in end three. Norway notched another point in the fourth end. The U.S. scored again in the fifth. But Norway went on to score three more points in the sixth end then another point in each of the next two. The U.S. scored another point in the ninth end but it wasn't enough to keep their hopes alive. 

    Both the U.S. and Norway had come into the match with a 2-3 record. The Americans are now 2-4 in the round robin round and ranked eight. In the preliminary round, the teams with the four best records after nine games advance to the semifinals.  

    In Team USA's previous match on Sunday Japan held the Americans to just two points in seven ends of play in an 8-2 rout. 

    The U.S. made just 61 percent of their takeouts, whereas Japan was successful on 94 percent, and had 31 takeouts in all. The Japanese squad, led by skip Yusuke Morozumi, scored in the first three ends - two in the first, and one each in the second and third - to take a quick 4-0 lead. Shuster missed double takeout attempts in both the second and third ends, setting up difficulties he would face all night.



    Photo Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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    John Shuster of the USA competes in the Curling Men's Round Robin Session 4 held at Gangneung Curling Centre on Feb. 16, 2018, in Gangneung, South Korea.John Shuster of the USA competes in the Curling Men's Round Robin Session 4 held at Gangneung Curling Centre on Feb. 16, 2018, in Gangneung, South Korea.

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    President Donald Trump continued his defensive commentary on Friday's indictments of Russians in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, saying Russia "succeeded beyond their wildest dreams" in dividing America and is now laughing at the U.S.


    Thirteen Russians and three Russian organizations were indicted Friday for allegedly interfering in the U.S. 2016 presidential elections with the intention of promoting Trump’s candidacy. Charges listed in the 37-page document include conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, and they are the most direct allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election that put Trump in the White House.

    Trump also asserted that he "never said Russia did not meddle in the election" and harkened back to a comment he made at a 2016 debate that the meddling "could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?"

    He insisted that the "Russian 'hoax'" he repeatedly refers to "was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia - it never did!"

    The president has repeatedly expressed skepticism over the Russian election meddling. In November, he said he believed the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that there had been meddling but also said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin is sincere when he says Russia didn't interfere.


    In his rapid-fire series of tweets Sunday, Trump also thanked — and attacked — Rep. Adam Schiff, who said the Obama administration should have created a "more forceful deterrent" against adversaries wanting to launch cyber attacks on the U.S.

    The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat pointed to the Obama administration's muted response to the 2014 Sony hacking, telling NBC Friday that "others around the world watched that and determined that cyber is a cost-free intervention."

    Schiff argued the Obama administration, therefore, shares some responsibility for what happened with Russia, adding, "We should have called them out much earlier."

    Former President Barack Obama in late 2016 defended his administration's response to the Russian meddling, also saying he had confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin that September, telling him to "cut it out." And former Vice President Joe Biden recently said Obama didn't want to politicize the threat and that the full scope of the meddling wasn't known until after the 2016 election.

    Trump analyzed Schiff's comments, tweeting Sunday, "Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!"

    He added: "Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?"

    Trump's response to the indictments has largely focused on himself and his election victory, which he has continued to argue was fairly achieved without the help of Russia. He has quoted political commentators — and a Facebook official — who he says also believe there is no evidence of collusion or swaying of the election.

    The White House doubled down on the president's assertions, writing in all caps in a Friday statement that there was "NO COLLUSION."

    Though the president and White House are correct in that collusion was not proven in the indictment Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the probe, had carefully chosen his words Friday when he said, "There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity."

    Aside from encouraging Americans to "come together" and "stop the outlandish partisan attacks," Trump has refrained from suggesting any kind of retribution for a foreign adversary infiltrating America's electoral processes. However, a top administration official took a more direct route.

    National security adviser H.R. McMaster said in Germany Saturday that the evidence of Moscow's meddling is "incontrovertible," adding that "the United States will expose and act against those who use cyberspace, social media and other means to advance campaigns of disinformation, subversion and espionage."

    Trump clapped back Saturday at McMaster's forceful language, once again bringing the conversation back to his 2016 win and pointing the finger at his political opponents.

    "General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!" the president tweeted.

    Turning to a different topic Sunday, but continuing to criticize his opponents, Trump railed against law enforcement over an Obama-era payment to Iran, tweeting that he has "never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!"

    The Obama administration transferred the money to Iran in 2016, using non-U.S. currency. The administration said it was the settlement of a decades-old arbitration claim between the countries. An initial payment was delivered the same day Tehran agreed to release four American prisoners.

    The Obama administration eventually acknowledged the cash was used as leverage until the Americans were allowed to leave Iran. Congressional Republicans decried the payment as ransom, which the Obama administration denied.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: AP, File
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    President Donald Trump speaks to a gathering of mayors in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.President Donald Trump speaks to a gathering of mayors in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

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    Police are searching for suspects after they say a man pointed a gun at a security guard near a Hollywood movie theater, prompting a lockdown.

    The incident happened Sunday around 1:40 a.m. at the parking lot of the ArcLight Hollywood theater, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Armed officers swarmed the parking lot, not allowing moviegoers to leave the structure during a search for the suspects.

    The search did not extend into the actual theater, the LAPD said. Officers completed their search just before 4 a.m. Two people were detained for questioning, but were let go at the scene.

    No injuries were reported, though officers could not locate any suspects, according to the LAPD.



    Photo Credit: ANGNews

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    Japanese speed skater Nao Kodaira breaks an Olympic record, Alpine skier Marcel Hirscher continues to dominate and Norway is on top in the medal count. Here are the Pyeongchang Games by the numbers:

    36.94 Japan’s Nao Kodaira smashed the Olympic speedskating record in the women’s 500-meter with a time of 36.94 seconds. She beating the defending champion, South Korea’s Lee Sang-hwa, who took the silver with a time of 37.33 seconds while the Czech Republic’s Karolina Erbanova was third at 37.34.

    The U.S. women's hopes for a medal in the race dissolved, with Brittany Bowe finishing fifth, and her teammate Heather Bergsma, 11th. A year ago, Bergsma appeared to be America’s best hope for ending its speedskating struggles, but in the past year, she only won one World Cup race. And in her first two races in the Olympics, in the 1000m and 1500m, she finished in eighth place in both.

    Earlier in the Games, U.S. short-track speed skater John-Henry Krueger took silver in the men's 1000-meter, winning the United States’ first individual speed skating medal since 2010.

    2 The world’s best male Alpine skier, Marcel Hirscher, won his second gold medal of the Pyeongchang Olympics in the giant slalom. Hirscher took his first at the Alpine combined event earlier in the Games. Hirscher has a good chance at a third gold medal in his best event, the slalom, which is scheduled for Thursday. Going into the Games, Hirscher had won six consecutive World Cup overall titles and 55 World Cup races but an Olympic gold had eluded him until now. The U.S.’s Ted Ligety, the giant slalom winner in Sochi, finished 15.

    [[474411083, C]]

    37 Norway is currently leading the medal count in Pyeongchang with 26 — nine gold, nine silver and eight bronze. The country is on pace to pass a milestone: the most medals by one nation at the Olympic Winter Games. Norway would own the title if it wins 38 medals. Team USA currently owns the record, with 37. So far in Pyeongchang it has 10, behind the Olympic Athletes from Russia, who have 11. Germany has 18, Canada, 16 and the Netherlands, 13.

    [[474416953, C]]

    4 France’s Martin Fourcade won his fourth Olympic gold medal in a photo finish in the men’s 15 kilometer mass start biathlon. Germany’s Simon Schempp was directly behind him. Fourcade couldn’t believe his victory: “I’m still waiting for them to tell me that I’m not the winner,” Fourcade said Sunday. This was Fourcade’s second metal of the Pyeongchang Games — he also won gold in the men’s 12.5 kilometer biathlon pursuit - and his sixth Olympic medal overall. And it’s his second photo finish, but the last time, at the Sochi Games four years ago, he lost the gold medal by just three centimeters in the mass start.

    [[474416353, C]]

    4 Unlucky four? Called “tetraphobia,” the superstition comes about because the word for “four” in Korean is a homophone for “death.”

    128.51 Oleksandr Abramenko’s gold-medal overall score in the men’s freestyle skiing aerials in Pyeongchang, giving Ukraine its first medal of the Winter Games and first ever freestyle skiing medal. China's Jia Zongyang won silver with a score just a hair below Abramenko’s. Russian athlete Ilia Burov won bronze.

    [[474416863, C]]




    Photo Credit: John Locher/AP
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    Gold medalist Japan's Nao Kodaira, right, and silver medalist Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea celebrate after the women's 500 meters speedskating race at the Gangneung Oval at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018.Gold medalist Japan's Nao Kodaira, right, and silver medalist Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea celebrate after the women's 500 meters speedskating race at the Gangneung Oval at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018.

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  • 02/18/18--08:17: 4 to Watch: Let's Dance

  • Gangneung Ice Arena's Olympic ice turns into a dance floor when medal contenders from the United States compete in the ice dancing competition. The event includes Madison Chock, who is from Redondo Beach, and partner Evan Bates.

    Southern California also will be represented when the U.S. women’s hockey team takes on Finland in the semifinals. Eastvale’s Cayla Barnes is part of a team looking to march into the gold medal game. 

    In snowboarding’s Big Air competition, SoCal’s Hailey Langland will be one of the Olympic newcomers looking to upset a veteran from Austria. Langland is the 2017 X Games Big Air champ.

    Here are four events to watch in Pyeongchang:  

    1. Madison Chock, Top U.S. Ice Dance Teams to Compete

    The United States, with three of the world’s best ice dance teams, is positioned for a figure skating medal in Monday’s competition (Sunday night in the United States). The best-known pair, brother-sister duo Maia and Alex Shibutani, finished second in an earlier team event, helping the U.S. to earn bronze.

    Other contenders: Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who finished eighth in the Sochi Games and then won their first national title together in 2015; and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who are making their Olympic debut as this year’s national champions.

    The Americans will face other top pairs Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, of France. The short dance will be followed by the free dance Tuesday (Monday night in the United States).

    Watch live on NBC at 5 p.m. Sunday or on digital platforms.

    2. U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Faces Finland in Semifinals

    The U.S. women’s hockey team heads into the semifinals after shutting out Russia, 5-0, and setting an Olympic record while doing it. Forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored back-to-back goals six seconds apart, the fastest mark ever.

    The U.S. women beat Finland 3-1 in their opening game of the Winter Olympics, with goals by Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Kendall Coyne and Danielle Cameranesi. They will play Finland again on Monday in Pyeongchang (Sunday night in the United States).

    Archrival Canada, which beat the U.S. 2-1 in the preliminary round, also plays Monday, taking on the Russians. At the 2014 Sochi Games, Canada rallied from 0-2 to win its fourth straight gold.

    Watch live on NBCSN at 8:10 p.m. Sunday or on digital platforms. 

    3. U.S. Men’s Bobsled Team Faces Down Hard Times

    The U.S. men’s two-man bobsled teams will compete on Monday after getting through very tough times. Three-time Olympian Steven Holcomb died last year.

    Pilot Justin Olsen, a 2010 gold medalist, is vying for a top spot despite having had emergency surgery for acute appendicitis on Feb. 5. He was soon tweeting a video of himself doing pushups. Two-time Olympian Nick Cunningham and Codie Bascue are also in the mix. 

    Germany has two top pilots in the race, Francesco Friedrich and Johannes Lochner, who was inspired by his Olympic silver medal-winning uncle, Rudi Lochner. Three-time Olympian Justin Kripps could contend for Canada’s first gold medal in the two-man since 1998. And South Korea, which has never won an Olympic medal in a sliding sport, has its hopes on Won Yun-jong.

    Watch as part of NBC’s prime time coverage beginning at 5 p.m. Monday or live at 3:15 a.m. Monday on digital platforms

    4. SoCal's Hailey Langland Among Medal Contenders in Big Air

    Newcomers to Team USA will take on Olympic veterans in the women’s big air qualification round Monday (Sunday night in the U.S.). Julia Marino, 20, and Hailey Langland, 17, made their Pyeongchang debut during the women’s slopestyle, finishing 11th and sixth respectively.

    They’ll be strong medal contenders in the big air, but they’ll have to catch Austrian Anna Gasser, who’s known for pulling off tricky technical moves. Marino and Langland will be joined by teammate Jamie Anderson, who won gold in slopestyle in Pyeongchang.

    The women’s qualifying round is the debut of big air in the Olympics. It’s as much a spectacle as it is a sport — competitors perform complex moves down a hill after launching off large jumps, aiming for height, distance, style and a clean landing. The scores are out of 100 and the top scorers will go for gold Friday (Thursday night in the U.S.).

    Watch as part of NBC’s primetime plus coverage beginning at 9:30 p.m. or on digital platforms



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    Madison Chock and Evan Bates compete in the Championship Dance Short Program during Day 3 of the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center at SAP Center at SAP Center on January 5, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)Madison Chock and Evan Bates compete in the Championship Dance Short Program during Day 3 of the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center at SAP Center at SAP Center on January 5, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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    When a gunman tore through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, killing 17 people and injuring several others, a student named Peter Wang is said to have selflessly held open doors for classmates and teachers to escape the building as gunshots rang through the air.

    During the courageous act, he was fatally shot, and now people want him to be posthumously honored.

    Wang was one of 14 beloved students killed in the Feb. 14 shooting rampage. The 15-year-old student was a JROTC cadet, last seen in uniform holding a door open so others could escape the attack. Wang’s noble actions during those harrowing moments have been shared far and wide on social media, and many people have signed a White House petition is calling for a full honors military burial for the fallen cadet.

    “His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area,” the petition reads. “Wang died a hero, and deserves to be treated as such, and deserves a full honors military burial.”

    The petition garnered more than 14,000 signatures as of Sunday morning, and it needs 100,000 by March 18 to get a response from the White House. The petition can be viewed here.

    Throughout the chaos of the shooting, friends and relatives of Wang thought he was missing. After checking with local hospitals, they found out he had been killed.

    “He wasn’t supposed to die,” Wang’s cousin, Aaron Chen, told First Coast News.



    Photo Credit: Sun Sentinel

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    Every culture has a number considered unlucky because of superstitions. In the United States it's 13. In South Korea, it's four.

    The reason behind the fear of the number four, known as tetraphobia, lies in the way it sounds. The Korean word for "four" sounds much like their word for "death."

    Tetraphobia is fairly common across many Asian cultures and far surpasses Western propensity to triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13. The superstition permeates through many aspects of society in these cultures. Many elevators in South Korea, for instance, skip the number four or use the letter "F" in place of the number four to represent the fourth floor.

    Americans competing in Pyeongchang are learning that you don't need to believe in the "curse of four" to be doomed by the single-digit menace. And given these Team USA athletes' results at the 2018 Winter Games, they may leave South Korea with their own fear of four.

    Mikaela Shiffrin — Alpine Skiing, Slalom
    In her signature event, defending Olympic slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin finished fourth just a day after winning gold in the giant slalom. She was also wearing the No. 4 bib.

    Ben Ferguson — Snowboarding, Halfpipe
    Ben Ferguson finished on the podium in three of the four Olympic-qualifying contests, and he was the first U.S. men’s halfpipe rider to qualify for the 2018 games. But after posting a big score in the halfpipe qualifying and easily advancing to the finals, Ferguson, wearing bid No. 4, finished just off the podium in fourth place.

    Lindsey Jacobellis — Snowboarding, Snowboard Cross
    Lindsey Jacobellis, the most decorated women’s snowboard cross athlete ever, recorded a fourth-place finish at her fourth Olympics, also donning the No. 4 bib.

    Maddie Mastro — Snowboarding, Halfpipe
    Wearing bib No. 4, the young American snowboarder had a disappointing end to her Olympic debut, crashing out three times in the women’s halfpipe finals to finish 12th out of 12 women in the finals.

    Ryan Cochran-Siegle — Alpine Skiing, Men's Combined
    In his Olympic debut, Ryan Cochran-Siegle clipped a gate during the combined downhill and wiped out. The 25-year-old was also wearing bib No. 4.

    The Americans aren't the only ones impacted by the "curse of four." These Athletes from other Western countries who donned the No. 4 bib during their competition may also have been jinxed.

    Austrian Stephanie Brunner — Alpine Skiing, Giant Slalom
    Stephanie Brunner crashed in her first run of the giant slalom and failed to finish.

    Australian Britteny Cox — Freestyle Skiing, Women's Moguls
    The defending world champion in women’s moguls finished 5th.

    Dutch Ireen Wuest — Speedskating, Women's 100m
    The most decorated speed skater in Olympic history skated in the fourth pair and finished 9th in the women’s 1000m. A day earlier, Wust won gold in the women's 1500m. She skated in starting pair No. 11 in that event.  

    Kazakhstani Denis Ten — Figure Skating, Men's Short Program
    A bronze medalist in Sochi, Ten skated fourth in Friday’s men’s figure skating short program and finished 27th, failing to advance to the free skate event.

    Sweden's Hanna Falk- Cross-Country, Women's Sprint Classic
    After finishing first in her heat at the quarterfinals and third in the semifinals, Falk came in fourth in the finals of the women's sprint classic. 

    As for Shiffrin’s gold in giant slalom on Thursday, she was wearing bib No.7, a lucky number in South Korea.


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